100 years on: 2 BIG reasons why Mary Baker Eddy is still remembered…

Next in our “100 years on, and still going strong” series, celebrating the continued resonance of Mary Baker Eddy’s life and ideas 100 years after her passing.

Benjamin Franklin once said “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.”

Mary Baker Eddy – transcending the ‘or’ in Franklin’s statement – qualifies on both counts, and these are two of the biggest reasons why the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science has not been forgotten, and will not be forgotten.

On the first count, what she has written remains well worth reading to this day, to the reader (a) who wants to find out about the nature of God from an author who writes with the authority of someone who has proved what she pronounces (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures) and (b) who is seeking an approach to healing based on that articulation of God’s solely loving nature – and of man’s relationship to God – which evidences its worth in practical results.  (See Science and Health chapter on Fruitage and contemporary articles on christianscience.com.)

On the second count, of living a life that is worth writing about, Mary Baker Eddy’s life story is compelling.  I recall reading a three-volume biography of her by Robert Peel at the same time that a biography of a cultural icon was released with the ad slogan “The Ultimate Biography!”

Now, I really liked that “star” and he had unquestionably led a noteworthy life…but as a newcomer to the ideas of Christian Science at the time I was so riveted by the life story of Mary Baker Eddy that I found myself thinking, “No, this has got to be the ultimate biography!”

Her life as a healer, as a public speaker, as a teacher, as an author, as a business woman, as a church founder, as an innovative theologian and “scientific” thinker, could arguably each be worthy of a biography in their own right.  Woven together, as they are, as a tapestry of successes alongside multiple profoundly challenging circumstances she faced and overcame means that her biographical record certainly deserves Franklin’s epithet of having lived a life worth writing about…

But not in isolation from what her life details depict about the nature of the Creator.  She wrote in an autobiographical work, Retrospection and Introspection, that “Mere historic incidents and personal events are frivolous and of no moment, unless they illustrate the ethics of Truth [God].” (p.21)  To many who value her life-story, they do so for the very reason that illustrating the workings of God is exactly what it does.

Mary Baker Eddy’s life didn’t quite overlap with that of Benjamin Franklin.  He died about 30 years before she was born in 1821.  Since then, the diversity of the accomplishments of the famed author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat and Founding Father of the United States of America have led to his being honoured in many ways.  And very deservedly so!  His many honours include having his portrait circulating widely on a $100 dollar note and on a postage stamp.

So why not a Mary Baker Eddy bill and/or a postage stamp?

Or how about an appropriate statue in Boston, Mayor Menino!  Perhaps along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall?  Maybe adjacent to the Boston Women’s Memorial?

Although, that being said, Mary Baker Eddy’s own inclination was always to tend thought to more spiritual memorials. In praising devoted followers who tirelessly raised funds for, and built, a huge extension to The Mother Church in Boston, she pointed them to “a mental monument, a superstructure high above the work of men’s hands, even the outcome of their hearts, giving to the material a spiritual significance — the speed, beauty, and achievements of goodness.” (From The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany.)

In fact, anyone reading the written works of Mary Baker Eddy to gauge her character from those writings – as she wished people to do – will know that the Founder of Christian Science didn’t do what she did out of a desire for worldly honours. But she did appreciate public recognition of the value of what she had accomplished, as she made clear in her grateful response to accolades from noted individuals such as philosopher A. Bronson Alcott and by her appreciation for recognition from civic organisations such as the City Council of Concord.

Then – as it would be now – respectful recognition could help the world see the value of what she had shared through recognising the calling of she who had shared it…

Because the biggest reason Mary Baker Eddy is still remembered is not for what she wrote per se, nor for what she understood and did to be able to honestly write it.  It is for what the ideas she shared still accomplish today in bringing healing to the lives of those who approach them with a heart open to the goodness of God that they bring to light.

The Commonwealth Avenue Mall has a non-profit citizen’s advocacy group supporting it, formed “to preserve and enhance the Boston Public Garden, Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in collaboration with the Mayor and the Parks Department of the City of Boston.”  They are called the Friends of the Public Garden.

Here is a photo I took of the Boston Women’s Memorial on a recent trip to Beantown!

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Boston Women's Memorial - photo by Tony Lobl

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Categories: Mary Baker Eddy, Spirituality and Society, Women's spiritual leadership

Author:Tony Lobl

I write and speak on spirituality from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I am also an Associate Editor for the Christian Science periodicals. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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