Mary Baker Eddy: Her Mantra: Disease Is a State of Mind

Born today was Mary Baker Eddy
Who taught faith heals if strong and steady.
But faith can be harmful if you jettison
The life-saving benefits of modern medicine.


"With its membership dwindling and reputation in tatters, the church of Christian Science has finally decided that doctors aren’t so bad after all. Church leaders tell the New York Times that they’ve been encouraging members to consult physicians when necessary for over a year now. They’re trying to reposition their prayer-based healing as a supplemental treatment, which they argue should be covered by health insurance companies and heath care legislation.   The church teaches that disease is a “mistaken belief” in the “power of ill health.” The Times spoke to one practitioner who explained that when a patient came to him with a lump under his arm it was “a manifestation of fear, not a lump.” But that philosophy has made the church famous for denying care to people, especially children, who then die. 'The church of today would not let that happen,' says a spokesman." [Kevin Spak,, Poseted March 23, 2010]

Curiouser and curiouser:

1. The great novelist and short story writer, Willa Cather,  once wrote a biography of Mary Baker Eddy.

2. The actor Val Kilmer has recently written a play about her and Mark Twain. Twain wrote  a mordant piece  about her in the early 1900s.

3. At the age of 8, Eddy  claimed she heard voices.

4. As a child, she suffered from chronically ill health.

5. A young woman,  she tried every kind of contemporaneous remedy: electrotherapy, morphine, homeopathy, hydropathy, mesmerism, and Grahamism(vegetarianism/temperance/anti-masturbation).

6. Hindu writers have  claimed  that Eddy incorporated ideas of their religion into Christian Science.

7. She named her first child George Washington Glover.

8. She was once a substitute teacher.

9. If she hadn't fallen and injured her spine in Lynn, Massachusetts---for which she sued the city---she may not have founded Christian Science.

10. Her second husband refused to adopt her son.

11. She eventually divorced her adulterous  second husband on the grounds of desertion.

12. She was greatly influenced by a hypnotist healer with the Dickensian name of Phineas Quimby.

13. Two pyschologists, Leon Joseph Saul and Silas L. Warner,  concluded in 1982 that Eddy had a Psychotic Personality Disorder (PPD).


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  • With all that [another term for uneliminated feces] in her background, I'm surprised that parents still risk prosecution for relying on faith healing for their children. At one time I thought it was a legitimate statement of religious faith, but your post puts doubt into that.

    However, Cook's Country points out that while they question Dr. Graham's "science," his crackers make a good crust for a chocolate chiffon pie, although use lemon wafers for a lemon chiffon one. Which is your bathos for today (again, you made me look it up).

  • In reply to jack:

    ' At one time I thought it was a legitimate statement of religious faith, but your post puts doubt into that.'

    That's a pretty 'linear view' of religious Faith. The interpretation of MBE's history doesn't illegitimize Faith in Christian Science. To use history to dispute Faith, misses 'the baby in the bath water'.

  • In reply to 4zen:

    I meant in the sense that there was some First Amendment right to let your child die instead of DCFS taking the parents to court to see that the child gets medical treatment.

    I suppose that anyone can believe what they want, but as you indicate below, some people believe in someone on the grift. Others have the fervent religious belief that loading a pressure cooker with firecrackers and bolts and leaving it in front of an 8 year old is a good idea.

  • Also, I am surprised that Massachusetts waived municipal tort immunity that early.

  • Mmmm, sounds like Mrs. Eddy might have been on the grift. Though in fairness, the Saints of Catholicism are riddled with dubious beginnings.

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    At least you are For Zen.

    To me, there is a parallel to the Zimmerman/Martin trial. Some people wanted the Law followed. Others wanted a lynching.

    4zen sees a parallel between praying for human beings to be improved by divine influence and setting off a pressure cooker to injure and kill human beings.

    If one focuses on these analogies, good ones or not, the importance of Christian Science teaching to assist humanity is entirely sidetracked.

    On a practical level, Mary Baker Eddy was able to give numerous women employment in a man's world.

    On a scientific level, Mrs. Eddy found a metaphysical and experimental approach to aligning some truths in religion with some truths in science. Her chapter in her book she deems a textbook has a chapter titled "Science, Theology, Medicine" in which Science is elaborated on and shows that the methods of science have a place for deducing Christian truth. Mrs. Eddy was unique in showing connections between Christianity and Science.

    Mary Baker Eddy read the latest in scientific discoveries. She accepted, as the material explanation of man, Charles Darwin's findings on evolution. She even cautioned that the findings were provisional as more discoveries would make adjustments to the original observations. I am surprised that the clergy of her day that attacked her and her theology and metaphysics didn't attack that she supported Darwinism.

    Mrs. Eddy felt that the material man made of matter components was different than the spiritual man made up of divine ideas as a reflection of God. God being the scientific Principle in another dimension that reflects man's forms and functions.

    About Mrs. Mary Patterson before her name was 'Eddy.' Mary did divorce her 'second' husband, as he did cheat on her. Today cheating is often forgiven in a marriage, at least with some couples I know. Times are changing, that is a certainty.

  • In reply to Bill Sweet:

    Thanks, for your insightful comments. I'm always willing to stand corrected.

  • In reply to Bill Sweet:

    Excellent rant Mr. Sweet, though it was another commentor that made comment about the pressure cooker, I know the difference.

    Oh, and I love your scary intro, very Renfield-esqe.

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    Positioning information is everything for molding perceptions. Leaving items out, putting other items together in an unflattering manner, ignorantly inserting inaccurate information based upon your own experiences or lack of information, prejudices or misunderstanding all contribute to propaganda--which is a method of serving one's own purposes.

    This writer bases his opinion on general misconceptions, but doesn't have an inkling of Christian Science as the wonderful religion I have known for 70 years--that healed me when the medical profession gave me up as a lost cause and enabled me to grow up and rear a large healthy family consisting of kids, grand kids and great grandkids without having to resort to any medicine but God in all those years.

    I do know Christian Science quite well and would not recognize it as described in this piece.

    By the way, my health care costs have been negligible since I have relied on God alone for my health needs. If anyone wants an alternative to Obamacare, here it is. It not only keeps one mentally and physically healthy 24/7, but it helps you become a benefit to the world through neighborly, compassionate, unselfish behavior as taught by Mary Baker Eddy in her best selling textbook--Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures. Try it, you'll like it in so many ways.

  • In reply to Don Griffith:

    I appreciate your personal story and I do respect your commitment to your faith. It was not my purpose to cast aspersions on Christian Science. Or engage in any kind of apologetics.

    The biographical facts I selected just seemed to pique my curiosity.

  • Thanks for noticing Mary Baker Eddy. Like many of us, she was a spiritual seeker. After years of allopathic and homeopathic treatment for pain, she found herself bedridden as the result of a fall. Not expected to live, she asked for her Bible and was healed. She eventually wrote about how we can each practice this approach to the cure of pain and suffering in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Because she, a mere woman, challenged mainline thinking about both theology and medicine she was controversial in her day. But, the power of prayer to heal through a better understanding of, and connection with, the Divine, and the health benefits of love, forgiveness and gratitude are topics currently being researched by alternative medicine departments all over the world, including Harvard University. A recent biography by Gillian Gill (no affiliation with the church Eddy founded) offers insightful, in context, analysis into her relationship with both Twain and Quimby. As a Christian Scientist, I don’t shun the use of medicine out of any dogma, but because I have found Christian Science to be useful in gaining a greater understanding of the divine, and effective in caring for my health.

    Tim Mitchinson
    Media liaison for Christian Science in Illinois

  • In reply to TimMitchinson:

    She is a fascinating person in many ways. I'll have to explore what Mr. Gill has to say.

    And I can't agree more on the holistic benefits of human love.

  • In any life it's possible to pull out the odd, abnormal or regretted situations and events and see those as the heavier weight in a balance. There are certainly things I've done and said in my life that I regret but they are not the heavier balance of my life. This article doesn't seem like a very balanced picture of Eddy's life.

    I know Eddy only by her writings and by the religion and system of health care that she founded. To me these have saved my life. I was diagnosed by 2 medical doctors with skin cancer, but decided instead of medical treatment to turn to prayer. In 4 days after making this decision the skin blemish that had been apparent for 6 months and bleeding for 4 months dried up and fell off. That was about 15 years ago. There has been no further problem, nor have I needed to go back to a medical doctor for anything else.

    To me, experiences like this give validation to Eddy's life and work.

  • Thanks, SussieH for relating your own experience with the power of prayer. I'm absolutely glad it worked for you.

    I never intended to give a comprehensive portrayal of Mrs. Eddy. The nine facts of her life do not seem to put her in a negative light. And the last statement is the opinion of two authorities in their field and, I'm sure, subject to dispute.

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