Mary Baker Eddy
- Category : Healing-Fields-Religious-healer
- Type : MEG
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Maya 2
Mary Baker Eddy (born Mary Morse Baker July 16, 1821 – December 3, 1910) founded the Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879 and was the author of its fundamental doctrinal textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She took the name Mary Baker Glover from her first marriage and was also known as Mary Baker Glover Eddy or Mary Baker G. Eddy from her third marriage.
Mary Baker Eddy, the youngest of the six children of Abigail and Mark Baker, was born in Bow, New Hampshire. Although she was raised a Congregationalist, she rejected teachings such as predestination and original sin. She suffered chronic illness and developed a strong interest in the biblical accounts of early Christian healing.
In her autobiography, Eddy relates that as a child she heard God calling her. "One day, when my cousin, Mehitable Huntoon, was visiting us, and I sat in a little chair by her side, in the same room with grandmother,--the call again came, so loud that Mehitable heard it though I had ceased to notice it. Greatly surprised, my cousin turned to me and said, "Your mother is calling you!" but I answered not, till again the same call was thrice repeated." Finally, after speaking with her mother, the child Mary responded to the voice with the phrase from Samuel "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." . According to Yvonne Cache von Fettweis, in her book Christian Healer, "Mary's religious upbringing had taught her that all men are God's servants". In her discovery of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy found that healing the sick was an integral part of Christian service.
Even in early childhood, healing played a role in Mary's life. Her family would bring ailing farm animals to her for healing. Some biographers have suggested Mary was high strung or emotional, yet reports from friends in the community where Mary grew up corroborate reports of Mary's ability to heal at a young age.
On December 10, 1843, she married George Washington Glover. He died on June 27, 1844, a little over two months before the birth of their only child, George Washington Glover. As a single mother, Mrs. Glover tried writing and working as a preschool teacher to financially provide for her son and herself. However, the social climate of the times made if very difficult for a widowed woman to earn money. She continued to have poor health and George Glover was put into the care of neighbors by her father and step-mother. Mary Glover married Dr. Daniel Patterson hoping he would adopt the young boy, and Daniel Patterson signed papers to that effect on their wedding day. However, he never followed through on his promise. Eventually young George moved out to the Prairie territories, with money given to them by Mary Patterson's father. Her symptoms worsened and plunged her into a deep depression. The failure of Patterson to make good on his promises of reunification with her far-distant son plunged the now Mrs. Patterson into even more deep despair. Her health made even worse by disappointment, Mrs. Patterson was ready to try anything to bring relief to her sufferings.
Persistent ill health
A fragile child, Mary Baker Eddy suffered intensely from a number of physical complaints. The exact nature of these illnesses, and their possible psychosomatic or hysterical (as it was called at that time) nature, is still a subject of debate. Mrs. Patterson's letters from this time, now at the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity in Boston, Massachusetts, portray her sufferings and search for relief.
Study with Phineas Quimby and his influence
In October 1862 she became a patient of Phineas Quimby, a magnetic healer from Maine. She benefited temporarily by his treatment and his beliefs influenced her later thinking and writing although to what extent has been frequently disputed. Originally, Eddy gave Quimby much credit for his hypnotic treatments of her nervous and physical conditions and initially thought his brand of mesmerism entirely benign. From Quimby, Eddy was first exposed to the effects of unseen mental influences and beliefs on sick patients. While Quimby had his own notions on the nature of these unseen forces, which Eddy accepted early on, she would later draw decidedly different opinions on the nature of thought on the body and reject any form of hypnotism.
After being helped by Quimby, Eddy wrote the following defense of him in the Portland (Maine) Evening Courier in the fall of 1862: "...now I can see dimly at first, and only as trees walking, the great principle which underlies Dr. Quimby's faith and works; and just in proportion to my light perception of truth is my recovery. This truth which he opposes to the error of giving intelligence to matter and placing pain where it never placed itself, if received understandingly, changes the currents of the system to their normal action; and the mechanism of the body goes on undisturbed. That this is a science capable of demonstration becomes clear to the minds of those patients who reason upon the process of their cure."
On the day following the publication of the above article her views were criticized by a rival newspaper, the Portland Advertiser. Eddy wrote a second article, replying to the criticism. In it appeared the following paragraph, referring to Quimby and his doctrine: "P. P. Quimby stands upon the plane of wisdom with his truth. Christ healed the sick, but not by jugglery or with drugs…. P. P. Quimby rolls away the stone from the sepulchre of error, and health is the resurrection."
This quote stands in contrast to what she would later write in Science and Health, "Glory be to God, and peace to the struggling hearts! Christ hath rolled away the stone from the door of human hope and faith, and through the revelation and demonstration of life in God, hath elevated them to possible at-one-ment with the spiritual idea of man and his divine Principle, Love." She claimed her understanding of the spiritual message of the Bible deepened and her understanding of what she called "the Christ" replaced references to personal saviors.
1866 injury, healing and study leads to Christian Science
After a severe fall in Lynn, Massachusetts allegedly caused a major spinal injury in February 1866, Eddy reported that she turned to the Bible and recovered unexpectedly. Although she filed a claim for money from the city of Lynn for her injury on the grounds that she was "still suffering from the effects of that fall," she later withdrew the lawsuit..
She devoted the next three years of her life to Biblical study and what she considered the discovery of Christian Science. In her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, Eddy writes "I then withdrew from society about three years,--to ponder my mission, to search the Scriptures, to find the Science of Mind that should take the things of God and show them to the creature, and reveal the great curative Principle, --Deity.".
Convinced by her own study of the Bible, especially Genesis 1, and through experimentation, Eddy claimed to have found healing power through a higher sense of God as Spirit and man as God's spiritual "image and likeness." She became convinced that illness could be healed through an awakened thought brought about by a clearer perception of God. She eventually called this spiritual perception the operation of the Christ Truth on human consciousness.
Claiming to have first healed herself and then others, and having learned from these experiences, Eddy felt anyone could perceive what she called "the Kingdom of Heaven" or spiritual reality on earth. For her, this healing method was based on scientific principles and could be taught to others. This positive rule of healing, she taught, resulted from a new understanding of God as infinite Spirit beyond the limitations of the material senses.
At this time no one knows how much, or even if, Eddy influenced the great social and political movements of her day including abolition, the Wellness health movement and the women's suffrage movement. Mark Twain published a satire of Eddy's discovery entitled Christian Science. He said of her in another writing, however, "When we do not know a person -- and also when we do-- we have to judge the size and nature of his achievements as compared with the achievements of others in his special line of business--there is no other way. Measured by this standard, it is thirteen hundred years since the world has produced anyone who could reach up to Mrs. Eddy's waistbelt. In several ways she is the most interesting woman that ever lived and the most extraordinary."
Publishing her discovery
In 1875, after several years of testing the effectiveness of her healing method, Eddy published her discovery in a book entitled "Science and Health" (years later retitled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures), which she called the textbook of Christian Science. The first publication run was one thousand copies, which she self-published. In it she claimed "In the year 1866, I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, and named my discovery Christian Science" (p. 107). During these years she taught what she considered the science of "primitive Christianity" to hundreds of people. Many of her students became healers themselves. The last 100 pages of Science and Health (chapter entitled "Fruitage") contains testimonies of people who claimed to have been healed by reading her book.
From its inception Eddy and her church have been a source of controversy, mainly in the realm of a perceived Anti-Christian stance within the doctrines, teachings, beliefs et al. some of these include:
Eddy's teaching that the entire world and sin (ergo evil) is an illusion. (; ; ).
Eddy claimed marriage to be "synonymous with legalized lust," (although according to her own doctrine, lust was a product of the mortal mind and does not exist), but she was married four times.
Eddy's teaching that medicine should be shunned ().
Eddy's denial of Christ's death on the Cross, Christ's atonement etc. () This in stark contrast to calling her new religion Christian which is heavily disputed.
Distinguishing between Eddy and Quimby
Gillian Gill, writes "I am now firmly convinced, having weighed all the evidence I could find in published and archival sources, that Mrs. Eddy's most famous biographer-critics -- Peabody, Milmine, Dakin, Bates and Dittemore and Gardner -- have flouted the evidence and shown willful bias in accusing Mrs. Eddy of owing her theory of healing to Quimby and of plagiarizing his unpublished work."
Although Eddy used terms such as "Science", "Health", "error", "shadow", "belief", "Christ" and many others used by Quimby, these terms were also found in the Bible. In the end, the conclusions she found from her scriptural study and continued healing practice were diametrically opposed to the teachings of Quimby. Eddy eventually rejected many of Quimby's conclusions on the dynamics of human disease, suffering, healing, redemption, God and Christ.
Through her study of the Bible, Eddy rejected Quimby's notion of a dualism between matter and spirit. She wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error." (S&H 468: 10-12)
Eddy found that while at first hypnotism seemed to benefit the patient, it later created more problems than the original sickness. Ultimately she rejected any form of hypnotism or mesmerism, stating "The hypnotizer employs one error to destroy another. If he heals sickness through a belief, and a belief originally caused the sickness, it is a case of the greater error overcoming the lesser. This greater error thereafter occupies the ground, leaving the case worse than before it was grasped by the stronger error." (S&H 104:22-28)
Eddy's use of these terms and her teaching are considered by both her defenders and Quimby's family to be distinct from Quimbyism. Quimby's son, George, wrote, "Don’t confuse his method of healing with Mrs. Eddy’s Christian Science, so far as her religious teachings go.... The religion which she teaches certainly is hers, for which I cannot be too thankful." (Gottschalk, Rolling Away the Stone, p. 72).
Phineas Quimby died in January 1866. In 1873, Eddy divorced Patterson for adultery to which he readily admitted. In 1877 she married Asa Gilbert Eddy, who died in 1882.
Building a church
Eddy devoted the rest of her life to the establishment of the church, writing its bylaws, "The Manual of The Mother Church," and revising "Science and Health." While Eddy was a highly controversial religious leader, author, and lecturer, thousands of people flocked to her teachings. She was supported by the approximately 800 students she had taught at her Massachusetts Metaphysical College in Boston, Massachusetts between the years 1882 and 1889. These students spread across the country practicing healing in accordance with Eddy's teachings. Eddy authorized these students to list themselves as Christian Science Practitioners in the church's periodical, the Christian Science Journal. She also founded the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine with articles about how to heal and testimonies of healing.
In 1908, at the age of 87, Eddy founded The Christian Science Monitor, a daily newspaper which continues to be published today. She also founded the Christian Science Journal in 1883, a monthly magazine aimed at the church's members and, in 1898, the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly religious periodical written for a more general audience, and the Herald of Christian Science, a religious magazine with editions in non-English languages, for children, and in English-Braille.
She died on December 3, 1910 at her home at 400 Beacon Street, in the Chestnut Hill section of Newton, Massachusetts, and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In 1921, on the 100th anniversary of Eddy's birth, a 100-ton, eleven-foot granite pyramid was dedicated on the site of her birthplace in Bow, New Hampshire. A gift from the Freemasons, it was later dynamited by order of the church's board of directors. Also demolished was Eddy's former home in Pleasant View, as the board feared that it was becoming a place of pilgrimage. Although Eddy allowed personal praise in her lifetime for various reasons, including for publicity and fundraising, the church shuns both the cult of personality an religious reliquaries.