“A Metaphysical Rocket in Gotham: The Rise of Christian Science in New York City, 1885-1910”
Swensen, Rolf. “A Metaphysical Rocket in Gotham: The Rise of Christian Science in New York City, 1885–1910.” Journal of Religion and Society 12 (2010): 1–24.
Swensen, a social sciences bibliographer, provides a social profile of the membership, internal operations and founding leadership (Augusta Stetson and Laura Lathrop) of the two largest Christian Science churches in the eastern U.S.—First and Second Church, New York City. Accessing the church records and the extensive correspondence between Mary Baker Eddy and New York church members, Swensen sees his study as a window into the rocket-rise of this vibrant new movement as a whole. He sees its practical healing message as strategically timed to address the stress of both a rapidly industrializing metropolis and the rather primitive nature of 19th-century medicine. He documents the early Christian Science dispensaries established in major cities staffed by practitioners offering free services in slums. In New York though, these missionizing efforts shifted to the affluent. (Swensen’s search of members’ published healing testimonies found very few from the New York working classes.) He also sees in New York and across the movement, its growing pains—the sometimes-fierce competition and bitter contention between churches and members, overweening personalities, and hostility from clergy, press and physicians. Swensen goes on to analyze the number of members and their occupations, compared to other denominations, the number of immigrant members, gender ratio, and economic status.
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Online - Free
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Stetson, Augusta
- Publication Date: 2001-2010
- Resource Types: Article
- Subjects: Branch Churches
- Subjects: Church Growth and Change
- Subjects: Church Manual, Governance, Leadership
- Subjects: Medicine
- Subjects: Social and Cultural Studies