Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity
Griffith, R. Marie. Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
Griffith investigates the roots of Christian dieting and fitness and their present-day embodiments. Among the topics, placed in historical, social and Christian context, are fasting, mortification, denial, conquest, purgation, purification and perfectionism, phrenology, indulgence, the body as delusion, scripture and prayer in service to weight loss, and food with all its issues. In chapter two Griffith examines Phineas P. Quimby, Christian Science, New Thought and 19th-century mind-cure movements exploring the connection between mind and matter. Griffith admits rightly that her descriptions are over-simplified. Her specific examination of Mary Baker Eddy focuses on what she considers the apparent contradiction between Eddy’s radical stance in her writings on the body as delusion (with a corresponding need to deny its claims), and Eddy’s rich living circumstances and vain preoccupation with her own portraiture and public image. Griffith goes on to relay contemporary stories of how Christian Science influenced the thought of its members about the body. Not all of Griffith’s stories, quotes and conclusions are clearly sourced, and it is peculiar that many of Griffith’s quotes from Eddy’s textbook are from her first 1875 edition.
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