“Christian Science and American Culture”
Simmons, John K. “Christian Science and American Culture,” Pages 61–68 in America’s Alternative Religions. Edited by Timothy Miller. Series: SUNY Series in Religious Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.
Simmons’s chapter on Christian Science in the context of America’s 20th-century religious culture begins with an acknowledgment of Mary Baker Eddy’s “insight into a primary religious impulse of her time” (61a). She wrote, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (Spirit and Health, 7). The soul-shaking Civil War had caused two aftershock revolutions: an intellectual revolution attacking the biblically oriented self-understanding of America’s destiny, and the social upheaval of industrialization, immigration, and urbanization. Eddy’s ‘sustaining infinite’ met the contemporary needs when the earlier Protestant morality no longer did. Even the Protestant congregational pattern proved insufficient for the sustainability she sought for her Church. Discarding the earlier model of church polity in 1892 because it proved too democratic and a catalyst for rebellion, she strove to reorganize a fixed and enduring institution. It has indeed remained remarkably free from schism. But such rigidity also hastened the departure of a large number of those who still identify as Christian Scientists independently. These ‘independents’ may also reflect the larger phenomenon of an American culture that has absorbed and re-expressed Christian Science within the broader culture. Even if the Christian Science movement disappears, Simmons claims, Eddy’s “intuitive insight into American imagination was simply ahead of its time!” (67b).
ISBN 13 (Softcover): 9780791423981
ISBN 13 (Hardcover): 9780791423974
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Library or Purchase
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- Publication Date: 1981-2000
- Resource Types: Book Section
- Subjects: Bible
- Subjects: Church Manual, Governance, Leadership
- Subjects: Independent Christian Scientists
- Subjects: Social and Cultural Studies