“Christian Science and American Popular Religion”
Moore, Laurence R. “Christian Science and American Popular Religion,” Pages 105–27 in Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Moore, a historian, places Mary Baker Eddy in her 19th-century social and religious context to examine why her movement was considered by many as ‘occult,’ and yet why so many sensible Americans flocked to Christian Science. Eddy’s controversial life story, the unparalleled claims she made, the secrecy of the lessons she taught, her non-traditional public roles and her obsession with ‘malicious animal magnetism’ all made her odd. Yet in other ways, Moore sees Eddy’s ideas and language, and the popularity of Christian Science, as typical of the Transcendentalism and mind cure trends of her day. She also embraced the familiar sacrificial, mothering, obedient female virtues. Moore sees outlier groups as “signals of cultural and social stress … [but also] providing ways for people to adjust their discontents” (126). “Christian Science (and the other outlier religious groups) grew as a perfectly ordinary manifestation of tensions that were always present in American society” (124). “Her Christian Science did not cure cancer …, but it cured many maladies that were a lot more common among American women and men” (127).
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0195051889
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0195036633