“Lives on Trial: Christian Science Healers in Progressive America.”
Schoepflin, Rennie B. “Lives on Trial: Christian Science Healers in Progressive America.” PhD Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1995.
Schoepflin’s well-researched dissertation traces the evolution of Christian Science during the years of America’s ‘Progressive Era’ (1890s–1920s). His study focuses on the difficult and contentious relationship between the evolution of medical practice and the healing practices in Christian Science. His analysis is based on the thoughts and work of the actual Christian Science practitioners and the experiences of their patients during a period when the movement “struggled against the efforts of organized American medicine to curtail its activities” (iv). He cites examples of written treatments and records how practitioners dealt (successfully and unsuccessfully) with various difficulties both in their cases and in response to public opposition to their healing work. The evolutionary teaching and practice of obstetrics receives thorough treatment, as it illustrates both the goals and difficulties of spiritual prayer in the context of one of the most challenging physical experiences facing women. Only the last chapter, “Into a Modern World,” covers the more contemporary challenges within the context of modern medicine. Schoepflin concludes that the dominating earliest issues of medical licensing, the meaning of medical practice, and the supposed right of Americans to therapeutic choice shifted in the late 20th century to matters of contagious disease, public safety and children’s rights.
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