Christian Science: Women, Healing, and the Church
Michell, Deidre. Christian Science: Women, Healing, and the Church. New York: University Press of America, 2009.
Michell admittedly offers the other, less often heard side of the story of what happened to the Christian Science Church during the 20th century. The steep decline in church membership is worthy of investigation, and the voices of those who have remained are easily heard through The Mother Church publications. Michell’s specific feminist approach to the question is especially relevant to a church founded by a woman during the first wave feminist movement, which experienced rapid growth and then experienced precipitous loss during the second wave feminist movement of the 1960s and afterward. Michell’s methodology and research provide a painful but valuable critique on the history of the patriarchal style of church decisions after Mary Baker Eddy’s death. Conclusions from her research and interviews with women who have either left the church or remain independent Christian Scientists include 1) the way in which church executives sought to control who became members and what members read and wrote; 2) the promotion of the view of the material world that led to confusion and fear of the body; 3) policies against church members choosing medical intervention; 4) damage done to church members and especially children who felt unable to express themselves and who failed to achieve the idealized model.
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0761845744