“A ‘Green Oak in a Thirsty Land:’ The Christian Science Board of Directors Routinizes Charisma, 1910-1925”
Swensen, Rolf. “A ‘Green Oak in a Thirsty Land’: The Christian Science Board of Directors Routinizes Charisma, 1910-1925.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, 24, no. 2 (Nov. 2020): 32-58.
Swensen documents how, in the fifteen years after the passing of Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Science Board of Directors consolidated and centralized their authority. Their aim was to bring order and unity to a rapidly growing movement and deal with a host of crises. Swensen details the “Great Litigation” power struggle between the Directors and the Trustees of the Christian Science Publishing Society. The impact was that loyalty to the Directors “was elevated to a point where it became the outstanding symbol of unity” (46). He also examines how the Directors’ centralized authority extended over local branch churches, for a “private in the ranks cannot fully know the plans for the movements of a great army” (38). Further centralization came when distribution of the Church periodicals and the Christian Science Monitor, rather than individuals, were designated the missionary arm of the movement. The result of these and other changes was the “routinization of [Eddy’s] charisma” (33). Mirroring a corporate business model, organization, administration, and standardization were merged with obedience and loyalty. However, as early as 1916, a church officer expressed “fear of an impending rigidity, due to routine and the falling into the inevitable rut” (40).
Print ISSN: 1092-6690
See also annotations:
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Online - Academic Credentials or Fee
- Controversy: Church Manual
- Controversy: Great Litigation
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- Organizations: The First Church of Christ, Scientist
- People: Dickey, Adam
- People: Dittemore, John V.
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Stetson, Augusta
- Publication Date: 2011-2020
- Resource Types: Article
- Subjects: Branch Churches
- Subjects: Christian Science History after 1910
- Subjects: Christian Science Monitor
- Subjects: Church Growth and Change
- Subjects: Church Manual, Governance, Leadership
- Subjects: Church Practices
- Subjects: Social and Cultural Studies