“Houses of Healing: Sacred Space, Spiritual Practice, and the Transformation of Female Suffering in the Faith Cure Movement, 1870–90.”
Curtis, Heather D. “Houses of Healing: Sacred Space, Spiritual Practice, and the Transformation of Female Suffering in the Faith Cure Movement, 1870–90.” Church History 75, no. 3 (2006): 598–611.
Curtis examines the ‘divine healing’ or ‘faith cure’ movement of the late 19th century which offered a liberalized theology that fundamentally “uncouple[d] the long-standing and deeply gendered link between bodily suffering and spiritual holiness” (603). God, who traditionally allowed suffering as a means of personal sanctification, became the God willing and able to heal the sick. This movement germinated new institutions and inspired treatises and journals, all in support of those seeking fresh perspectives on how to be made spiritually and physically whole. Curtis focuses on the ‘faith homes’ or sacred spaces providing seekers worship services, spiritual practices and alternative biblical models that facilitated healing. Examples of these ‘houses of healing’ were water-cure sanitoriums, and ‘Christian Science dispensaries,’ later converted to Reading Rooms (599). Overall, this healing movement and these homes had the effect of subverting the prevailing views of womanhood as inherently frail, patient, submissive and self-sacrificing. Critics would decry the unaccustomed independence experienced in these homes as threatening “the domestic ideology” (601) and religious obligations of women, because they “bump[ed] up against … the medical and cultural norms that characterized women” (610).
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