Prescribing Faith: Medicine, Media and Religion in American Culture
Badaracco, Claire H. Prescribing Faith: Medicine, Media and Religion in American Culture. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007.
In the Introduction, Badaracco asks, “What is it about American cultural identity that has cultivated the ground for alternative religions based on the rejection of formal medicine…?” As a professor of communication, she is interested in how 19th-century American religion advertised “a type of hopefulness” as compared with how medicine preyed more on fear. After a summary of early and mid-19th-century American healing movements, chapter two is devoted to Christian Science, with a particular interest in Mary Baker Eddy’s use of publishing and branding to spread her ideas. She separates Eddy from both Phineas P. Quimby and later mind cure movements by underlining Eddy’s religious conservativism rooted in the Bible; and she recognizes the importance of Eddy’s female religious leadership and the business of her religion. Other chapters examine subsequent mind cure movements that arose during “the era of fads and quackery” that thrived because of the unreliability of medicine. With medicine’s reliance “on the imagination of disease and its concomitant fear,” many mental cure movements countered with their own appeal to hope. Despite the careful analysis of Christian Science practice in relation to 19th-century health practices, a number of errors should be noted, such as the fact that Calvin Frye’s father attended Harvard University, but Calvin himself did not (62).
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-1932792898