“Science, Social Work and Sociology”
Porterfield, Amanda. “Science, Social Work and Sociology,” Pages 155–62 and 174 in Feminine Spirituality in America: From Sarah Edwards to Martha Graham. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980.
Porterfield addresses Mary Baker Eddy’s contribution to feminine spirituality in America within the chapter of “Science, Social Work, and Sociology.” Her point is that Eddy’s work took place during a period of significant cultural transition in American history, and that her religious practices were “due in part to her legitimation of those religious practices as a science” (156). Her metaphysical doctrines were based on the affirmations that “God is life and that life is a state of mind” (156). God also represented the power of love, and these metaphysical principles led “to the conclusion that any-thing contrary to the spirit of love is a mistaken idea” (156). Porterfield explores Eddy’s views of Mary (mother of Jesus) who “bore the Christ idea in the pure form of the female body” (157). Eddy also claimed and institutionalized the notion that God was better understood as mother than father. “But in the aggressiveness with which she pursued the logic of feminine religiosity and in the authority she claimed for her revelations and powers, her theology represents a radical departure from the canons of nineteenth-century domestic pietism” (157).