“The Socioreligious Role of the Christian Science Practitioner”
Fox, Margery. “The Socioreligious Role of the Christian Science Practitioner,” Pages 98–114 in Women as Healers Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Edited by Carol Shepherd McClain. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
As a social anthropologist, Fox examines the role of the Christian Science practitioner. For example, Fox points out that men in the Christian Science Church (as in society in Mary Baker Eddy’s day) filled the majority of administrative and public lecturer posts, whereas women were the majority of the Church’s healers and nurses. Yet, unlike in society, Eddy and her Church highly respected and dignified these lesser status therapeutic roles, thereby creating an egalitarian, gender-equality environment modeled after Eddy’s own life and her androgynous understanding of God as Father-Mother. In citing her observations on Christian Science and Christian Science Publishing Society, Fox’s sourcing (from 1929, 1932, 1945, 1955, 1979) suffers from lack of access to Church archives (which opened in 2002) as well as lack of reflecting newer scholarship since 1995. Generic statements about practitioners abound as well as undocumented claims, including the idea that Christian Scientists are status conscious within the sect. Though Fox focuses on the process of becoming a Christian Science practitioner and establishing healer validation within the church community and official listing by TMC, she also includes sections explaining Christian Science theology and healing metaphysics, and the relationship between practitioner and patient, from her perspective as a social anthropologist.