Braude looks at how the flourishing of Spiritualism in the mid-19th century intersected with the inception of the women’s rights movement in the same period. She documents that the most serious challenge to Spiritualism and mediumship came from the new religious movement Christian Science. However, although Mary Baker Eddy rejected Spiritualism outright, Braude finds many sympathetic Spiritualists in Eddy’s initial audience.View Annotation
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Braude examines whether the doctrines of 19th-century Spiritualism and Christian Science empowered women or limited their opportunities. Although women accepted these opportunities, as mediums in Spiritualism and as teachers and healers in Christian Science, their roles required some passivity. Christian Science women were empowered in support of their churches, but for the perpetuity of Eddy’s vision, women lived under her shadow.View Annotation
Within this all too brief chapter on the life of Mary Baker Eddy, Braude contextualizes Eddy among Spirit-moved women who believed that God’s call was more important than social conventions. These women contributed to American religious history as they balanced family, church, and leadership roles. But the complexity of Eddy’s life is better covered in Braude’s other works.View Annotation