Ivey documents the growing secularization and diminishing Protestant authority and influence of late 19th-century cities. In the midst of this cultural and architectural transition, the new, rapidly growing Christian Science denomination was establishing itself in Chicago and integrating its “theological sensibilities” and metaphysical theology into the “rational” authority reflected in the city’s more secular Greek classical architecture of government buildings.View Annotation
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Ivey chronicles the late 19th century expansion of both New Thought and Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science church in the Midwest: the graduates of Eddy’s Massachusetts Metaphysical College who established institutes in six Midwest cities, the most important early organizers of Christian Science services, the establishment of The Principia as an independent school, and New Thought’s Emma Curtis Hopkins many organizers.View Annotation
Ivey’s chapter on Christian Science architecture is positioned within the context of the book’s overall goal to explore “the interplay of religion, commercial culture, and urbanization in North American cities since the 1880s.” Ivey focuses on spiritual principles expressed in the Christian Science movement’s architectural expression.View Annotation
Ivey’s history of Christian Science covers a broad range of topics including a brief history of Eddy’s personal preparation for the founding of the Church, the healing theology of Christian Science, the establishment of the Church, broader contexts of the appeal of Christian Science, the role of language for its expression, the maturing years in the early 20th century, and the challenges of adapting to a changing world in the late 20th century.View Annotation
Ivey presents historical context for the 19th-century emergence of metaphysical religions and their evolution into the 20th century. He highlights the inter-relationships between the practice of Phineas Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science, and the ensuing movements. Ivey differentiates the theology of Christian Science from Quimby and New Thought—with the human mind acting as a conduit between spirit and matter.View Annotation
The monumental bank-style church buildings associated with Christian Science are the subject of Ivey’s architectural study. Ivey notes a self-conscious attitude about this church building movement seeking to be perceived as prominent, legitimate and profitable to the worshiper. His treatment of Eddy and Christian Science teachings is balanced, but he questions whether the church buildings appropriately represented Eddy’s church and teachings.View Annotation
Ivey outlines the rising popularity of the classical style for the rapidly growing Christian Science church in the late 19th-century Midwest by highlighting Solon Spencer Beman, a well-known Chicago architect. Beman advocated classical architecture because it “put an authoritative public face” on the new movement and also linked spiritual ideals to the built environment.View Annotation