Talk:Christian Science

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Good article Christian Science has been listed as one of the Philosophy and religion good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
February 20, 2013 Good article nominee Listed

Unorthodox Xty proposal[edit]

In the lead we have the sentence, “Christian Scientists see their religion as consistent with mainstream Christian theology, despite key differences.” This reflects the work cited (Melton 1992) but other work argues/illustrates that

  • CSists self-define as Christian, but not nec. mainstream. Gottschalk 1973 interprets MBE to mean that “Christian Science, while Christian, is definitely not Protestant” (286, italics his). Bednarowski 1999 agrees that it’s “neither Catholic nor Protestant” (71).
  • More importantly, it’s not only CSists who view themselves as Xtns (of whatever type), but many scholars as well. Partial list of that RS here. There’s little agreement on what kind. Some of this RS contradicts Gottschalk and Bednarowski and calls it Protestant. But no one calls it orthodox. Add to that list Wilson 1961 who writes, “CS differs considerably in various theological issues from more orthodox branches of Christianity” (124). So to him it’s a branch of Christianity, but again, not orthodox.

So how about something like this:

“Christian Scientists and several scholars see the religion as an expression of Christianity, though with significant differences from orthodoxy.”


“Christian Scientists and several scholars see the religion as Christian but not orthodox.” Ath271 (talk) 08:08, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Since there can be no doubt that Christian Scientists are, in their view, Christian, how about:

Scholars see Christian Science as a valid Biblical interpretation, but point out important doctrinal differences from orthodox and protestant interpretations.

CSists are healers that indeed apply just words in a mentally healing way. (Compare Christian terrorists interpreting the Bible in their way to support there actions.) In fact describing the misalignment of CS interpretations of the Bible with any other interpretation is a potentially spacious series of (indirect) teachable moments, a sadly lacking but powerful and known teaching method that avoids the complexity of starting (directly) from the doctrine itself.
Ath's familiarity with (reliable and objective) sources on the matter gives her proposal credence. OTOH the consistently spiteful nature of the current version of the article gives the numerous judgments against its word choice credence. In this particular case the proposal is to remove insidious implications and replace them with the truth. The truth is that the way it is currently stated is that CS itself has a policy of being deceptive because it says CS says that it is consistent with the mainstream despite (known) differences. The (alleged) truth is that Melton says it, not some alleged (uncited) official CS apologetic. — CpiralCpiral 22:14, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Cpiral, so sorry to not reply right away. I put this page on watch a few weeks ago and promptly stopped checking it - I thought I'd get email notifications. I haven't, so I'll have to investigate why. I'm not sure if I'd use the word "spiteful" here; perhaps cherry-picked. I say that in a spirit of (eternal) good faith and temperance.
In any event, your change to the proposal does appear sound and in line with the sources, and I would support it. I would remove/replace the word "valid," though. I don't think scholars are in the business of judging whether various biblical interpretations are valid, just that they exist and can be compared to others. And cap the P in Protestant. So we have:

Scholars see Christian Science as a unique Biblical interpretation, but point out important doctrinal differences from orthodox and Protestant interpretations.

There's also the matter that scholars who see CS this way might not summarize the entire religion as a Biblical interpretation, esp. if focusing in on the specific exegetical portions of its "textbook" Science and Health, which are collectively titled a "Key to the Scriptures." So perhaps a little more tweaking is needed. Such as "Scholars see CS as uniquely interpreting the Bible" - ? Ath271 (talk) 19:17, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I think I see how it's more accurate that way. If you're saying that the content of "key to the scriptures" is partly about explaining Science and Health itself, and not directly "exegesis of the Bible", then that sounds like a good paragraph for the theology section in area about the place of CS doctrine in the "orthodoxy spectrum" of sacred Christian literature. — CpiralCpiral 21:09, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
That's an interesting thought. I meant to question whether the word "interpretation" is too narrow for the whole theology, since only the book's "key to the scriptures" consists of direct biblical exegesis, or interpretation. But perhaps the rest could be seen as indirect interpretation, and perhaps it's not an important distinction. At any rate, noted re: the orthodox-unorthodox spectrum. Ath271 (talk) 18:45, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Now we have in the lead:

"Christian Scientists see their religion as a return to "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," in the words of Eddy's Manual of the Mother Church (1895). There are several key differences between Christian Science and orthodox Christian theology."

A fine few sentences, yet the basic problem remains: Not only adherents but a significant amount of scholars see CS as a type of Xty, including the scholar cited here (Wilson 1961). The article doesn't acknowledge this, but rather cherry picks to present only one scholarly angle on CS. Fixing this may well involve attention to larger issues, however. Ath271 (talk) 22:07, 23 September 2014 (UTC)

"A type of Xty" Christianity, a type of Science. As for the Christian aspect of Christian Science, if the Theology section must describe the "type of Christianity" CS is, shouldn't we try to make sure every source in the theology section touches S&H from the sources own context?
(A secondary source at "In his seminal book the masterful writer and metaphysician W. Gordon Brown ushers us through the entire breath and scope of world history and Christian Bible history...". Brown's "narrations" of S&H with explanation and interpretation covering each chapter of S&H, almost line by line, are there.)
As for the "orthodox science" of Christian Science we need a good philosopher in the theology section. Rorty's sentiments on the compatibility of science and religion aren't partisan, they're bipartisan. He explains the psychological difficulty very well, clarifying thus evolving the conceptions of William James (we use only the original William James, I think) on the matter of the compatibility of science and religion. (His description of the nexus could be paraphrased and cited.) John Polkinghorne is a British, Quantum Physicist turned Anglican Christian priest, turned University President, who discusses "Christianity" and "Science" in his An Afternoon with John Polkinghorne. He too makes a key point about the nexus that is neutral about the combination of such words as science and Christian we might cite. The list of neutral, balanced, bipartisan, "disinterested" ways is endless.
The orthodoxy-heresy spectrum might be an easy and clean way to explain CS theology. CS is a type of Christianity whose distance from a set of tenets (to be determined) is roughly quantifiable. CS is a type of Science, and where the CS theology claims a scientific method, it too is quantifiable, and from a much smaller and easier to identify set of scientific methodology. (See the philosophy of science for differences in the set).
For "science" there is also a much richer and rewarding realm of discourse that explains CS: that place where the explanation of scientific results meets the realm of religion, which is a hot topic in the world of science today. (Who'da thunk Quimby's choice of the word "science" would have had such "prescience"?) In 1899 Princeton University published Eddyism; or, Christian Science Neither Christian Nor Scientific, but
So the proper portrayal of the position of CS, just how scientific (in both senses of the term) it is , can be done with many more fine secondary sources. We could start by just comparing Quimby's science to CS's science.
Heresy carries a similar naming scheme and terminology, and that means, as our article notes, "redefining the vocabulary". But that is extreme. More accurately it also extends the definition, or it is straight up, storied, revelation of some hidden symbolic meaning. The glossary of S&H uses all three ways of describing terms. (The symbolic definitions in Glossary should certainly tie in with Christianity in a new artistic revelation, in a non-orthodox way, just as wonderfully and beautifully as many scientific advances were guided by non-orthodox scientific methods (dreams, intuitions, or because the math looked good (Dirac's math equation)).
Ath271, you've said we, in places, portray a single scholar's singular interest; and you seem to be the go to person for the identification of scholarly personalities writing about CS. Perhaps you are not allowed to edit the article because of COI, but you only want to reduce existing one-sidedness. How ironic. — CpiralCpiral 10:32, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

My preference when reading articles like CS is to hear the tone of a scientist's disinterest as it describes a practiced metaphysics; I feel safely informed. I don't like the way our article reads today, using an historical-event approach to structure its topic. Although the facts are valid, the choice of facts seems too often biased, particularly when it comes to attributing to Eddy alone or her organization alone, the uglier facts of life. It's a fun read if you like drama, or have little empathy, but as far as representing the spirit of an exemplary practitioner, it is too full of irrelevant distractions. So I appeal to other methods, like prone to drama and ugliness.

I wish I could say how exactly we might restructure and rewrite and have someone else do it :-). In any case, although I do criticize, I'm trying, however vainly, to be constructive here, and I really do appreciate the work SV has done and the continual improvements she keeps making to our article. I have started yet another criticism Not a cult, and until the many criticisms about style, tone, content, wording, etc. are addressed, I have stopped the premature archiving (again), which makes reading "recent" and still current criticisms more difficult.

CpiralCpiral 10:32, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Thanks so much for all this, Cpiral. Let me think on it a bit, pull apart some of what you suggest and introduce, and post at the next available window, hopefully later today. And thanks for the attention to archiving. I'm not in the know on that front but appreciate anything that helps conversational continuity. Ath271 (talk) 11:16, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

A few responses:

  • is a heterodox organization within the pantheon of people calling themselves CS, notable by the list of authors and lessons on their website. There's no way a casual observer would necessarily know this; you'd have to be familiar with the historiography and polity, recognize author names, etc.. So I note this to point out that if used here, it should be with the understanding that this resource represents a one-off or minority interpretation about the religion. (Not that I entirely understand what the interpretation is - just that it's a minority within a minority.)
  • Science and religion: this is such a vast discipline, and positioning CS within it is a huge task. I wonder if the Wiki page on religion and science might be expanded to include more of the philosophical perspectives you're looking to parse. Or if a new page might be created on Xty and Science (very needed!) or Theology and Science (as a topic, not referencing the academic journal of the same name). The philosophers you cite are all good sources, but they provide only a handful of touchstones within a much larger, ungainly literature. (Important touchstones, yes - but still just a handful.) Perhaps we could start by simply noting how CS represents itself as a "science," which I don't see here yet and which would require research into the theology; and include just a sentence or so noting how its position resonates (or not) with a much larger cultural preoccupation/conversation about religion, theology, Xty, and science. (Ideally that sentence would then link to a good standalone WP article on the science/religion cultural conversation, though such an article doesn't yet exist.)
  • The orthodoxy-heresy spectrum: that's an interesting take, and we've discussed it before. Comparisons can be illuminating.
  • My participation, and yours: Right, I'm open to talking about restructuring the article if someone else suggests it. I can serve as a resource. But overall yes, your summary of the purpose of my posts here is correct. Thank you for restating your own purpose on and feelings about the page; always helpful
  • Circling back to the proposal above: where do you feel this leaves us re: this rather small proposal?

Ath271 (talk) 17:57, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. Yes I stray from your valiant attempts to directly address issues with the article to get something done, because I'm still in draft-a-new CS Theology article mode, as I was at user talk:Ath271 subpages. OK, about the proposal.
The introductory sentence in question here, that used to say "Christian Scientists see their religion as consistent with mainstream Christian theology, despite key differences", as you know, was changed 10:16, 9 September 2014 (some fixes, ce). I dont't think that the uninformative edit summary style that SV uses indicates that SV is either inconsiderate of this discussion, or feels unwelcomed, but maybe SV want us to reread the article frequently. The original sentence was definitely disrespectful of the living persons who are CSists today, saying in effect "CSists think they're mainstream, but they are not." This is still a common pattern in the article where we find the word "despite" being used in contexts of ill repute, esp. as reguards the honorable MBE. I think you wanted to address both the tone and the content, so I will.
Despite "despite" being gone now, and thus the spiteful tone, there still remains the problem of factual misrepresentation in the current third paragraph. The stated facts could be misinterpretations of the chosen sources. The chosen sources could be Orwellian (intentional misrepresentations). The complexity of the "facts" of mind-body connections or of CS today, of particular cases or CSists today, or of S&H MBE's original intentions conscious or not, are all up to debate on the talk page by cherry picking sources. But becasue there are so many interpretations due to complexity, both the article and the talk page must cherry pick sources. In my opinion, it has not a bad tone anymore, but misrepresents CS. The sentence in the lead was, and its paragraph is, I think intended to reflect the spirit of the article.

Christian Scientists see their religion as a return to "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," in the words of Eddy's Manual of the Mother Church (1895).[8] There are several key differences between Christian Science and orthodox Christian theology.[9] In particular adherents subscribe to a radical form of philosophical idealism, believing that reality is purely spiritual and the material world an illusion.[10] This includes the view that disease is a mental error rather than physical disorder, and that the sick should be treated, not by medicine, but by a form of prayer that seeks to correct the beliefs responsible for the illusion of ill health.[11]

(In general a proposal to change a sentence that there intro should be an uncontroversial, because in theory the lead only summarizes the content in the body. But in practice it is controversial for CS, since it is probably all that is read by most first-time readers curious about CS: per Richard Dawkins "In the US there are 535 in congress of which 534 claim to be devout religious believers.")
Our proposal was to say in that paragraph something like

Scholars see Christian Science as a unique Biblical interpretation, but point out important doctrinal differences from orthodox and Protestant interpretations.

  • We don't need to say "scholars see" because in the context of WP, we simply make authoritative statements that move the audience (and then cite the source). In WP policy we do the same thing and don't cite.) It's a powerful abstraction. Religious critics (e.g. Melton) are, like music critics, scholarly, respected for having lots of knowledge in there field. Notice how often our article omits the scholar's name? That's good narrative. As narrative writers we pick sources (and interpret them) as secondary and tertiary sources, but we also pick our own statements from S&H, and then we more probably do say who says.
Caveat lector: By "scholar" we mean "religious", by "we should" do this or that we also imply "find a source", which means to cherry pick if necessary; hence the current state of the article could be as innocent as the many changes proposed. For example, by your "I meant to question", I know you meant to get reassurance to, then find a source to, back up the answer we can agree upon.
  • "uniqueness" is not stressed in the article, and to me for now, it is too obvious.
  • "Interpretation" is good question. I say bury it in an implication. If the CS founder's interpretation was fairly termed a revelation and a lesser reader's interpretation was fairly termed an inspiration, then we can just say "revelation". "Interpretation" is too narrow, since S&H is a "revelation" from MBE built for reader "inspiration". In the story of her revelation, it is just her Bible and her fall, no Quimby, just scientific and logical coherence, per se, and Jesus. Critics will detect particular aspects from other religions; of course Quimby and Eddy were probably both far more widely influenced than just the Bible. (I don't know.) Quimby and Eddy say the same thing "I only go by the Bible", and even deny one another as authorities, so that Jesus is their only authority. Since Eddy said her only authority was the Bible and Jesus, S&H (CS doctrine, CS theology) is revelation, not mere interpretation, for interpretation is of parts, but per se CS is a unified metaphysics, whole, testable and verified, a worldview from biblical inspiration. 1)Keys to the Scriptures is a sort of indirect proof of revelation (indirect because it is going from earlier authority which were also the same source of revelations — God — already written down). 2)The rest of S&H, per se, is direct (progressive) revelation, as it emerged a whole worldview that was testable (and thus scientific). It was indirectly Biblical because of course, Revelation is by definition directly from God, and at best indirectly from any sacred scripture.
  • There's no need to say "point out" that CS is unorthodox. All the religious denominations have "several important doctrinal differences" that should be the focus in the critical analysis of their respective Theology sections.
The current (third) paragraph says "in particular ..." and parades a few chosen "facts" as if it is addressing the doctrinal differences to be fully presented in the body, but it is just cherry picking where it says "in particular...". In the actual body of the article, (the supposed target reference in the intro) we do have, in the Theology section, "Eddy redefined the Christian vocabulary, leading to the reinterpretation of several Christian concepts, including the Trinity, divinity of Jesus, atonement and resurrection". So the list of theological differences are a clause in one sentence of a two sentence paragraph where it says "including...". That list that should be the focus of the theology section. The section "Christian Science Theology" (aptly titled in a style that reflects the off-topic spirit of the article) is not about theology, but more on parading CS practices in an absurd light.
(The entire article seems structured and titled, and filled with content that is negative criticism, or warnings. Even where there is a way to interpret neutrally the description of CS theology and practice (and thus evoke a curious smile) there are peppered throughout the (unstructured thematically) article, rudeness and disrespect. For example, where it currently uses "redefine" and "reinterpret"? The reality of the situation it purports to explain is that the glossary and much else of S&H is really intended to be more of an extension to mainstream and orthodox definitions and interpretations than they are "replacements" as suggested. The way it it with "replacements" resonating in the words, is suggestive of brain-washing. The whole article projects its own spirit. Per the Reddit subgroup Wikipedia, much of what WP offers on Christianity is the same way, for example, the article on "the historicity of Jesus" is alleged to be hotly guarded ("owned"), off-topic, Christian apologetic, and having little to do with its title "history", which a science much like religion. See our History article.)
That's all it says about the theological differences before going on to go on picking out particular statements in a parody parade. There is no one place in the article where major doctrinal differences are presented in a structured, coherent, informative and neutral way. Why bother to say in the lead that there are differences, but never specifically carry out the presentation? Logically the differences are, if CS today does indeed adhere in some fashion to both the canon in part and S&H in its entirety, that S&H (and modern CS Sentinel and modern CS Journal) theology 1) has biblical, Christian content but also (a list of) non-biblical content, and 2) content that ignores some of the canon, or conflicts with it, or has general, widespread practices that ignore or conflict with it.
  • I would propose, as a statement in the intro, something like

Christian Science is a representative of the metaphysical interpretation of the Bible. Its coherent doctrine[a][b][c] gives it mass appeal[a][b][c], and the founder's revelatory take on the biblical canon[a][b][c], delivers biblical inspiration to many looking to the mind-body connection[a][b][c], even if it contains elements outside of mainstream literal interpretations.

and then in the body have a Theology section about its mainstream aspects, and a criticism section that presents both sides of key theological differences current in today's world.
Let us take a moment to reflect on the fact of the WP:NOR plus the narrative imperatives of Wikipedia to conclude that what we have in our article is a bunch of CS critics' stories, rolled into a narrative that is a good read, if not just for just the drama, you know, where people get hurt and stuff. If the drama seems to protect itself by way of overall structure, headings, each sentence and every word, then we have a good read with a policy problem: neutrality is equally as important as citing sources and NPOV has far more priority than prohibiting COI editing (the spam problem). I'm only trying to heal the spirit of the article from highly questionable (I could list the slights) to a neutral POV. (I'm not affiliated.) A new reader of CS is born to the intro whole and sees things wholly until they learns sides. We shouldn't drum sides that way, we should drum sides in a way that takes the sides that already exist in the religious world and neutralize them. Again WP:POV is as important as sourcing. Our article reads like a hijacked one, because in every section someone takes Wikipedia's flight and beats, more on one drum than the other, current proposals to the punches that are selected sources.
So is S&H itself really Christian? Biblical? Revelatory? Out of respect for the supportive history that there is and for MBE, yes, that's the story we should be narrating. Then we have the Criticisms, and of course it is large section. But still we should try to artistically convey the spirit of CS for reading periods sections long that leave out critical distinctions as to just how "indirect" and "off" and imperfect all of the productions of living things really are. (I know, its "unAmerican" not to have good (deceptively perfect) advertising and marketing presentations of any kind.) Imaging a History section presenting CS history, furthermore a history as an honest, nothing-to-lose MBE would write it, or as some imagined Minister of Religion and Religious History would present it to their constituency, CS the way CS is unto itself, and how it developed from what it was historically to itself, its own story of its own goodness, to what it is today, and how its adherents stuck with it even though the world transformed the original reasons. The Criticisms section would talk about her "debt to Quimby", her distance from mainstream, finer points from the marketing ploys, necessary politics, MBE's human imperfections, etc.
CpiralCpiral 00:24, 11 October 2014 (UTC)
Cpiral, I note your repeated articulations re: the need for rethinking the article (and have sought to participate as intelligently as I am able). I, too, hope that SV feels welcome to respond.
With your new proposal above, we have two issues.
1. The para you cite in full begins, “Christian Scientists see their religion as a return to "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," in the words of Eddy's Manual of the Mother Church (1895). There are several key differences between Christian Science and orthodox Christian theology.” I agree it's an improvement toward NPOV that "despite" is gone (thank you, SV, or whomever is responsible).
My initial proposal was to modify the second sentence here to account for how scholars, not adherents alone, describe CS as Christian in some form. According to WP:RS, the article does need to respond to this hearty list of sources in some way. (Sorry for the relink - just a refresher after a few lengthy, though understandable, interludes.) Balancing this lit with what we've already got in the article, the emphasis overall is on a mixture of continuities and differences, not only with Christian orthodoxy, but with many forms of Christianity.
How about modifying this paragraph to read:
“Christian Scientists see their religion as a return to "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," in the words of Eddy's Manual of the Mother Church (1895). There are both continuities and differences between Christian Science and other forms of Christianity. It is a Protestant-oriented [Curtis and Klassen], pragmatic [Gottschalk], revelatory [Albanese, Weddle], “branch” [Wilson] of biblical interpretation with a healing theology or metaphysics [Bednarowski, Schoepflin, Albanese, others]. It refigures the orthodox Trinity (Gottschalk, Wilson), replaces traditional clergy with pastoral books, uses a distinctive lexicon, and recognizes inspiration but not authority in church councils (all in Wilson). Its interpretation of God’s Allness [Bednarowski, Peel] is expressed in a radical idealism…” and then go on with the rest of the paragraph.
The goal here is to state the relationship of CS to various Xtn expressions according to a wide variety of sources (as wide as we can make it) without commenting on/insinuating whether or not it is "right."
2. Your new paragraph (“CS is a rep of the metaphys interp of the Bible…) seems to be a proposal to replace the lead sentence. Or another para "somewhere in the intro," as you say - but targeting larger descriptive issues, rather than the narrower issue of sims/diffs with other types of Xty my proposal addresses. You introduce new topics in it, such as public reception, "mass appeal," and the mind-body connection that seem outside the scope of our current proposal. Can we move it to a new Proposal section and discuss it there? Or does what I provide above incorporate enough of what you're after, though in a different form (biblical, revelatory, inspirational, etc)? Ath271 (talk) 18:56, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

Idealism proposal[edit]

We have this sentence in the lead: “they subscribe to a radical form of philosophical idealism…”

Nothing turns up on “philosophical idealism” in the three sources cited. Wilson 1961 uses “subjective idealism” once in relation to CS (134). Battin doesn’t use “idealism" at all. Looking at other sources, Schoepflin uses “radical idealism” (2003, 28). But I don’t find any sources that use “philosophical idealism.” Gottschalk 2006 calls MBE’s theology pragmatic over against philosophical.

So proposal is to remove “philosophical” and just keep “idealism.” Or cite Schoepflin 2003, 28, and revise e.g. "they subscribe to a form of radical idealism" ("radical" is used pretty often to describe CS, but Wilson’s “subjective idealism" appears to be a singular use). Ath271 (talk) 08:14, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

From the entry on "idealism" in the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy: "The philosophical doctrine that reality is somehow mind-correlative or mind-coordinated - that the real objects constituting the "external world" are not independent of cognizing minds, but exist only as in some way correlative to mental operations. The doctrine centres on the conception that reality as we understand it reflects the workings of mind. Perhaps its most radical version is the Oriental spiritualistic or panpsychistic idea, renewed in Christian Science, that minds and their thoughts are all there is - that reality is simply the sum total of the visions (or dreams?) of one or more minds." While the description is (at least) incomplete (it leaves out the core issue of God as the one Mind) this is a reputable scholarly source that includes CS in the most radical category of philosophical idealism. I would be concerned that if "philosophical" is left out that the everyday sense of "idealism" (motivation by human ideals) would be understood, which would be incorrect.Be-nice:-) (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 12:54, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
BN, so terribly sorry to let your comment languish. As I explained to Cpiral above (in the 15 mins I had over the weekend), I put this page on watch a few weeks ago (probably the day you replied) and figured I'd get email notifications re: changes. That hasn't been the case! I'm not sure why, but at any rate, I'm back to manually checking and hope you won't give up on me.
The problem with the "philosophical" characterization is that the sources cited don't use it. Idealism, yes; philosophical, no. I think I see your concern with "idealism" alone: that it suggests a type of humanism. I'm not sure whether I agree that this is the case, and overall I feel that possibly suggesting something is better than inaccurately stating something.
Yet both concerns can be satisfied rather easily. The Cambridge Dictionary entry you quote could be sourced, along with Schoepflin 2003 p. 28, to replace "philosophical" with "radical." Would you support that?
NB: You may recall that this same Camb. Dict. entry was once sourced on this page to describe CS as "panpsychistic," but that was removed because it is an isolated source and thus considered "tentative" by WP standards. But the "radical" characterization appears pretty regularly and so could be used. Ath271 (talk) 19:56, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Hi Ath, sorry for delay replying. "Radical" is fine, but since the idealism in question is in a dictionary of philosophy I don't see why "philosophical" shouldn't apply. Idealism in a non-philosophical sense can mean simply being motivated by non-materialistic ideals, which is not really what CS is about, at least not essentially. For example, Schopenhauer was an idealist in a philosophical sense, but not in the everyday sense; and Marx was (perhaps) an idealist in the everyday sense, but not in the philosophical sense. Mary Baker Eddy would have been an idealist in both senses: but in her case the philosophical sense is the most important.Be-nice:-) (talk) 22:47, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

No problem, BN, and thanks. "Philosophy" is often a cognate for "religion" in a certain sense (one usually divorced from praxis), so the issue isn't with the use of that word per se. It's with the particular phrase used here, which invokes an idealist tradition (Hegelian) CS isn't a part of. I'm on the run but will clarify what I mean later today, and think on your examples a bit more. Ath271 (talk) 13:57, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
Okay BN, I've given more thought to your examples and want to be sure I'm following the logic in them. A) I'm not sure what the end argument might be here, but it seems that CS could be (and has been) very much described as "being motivated by non-materialistic ideals." What instead do you see it motivated by, if not by non-materialistic ideals (principles, values, standards, patterns, models)? B) When you separate "philosophical" from "everyday" idealism, what exactly do you mean? Theory vs praxis? That would make sense given your Schop./Marx examples, but I want to be sure I'm following you. Ath271 (talk) 11:33, 30 September 2014 (UTC)
A little more on this when you're able to have a look. I wasn't sure I was right in equating phil. idealism with Hegel strictly speaking, so after getting a bit confused looking through the Stanford Encycl. of Phil., I asked a friend from Stanford with a BA in philosophy and PhD in phil of religion. Her acquaintance w CS is through doctoral exams and readings in American religions. She says (just pasting verbatim): "If you're talking with people most familiar with continental traditions of philosophy/theology, then yes, "philosophical idealism" will most certainly conjure Hegel. I wouldn't really say it's a cognate for german idealism, though - yes there are many idealisms (Husserl's, for example - and tho he's German, it's an entirely different century...). If your readers know Anglo-American philosophy, however, they may not think about Hegel at all. There are, no doubt, strains of idealism in Anglo-American phil, not that I could really describe them to you. So: as to whether Xn Science is a philosophical idealism, I really don't know, but... [to] emphasize praxis and the "radical" part over the idealism makes me think that it's all quite different from "philosophical idealism" - both the German kind and whatever Anglo-American kind there may be. On the other hand, the key feature of idealism is that it posits the reality of ideas over material or empirical objects/objectivity. So by that measure, Xn Science might be an idealism (?)"
She articulates my hunch (and refines/corrects it) far better than I could. "Phil idealism" recalls specific German or Anglo traditions CS isn't grouped with (from the perspective of those traditions, not the perspective of CS per se). And "phil idealism" is generally conceived over against praxis and "radical idealism." It's odd to describe it as both. So from a phil. perspective it appears to be an "idealism" and a "radical idealism," but not a "phil idealism" (which helps clarify why none of our sources describes it that way). Ath271 (talk) 16:21, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Note how at the bottom of the page, on the expandable "Idealism" template, the single word "idealism" is used to convey "philosophical" idealism when used by itself. Expanding that we have many kinds of philosophical idealism, mostly fitting for CS. I think our article could define CS by placing it in the areas of how it fits in philosophies of yore and science today. — CpiralCpiral 00:49, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Yes, idealism is a topic within the discipline of philosophy. But within that discipline, the descriptor "philosophical" has special meaning in contrast to "radical," "pragmatic," and so forth. That more fine-grained level is what this minor proposal concerns itself with. (The macro level is interesting in its own right, though a different conversation - linked in a cosmic sense, but not a specific one!) Ath271 (talk) 19:05, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

Recent edits again[edit]

Would like to raise again concerns with biased and vague language in last paragraph under the Metaphysical Family section: currently "they differed in that, where New Thought was inclusive, Eddy's philosophy was dogmatic and sectarian". Dogmatic and sectarian are both words that don't contribute much to the facts but do have negative connotations. I would suggest changing to "they differed in that, where New Thought was inclusive of many beliefs, Eddy's philosophy was strictly Christian" Playdoh poetry (talk) 02:08, 4 September 2014 (UTC) Ok, going ahead Playdoh poetry (talk) 00:34, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Hi Playdoh, your edit changed the meaning of the sentence, and moved it away from its source material. It also left it making no sense. The issue is not related to Christianity (other New Thoughters were Christian too); it is about how Eddy's views were dogmatic and sectarian compared with other New Thought groups, and how she saw herself as delivering a final revelation. The next section (Christian Science theology) deals with Eddy and Christianity. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:46, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Hi SV, what do "dogmatic" and "sectarian" mean to you? Could you elaborate on what you think those words convey? Playdoh poetry (talk) 13:15, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Great to see improvements and a move toward more balanced perspective in this paragraph. I think this sentence should be removed: "Eddy's idea of malicious animal magnetism marked another distinction (that people can be harmed in some sense by the bad thoughts of others), introducing an element of fear that was absent from the New Thought literature.[23] ". It now seems like a rather random point; there are of course many distinctions and this is a fairly minor one. It also seems rather sweeping to say that fear was entirely absent from New Thought literature - that would need more backup. The paragraph would run more smoothly as follows:

New Thought and Christian Science differed in that Eddy saw her views as a final revelation.[22] Moreover, Eddy dismissed the material world as an illusion, whereas New Thought viewed matter as merely subordinate to Mind; this led Eddy to reject the use of medicine, or materia medica, and made Christian Science the most controversial of the metaphysical groups. Reality for Eddy was purely spiritual.[24]

Playdoh poetry (talk) 12:59, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

No, MAM was a crucial distinction, not a minor one at all. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:52, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
Is there a source for that? It seems like there are a lot of major distinctions - focus on Christianity, Biblical emphasis, etc that are discussed only later. Not sure why harm from bad thoughts (or MAM as you term it) would be such a focus at this point in the article. Also, I'm not sure what "introducing an element of fear" is mean to indicate. I don't think there is evidence that Eddy intentionally tried to introduce fear to her religion, nor is there evidence that New Thought is completely free from the notion of fear. At the very least, I think "introducing an element of fear" should be removed. It seems very subjective. Playdoh poetry (talk) 00:41, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
The sources for any given point in the article are in the footnote that follows it, at the end of the sentence or paragraph. There are many sources that discuss the importance of MAM to CS, and how it served to differentiate CS from the New Thoughters. I used independent sources to support the material, but it's worth noting that a key CS source – Stephen Gottschalk (The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life, pp. 128–129) – is in agreement with them. He contrasts Eddy's focus on MAM with the New Thoughters' avowed optimism. SlimVirgin (talk) 07:01, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, have also done a bit of poking and agree that consensus is that this was an important distinction. Interesting. I think the bigger issue here may be that though this is relevant in this section, it is also a relatively minor point in the subject of CS in general. So perhaps the sections could to be reorganized. I am going to have a closer look at how encyclopediae structure their articles on CS and then propose something. Playdoh poetry (talk) 18:43, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, a key difference described in the lit. The way the popular cultural/scientific term "animal mag" was integrated into religions emerging in the late 19th c. differed across the board. Taves 1999 traces how what she identifies as the mesmeric and NTh tradition adopts this European-derived term as its practitioners commonly used it, to describe a healing force; whereas CS adopts it as a unique way of describing the human concept/experience of evil. The term phased out of Nth usage (argues Taves) with the advent of psychiatry, which began to culturally embody the functions previously held by "animal mag" in its mesmeric-healing sense and eclipsed it as a "scientific" practice, partly by introducing hypnosis as a therapeutic.
So, a historical and theological difference. The larger picture seems to be that these two religions have very different theodicies. Ath271 (talk) 22:07, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the extra context, Ath. What might be useful then is to have a bit of this in the paragraph. The current wording "MBEs idea of MAM" implies she just came up with this out of the blue, but you seem to be saying (based on Taves) she was responding to and utilizing a popular term. Also I've seen less of the "malicious" AM in the lit that I've looked at, though it does pop up. Do you have any suggestions on how the sentence in question could instead highlight the historical and theological differences between Nth and CS's definitions of AM? It seems like that would be relevant to and improve this paragraph. Playdoh poetry (talk) 20:55, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
Theodicies, how evil could exist. (CS had no theodicy?) MAM, how another mind is evil. CS was formed before psychiatry. Hmm, CS was formed before the light bulb. MAM, then is history. MAM was Eddy saying her detractors were hurting her church, a church which was (and still is) a thing of good intention (per extreme judicial and social scrutiny), and so the obstructors/doubters were an evil (if only because they were a distraction from her personal contemplation and compilation that was constructing the church that was to do the good in the world). In her effort to see the world as having no evil, she must have been having personal difficulties to the extent that she asked those other people to work to dispel the MAM influence coming from her personal detractors, and it must have worked for her personally because she kept doing it. So what? MAM is not part of CS theology. (It's part of the History section in the Eddy article?)
Besides, it might very well be a category error for us to try to compare the MAM in her personal experiences of her mind vs the evil in a theodicy of a religion vs the vague generality of a cultural historical movement (NTh) that said there was no MAM: the MAM and fear just get further and further removed of course as we reach NTh. The thing about the Mind: it's supposed to be one, but just try that oneness thing and see how hard it is to accept someone else mesmerizing you (for better or for worse) when Christianity has an inner personal healer/mesmer that is a mind (Jesus) that is the mind of the Mind. Unlike Quimby/NTh Eddy rejected mesmerism as a theology and accepted it as a personal necessity, so MAM's not a CS theology, just as Eddy is not CS theology. Here's one for ya: Solipsism, the belief that all is one's own mind. (It is a weak philosophy in the sense that it has been refuted soundly several times, for aesthetic and pragmatic reasons, as either a "scientific" truth or a computable/logical truth.) — CpiralCpiral 10:46, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
Theology has a history. That's all I meant to imply! And that the sources here seem to be saying that based on its use of the term "AM," CS has a distinct theodicy, compared to Nth. The question of how MBE's personal experience was and was not interwoven with her theological choices is a rich one, though not one I imagine can be settled here. Likewise I'll leave the ins and outs of theodicy as a larger discipline and inquiry for another time, though I duly note and appreciate your points. Ath271 (talk) 19:14, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
@Playdogh poetry, at this stage of the section of the article in question, the appropriateness of noting MAM is, to me, now a relatively minor issue for discussion. There are bigger problems. (In the article I think we agree it is awkwardly developed, stands out sorely.) I believe you'll find a Criticisms section is an encyclopedic style (and discussed in the MoS). Now as for the reason for "recent edits", (our discussion topic), I think the section Metaphysical family is trying to be encyclopedic, is carrying on in an almost detached and neutral way about CS (which is a doctrinal religion) and NTh (which is a general religious movement, and so a poor comparison) having a worldview about influences: how influences are to us, how they are mentally powerful, how we can interpret influences being mental only (radical, yes) and thus achieve a spirit to fight the good non-fight against a non-existent evil. This is the aim of CS theology, but this context is blown away, lost, by surprisingly dramatic (surprisingly disrespectful) personal statements like "Eddy this" and "Eddy that". The comparison being defended by SV to showcase the theology is an historical comparison. This works until, as you said, the last part; there it starts up the drama and personalization implicit in all historical contexts; as a theology explication the historical method (a kind of comparison) is poor for this reason. I would argue the entire section should be radically changed to be written in active voice, not past tense and to use better comparisons that aim more to show what the CS theology is not, or to show what the CS theology is indirectly, rather that what it is from within historically or fom within by direct philosophical statements. Of course direct statements must be made, but the abstract nature of the topic means it can't be said directly as a method to achieve full coverage for the entire CS theology. (Few if any comprehensive attempts exist, ask Ath271.) Rather we poor sobs can only start accepting into this wiki article lots of cherry picked comparisons to illustrate the major premises of CS theology. (Seems doable.) And the historical method is, well, read it and weep. We need a receptive structure and a set of scholarly watchers, something vastly different than what we have, which is a sort of enchanted fortress.
Even if the drama is true (e.g. the "Science" of "Christian Science" is entirely Quimby's idea) it is out of context in a theology section about a very abstract metaphysics concerning the mind/Mind of a new and fantastically miraculous, heavenly utopian, ancient resurrected, Christian worldview and objective "scientific" reality. In their proper context in this article (Eddy has her own), the dramatic truths will be carefully and considerately respectful to Christian Science, (that living religion in our world right now today, the practiced, the doctrinaire religion), and not attack Christian Science theology by stabbing Eddy in the back in that (or any other) section. When I read the section now the changes in order are clear. Get the Eddy and Quimby drama out of there. (Turn them into role playing with each other in a Criticisms scene in a play focused on what CS is to scholars.) Get CS theology as the central topic, and compare its metaphysical stance to comparable religions (mainstream or not) and philosophies. By setting up a more structurally receptive reformatting of sections, wiki can cite those comparisons as they are discovered during the course of religious and philosophical studies in general, uncovering (valid) comparisons in the remembrance of stated major premises we could make in the section lead. Derive the theology by making comparisons, and by direct statements, but don't try to derive the theology by saying what it is indirectly via Eddy (her alleged methods of acquiring the theology, her questionable stances on her theological development at that time), or spend too much indirectness by using historical/cultural comparisons. (We have an article on NRM and an article on NTh.) The proper, revealing, comparisons need to be side by side right here, not paragraph (after paragraph) by paragraph, and not by history as is done at the beginning of the (Theology subsection) Metaphysical family. — CpiralCpiral 10:46, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
Cpiral, which specific section are you talking about ? The Overview? It sounds like you are talking more about the History & Development. I do agree with you that considering there is a MBE page, there seems to be a lot of overlap. I'm going to be mainly offline for a while but am interested in continuing this conversation. Playdoh poetry (talk) 20:55, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Playdoh, I just saw your post to me above. You’re welcome, and so sorry to have missed your comment and question at first! I’ve learned by trial and error that WP asks us to put ALL our comments at the end of any given post. Even if several paragraphs from another user intervene, just specify who you’re addressing, and the content you’re speaking to will be clear. That way the most recent posts are always at the bottom of the thread, easy to identify.

The sentence in question has been altered, but the paragraph retains the implications that appear to trouble you. I also noticed that “MAM” phrase appears far less frequently than “AM.” In fact I see that “MAM” doesn’t appear at all in S&H. (This is true even in 1887, the first edition the term appeared in.) That makes me wonder where "MAM" is used and why (if not in her book), and how third-party sources distinguish between/use the two terms, and why this section makes mention of one without the other. This brief section could also be improved to WP expectations in other basic ways: it is almost entirely biographical, whereas we already have an MBE page; it defines this aspect of the theology by citing one or two brief, early incidents and alleged responses in MBE's life; these incidents and responses are interpreted very differently by other sources, yet our article cites only one viewpoint; the definition given isn't clearly drawn from a wide variety of sources balanced against one another; and touching on your specific concern, it would be helpful to have larger cultural context for the term "AM" contextualizing how MBE used it. I'll reflect on these needs in order to give a more proper response to your question. Ath271 (talk) 19:41, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

History and teaching --> Writing and development, along with much of the article's structure and content seems a charade, a farce on Eddy CS. The Mclure's magazine articles were done by those who sued her and lost? S&H 102:1 says "Animal Magnetism has no scientific foundation." Yet the article says 'Cather and Milmine wrote. "Those who did not believe in it dared not admit their disbelief."' (talk) 23:26, 12 October 2014 (UTC)
Agreed, there is an opportunity here to better conform to WP:RS. McClure's is also 110 years old with over a century's worth engagement, interrogation, and re-imagination by ensuing scholars. We can improve the article by representing those more recent findings and contextualizing McClure's as an influential primary source parallel with Sibyl Wilbur's sympathetic c. 1906 biography. For such reasons I don't see WP standards recommending either Wilbur or Milmine as a key source straight up. But if we're going to stick with the current strategy, at least it could be more balanced re: pos and neg sources. Here are search results for "animal magnetism" in Wilbur. Very different from Milmine's narrative. Ath271 (talk) 19:30, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

Archiving settings[edit]

I've changed the archiving to wait six months. That should make it a bit easier on anyone who wants to improve the article to follow, contribute, and understand spirit of the discussions. Perhaps someone will extract the last six months out the archives so that anyone can work scanning with a straight text search, rather than with a results page listing numerous archives. There could be as little as one conversation in an archive, per the miszabot settings.

Minimum days was changed from 30 to 180.

Minimum threads left was changed from 1 to 20. — CpiralCpiral 17:02, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Not a cult[edit]

"Eddyism" was regularly referred to as a cult; one of the first uses of the modern sense of the word was in A. H. Barrington's Anti-Christian Cults (1898), a book about Spiritualism, Theosophy and Christian Science.

Most people will read that thinking we live in modern times, even if the literati say post-modern. Melton quotes Yinger on the modern view of NRMs:

(Note: 'primitive christianity', etc. are refs to CS not being a cult.)

The article's statement in question (at the top) should probably not be in the theology section, (esp. in the context of "modern"), but rather in the history section of the NRM article. New religious movement#Opposition makes the same error with cult as we do. Per Melton, in the linked paper above, an NRM is not a cult. (If it was a cult, it could not be an NRM.) Melton should know, he's, like, the father of New Religious Studies. To Melton (see the rest of the paper from the quote):

  • An NRM is not a cult.
  • CS is an NRM because it is classified as a primary religious organization.
  • NT is not an NRM because it's defining characteristics classify it as a secondary one.

Cult is the issue here; the term "dogmatic" is a past issue; the phrase "element of fear" is still an issue.

While I'm at it I want to use that same paper of Melton's to point something out about "element of fear". "Element of fear" is a characteristic made by a scholar we cite who compares CS to NT. But by citing that author the way it sounds in our article, we are comparing apples to oranges because CS and NT are in two different religious categories. Melton makes CS a primary religious organization in the metaphysical family. We say that. Then we pick a different scholar to (wrongly) compare the doctrinaire "animal magnetism"(a chapter in S&H) to NT. But NT is a secondary religious organization. I believe that means NT has no specific doctrine comparable to S&H, but that it has a general spirit meant to represent a broad cultural movement in an appealing and attractive way. (Afterall, it is our culture, and we've made "New Thought the Movie", a movie about what is called "Higher Thought".) So I think the comparison and characterization is entirely unfair for that reason.

Scholars can be biased and yet cited. Discussions are then in order.

The proper scholarly cite would say something that compares like things in a similar category (religious theology): "Unity Church (an NT member, not the class NT itself) has no element of fear and no dogmatic statement in its doctrine". But that proper scholarly cite does not exist anywhere because of course no specific NT church (Unity, Religious Science, etc.) or any church , or any NRM, is without "dogmatism" and without "an element of fear", (or any other institution on the planet). A label like NT, on the other hand, does not have dogmatism and elements of fear, just as an advertisement does not (or any other growth oriented, intake mechanism).

<rant>Yet we actually compare CS to NT in our article; we are actually misaligned (categorically speaking), and therefore unschooled like the poor extremists and fundamentalists and propagandists and politicians having to cherry-pick citations from certain authorities by bending them out of context. Other cherries picked in our article are from the Christian Science religio-historical events, politico-historical events, gender issues, the CS board events, the events around church building, acting as if these things are not universal in each of the categories (all churches, all politics, all powerful women, all boards).</rant>

The literature, and the statement in question (at the top), says "Eddyism" in the context of a cult, and so does the literature bashing CS. Yet it is in the theology section. The CS glossary is full of Eddy's idiosyncratic interpretations of the Bible, like an Imam interpreting the Koran. There may be some evil in CS and Islam, but is there not something good about CS and Islam? And are we not responsible for taking the reader to a consistently neutral view of CS. letting the reader decide on the facts, before being taken to a (non-existent!) criticism section, as our MoS says? The literature says "Quimbyism" in the context of a mighty cultural movement. "Good and evil" is a worldview; it makes for good structure, good debate, good teaching; but neutrality is more Zen, and we can have both if we make the critical viewpoints a span of reading separate from the rest instead of peppering the content with it.

The incessant "Eddy this" and "Eddy that" (e.g. Metaphysical family section, last pgraph) seems to be cherry picking historical, gender, social-politics-related events at the CS board, the CS publishers I would make a radical proposal: don't mention Eddy if at all possible, or form a special section for it, away from the description of the living, breathing souls of the CS membership. The Sentinel has this to say about it "To call Christian Science 'Eddyism' is just as logical and fitting as to call algebra 'Newtonism.' Christian Science is a science and not contingent upon any human personality."

Eddy said that her true self was in S&H, and so to look for her there. In other words that giant, respectable, honorable, beloved, famous woman says "forget Eddyisms", look at the S&H theology, man! She herself was imperfect of course, and I say we should look at the S&H theology not as if it is a person, but rather as some kind of geological formation, with a special section on travel dangers. — CpiralCpiral 10:32, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

It seems fair to note that CS has been referred to as a "cult" by those opposing themselves to it. (And it's also fair to use that term as scholars use it, but as you note above, that is a slippery slope requiring a very large contextual explanation, which this page has determined it doesn't have space for - all in archived discussions.) Yet I see your point that the sentence in question raises thorny issues it then doesn't address.
Do you have a specific proposal re: this, the "element of fear" phrase that concerns you, or how to more accurately/fully distinguish here between NRM/cult, CS/NThought? Or are you hoping other editors will engage here to further the conversation and jointly craft proposal(s)? Ath271 (talk) 18:44, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
The "element of fear" is a theme throughout the article as it stands. The idea pops up in different sections and contexts as well. As does the (in this article) connected idea of "bad thoughts" being harmful and scary. This seems to me more of a tick than based in scholarship. If it is based in scholarship it needs to be explained further. I don't have a proposal, but would be interested if Cpiral has proposals about what/how to correct this, or if there is a way to approach it in a more scholarly and less sensational way. Playdoh poetry (talk) 15:32, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Hi Playdoh, the “element of fear” view is a strong thread in early anti-Eddy polemics and sources that cite these authoritatively. Balance comes via arguments in RS that re-interpret, counter, and nuance this thread. See post in response to your question below (re: Balance in A.M. section).
Though not all CS views and terms are unusual, some are, and I can understand how the A.M. thing is hard to get a handle on in the article. There's a need for care to avoid painting indigenous beliefs and experiences as exotic/strange cf dominant worldviews (ie shades of Said’s orientalism). This lessens sensationalism. I think any of the quotes/sources in the new section below would help with this as the article develops. Ath271 (talk) 15:36, 22 November 2014 (UTC)


SV, I made some minor edits to try to give a more balanced, scholarly perspective on the very brief references to Quimby and CS in the Metaphysical section, which you have reverted. I imagine that part of your concern is that it is too specific in this section. I agree. However, we are not going to make it a more balanced survey than it currently is, I believe we should completely remove the Quimby material at this point and make this section much more brief. There is a Quimby section below where that material belongs. Moreover, as other on this page are saying, there seems to be a real confusion between MBE and CS (this is the CS) page, which I see much less of in published encylopedia pieces. So I propose removing Quimby from this section. (Moreover, saying that Quimby is the "father of mental healing" needs more serious qualification and citation than it currently has, so this would solve that problem as well.) Playdoh poetry (talk) 15:17, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Hi Playdoh, I hope you don't mind that I moved your post to a new thread. Yes, it was too specific; also you removed that the movement traced its roots to Quimby, the "father of mental healing," which is the mainstream view; your own source says something similar. That section is a brief overview of the mainstream position; we go into more detail in the lower sections. Quimby is there because he was central to the metaphysical movement and a key link to Eddy. Is there something in the other sections that you feel should be added about Quimby? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:42, 8 November 2014 (UTC)
Hi SV, Thanks for starting the new thread. And also for your slight adjustments to the article section which shift the focus more to CS and less on Eddy herself. I can see that "father of mental healing" is likely taken directly from Teahan 1979. To be honest, it is mostly as a feminist researcher that I have the most issues with the phrase. These days it grates to use the phrase "the father of" to describe the relationship of dead white men to movements, etc. It's just so patriarchal!! :-) What is lost in taking that out? What is added in keeping it Playdoh poetry (talk) 23:48, 8 November 2014 (UTC)
I see what you mean, but I think it's okay. It succinctly sums up the view of most of the sources. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:14, 11 November 2014 (UTC)
I agree that this is a minor point and a more important discussion is the later Quimby section, however, I propose this instead: "The mental healing movement traced its roots to New England clockmaker Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802–1866)." More concise. Loses the repetition of "roots" and "father". As far as I can see though many sources link CS to Quimby, they differ significantly in how much they believe Quimby "fathered" CS. So I don't see any harm in dropping that and making the article seem a more balanced and current in its tone. Playdoh poetry (talk) 01:59, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

Balance in A.M. section[edit]

Here are a few arguments within RS that re-interpret, counter, and nuance the article's existing narrative. (Apologies for length; more relevant material exists.)

1. The focus on A.M. within the CS movement largely took place in the 1870s and 1880s:

  • Moore locates Eddy’s public focus on A.M. in the 1870s and “well into the 1880s” (112)
  • Gottschalk 1973, 149: “After this point [1880s] there appeared very few article on animal magnetism and mental malpractice in the Christian Science periodicals…the whole subject became much less a topic of conversation in the movement.”
  • Gill locates her discussion of A.M. in the movement’s early years (1870s-early 1880s).
  • Milmine, currently cited in footnote 151, refers to this early period as well; clarifying this would help context/accuracy.

2. After the 1880s, MBE and CS lessened their focus on A.M. (and the problem of evil generally) over time. Moore implies public focus lessened; Peel, Gottschalk, Gill, Wilson say or imply overall focus lessened:

  • Moore implies A.M. focus entered CS theology generally: “The invention of Christian Science, with its promise of dispelling illusion, had simultaneously created a counterforce that was just as strong.” (112)
  • Wilson (127) counters Moore’s idea that MBE “invented A.M.: “Mrs. Eddy denied that she had invented animal magnetism; she said that it had always existed in human consciousness, and that she simply pointed out its significance.”
  • Wilson (127) notes teaching on A.M. became less personal over time: “In her earlier years Mrs Eddy usually attributed mesmerism to her apostate students, but later she taught the unwisdom of taking up (in thought) individuals when treating animal magnetism; she then regarded it as impersonal in its operation and sometimes even as unconscious in its animosity.”
  • Gott. 06 p 267: “By the end of the 1880s, she came to see this phenomenon in far less personal terms and with a distinctly different emphasis. Addressing the subject in a class, she said she was going to ‘talk something up to talk it down.’ She took special pains to make sure that her students did not develop a morbid fascination with the subject...”
  • Peel 71 p284 - In 1889 a student named Joshua “Bailey proceeded to give excessive emphasis to it [ie idea of A.M.], frightening some of the readers and irritating others by publishing sensational accounts of the dire effects of unresisted mental suggestions. Mrs. Eddy several times took him to task for this and ordered him to publish nothing more on the subject until the overheated readers should be prepared to look at it more rationally and positively. In the Journal of August, 1890, she wrote: ‘The discussion of malicious animal magnetism had better be dropped until Scientists understand clearly how to handle error,--until they are not in danger of dwarfing their growth in love, by falling into this lamentable practice in their attempts to meet it.’”
  • Gill cites “early analysts” to call MBE’s initial focus on A.M. “obsessive” (205). She partly agreeing yet also feels Eddy was justified in this bc of the extreme “enmity” of early students (Gill 270). She calls “more important” Eddy’s focus on A.M. her “attempts to get beyond this focus and find some kind of serenity and control” (267).

3. The CS focus on meeting/overcoming/moving beyond A.M. is equal or superior to a focus on the problem of evil itself (note correction to misquote/partial quote and edition info):

  • Wilson (127) says integral to teachings on A.M., “The realisation of the impotence of mesmerism is the only effective remedy against its influence." This teaching of A.M.’s “impotence” should be accounted for, or only half the story appears.
  • Gill notes Eddy’s ultimate “rejection” of the power of mesmerism or a.m., her claim that Christian Science healing “is not one mind acting upon another. . . . It is Christ come to destroy the power of the flesh” (322).
  • The article currently says “In 1889 she called it “literally demonology," and argued that it had gained strength from Christian Science "as if to forestall the power of good."[149] However, the full quote is on CS overcoming the appearance of evil and establishing “harmony”: "Christian Science stands preeminent for promoting affection and virtue, in families and the community. Opposed to this healthful and elevating influence of Mind, as if to forestall the power of good, a baneful and secret mental influence has uprisen; but Science can and will meet all emergencies, and restore the normal standard of harmony (S&H 1889 p214- 40th ed.).
    • NB: The above quote actually first appeared in the 1886 edition (p. 214), the same year the chapter title “demonology” was removed. The term “demonology” disappeared entirely from S&H after 1894, so while historically important for a short chunk of time, the article shouldn't give the impression this is a key term in the religion.
  • In footnote 151, Milmine is quoted as saying that Eddy’s students were always on guard and distrustful when they believed her teaching on MAM. Any of the above quotes would bring balance to this assertion.
  • The full teaching of what constitutes evil, and how God and God’s creation deal with it, is called theodicy in monotheistic religions. The main sources on this re: CS are here.

4. The CS focus on A.M. was part of a larger cultural and historical focus:

    • Albanese 2006, 353, argues that teaching of M.A.M. existed cross-culturally: “Malicious animal magnetism, or its near relative, apparently inhabited the East as well as the West." (Albanese overall seems to agree with our article's existing narrative, but this particular point brings new context)
    • Curtis 2007, 127, on caution re: A.M. existing in evangelical divine healing groups: “despite cautions and qualifications [against laying on of hands, baptism by non sanctified person, etc] such as these, however, the specters of animal magnetism, mesmerism, and especially Spiritualism continued to loom large for defenders of divine healing.”
    • Taves 1999 provides a history of A.M. in the West and locates C.S. within it. Her arguments are complex, multiple, and highly influential (broadly quoted). The section on A.M. would be improved by noting them. Ath271 (talk) 15:24, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

@Ath271. Thanks for all this info. I've reread the M.A.M section with this in mind and will think of how to incorporate some of it because it does seem like this gives a more balanced approach. At the moment it does seem rather sensational - as researchers and readers are increasingly aware it's always a warning sign in texts about women's literary history when the woman is depicted as (stereotypically) slightly hysterical or as involved in a variety of witchcraft. The article doesn't say that at the moment, but the implication is there. So we definitely want to neutralize that tone a bit. And it's useful to understand the wider context, including the antagonism of some of Eddy's students. More soon. Playdoh poetry (talk) 02:08, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Sure, Playdoh. I've been buried in professional stuff for the past few months but am here now. Sounds like you have your own take on how to interpret and present a more balanced approach, and how to use and retool the sources I've presented. I may not entirely agree but look forward to more. Ath271 (talk) 18:35, 25 February 2015 (UTC)


Hi all, haven't had time to keep tabs on this entry recently due to work. Anyway, this is inaccurate (section on Metaphysics): "Adherents believed that matter emanated from a supreme cause or consciousness…" In context, this implies that Christian Scientists believe this, which anyone could tell you they do not. Can it be fixed, in the interest of the accuracy of the article? Thanks.Be-nice:-) (talk) 23:38, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Melton warned that no attribute (e.g. that matter emanated from mind) of any of his families (e.g. the Metaphysical Familey) applied to any of his religions (e.g. CS). Because we cannot expect readers to grasp this subtlety, we then must explain the inclusion of the section about "New religious movement#Metaphysical family" beliefs. But wait... it is clearly out of place in an article about CS beliefs, just as "Idealism", "Hypnotism", or "Mind/body problem" would be.
But this should present no problem to the wiki. 1) Just a simple wiki link has the power to remove clutter (material that is off-topic), bias (blinding by "structural brilliance"), and information bloat (that naturally trickles over other articles). 2) Anyone can do it. WP:Be bold. WP:There is no cabal.
Like fresh water there will be numerous and natural affronts felt by fresh readings against the way the current article reads. The content of the current article continues to fail tests of logic, rationality, neutrality, and being on-topic. (See the discussions above, and Cpiral prefix:talk:christian science/Archive) The context of the situation, being a wiki, means it won't stand forever this way. Happy editing!
CpiralCpiral 19:44, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

Hi, this is me again (see first entry under this heading). Apologies - I'm on a different computer and I don't have my log in details to hand. Anyway, here is another inaccuracy, and I propose the sentence simply be deleted, since it is both inaccurate and unreferenced: "Adherents believed that matter emanated from a supreme cause or consciousness, variously referred to as Divine Mind, Truth, God, Love, Life, Spirit, Principle, reflecting elements of Plato, Hinduism, Berkeley, Hegel, Swedenborg and transcendentalism." This is certainly untrue about CS. It is also untrue about Berkeley (though for different reasons). (talk) 12:16, 11 April 2015 (UTC)