Biography of Messiahs and Prophets Mary Baker Eddy Part 2

About the famous religious figure Mary Baker Eddy, biography and history of the founder of Christian Science.


MARY BAKER EDDY (1821-1910)

It was the turning point. For the next 10 years she lived in a series of boardinghouses and private homes, telling all who would listen about her insight into the true nature of mind, body, and religion. She expanded on Quimby until she arrived at a cosmology that declared God to be both male and female, hailed the superiority of spirit over the physical world, and placed Infinite Mind at the center of the universe. Pain and sin, she explained in her book Science and Health, are mere "mortal illusions" that evaporate upon exposure to an acceptance of cosmic truth.

All this struck a responsive chord among New Englanders, especially the educated, well-to-do city women. The founder settled into a Boston brownstone that became her living quarters, classroom, and lecture hall, as well as headquarters for her burgeoning movement. In time she chartered the Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. In eight years the church went from one 50-member congregation to 20 churches, 9 societies, at least 250 practitioners, and 33 teaching centers throughout the U.S.

At age 56 Mary Baker was married for the third and last time. Asa G. Eddy, a traveling sewing-machine salesman, served his wife's organization as business manager and financial counselor.

Once Mary Baker Eddy had mixed easily with assorted hypnotists, seers, psychic massagers, and fortune-tellers. But after establishing her own church, she drew a sharp distinction between Christian Science and the less "respectable" psychic arts.

Increasingly, Mrs. Eddy was convinced that her enemies were projecting streams of destructive telepathic power to frustrate and upset her purposes. She called this power "malicious animal magnetism," later shortened to M.A.M. When Asa Eddy died in 1882, the autopsy gave the cause of death as a heart ailment. Not so, declared the widow; he was done in by "malicious mesmerism" and "metaphysical arsenic."

In the last quarter-century of her life, Mrs. Eddy solidified her power at the top of an autocratic church organization. To offset unfavorable publicity and to counter the lurid popular journalism of the day, she began her own publishing company and a daily newspaper called The Christian Science Monitor. Directing church affairs from a country retreat, she was seen less and less expect by a small coterie of trusted students. They surrounded her day and night, to tend to her needs and to ward off the constant bombardment of M.A.M. from outside.

To the larger circle of followers, she became known as "Pastor Emeritus of the Mother Church" or simply "the Leader." She was worshiped as a near deity by many. Others believed she would conquer death with a modern-day resurrection. To their dismay, the end came on Dec. 3, 1910. She was 89 years old. The county coroner ruled death was due to "natural causes, probably pneumonia."

Mary Baker Eddy left an estate valued at $2.5 million, nearly all of which went to her church.

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