MBE’s Lasting Influences & Modern Day Impacts

A non-exhaustive Book List

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Most CS who have been out for a few years have read at least one heart-wrenching former-CS memoir, one eye-opening unauthorized biography, and one book that talks about how CS is a cult (if you haven’t, here’s a book list).

We agree, looking at MBE’s origin story in context is important, and we feel it is equally important to call attention to how MBE (and her teacher PPQ) have helped shape and influence American culture this day. To that end, the ExCS team has compiled a non-exhaustive list of books that discuss how strands of PPQ and MBE’s works have worked their way through New Thought, New Age, Positive Thinking, Prosperity Gospel, Manifesting your Reality, pop psychology and American culture at large.


Each Mind a Kingdom, by Beryl Satter firmly places Ms. Eddy in the historical context of the New Thought movement, as an undeniable student of Quimby, and inspiration for several prominent New Thought leaders (aka renegade students), one of whom, Emma Curtis Hopkins, went on to inspire a much larger group of prominent individuals in the New Thought movement.


One Simple Idea, How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, by Mitch Horowitz, which charts the history of the positive thinking movement from Quimby and Eddy, to modern day prosperity-gospel televangelists.

Horowitz discusses, at length, the Quimby-Eddy-Dresser triangle over who wrote what and when. Quimby published “almost nothing during his life.” Quimby’s writings were held by the Dresser family after his death, and his “edited notebooks did not begin to see publication until 1921.”



Bright Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Bright-sided discusses the impact of the positive thinking movement on several areas of our lives. The author, Barbara Ehrenreich, is neither optimist nor pessimist but is a realist. She explains the origins of positive thinking as a reaction to Calvinism, while still maintaining the Calvinist belief of “self-examination.” Beginning in the late 19th century, some philosophies and religions began to move towards the idea that regular, intentional positive thought (or prayer) breeds positive experiences. 

Today this idea has been enlarged it to the point it touches practically every aspect of our lives. “Wonderful,” you may say. But as Ehrenreich explains with wry humor and clarity, positive thinking also places responsibility for everything that happens in the hands of those who believe. It’s important to understand the manipulation that exists in these positive thinking methods, and that seems to be the author’s primary goal.


Lingering vestiges of Quimby and Eddyism continue to thrive in modern times. While they may have taken on new terminology, the tangled relationships of social and religious reforms alternative religions and medicine, and psychology persist. Pull at the threads, do a quick search, and you may find the answer is actually repackaged 18th century nonsense, that has been repackaged again several times. Take what works for you (or not), and proceed with care.


Do you know a book or resource that could help make this list more complete? Leave a comment, or if comments are closed, drop us an email!

Christian Science is a Cult

Originally published on kindism.org, reprinted with permission. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of kindism.org and ExChristianScience.com


Christian Science is a cult, not occult1, a cult. Some of you will probably stop reading now, or will immediately start composing comments that Christian Science is NOT A CULT. Cool.

If you’re not ready to call Christian Science a cult, that’s okay too, I find “cult” really shuts down the conversation. When I first started questioning and leaving, the posts screaming that Christian Science was a cult (usually for Biblical reasons) were a huge turn off. If you’d like to explore the Biblical reasons2 that Christian Science is wrong, I’ll link some resources at the bottom of the post, that’s not my area of interest.

So if you’re not willing to read about Christian Science being a cult, perhaps you’ll read about Christian Science as form of mind control. Or you might stop reading now, I don’t know.

Former Christian Scientist, now Christian, Linda Kramer, has written a book clearly laying out how Christian Science is a form of mind control, it is called Perfect Peril: Christian Science and Mind Control, and it talks through mind control expert Robert Jay Liftons’s Eight Criteria for Thought Reform.

Lifton wrote Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China. I tried to read it a while back, but it is a dense book, and focused on brainwashing of political prisoners. I didn’t really connect with it, as most Christian Scientists are born into it3, so it isn’t so much brainwashing as it is our reality from day one. I got about a third of the way into it, bogged down, and I think it ended up at the local library book sale (this was pre-COVID19).

So what are Lifton’s Eight Criteria for Thought Reform? As listed in, and heavily paraphrased from, Perfect Peril p. 55-57, they are as follows:

  1. Milieu Control – information management – you should only read authorized material, and goodness knows what untruths Eddy’s contemporaries might have written about her!
  2. Mystical Manipulationleader claims divine authority — Eddy’s case some people claimed she was the Woman in Revelation
  3. Demand for Purity – strive to achieve the unattainable, nothing like failing to make a “demonstration
  4. Cult of Confession – over emphasis on confession
  5. Sacred Science – beliefs and teachings are considered sacred, it says on the cover, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and the Weekly Lesson is “divinely authorized.” Logically all enlightened thought must eventually work its way back to CS.
  6. Loading Language – group has its own jargon, so much jargon. Don’t worry, you’ll learn about Aggressive Mental Suggestion during Class Instruction. Or not.
  7. Doctrine over Person – experiences contradicting doctrine must be ignored – you didn’t have a healing, you must have been doing it wrong, please don’t share it with us.
  8. Dispensing of Existence – elitist attitude often results in shunning of members who chose to leave. This is fairly self explanatory.

I found Kramer’s book much more relatable and far easier to read. It is a slim volume, under two hundred pages, with the last forty or so devoted to Kramer’s personal journey out of Christian Science, and Biblical arguments. Kramer works through Lifton’s Eight Criteria for Thought Reform one at a time, pointing out how Christian Science fits each one, and uses authorized Christian Science sources. I now await comments about how the Devil can quote scripture for his own uses.

For those of us who were (or are) entrenched in Christian Science, stepping back and critically examine Christian Science in relation to these eight points is not always easy. Devil quoting scripture or not, Kramer lays out very solid, often relatable examples of each of the eight criteria. As a former Christian Scientist herself, she also acknowledges that these don’t necessarily feel like a problem when we are actively involved in Christian Science. It feels normal.

I was initially hesitant to read Perfect Peril as I knew Kramer had taken a different spiritual path away from Christian Science than I had, and I did not want to be given yet another list of Biblical arguments against it. I was pleasantly surprised that Lifton’s Eight Criteria were the main focus. I did read the Biblical critiques, but they did not resonate with me the same way Lifton’s criteria did.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll probably find Perfect Peril at least interesting, possibly enlightening, and maybe life changing. I found it validating as Kramer identifies, labels, and provides clear examples for each of the eight criteria. Kramer also gives background on Christian Science and Eddy from Church-Approved Sources, and sources from Eddy’s time.

Perfect Peril is quite an impactful book, I found it more easily approachable than God’s Perfect Child (which is excellent for a fuller picture of the Christian Science movement as a whole, but not an easy or quick read), and far less gut-wrenching than fathermothergod (which you will need to read with a box of kleenx near by). While all three belong on the bookshelf (or in the e-reader) of an former Christian Scientist, I think Perfect Peril will be my new go-to to loan out to the never-CS in my life who have questions about it.


  1. There are some Christian Scientists who dabble in Tarot, Astrology, Numerology, esoteric mysticism and hold some really weird views about the (coming any day now) Apocalypse, I’m not going to link to them. I’d like to think they’re a fringe group of extreme-CS, but there is more than one of them and those are just the ones sharing their views on the internet.
  2. The Fellowship of Former CS has Biblical Resources about why Christian Science is wrong — if you have issues with these, take them up with someone else, in case it wasn’t already very obvious, I have not taken a “Christian” path away from CS.
  3. The 2016 Survey by ExChristianScience.com shows 90% of Christian Scientists were born into it, and another approximately 5% are introduced to it by their parents before the age of 18. 5% of people were converts, and as this was a survey of former Christian Scientists, even the converts left. https://exchristianscience.com/tag/ex-cs-survey-2016/

Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920

Originally published at kindism.org, republished with permission and slight modification.


Each Mind a Kindgdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920, Satter

Each Mind a Kingdom, firmly places Ms. Eddy in the historical context of the New Thought movement, as an undeniable student of Quimby, and inspiration for several prominent New Thought leaders (aka renegade students), one of whom, Emma Curtis Hopkins, went on to inspire a much larger group of prominent individuals in the New Thought movement.

Satter touches on Ms. Eddy’s control of the Christian Science “brand” through copyright and church structure, verses the New Thought movement’s lack of organized framework, and popular teachers having their own followings/ideas. When you think of Christian Science, you think of Ms. Eddy, when you think of New Thought there are nearly a dozen big names who have influenced the movement over the years, each adding their own interpretations and ideas to the mix.

Each Mind a Kingdom, is a dense read, heavy on the historical and sociological aspects of the New Thought movement. It also addresses the evolution of the New Thought ideas from Quimby, through his primary students: Dresser, Eddy and Evans, and their students, and so on, as they are modified, re-worked, and shared.

Satter discusses the social and economic conditions in which these ideas began, and why they were popular with white, upper and middle class women. New Thought provided women a platform with which to make, among other things, social reforms, and economic opportunities through income from faith healing, lectures, pamphlets, and teaching.

I highly recommend Each Mind a Kingdom for anyone who is interested in the origins of Ms. Eddy’s and New Thought ideas, as well as the broader context in which Ms. Eddy began her religion.

There is also this wonderful chart which shows the spread of New Thought, 1875-1920 from Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920. Beryl Satter

 

The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science

The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science, by Willa Cather.The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science, Willa Cather

 


This book is a compilation of a series of articles that appeared in McClure’s magazine between January, 1907 through June, 1908 with Georgine Milmine listed as the sole author. It is now known that author Willa Cather had extensive involvement in the writing and editing of these articles.

– Jeremy


The authors traveled New England interviewing people who had actually known Mary Baker Eddy from childhood through her adult life and the growth of her movement. McClure’s [magazine], where the articles originally appeared, was one of the foremost journals of investigative journalism of its day, and the series was damaging to the aura of Eddy and the respectable image of Christian Science that The Mother Church had tried to cultivate. I remember from my class at Principia College on the History of the CS Movement that the book was ‘nothing more than baseless yellow journalism.’ But after reading it, it’s clearly credible journalism that must be taken seriously.

– Bruce


Mary Baker Eddy was her own worst enemy, as much of the damning material from this book is in her own words. Highly recommended.

– Anonymous


I had been relieved of my Christian Science beliefs for about seven years when I read this book. I knew by then that the system simply didn’t work, and that many who tried to follow it had suffered greatly, but I had not been aware of the truly misanthropic nature of its founder. Of course the work was condemned as lies by followers of Mary Baker Eddy. Denial of facts is at the heart of Christian Science.

– Marion

Christian Science (Twain)

Christian Science / Twain

Christian Science, Mark Twain


From Mark Twain’s book Christian Science, 1907 edition, pp. 208-209
[Mary Baker Eddy is] grasping, sordid, penurious, famishing for everything she sees—money, power, glory—vain, untruthful, jealous, despotic, arrogant, insolent, pitiless where thinkers and hypnotists are concerned, illiterate, shallow, incapable of reasoning outside of commercial lines, immeasurably selfish—
[But] to her followers she is this: patient, gentle, loving, compassionate, noble hearted, unselfish, sinless, widely cultured, splendidly equipped mentally, a profound thinker, an able writer, a divine personage, an inspired messenger whose acts are dictated from the Throne, and whose every utterance is the Voice of God.

HILARIOUS.

– Madeleine


I was an enthusiastic believer until age 20, when I picked up Mark Twain’s book Christian Science in a book store. I read two pages, and it felt like a glass dome around me shattered. I bought the book but hated it for what it had done to my perfect illusion. The transformation I experienced while reading it felt involuntary, like someone had tapped me rudely on the shoulder and disturbed my reverie.

– Elizabeth


Priceless. I was rolling on the floor.

– Katie J.