Christian Science: Background information when reading History of Wolves

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History of Wolves

by Emily Fridlund

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund X
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2017, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts

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Beyond the Book:
Christian Science

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Christian Science was founded in 1894 by Mary Baker Eddy as a means of embracing "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." The foundational text is Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, published in 1875, which Emily Fridlund references several times in History of Wolves.

The administrative headquarters of the Christian Science church in Boston, MassachusettsMary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) grew up in a family of devout Puritans, and her early life was beset by hardship. She was frequently ill as a child, and as a young woman she lost both her brother and husband in a short span. Beginning in 1862, Eddy was in correspondence with Phineas P. Quimby, proponent of an early form of homeopathy. She combined Quimby's beliefs with her own religious convictions to create Science and Health and launch the Church of Christ, Scientist. Eddy spread her message via lectures at Massachusetts Metaphysical College and sermons at Christian Science churches, successfully attracting many dissatisfied Protestants to the faith. Though in her own lifetime Eddy was viewed as a controversial figure, and her teachings denounced by many, contention against the Church hit a peak in the 1980s-90s due to a spate of legal issues.

There are about 1,100 Christian Science churches currently operating in the United States. Adherents believe in a literal interpretation of Jesus' New Testament assertion that "Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing," i.e, performing miracles, though they eschew terms like "miracle" and "faith healing" and claim their beliefs are based in science. This "science" contends that people, having been made in God's image, are entirely spiritual beings, and anything physical, injuries, illness, etc., is a state of mind and not "real." As such, all that is required to be free of one's ailments is to think or pray oneself well again. According to the Church, these methods have been used to cure everything from cancer, to diabetes, to broken bones. Though they insist that members are not forbidden from seeking traditional medical care, in Science and Health Eddy claims that visiting a doctor is "inviting defeat."

Picture of administrative building of Christian Science church by Maksim

Article by Lisa Butts

This article was originally published in January 2017, and has been updated for the November 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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