THE HEALING REVELATIONS OF MARY BAKER EDDY by Martin Gardner

THE HEALING REVELATIONS OF MARY BAKER EDDY

The Rise and Fall of Christian Science

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Gardner (The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, 1983, etc.), world-class debunker of paranormal phenomena, now turns his demolition skills on the woman who founded one of America's most successful home-grown religions. The title is bitingly ironic, for Gardner considers Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science to be neither healing nor revelatory but, rather, a farrago of wild imaginings. According to Gardner, Eddy (1821-1910) suffered from ``delusions of grandeur'' and ``delusions of persecution,'' and wrote her books by plagiarizing other writers. In fact, he declares, Christian Science's central precept- -that Divine Mind is the sole reality, and illness and death illusions--was lifted by Eddy from the teachings of a ``quack'' named Phineas Parkhurst, who cured her of a spinal ailment. Eddy always denied her connection to Parkhurst, claiming that her doctrines came as a direct transmission from God; to Gardner, this is yet more evidence of her ``outrageous lying.'' He makes a strong case, demonstrating Eddy's plagiarism in damning fashion by placing her writings side-by-side with her apparent sources, and detailing her relentless persecution of heretics, her nervous disorders (including lifelong morphine addiction), and her extraordinary fears (she believed enemies were killing her through ``malicious animal magnetism''). Most welcome from the standpoint of literary history is the author's favorable reassessment of Mark Twain's forgotten booklength battering of Eddy, Christian Science (1907). More inquisition than objective report, but on target: a well- aimed tomato to the face. (Photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-87975-838-4
Page count: 250pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993




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