Bronson Alcott in Mrs. Eddy by Edwin Franden Dakin

An author for whom I have long felt admiration, Edwin Franden Dakin was in his early thirties when he became “controversial” thanks to the furious reaction of the Christian Science church to his brilliant 1929 biography of its founder. Dakin (1898-1976) coauthored a 1947 book about cycles in business, science, etc., and edited a 1940 collection of Oswald Spengler, but produced no further works of his own. Born in Hannibal, Missouri, Dakin was a cousin of Tennessee Williams. While exploring the Boston environment of Sarah Stanley Grimke, I’ve reread Dakin’s illuminating study for insights into the opposing viewpoints of her contemporaries. He sees Eddy’s major accomplishment to be the creation of a new religion:

The whole strength and backbone of the achievement was its reliance on theology to explain and validate what Quimby had sought to establish rather on philosophical grounds. Psychology and philosophy are both answerable at the bar of scholarly criticism. Theology is immune to assault. Her first debt was undoubtedly to Quimby and perhaps to Emerson through Bronson Alcott…(p. 111)

Although her admirer Alcott was steeped in philosophy, Eddy was promoted by him as a divine mouthpiece, as quoted by Dakin:

The profound truths which you announce, sustained by facts of the immortal life, give to your work the seal of inspiration—reaffirm in modern phrase the Christian revelations. In times like these, so sunk in sensualism, I hail with joy your voice, speaking an assured word for God and immortality, and my joy is heightened that these words are of woman’s divinings.(p. 184)

Recently the youtube animations of Rev. Lux Newman have come to my attention, and I have found many of them worthwhile. None more than Mrs. Eddy telling her own story, in Retrospection and Introspection. Enjoy!

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