Happy International Women’s Day! I love that this day exists for us to celebrate all kinds of diversity and women who are making an impact around the world. One of those women, one who I’m so glad we have to celebrate today, is Mary Baker Eddy. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the impact that Mary Baker Eddy has had on the world, not just in her discovery and founding of Christian Science, but in the groundbreaking and integral ways she created progress in the world from the 1870’s to now.
“A remarkable woman, a pioneer- one of the most extraordinary of whom there is a record,” read the Harper’s Weekly newspaper in 1910 on Mary Baker Eddy. At the time of the first publication of Science and Health in 1875, opportunities for women were… minimal, to say the least. So, for a woman to publish a book, and a book about religion nonetheless, was radical.
From the start, Mrs. Eddy saw the true idea of man and woman as equal in God’s sight. Actually, she was one of the first women in the United States with a public platform, other than the popular women’s suffragists, to uphold the equality of women. In Science and Health she writes, “Union of the masculine and feminine qualities constitutes completeness. The masculine mind reaches a higher tone through certain elements of the feminine… Both sexes should be loving, pure, tender, and strong.” She saw very clearly what many of the time could not. However, changes were beginning to occur all around the world, and Mary Baker Eddy had an immense impact on the matter. The way she did so? Through demonstration.
One of my very favorite stories about the impact that Mrs. Eddy had on empowering women of the time is the story of Caroline Bates. During the construction of the Mother Church, the workers were having a tough time building the 120 foot tall tower. Hopeless, they came down and voiced their agitation. Without a second thought, Caroline Bates climbed the two unstable ladders to the top and said, “We will go up and find a way to do it.” Bates wrote, “There was one thing to do,” and she was able to do it because of the confidence Mrs. Eddy had helped to instill within her. Later, Mrs. Eddy would say, “Woman, true to her instinct, came to rescue the sunshine from the clouds.”
Mrs. Eddy questioned the world around her, how people thought about science, religion, and even women’s rights. She was compassionate and powerful, delicate and immensely strong, kind and brave. She called people to action in a way that was radical for the time and continues to have a lasting impact on our ability to speak up and stand up for the things we believe in. She used her voice to start a religion based in Love and healing, and that’s something that we can all look up to. In fact, the Fairbank’s Daily Times said of Mrs. Eddy, “No woman ever lived who did more to strengthen faith and direct the footsteps of humanity toward the Master.. the work she did endures and will endure forever.”
When I think about the strong women role models in my life, from camp counselors to family and friends, I’ve realized that so many of their attributes align with the enduring work that Mary Baker Eddy demonstrated throughout her life. The example that Mrs. Eddy set is such a great reminder to all of us, no matter who you are, in caring, accepting, and advocating for Love, and that’s something that we can all celebrate today!
–written by Tatianna Plefka; CLC alumna