This letter to the editor was submitted to The Wall Street Journal, in response to an opinion piece that referred to Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
It is true enough that Mary Baker Eddy’s writings sometimes drew derision from the literary scions of her day, including William Dean Howells (Journal, May 29). Yet even Howells’ friend Mark Twain ultimately came to feel—as he wrote rather wistfully in his otherwise sardonic published caricature on Christian Science—that “the thing back of [the teaching] is wholly gracious and beautiful….
”For many who have responded to them, Eddy’s writings are alive with heart and humanity and a driving spiritual conviction of God’s realness that transcends literary convention. It isn’t the bland sentimental vision often assumed. As the novelist Henry Miller—another unlikely appreciator, to say the least!—astonishingly put it in his memoir Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch: “I had read quite a little about Mary Baker Eddy but I had never, strangely enough, gone to the book itself…. Mary Baker Eddy became very real to me…. I saw her as the great soul she was, human, yes, human to the core, but filled with a great light, transformed by a revelation such as might occur to any of us were we big enough and open enough to receive it.”
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