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Watching on the Walls: Meeting Resistance to Truth

From the June 2010 issue of The Christian Science Journal

In his article in this issue of the Journal (p. 27), Tom Black has brought out the crucial importance Mary Baker Eddy placed on Christian Scientists being alert to and dealing with the aggressive resistance to Truth she called "animal magnetism." She expected Christian Scientists to meet it with a healing response that was not naive concerning its nature, but that also recognized the powerlessness of evil in the face of the omnipotent power of God and His Christ.

One way this resistance showed up during Mrs. Eddy's lifetime, and ever since, has been in the area of public discourse about Christian Science. Beginning in the 1870s, Mrs. Eddy and other Christian Scientists began to refute publicly disseminated falsehoods about Christian Science. She made this activity a permanent part of the healing mission of her Church in December 1898, when she started the Committee on Publication. The Committee, at first consisting of three members, began its work in January 1899. And by the next year, Alfred Farlow had been appointed to head up the activity from his base in Boston.

As I've read Mrs. Eddy's letters about the Committee on Publication, it's been interesting to me to see that her conception of it was very far from its being merely a "public relations" arm for her Church. She saw its purpose as deeply Christian—as an activity itself impelled by the light of the Christ triumphing over all that would resist its healing power. A good illustration of how Mrs. Eddy's vision for the Committee was translated into action can be seen in documents written in the midst of the aggressive media attacks on Mrs. Eddy and Christian Science during the years 1900-1901. This was the period of a sensational lawsuit brought against Mrs. Eddy by Josephine Woodbury, a student of Mrs. Eddy's who had left Christian Science and was now doing everything she could to bring it down. One of her first major efforts along these lines was a vicious article about Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science, published in May 1899 in The Arena magazine.