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Star of Boston: The Life of Mary Baker Eddy by Helen M. Wright

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Part III



In several places Mrs. Eddy tells us that her book, Christ and Christmas, is her life story, and that in Christ and Christmas the star of Bethlehem is really the "STAR OF BOSTON," though it was too early to say this to the general public at her time. Christ and Christmas is about Mary Baker Eddy, the Wayshower who brought the Second Coming of the Christ in fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy to send the "Comforter" to reveal all that Jesus, 2000 years ago, was not able to tell the people of his time, as they were just coming out of mythology.

There can be no doubt that the poem and pictures in Christ and Christmas reveal the high points and deep significance of Mary Baker Eddy's life.

Irving C. Tomlinson writes regarding Christ & Christmas:

Mr. James F. Gilman, the illustrator of this inspired poem (whom I visited at Mrs. Eddy's request) has told us in his memoirs that Mrs. Eddy once said to him: "Do you know what you have done? You have portrayed to the world what I am as God's messenger to this age."

In seeking the lessons to be learned from the illustrations of Christ and Christmas we must remember that our beloved Leader has given us important data which should be kept in thought. She describes Christ and Christmas as "hopelessly original" (Mis. 371:28). Of vital interest are her words in Miscellaneous Writings which tell us that the illustrations 'refer not to personality ["Those who look for me in person...lose me..."], but present the type and shadow of Truth's appearing in the womanhood as well as in the manhood of God, our divine Father and Mother'" (Mis. 33:8). Tomlinson adds, "These notes on Christ and Christmas had the approval of our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy."

Nothing in Christ and Christmas lulls us to sleep; it is front burner stuff all the way. To the spiritually-minded reader every page of the book's incredible insights have a healing effect, for they show how Science and Health is transforming the thinking of the world, just as education transformed mankind's thought about the earth's flatness. Mrs. Orgain writes: "The message of Christ and Christmas is expanding with every approach, always revealing the wonderfully balanced view which is the result of the manhood and womanhood of God operating in unity."


The information we will look at in Part III will come primarily from two sources. The first source is Alice Orgain's insightful book, Angelic Overtures of Mary Baker Eddy's Christ and Christmas, quoted above. Mrs. Orgain explores how Christ and Christmas depicts the spiritual history of the life of Mary Baker Eddy in coincidence with the unfoldment of Science and Health. The first picture, she says, covers Mrs. Eddy's experience previous to her discovery of Christian Science; the second and third pictures cover her nine years of teaching and practice before she established a church, and so forth.

Alice Orgain's book shows "not only the spiritual life of Mary Baker Eddy in coincidence with the unfoldment of Science and Health, but the limits of each phase of institutional church as it progresses to its prophesied completeness, as illustrated in the pictures of Christ and Christmas and as outlined in the poem and its Glossary."

The second source for Part III is an inspired and thoughtful analysis entitled An Explanation of the Illustrated poem, Christ and Christmas, with remarks by Judge Septimus J. Hanna and James F. Gilman. This manuscript, which has been in print for many years, is believed to be based on notes Judge Hanna made on at least one occasion when he was present while Mrs. Eddy instructed the artist, James Gilman. Unfortunately no one seems to know who the author of this piece is, nor have I succeeded in tracking down the Hanna notes on which it is based. In the discussion that follows I credit it to Judge Hanna cautiously, with a "?".

In this book we will alternately shine the light first on Alice Orgain and then on the interpretation based on Judge Hanna's notes. Important spiritual observations by John Pawlik will also be included as appropriate.

Alice Orgain's Angelic Overtures is well over a thousand pages in length. It therefore seems best to take from it only those remarks most applicable to the ideas under consideration. Note-taking from Alice Orgain's 1070-page book is complicated by the fact that Mrs. Orgain's marvelous insight into Mary Baker Eddy's life made her want to pack everything into one sentence, or one might say into one suitcase, even if it sometimes meant leaving a sock or a bootstrap hanging outside.

More frequent use of periods would certainly have enhanced what this great, spiritually-minded author brought to light. Where punctuation is concerned, many, like Mrs. Orgain, have never met the most beautiful mark of all. It is called the "period," a dot all writers should love. The correct use of the period would surely give tired readers, or even alert ones, a break.

In the following discussion of Christ and Christmas, the reader is urged to remember that where ideas are drawn from Alice Orgain's prolific spiritual explanations, much of the wording is also hers. I have only paraphrased lightly to simplify the text, and added the blessed period here and there. The language and concepts remain complex, with much for the spiritually-minded reader to assimilate and understand for himself.

The second source, An Explanation of the Illustrated Poem, Christ and Christmas, with remarks by Judge Septimus J. Hanna and James F. Gilman, is much shorter than Mrs. Orgain's 1070 pages and the language is more succinct. Therefore it is quoted directly, with comments by this author inserted as needed for clarity. The same is true of the quotes from John Pawlik, a good friend of this author.

In the book Christ and Christmas each of the eleven pictures is paired with one or two stanzas of Mrs. Eddy's poem. The GLOSSARY of Christ and Christmas also gives Scriptural texts that are the basis of the sentiments in the verses corresponding to each picture. To aid discussion of each picture, we will start each section with the picture itself, and its title and number, followed by its portion of the poem and its scriptural basis.

Sub-sections labeled "Alice Orgain," "Hanna?" and "John Pawlik" will follow in that order, with occasional comments by the author offered for clarification of the picture under consideration.

Both the Alice Orgain book and the analysis based on Hanna's notes explore the symbolic content of the pictures in Christ and Christmas in detail. The reader should note that these illustrations were much clearer in the early editions. Much in them has become obscured by poor rendering of the pictures. Thus some observations refer to elements which are now impossible to see.

Symbolism in Christ & Christmas

Before we look in detail at each picture, the reader may find the following brief summary of symbolism used in Christ and Christmas interesting. It is quoted from a three paged typewritten carbon copy which bears the penned notation, "To Mrs. Orgain JEJ 5 April, 1949." It is thought these notes were sent to Mrs. Orgain by Joseph E. Johnson after he read her book, Angelic Overtures, published in 1941.


Christ and Christmas: An interpretation by Judge Hanna, who was present [possibly more than once] when Mrs. Eddy gave instructions to the artist.

The pictures are the objects of the references on pages 115 and 116 of Science and Health:

Black in each picture is "first degree," depravity, lines 21-24.

Gray is "second degree," evil beliefs disappearing, lines 26, 27.

White is "third degree," understanding, lines 2, 3, 4-10, (p. 116).

First Picture: Black, gross materiality, error, unreality, Star of Bethlehem (which was really the "Star of Boston" but it was too early [for Mrs. Eddy] to say this). The star is the Christ idea - Truth appearing to the world to destroy error.

2nd Picture: Death of the First Degree - note the ugly coffin. The black robe on Jesus' shoulders represents the cross. Note woman in gray, in prayer. Note the man, [in] black [background,] Pharisaical belief, showing astonishment. Note the woman in the coffin, eyes opening, showing spiritual discernment.

3rd Picture: Quill of pen touched by divine Light; candle is half-burned showing Mrs. Eddy's life was half-spent when she discovered Christian Science. Clock on wall shows time is behind her. The animated serpent [old theology], First Degree, would bite the heel of Truth - Divine Light coming through the window (there must be an opening).

4th Picture Where is the star? The tree is grotesque. Artist did not wish to paint this picture, no beauty in Christmas tree which exists only to celebrate the birth and death of the human Jesus and this belief is responsible for human birth, [mortal, material] beliefs.

5th Picture: One Shepherd and one fold; twelve sheep, two figures blending into one, represents spiritual individualism [white robed purity uniting "in one person masculine wisdom and feminine love, spiritual understanding and perpetual peace]. The angel knows "Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present."] "Watch and Pray." River represents Euphrates ["Divine Science encompassing the universe and man" (S&H 585:14)], prophecy of the Mother Church is in background; light gray note black steeple, First Degree, [despotic ecclesiastical] thought, old theology.

6th Picture: Old belief leaving the bed; medicine is behind him. Curtains, FIRST DEGREE, are drawn back, and light coming through brings the theological thought in matter to state of prayer. Note picture on wall, "Breaking through the clouds of darkness" etc. The Woman's robe reaches base of bed and represents understanding, symbolizing her thought reaching the foundation of sickness as merely error, hypnotic suggestion, illusion, ignorance of divine being.

7th Picture: No barriers of age to Truth.

8th Picture: [Mary Baker Eddy took an hour each night to know the truth for the world.]

9th Picture: Circle represents world. Note that Jesus has laid off the robe, showing dominion. Take Christian Science to the world, and in that light creation is shown anew.

10th Picture: Child thought sees or perceives Truth. Woman [Science] knocking at the door of mortal mind.

11th Picture: Foreground is FIRST DEGREE, [then] following the path of light up to the right way, leads beside "still waters" and "green pastures." The cross, smaller one, represents demonstrations; birds represent God's winged thoughts. Note white dove coming from heaven with thought messages nearest the cross. Left side of picture reached same destination, but the way is rugged.

Again, the mission of Christ and Christmas is to lift Christianity into Science.

The notes quoted above agree to a marked degree with the symbols identified in the longer manuscript, An Explanation of the Illustrated Poem, Christ and Christmas, with remarks by Judge Septimus J. Hanna and James F. Gilman, which strongly suggests that both sources accurately reflect the content of Hanna's notes.

As we will see, Mrs. Orgain, as well as the unknown author of An Explanation, and John Pawlik add some valuable insights to the understanding of these symbols.

After each picture we thought you might like a little laugh, so the following brief jollies represent notices that have been seen on church bulletin boards. They were submitted to us by one of our email subscribers.

 The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.


Star of Boston book sections

Introduction | Part 1a | Part 1b | Part 2 | Part 3

Christ & Christmas Pictures

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11

Summary | Conclusion



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