On this day in 1821 was born the founder of the Christian Science movement, Mary Baker Eddy. She was a girl in poor health who began to see faults in the religious teachings of predestination and original sin. This led her to a worship more centered on God's love, which caused a rift in her extremely religious family. Prayer supposedly cured any number of ailments that Eddy suffered in her life, though the psychosomatic nature of many of them is sometimes called into question.
Nonetheless, she went on to publish the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in 1875, which is the central text of the Christian Science faith. Today the sect has as many as 400,000 adherents. Its central tenets, as laid out by Eddy, are that the Bible has been misinterpreted. Eddy held that spiritual reality is the only reality, and that matter and things like sickness are mere illusions to be overcome through worship.
This aspect has led to criticism of the church when people refuse to seek medical care for themselves and in some cases for their children, which in the past has led to some deaths and even arrests for manslaughter. A dwindling congregation has led to a movement by church officials to seek a less stringent view of medicine in recent years.
And then, any musicians have been brought up or converted to Christian Science. Such as...
Michael Nesmith The Monkees guitarist and native Texan never gets enough credit for his contribution to the world of music. He wrote many of the minor hits of the Monkees, helped invent the concept of music videos, and executive produced the film Repo Man of all things. The legend goes that Nesmith learned to play guitar as an attempt to overcome a childhood firecracker injury.
The reality is that he had his hand smashed by a sledgehammer in his youth, and his mother's Christian Science faith led to it going untreated; Nesmith lost the use of one finger entirely. Nonetheless, he taught himself to play guitar after a brief stint in the Air Force, and is still going strong releasing MP3 singles today.
Lionel Hampton: Without Lionel Hampton most people wouldn't even know what a vibraphone is. The instrument was only ten years old when Louis Armstrong asked Hampton to play it in his band. Hampton would go on to play with Benny Goodman, then form his own band that included the likes of Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie.
Spiritually, Hampton was all over the place. For a while he identified heavily with Judaism. Though didn't convert he raised money for Israel. He was also a Freemason, and did formerly convert to Christian Science later in life. He died a year after his last performance in 2001, at the age of 94.
Bruce Hornsby Hornsby has a pretty impressive string of musical accomplishments, everything from playing in the Grateful Dead to his Grammy for "The Way it Is." That last one has shown up everywhere from on Smallville to an ICP song.
Hornsby was raised a Christian Scientist, though how devout in the faith he is these days isn't known. His mother was an active member of the Christian Science community, and worked as an advisor at a local college. Hornsby himself played at a Christian Science live musical event called "Pioneers of the Spiritual Millenium" in 1998.
Doris Day Doris Day owed her name to a song. Her birth name of Kappelhoff was thought to be too long to fit on a marquee. Bandleader Barney Rapp was a fan of her rendition of "Day After Day," and suggested the switch. Day would have a smash hit with "Sentimental Journey," and had five Top 10 hits in the '40s.
She's described herself as a Christian Scientist, and abstained from cigarettes and alcohol as instruments of control over your life. She softened some later in the '70s, and tended to treat the faith more as a philosophy than anything else, but remains fairly devout to this day.
James Hetfield Metallica's front man is not a Christian Scientist, but his parents were. His mother Cynthia was an opera singer, and when she contracted cancer she refused treatment in the name of her faith. It claimed her when James was only 16 years old.
The experience embittered James a great deal, and inspired the song "The God That Failed" off the "Black Album." Hetfield has said the song is not a condemnation of God necessarily, more than he acknowledges that his mother's faith didn't save her. Hopefully the church's less orthodox stance will prevent similar results in the future.
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