Early feminist, Vida Goldstein, drew on Christian Science for inspiration.
Vida Goldstein, a woman who was at the forefront of the fight for women's suffrage in Australia, has been included in a new biography by Clare Wright entitled You Daughters of Freedom.
Acknowledged as becoming a Christian Science practitioner in later years, and a founding member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Melbourne, some have asked about her personal life and beliefs. Early in the 20th century, "Vida saw the possibilities for social change through the advocacy and parliamentary representation which could remove artificial barriers to equal employment opportunities and secure the appointment of women to positions of importance, such as inspectors of asylums, hospitals, schools, factories and prisons.
There were supportive relationships, enthusiasm and commitment in Goldstein's experience, but there was also something more that fuelled her ascendance in Australian public life. Solid Christianity had been the backbone of her life thus far. Her struggles to bring about a more humane and equitable society during these years found her becoming acquainted with a new way of thinking (at the time) about God and man that brings mental and spiritual freedom, overcomes entrenched beliefs and adds impulse to the desire to follow in the footsteps of the master Christian, Christ Jesus, and his healing works.
Christian Science is based on an acknowledgement of God as both Father and Mother that points to an equality of the sexes, which the Christian Science church has practised since its foundation. Goldstein must have soon glimpsed the possibilities for an enlarged sense of God as all-encompassing goodness and Love, and would have been striving to be led by a more spiritual sense of everyone she had to deal with reflecting that one divine Mind. In Discoverer, Mary Baker Eddy's words, this understanding "… unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, - whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes…" and, indeed, can bring healing to every department of life.
Healer, public speaker, teacher, author, businesswoman, church founder, innovative theologian and "scientific" thinker, Mary Baker Eddy is found alongside Benjamin Franklin and 98 others in the list of the "100 Most Influential Americans for All Time." And her primary book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, has been designated by the US National Women's Book Association as one of the 75 books written by American women whose words have changed the world.
Those words certainly changed Vida Goldstein's life. After several years abroad, she returned to Australia to take up the full-time practice of Christian Science healing and provide spiritual treatment through prayer – prayer that results in healing, including the resolution of relationship or financial difficulties, physical cure, and transformed lives. To some this might have seemed like stepping back from the fray, but Goldstein would have seen it as taking the stand for equal rights to an even higher level - to the place where we each have the right to recognise our divine rights as equally valued sons and daughters of the Divine.”
Above is an extract from an article published on Online Opinion by Christian Science Committee on Publication for Northern-Eastern Australia, Kay Stroud. Read the entire article here.