Mary Burt Messer, “The Advance of Woman,” The Family in the Making (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928), 351-355.

From the chapter “The Advance of Woman,” in Mary Burt Messer, The Family in the Making: An Historic Sketch. Messer, an activist in the campaign for women’s suffrage, was a sociologist who taught at the University of Wisconsin and the University of California at Berkeley. In later years she became a Christian Science practitioner:

“[T]he movement of Christian Science stands forth as a conception of the Christian religion drawn from woman’s insight, quietly advancing woman to a position of equality with man in the Christian church, and conceiving the spiritual or creative principle in feminine as well as in masculine terms. The maternal attribute of the divine is thus advanced in connection with the paternal attribute- not as in the poetic overtones of Virgin worship, but with the living potencies of an operative truth, a conception intimately associated with the restoration to Christianity of its lost power of healing….

“As contrasted with other movements making for woman’s political, educational and professional advancement, this movement….proceeds without a gesture of discrimination between the case of woman and that of all humankind…. Moreover it is a movement not based on a petitioning of men, but one which has marched steadily along its straight-and derided-path without support or favor from the administrators of life as organized….

“Here on the whole is an undertaking….which by virtue of its magnitude alone should compel the thoughtful consideration of the social student, especially the student of the history of woman-the more indeed that it is a movement defying appraisal according to the standards habitually applied to the work of men…. [A] movement involving such new attitudes and devoted so largely to the elemental work of healing requires in the nature of the case more than half a century to realize its own implications….

“In any case we discover here a movement….which does actually advance spiritual values palpable to woman and which does force a breach in the historic wall which has so long excluded her from free expression in the Christian church….”

(See entire text)