This episode explores the two edifices of The Mother Church on the Christian Science Plaza in Boston. Guest Dr. Jeanne Kilde discusses how issues around gender in religion influenced design choices for the two buildings. She draws from her prize-winning article “Material Expression and Maternalism in Mary Baker Eddy’s Boston Churches: How Architecture and Gender Compromised Mind.” Kilde poses the idea that Mary Baker Eddy’s followers misread the meaning behind an emphasis on God’s feminine nature in the first building. This, she asserts, forced Eddy to revert to a more masculine style for the church’s Extension, built 12 years later.
Go here for more on Christian Science architecture:
American Christian Science Architecture and its Influence
Dr. Jeanne Halgren Kilde is Director of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Minnesota. As a cultural historian of religion, she focuses her research primarily on religious space and architecture. Kilde is the author of When Church Became Theatre: The Transformation of Evangelical Architecture and Worship (Oxford University Press, 2002) and Sacred Power, Sacred Space: An Introduction to Christian Architecture (Oxford University Press, 2008). Her article “Material Expression and Maternalism in Mary Baker Eddy’s Boston Churches: How Architecture and Gender Compromised Mind” appeared in Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief (Vol.1, Issue 2, July 2005). It won the American Society of Church History’s Jane Dempsey Douglass Prize for Best Article on the History of Women and Christianity. Kilde is currently editing the Handbook of Religious Space and Place for Oxford University Press.
Photo of Jeanne Kilde: © Lisa Miller/University of Minnesota