Did Mary Baker Eddy Say It? “If someone handed you $100,000…”
We are sometimes asked about the authenticity of a statement attributed to Mary Baker Eddy regarding money. Someone on her staff is purported to have recounted a brief exchange between Eddy and one of her students. Various versions of the statement have named Laura Lathrop and Laura Sargent as the student.
This account appears in the 1990 book Addresses and Other Writings on Christian Science by Doris Dufour Henty, who names Sargent as the student:
Our Leader asked Mrs. Sargent, “Laura, if a carriage stopped at your door and some unknown person stepped out and handed you a gift of one hundred thousand dollars, would you be surprised?” “I certainly should be surprised, Mother,” was Mrs. Sargent’s reply. Our Leader said, “Then what a poor sense of your God you have!”1
Henty does not provide a source for this quotation. Neither does the experience appear in the reminiscences of Laura Sargent or other students of Eddy. Additionally, we have not found any references to it in The Mary Baker Eddy Library’s collections of correspondence and reminiscences. As such, we are unable to authenticate it.
Along these lines, the following authentic exchange may be of interest. It was recorded by Clara Knox McKee, who worked on Eddy’s staff as a personal maid:
One day while I was busy in [Eddy’s] room, she was reading a letter; looking up, she called me and said in substance, “How do they demonstrate money and furniture?” I replied, “I do not know, I was not taught that.” Then, as I recall, she said: “Thank God you were not. We demonstrate Life, Truth, and Love, and they give us our supplies; we do not demonstrate material things.”2