Learn how concern over the weakening of religion in the late 1800s led to an influential movement known as “Muscular Christianity”—in particular through the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). Historian Peggy Bendroth interviews the Library’s Jonathon Eder about his article “Manhood and Mary Baker Eddy: Muscular Christianity and Christian Science.” Recently published in Church History, it explores how Mary Baker Eddy addressed similar concerns to those of Muscular Christian advocates and explains the history of her own relationship with the YMCA.
Dr. Margaret Bendroth was the Executive Director for the Congregational Library & Archives for 15 years. She retired in 2019. She received her BA from Cornell University and a PhD in history from the Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of several books, including Fundamentalism and Gender, 1875 to the Present (Yale 1993); Fundamentalists in the City: Conflict and Division in Boston’s Churches, 1885 to 1950 (Oxford 2005); and A School of the Church: Andover Newton Across Two Centuries (Eerdmans 2008). Dr. Bendroth has edited several other volumes, including Women and Twentieth-Century Protestantism (Illinois 2002). In The Spiritual Practice of Remembering (Eerdmans 2013), she summons readers to remember and honor the past. Her most recent book, The Last Puritans: Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past (UNC 2015), tells the story of how Congregationalists engaged deeply with their denomination’s storied past and recast their modern identity. She recently served as president of the American Society of Church History.
Jonathon Eder is the Library’s Programs Manager. He hosts the Seekers and Scholars podcast, which includes many episodes focused on cultural and spiritual movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and their relationship to Mary Baker Eddy. With a background in media, exhibit development, and religious studies, he has presented papers at the American Academy of Religion and the New England Museum Association. His article “Manhood and Mary Baker Eddy: Muscular Christianity and Christian Science” was published in the December 2020 issue of Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture.