Count Tolstoy and Mary Baker Eddy

Last week I watched “The Last Station” — a 2009 movie starring Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, and Paul Giamatti — about Leo Tolstoy and the final days before his death, in November 1910. It dramatizes the battle between the so-called Tolstoyans and Count Tolstoy’s wife over his legacy.

The movie brought to mind two excerpts I’d read in a remarkable collection entitled, Tributes from the Press, comprising approximately 175 articles and editorials published in newspapers from 38 states plus the District of Columbia and from beyond our borders, in Canada, England, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, immediately following the passing of Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, a month later, in December 1910.

From the New York American:

So wide-spread is the fame of Mary Baker Eddy that there is no country in the world that will not take note of her death. Her extraordinary influence upon her generation will everywhere suggest comparisons or contrasts between her work and that of the seer who died in Russia a few days ago. Count Tolstoi spoke to the intellect and Mrs. Eddy to the heart.

And from the World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska):

In some respects, at least, Mrs. Eddy seems, from the perspective of to-day, one of the world’s great women. It is possible that she will some day be generally accepted as the world’s greatest woman. She was the “Discoverer” of a religion and Founder of a church…. Philosophically it rests on the doctrine of pure idealism, morally on the gospel of love…. There can be general agreement as to the rare qualities of heart and mind and personality of Mrs. Eddy…. Like Tolstoi, she is one of the unique figures of universal history.

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4 Responses to Count Tolstoy and Mary Baker Eddy

  1. Malissa Lakin-Watson, CS says:

    Thank you for your article. I, too, just saw “The Last Station” and was very moved by it. I had heard that Tolstoy was a spiritual thinker but had never gone any further in my research. So, I did a little digging and was impressed by his insights and the fact that Mrs. Eddy, a world away, was bringing Christian Science to light for all mankind at the same time. Tolstoy had written a spiritual interpretation of the Lords Prayer, as did Mrs. Eddy. The One Mind at work. I have been wondering if he ever mentioned Mrs. Eddy or knew of her. I am sure they would have had much to talk about:)))

  2. The question of Tolstoy’s contact with Christian Science has always been a question to me. Indeed, I have a copy of his thanks to Mrs. Eddy and the receipt of a copy of Science and Health which she sent him in 1905. (from the files of MBE Library in Boston) However there does seem to be contact before that, but I have never found any record of that. In his “Confessions,” written in 1882, he reaffirms “The kingdom of God is within you,” and other Biblical truths, and he clearly was heading in a thought more spiritual than his hierarchal church surroundings. For all that he was excommunicted from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1901. The New York American got it pretty close, “Count Tolstoi spoke to the intellect and Mrs. Eddy to the heart.”

    Frederick R. Andresen, author of “Walking on Ice, An American Businessman in Russia.”

    • Pamela Cook, C.S. says:

      Welcome to the blog, Fred — all the way from California! And thank you for your comments about Tolstoy’s contact with Mrs. Eddy.

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