Friday, April 23, 2010

Like Concerned, I Too Am Concerned

One of Concerned's comments to the second entry before this one is that Mr. Hartsook is not known to check his sources carefully. This argument is nothing but a red herring, the real import of which is that his sources invariably have something unpleasant to report about Board goings-on and are therefore, by definition, highly suspect. The only real issue is, was the Banner report regarding Brown's detestable behavior correct or incorrect? I have not heard of one peep of refutation. I know I'd hop on the story quicker than a starved flea on a fat dog if I were wrongly accused. The silent non-response to this, as well as to the Planet Waves revelations, gives a fig to any nosy Church member who feels he deserves an explanation. To paraphrase the old adage, they think it better to remain silent and thought to be afflicted with a bad case of moral dry rot than to open their mouths and remove all doubt.

It is ironic that the only denial by the Board I can recall was that knee-slapper when they claimed the publishing of Bliss Knapp's "Destiny of the Mother Church" had nothing to do with the $93 million (they hoped, of course, for the whole enchilada of $186 million) in loot, this in light of the Church's refusal for half a century to sell out and publish it. It's a good thing the Pinocchio effect didn't follow that one. The Board would have looked like a cluster of tryouts for the role of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Silly question: When you have empty or soon to be empty buildings gawking at you all across the Church Center, why do you throw up a new one and create yet another blazing sink hole that requires constant financial stoking--after the rosy prediction of haj-like throngs of visitors? Emboldened, it would seem, instead of chastened by past megalomaniacal disasters, most notably the $750 million (give or take a few tens of millions) Monitor Telivision/Monitor debacle and its equally inexplicable sibling, the aforementioned library, it looks like the Captains Crunch are turning their Titanic once again into an ocean infested with icebergs of risk and folly and going intrepidly for an all-or-nothing calamitous hat trick, this time in real estate development. Say it ain't so, Joe.

Concerned also said if you don't like what's in the periodicals send in something yourself. On the surface that's good advice, especially for members of the cozy inner circle, who obviously aren't the ones with a problem, but if one can stand the sight of his tender little pullet emerging from editorial processing plucked and eviscerated, then it might be worth trying, but you had better have a well-stocked hen house and a strong stomach for mayhem inflicted on innocent things.


California regular said...

I've been checking your blog every day and was I rewarded. Well done, Christian!

Susan said...

Simply marvelously written. But yours always are. Who can stand up for Truth in the fresh, creative way you can!

Around Boston said...

Love it, love it -- from the title all the way through.
Extremely well said, Christian...

NYC said...

Had I been either Director, the one recently mentioned in The Banner, or that one involved in the Planet Waves business a year ago, you can bet I would have jumped right out to clear my name.
Good blog post!

Dorothy (PA) said...

What a blessing you are to the Field. Keep up your good work on our behalf.

Lafayette, LA said...

I tell you, a person could study your blog posts and learn how to write better I think. So very well written. A joy to read.

L.R. said...

I thought you handled a rejoinder to"Concerned" extremely well.
You are a thinker for sure.

Persephone said...

"Planet Wave revelations"...?! Talk about not checking your sources. You and everyone who reads the slander you spew should be ashamed for spreading such malicious animal magnetism. You write like an ill-educated pseudo-intellectual tryiing to make him/herself sound intelligent. Only a dull sycophant would fail to see you for what you are. You (as happens with all error) have been exposed for what you are and discredited -

A Real Supporter of Truth said...

My, my, my, I think the asp has come out of it's hole in the Back Bay. Perhaps the toadie?

Anonymous said...

"the Planet Waves revelations,"? They were not revelations. They were a bad joke inspired the the Planet Wave writer, as she freely admits. Well, it hurt someone. In this case, it was Mary Trammell, board member.

Someone I know wrote to The Banner to correct their serious accusation. (The Banner didn't know it was a joke.) To The Banner's discredit, they never retracted the damage.

As to the accusation about Mr. Black, I believe that one. To my naive perceptions, Christian Science teachers (C.S.B.'s) don't lie. They may misinterpret, but they don't lie. And it was such a teacher who reported what Mr. Black said at that meeting.

And about the real estate holdings, the church is sitting pretty from a financial perspective. There's no mortgage and those properties are worth just north or south of a billion dollars. The I.M. Pei building alone is worth $800 million as rental property. If needed, they could borrow against them and pay annual expenses for a decade or more without one dime of contributions from members. They're a long ways from playing fast and loose with the church funds with their real estate development. I'm not happy about it either, but it is conservative finance, not Las Vegas roulette.

As for the Bliss Knapp swipe of green, I agree. Hands down that was THE most transparent fib ever told by any board of directors. It was tainted money indeed. And some folks quit their jobs in Boston in protest. Some did not, but sniped from the sidelines. Hmmmmmm.

CS (Southeast) said...

If individuals are innocent of "jokes" and "misled teachers", why not say so?!!!!!!!!!!

You're the best said...

Oh did I laugh at the "periodicals" part of your blog. I shouldn't have,having had my little pullets pulled to pieces.
Well done, and right on the mark!

Faithful CS said...

Sorry, apologist for the Board: you did not make your case. Christian's intelligence and courage to stand up for the Cause we love trumps your obvious attempts to deceive us some more. Any public figure knows you get out in front of a negative story pronto. This has not happened, has it?

London (UK) said...

The author of Broken Net has been exposed and discredited? His/her many readers around the world will smile at this one!

Longtime CS said...

Oh, "misinterpreted" eh? Very interesting. That's a spin from HQ that doesn't work for me. Nor I suspect for many others who read and respect what The Banner reports. Always fairly low-key in my opinion. But then, you supporters of Boston have to try to address that Black did in some way I suppose.

Anonymous said...

They are out of gas morally and spiritually, boys and girls. Except they do have money I presume, which is nearest and dearest their hearts.

God bless Christian said...

"...when they departed from the true idea, their demoralization began." Mary Baker Eddy speaking of the Hebrews but does this not explain what has happened to the organization? (From Science and Health, page 133)

Concerned said...

My last post characterized the Novus Ordo Seclorum Foundation’s lawsuit against the Directors of The Mother Church as a Dr. Feelgood quack nostrum, based on mistaken belief that a lawsuit, like a magic elixir, can cure the problems of the movement. See for example Helen Wright’s declaration many years ago: “If the Manual were obeyed the Christian Science movement would quickly regain its former prosperity, prestige, prominence and momentum. Our churches would once more be full, our Reading Rooms restored and utilized.”

What Wright is talking about is the elaborate mythology of the so-called estoppel clause coup of 1910, where the Directors after Mrs. Eddy’s passing did not effectively shut down The Mother Church as we know it, to leave it as only a local Boston church. Wright, Hartsook and many others believe (or believed) and hold to the chimera of a solution to the movement’s problems by simply going back to 1910 and undoing the “sins” of the Directors and their alleged massive conspiracy. (While I have not had the opportunity to read the actual legal complaint from the Foundation, based on the comments made by Hartsook and Cassell, it seems pretty clear that the proposed legal underpinning of the suit is this theory.)

A recent commenter promoted the books of Helen Wright, who created a veritable cottage industry of writings on this conspiracy theory. Such a theory breaks down under any serious examination. Space constraints prevent a discussion of the subject in any great detail, but a few comments are possible. Since Mrs. Eddy made many comments about the continuing nature of The Mother Church if she were no longer around, Helen Wright and like-minded others could not say that Mrs. Eddy wanted her church to end shortly after her passing. Thus they had to come up with a clever twist. The Mother Church, we are told, is really two churches, one a legal church under the 1892 deed and the other an ecclesiastical church under the Church Manual. Upon her passing, the theory goes, the second church would end because the bylaws required church officials to be personally approved by her (which would no longer be possible), but the first church would continue under the deed of trust as just a local Boston church. Never mind that Mrs. Eddy never said anything to support this baseless notion, Wright and others had no problem promoting it.

Wright laid out the key foundational points of her theory in her books. The first one was, she wrote: “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, and the Mother Church are two separate entities. They are not the same.” On the other hand, Mrs. Eddy in the Manual is quite clear, pp. 70-71: “‘The First Church of Christ, Scientist,’ is the legal title of The Mother Church.” (Wright actually quoted this Manual provision at one point but dismissed it—and Mrs. Eddy— by stating that the ecclesiastical church was not a legal entity, as if that made Mrs. Eddy’s obvious intent go away.)

Wright continued with fancifully made up stories that crumble upon close examination. Now today we have a proposed lawsuit essentially based on the same mythology. That lawsuit has not a snowball’s chance in hades, the underworld or the grave of succeeding, both because its historical support would disintegrate in a court room, and also because courts do not like to get involved in what they consider to be ecclesiastical concerns and church polity. Nonetheless, if readers of The Broken Net wish to donate money on a fool’s errand, they are certainly free to do so.

Now, in regard to Christian’s latest comments, there is much to be said in a later post, but for now I will close by simply pointing out that I don’t have a problem with people on a case by case basis approving or disapproving of what the Directors do or say; I have disagreed with many Board actions and statements over the years. The difference is that I do not worship at the altar of Board-bashing.

Thanks, Christian said...

My goodness, I think Concerned needs to get a website! Much too much for a comment on your blog, in my opinion.
But to you: so glad we have such a clear thinking, expert writer, dedicated CS on the job!

Anonymous said...

A question for "Concerned"

What is your explanation as to why Mrs. Eddy did not omit the necessity for her signature from the estoppel clauses?

Anonymous said...

A couple of points regarding commenter Concerned's argument about the estoppel clauses and the CS Publishing Society.
First, the Deed of Trust that established the CS Publishing Society is a legal document enforceable as law by the courts of MA. The Church Manual is a religious manual for moral action, and control of a church organization, but has no legal standing when placed beside a Deed of Trust concerning the CS Publishing Society.
Mrs. Eddy established the CS Publishing Society trustees as legally bound to carry out the conditions of the Deed without regard to the interests of the Board of Directors. Mrs. Eddy did not even require that Trustees be members of The Mother Church (one clue to her intent that The Mother Church should have no control over the business of the Publishing Society). Paragraph 3 of the Trust states explicitly that said Trustees shall manage the Publishing Society "upon their own responsibility, and without consulting me (Mrs. Eddy--and one would assume also the BoD) about details." Since the BoD in the Manual are given no authority to oversee the Trustees or their actions, it is a safe assumption.
The Manual by-law, Sect 3. Art. XXV, "Vacancies in Trusteeship," though allowing the BoD to declare a vacancy for whatever reason they see fit, the BoD is not given authority to approve of the replacement. That falls to the Trustees, upon the condition that Mrs. Eddy does not elect to fill the vacancy herself, i.e., "the remaining trustees shall fill the vacancy, subject to her approval." Where does it say that if she is no long present to grant such approval, that approval falls to the BoD? It is evident that Mrs. Eddy granted to the Trustees full authority to run the Publishing Society without interference from the BoD, except they could declare vacancies. Interesting state of affairs.
"Concerned" also seeks to invalidate Wright's books on the subject, but actually only puts forth conjectural arguments without facts to back "Concerned" up. A thorough analysis of Wright's books sets them on their own foundation, thoroughly researched and argued.
Finally, concerning the case brought before the MA court in 1919, the fact that the Master to the Court, Judge Frederic Dodge, found in favor of the Trustees in all the essentials of the case, is legal evidence of the strength of Mrs. Eddy's Deed of Trust to stand on its own. Only on appeal to the Supreme Court of MA was the lower court's decision (though not its findings) overturned, and that because of the religious aspect of the case and the Court's unwillingness to challenge the Church's (i.e., the BoD) authority based upon the Church Manual. Not a very solid foundation for the total usurpation of the Publishing Society by the BoD, who now run the show in contradiction of Mrs. Eddy's granting such authority to the Trustees in her legal deed of trust.
So goes the world of American jurisprudence, which has shown over the years its inability to uphold the rule of law (i.e., the Constitution) in favor of rule by men in trying to rewrite the Constitution to suit their own whims.
Thank you, Christian, for setting a forum where these questions can be argued.

Concerned said...

This is an attempt at an answer of the first question of Anonymous. An answer to questions raised in the second post will have to be addressed later. An adequate analysis of the “estoppel clause” debate I believe necessitates a detailed history of the following: creation of the 1892 deed; the creation of the 1898 deed of trust that created the CSPS [it was NOT done to create a check and balance with the Board, as Andrew Hartsook often avers]; the legal advice that Mrs. Eddy received from her lawyers, especially Samuel Elder; the aftermath of the Next Friends Suit (where Mrs. Eddy had been accused of being non compos mentis); the concern by Elder and others that the obscure statute used for the 1892 deed of trust was a rather shaky one to support such a burgeoning church, since it went against the normal legal requirement in Massachusetts then of churches needing to be chartered in a congregational structure (which gave members the right to vote), etc.

Beyond that it is then necessary to analyze the actions of various individuals in the household at Chestnut Hill, especially but not exclusively William Rathvon, who had varying degrees of concern about what would happen if Mrs. Eddy could not authorize the necessary decisions under the Manual provisions. Rathvon and some others proposed an Advisory Council that would be authorized to answer on Mrs. Eddy’ behalf if she chose not to or could not do so. Based on letters between Rathvon and Dickey in June 1910, the basic parameters of the idea are pretty well known. Mrs. Eddy herself actually had drafted in November 1910 a proposed by-law that would have allowed the Board to act on her behalf if she chose not to (she told her household that she wanted to lessen the business demands upon her from her church, and the proposed by-law was the result—this was effectively attested to by Rathvon and Irving Tomlinson). However the by-law was never made official. Significantly the people most actively involved were NOT on the Board, despite Helen Wright’s assertions to the contrary.

We are all familiar with the quote of Henry M. Baker, Mrs. Eddy’s cousin with an impressive legal background. He said, as quoted by Rathvon in his reminiscence, that no court would have a problem seeing past the requirement of Mrs. Eddy’s signature if she were not around, that the requirement would transfer to the next in line, which in this case would be the Board. However Rathvon’s reminiscence also noted that Judge Hanna and Archibald McLellan were similarly convinced of the law, as explained by Baker. There is every reason to believe that Mrs. Eddy heard these same legal opinions.

There is even a lot more ancillary material to be considered than is given above, including the reminiscences and letters of Adelaide Still.

Finally, I believe, one has to go back to Mrs. Eddy’s time at Chestnut Hill. She left Pleasant View in large part because of difficult experience during the Next Friends Suit, where I believe she felt New Hampshire law did not sufficiently protect her and where she had the issue of her sanity dragged through the national press for months. At Chestnut Hill she had a so-called Christian Scientist, Della Gilbert, who camped out by Chestnut Hill on some kind of death watch, insisting that she be allowed to see Mrs. Eddy to prove to herself that Mrs. Eddy was alive. Calvin Frye records the household getting calls from the Boston press asking to confirm the rumor that Mrs. Eddy had died (she was still quite alive). If Mrs. Eddy had in 1910 approved a by-law that said, essentially, if she were not alive the Directors would take over, that would have made the national press immediately, and all the old rumors of Mrs. Eddy being dead or near dead would have returned. This last part is my speculation, but I believe it is quite reasonable.

I will attempt to provide more information on all of this and address the issues raised by Anonymous in the second post, but the size constraints of the blog format are considerable, and it is not my goal to monopolize The Broken Net.

LowlyWise said...

I think that Concerned should, as someone else suggested, create a web site and post all the material quoted or alluded to, with proper documentation, for all the world to see. And, preferably, with the minimum of repetition, and in chronological order. Pros and cons. This would be a great service to the CS movement.

(And, incidentally, more than the MBE Library does, where it apparently saved only the MBE side of correspondence, making it impossible to follow in any way more meaningful than simply collecting more aphorisms.)

Finally, it would be courteous if all those who dub themselves "Anonymous" would take a nom de net (or two, as I suspect has happened in more cases than just my own.

Anonymous said...

I have a BIG problem with others telling others what they should do and how they shoudl do it based on their human opinions. It is nothing more than bossy humans trying to control other humans.

How about just going with the flow? Let the conversation naturally and divinely unfold without trying to bend it to suit personal preferences.

Keep well intended human will out of it.

Thank you.

LowlyWise said...

If the above Anonymous was intended to rebuke what I wrote, methinks the lady doth protest too much. My request was simply for completeness and clarity, no bossiness intended. Heaven forfend!

Continuing Church said...

"Since Mrs. Eddy made many comments about the continuing nature of The Mother Church if she were no longer around, Helen Wright and like-minded others could not say that Mrs. Eddy wanted her church to end shortly after her passing."

False strawman. "Continuing nature" in what form? With the literal understanding of the estoppel clauses, the church continues, but in a much decentralized form. And, as a now all-too-evident bonus, the Board of Directors' power and influence is considerably checked.

For, even the Board continues under the Deed of Trust, in which there are no estoppel clauses. But the Publishing Society, a trust in its own right (but whose trust document is not included in the Church Manual) functions as an independent entity, coordinating with, rather than pathetically dominated by, the Board of Directors.

Much more to be said, but I'll stop here.

History Matters said...

While there is undoubtedly a legal case to be made for the Board making decisions once Mrs. Eddy was no longer here to decide, a separate issue concerns the moral case.

No one, not even five people, replaces the Discoverer and Founder. For one example, Mrs. Eddy was careful not to rule her church in a despotic manner. Shall the same be asserted, with a straight face, concerning the past and present Boards of Directors?

But the point here is that while there may be a legal case to be made, the moral case is sadly lacking. How did Mary Baker Eddy feel about church organization?

These quotes describe conditions under which the Christian Science Church was reorganized, quotes by Mrs. Eddy concerning the consequences of reorganizing a material church a second time - and were addressed to the Christian Science Church clerk in Boston. These excerpts can be found in the Carpenters' "Precepts" Vol. l and II.


March 23, 1892

Your only danger now lies in the past being repeated ... I wrote you, ... not to organize a Church! There it was reported that I gave the order to organize, but I did not. .... Again I repeat do not, unless God speaks through me to you to do it, change your present materially disorganized -- but spiritually organized -- Church, nor its present form of Church government, and watch that the Directors are not carried to propose or to make changes relative to the present forms of Church work.

May 8, 1892

"I hope a word to the wise will again be sufficient. Hence my caution in this note. If you reorganize it will ruin the prosperity of our church. ... I have given full permission, or my poor consent, for the church to do anything she chooses. But I tell you the consequences of reorganizing and you will find I am right. Open the eyes of the church to these facts. I have consented to whatever the Church pleases to do, for I am not her keeper, and if she again sells her prosperity for a mess a pottage, it is not my fault."

May 10, 1892 (to the Church)

"I have said you have my permission to reorganize, if you desire to do this. But I also realize it is my duty to say that our Father's hand was seen in your disorganizing, and I foresee that if you reorganize you are liable to lose your present prosperity and your form of church government, which so far has proved itself wise and profitable, ...."

May 11, 1892

"I seem to hear so plainly tonight the words that tell me I am doing too much for the Church in Boston, more than is my duty to do. All her disputations are laid on my bending shoulders. ... let it, the church, reorganize if she thinks best. Perhaps this is the best lesson for her, .... Now let her pass on to her experience and the sooner the better. When we will not learn in any other way, this is God's order of teaching us. His rod alone will do it. And I am at last willing and shall struggle no more."

May 23, 1892

"Do not come under any obligations not to disorganize when the time comes; remember this."

August 22, 1892

Drop all further movements towards chartering a church in Boston! God is not pleased with this movement that has been forced on me to attempt. - Let there first be a Church of Christ in reality - and in the hearts of men - before one is organized. - You are not ready for His Church. - Now incorporate at once by whatever name you please - so that the Building funds can be legally turned over to you. This absolves me from all future loss of God, from any dealings with infants in Christian Science.


Okay, let us posit that the legal case is made. But what was Mrs. Eddy's actual intent for her system, once it had outgrown its swaddling clothes? It's a hundred years later now.

Supporters/apologists for the Boston regime, it's your turn.