Christopher Hithchens on Mark Twain and Christian Science – a response is published in The Spectator

A slightly edited version of a letter submitted in response to comments made by Christopher Hitchens about Mark Twain and Christian Science in The Spectator has been published in this week’s issue of the same magazine:

http://tinyurl.com/ycsl76q

For the record, here are a couple of the positive things Mark Twain did say about Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy:

(1)  “For the thing back of [Christian Science] is wholly gracious and beautiful: the power, through loving mercifulness and compassion, to heal fleshly ills and pains and griefs—all—with a word, with a touch of the hand! This power was given by the Saviour to the Disciples, and to all the converted. All—every one. It was exercised for generations afterwards. Any Christian who was in earnest and not a make-believe, not a policy-Christian, not a Christian for revenue only, had the healing power, and could cure with it any disease or any hurt or damage possible to human flesh and bone. These things are true, or they are not. If they were true seventeen and eighteen and nineteen centuries ago it would be difficult to satisfactorily explain why or how or by what argument that power should be non-existent in Christians now.” (Christian Science,1907 version, Book 2, Chapter 15, p. 284 of the Oxford Mark Twain.)

(2) “In several ways she is the most interesting woman that ever lived and the most extraordinary. The same may be said of her career, and the same may be said of its chief result…Whether she took it or invented it, it was—materially—a sawdust mine when she got it, and she has turned it into a Klondike; its spiritual dock had next to no custom, if any at all: from it she has launched a world-religion which has now six hundred and sixty-three churches, and she charters a new one every four days. When we do not know a person—and also when we do—we have to judge the size and nature of his achievements as compared with the achievements of others in his special line of business—there is no other way. Measured by this standard, it is thirteen hundred years since the world has produced anyone who could reach up to Mrs. Eddy’s waistbelt.”  (“Chapter 1”, Christian Science, Mark Twain (1903): with notes containing corrections to date, Book II, New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers,published 1907, pp. 102–103)

Mark Twain’s daughter, Clara Clemens made it clear that her experience of her father was that he was ambivalent on most things, including Christian Science.  (See “My Father: Mark Twain”, New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, published 1931).

Tony Lobl – District Manager

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Author:Tony Lobl

I write and speak on spirituality from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I am also an Associate Editor for the Christian Science periodicals. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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3 Comments on “Christopher Hithchens on Mark Twain and Christian Science – a response is published in The Spectator”

  1. Bob Schwaller
    February 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Thanks for these posts — provides balance, and certainly resonates with what most thinking people will say whey they understand a little more deeply what Christian Science is.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Saturday night at the movies…Val Kilmer shares his screenplay on Mark Twain/Mary Baker Eddy | "Oh, Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"- what Christian Science is, and what it isn't! - October 4, 2010

    […] if you don’t have any time to watch, here is an earlier blog you can quickly read with a couple of the very positive quotes the great American author made about the spiritual leader […]

  2. A Saturday night at the movies…Val Kilmer shares his screenplay on Mark Twain Mary Baker Eddy | "Oh, Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"- what Christian Science is, and what it isn't! - October 4, 2010

    […] if you don’t have any time to watch, here is an earlier blog you can quickly read with a couple of the very positive quotes the great American author made about the spiritual leader […]

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