I've been reviewing some of Samuel Clemens' (Mark Twain's) writing the past few months. The latest is his book, *Christian Science*. This is a book I've never had the pleasure of reading until now. I recommend this as an education about the nature of the Christian Science cult.
Image via WikipediaAs you may know, Clemens was at least a nominal Presbyterian, publicly anyway. So, he wrote this tome from that viewpoint. This fact must be kept firmly in mind throughout the reading of this book. He puts on the appearance of giving a fair hearing to the cult of Christian Science and its founder Mary Baker G. Eddy. A somewhat sarcastic defense of the cult is presented in Book I. Not to be missed are the first few chapters, in which he presented one of his famous tall tales. The second book is an analytical critique of Christian Science and especially of Mrs. Eddy.
If you are just looking for a scathing review of Christian Science, the first few chapters of Book II are all you need to read. However, if you are a fan of Mark Twain literature and/or want the full breadth of this analysis, you may wish to read or skim the entire book. It is available on line at:
Reserve some time to read this as great literature and as one example of Mr. Clemens' sharp mind.
I will note that Twain seemed to have overestimated the potential dangers of Christian Science. That said, if one uses Christian Science as an allegory for Christianity at large, you can understand a great deal about Christian power structures. He does go to great lengths to bolster his case against Christian Science. Some of his case is from the perspective of mainstream Christianity of the early 20th Century.
I skimmed much of the second half of book II. The appendices are worth looking over as an exercise in academic curiosity. Twain's conclusion is worth reading in full as an example of the Twain that he intended for public consumption by his contemporaries. His statements and conclusions might be somewhat tempered by what has been published in other stories and essays that he only allowed as post-mortem reading, intended for well after his death.
Experts on Samuel Clemens continue to debate what could be considered to be Clemens' personal struggle with belief and agnosticism. Much of Clemens' character will likely remain an enigma for quite some time to come.
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