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Mark Twain > Christian Science > Book I - Chapter VI

Christian Science

Book I - Chapter VI


"Hungry ones throng to hear the Bible read in connection with the text-
book of Christian Science, Science and Health, with Key to the
Scriptures, by Mary Baker G. Eddy. These are our only preachers. They
are the word of God." "Christian Science Journal", October, 1898.

Is that picturesque? A lady has told me that in a chapel of the Mosque
in Boston there is a picture or image of Mrs. Eddy, and that before it
burns a never-extinguished light. Is that picturesque? How long do you
think it will be before the Christian Scientist will be worshipping that
picture or image and praying to it? How long do you think it will be
before it is claimed that Mrs. Eddy is a Redeemer, a Christ, and Christ's
equal? Already her army of disciples speak of her reverently as "Our
Mother."

How long will it be before they place her on the steps of the Throne
beside the Virgin--and, later, a step higher? First, Mary the Virgin and
Mary the Matron; later, with a change of precedence, Mary the Matron and
Mary the Virgin. Let the artist get ready with his canvas and his
brushes; the new Renaissance is on its way, and there will be money in
altar-canvases--a thousand times as much as the Popes and their Church
ever spent on the Old Masters; for their riches were poverty as compared
with what is going to pour into the treasure-chest of the Christian-
Scientist Papacy by-and-by, let us not doubt it. We will examine the
financial outlook presently and see what it promises. A favorite subject
of the new Old Master will be the first verse of the twelfth chapter of
Revelation--a verse which Mrs. Eddy says (in her Annex to the Scriptures)
has "one distinctive feature which has special reference to the present
age"--and to her, as is rather pointedly indicated:

"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the
sun, and the moon under her feet," etc.

The woman clothed with the sun will be a portrait of Mrs. Eddy.

Is it insanity to believe that Christian Scientism is destined to make
the most formidable show that any new religion has made in the world
since the birth and spread of Mobammedanism, and that within a century
from now it may stand second to Rome only, in numbers and power in
Christendom?

If this is a wild dream it will not be easy to prove it so just yet, I
think. There seems argument that it may come true. The Christian-
Science "boom," proper, is not yet five years old; yet already it has two
hundred and fifty churches.

It has its start, you see, and it is a phenomenally good one. Moreover,
it is latterly spreading with a constantly accelerating swiftness. It
has a better chance to grow and prosper and achieve permanency than any
other existing "ism"; for it has more to offer than any other. The past
teaches us that in order to succeed, a movement like this must not be a
mere philosophy, it must be a religion; also, that it must not claim
entire originality, but content itself with passing for an improvement on
an existing religion, and show its hand later, when strong and
prosperous--like Mohammedanism.

Next, there must be money--and plenty of it.

Next, the power and authority and capital must be concentrated in the
grip of a small and irresponsible clique, with nobody outside privileged
to ask questions or find fault.

Next, as before remarked, it must bait its hook with some new and
attractive advantages over the baits offered by its competitors. A new
movement equipped with some of these endowments--like spiritualism, for
instance may count upon a considerable success; a new movement equipped
with the bulk of them--like Mohammedanism, for instance--may count upon
a widely extended conquest. Mormonism had all the requisites but one it
had nothing new and nothing valuable to bait with. Spiritualism lacked
the important detail of concentration of money and authority in the hands
of an irresponsible clique.

The above equipment is excellent, admirable, powerful, but not perfect.
There is yet another detail which is worth the whole of it put together
and more; a detail which has never been joined (in the beginning of a
religious movement) to a supremely good working equipment since the world
began, until now: a new personage to worship. Christianity had the
Saviour, but at first and for generations it lacked money and
concentrated power. In Mrs. Eddy, Christian Science possesses the new
personage for worship, and in addition--here in the very beginning--a
working equipment that has not a flaw in it. In the beginning,
Mohammedanism had no money; and it has never had anything to offer its
client but heaven--nothing here below that was valuable. In addition to
heaven hereafter, Christian Science has present health and a cheerful
spirit to offer; and in comparison with this bribe all other this-world
bribes are poor and cheap. You recognize that this estimate is
admissible, do you not?

To whom does Bellamy's "Nationalism" appeal? Necessarily to the few:
people who read and dream, and are compassionate, and troubled for the
poor and the hard-driven. To whom does Spiritualism appeal? Necessarily
to the few; its "boom" has lasted for half a century, and I believe it
claims short of four millions of adherents in America. Who are attracted
by Swedenborgianism and some of the other fine and delicate "isms"? The
few again: educated people, sensitively organized, with superior mental
endowments, who seek lofty planes of thought and find their contentment
there. And who are attracted by Christian Science? There is no limit;
its field is horizonless; its appeal is as universal as is the appeal of
Christianity itself. It appeals to the rich, the poor, the high, the
low, the cultured, the ignorant, the gifted, the stupid, the modest, the
vain, the wise, the silly, the soldier, the civilian, the hero, the
coward, the idler, the worker, the godly, the godless, the freeman, the
slave, the adult, the child; they who are ailing in body or mind, they
who have friends that are ailing in body or mind. To mass it in a
phrase, its clientage is the Human Race. Will it march? I think so.

Remember its principal great offer: to rid the Race of pain and disease.
Can it do so? In large measure, yes. How much of the pain and disease
in the world is created by the imaginations of the sufferers, and then
kept alive by those same imaginations? Four-fifths? Not anything short
of that, I should think. Can Christian Science banish that four-fifths?
I think so. Can any other (organized) force do it? None that I know of.
Would this be a new world when that was accomplished? And a pleasanter
one--for us well people, as well as for those fussy and fretting sick
ones? Would it seem as if there was not as much gloomy weather as there
used to be? I think so.

In the mean time, would the Scientist kill off a good many patients?
I think so. More than get killed off now by the legalized methods?
I will take up that question presently.

At present, I wish to ask you to examine some of the Scientist's
performances, as registered in his magazine, The Christian Science
Journal--October number, 1898. First, a Baptist clergyman gives us this
true picture of "the average orthodox Christian"--and he could have added
that it is a true picture of the average (civilized) human being:

"He is a worried and fretted and fearful man; afraid of himself and his
propensities, afraid of colds and fevers, afraid of treading on serpents
or drinking deadly things."

Then he gives us this contrast:

"The average Christian Scientist has put all anxiety and fretting under
his feet. He does have a victory over fear and care that is not achieved
by the average orthodox Christian."

He has put all anxiety and fretting under his feet. What proportion of
your earnings or income would you be willing to pay for that frame of
mind, year in, year out? It really outvalues any price that can be put
upon it. Where can you purchase it, at any outlay of any sort, in any
Church or out of it, except the Scientist's?

Well, it is the anxiety and fretting about colds, and fevers, and
draughts, and getting our feet wet, and about forbidden food eaten in
terror of indigestion, that brings on the cold and the fever and the
indigestion and the most of our other ailments; and so, if the Science
can banish that anxiety from the world I think it can reduce the world's
disease and pain about four-fifths.

In this October number many of the redeemed testify and give thanks; and
not coldly, but with passionate gratitude. As a rule they seem drunk
with health, and with the surprise of it, the wonder of it, the
unspeakable glory and splendor of it, after a long, sober spell spent in
inventing imaginary diseases and concreting them with doctor-stuff. The
first witness testifies that when "this most beautiful Truth first dawned
on him" he had "nearly all the ills that flesh is heir to"; that those he
did not have he thought he had--and this made the tale about complete.
What was the natural result? Why, he was a dump-pit "for all the
doctors, druggists, and patent medicines of the country." Christian
Science came to his help, and "the old sick conditions passed away," and
along with them the "dismal forebodings" which he had been accustomed to
employ in conjuring up ailments. And so he was a healthy and cheerful
man, now, and astonished.

But I am not astonished, for from other sources I know what must have
been his method of applying Christian Science. If I am in the right, he
watchfully and diligently diverted his mind from unhealthy channels and
compelled it to travel in healthy ones. Nothing contrivable by human
invention could be more formidably effective than that, in banishing
imaginary ailments and in closing the entrances against sub-sequent
applicants of their breed. I think his method was to keep saying, "I am
well! I am sound!--sound and well! well and sound! Perfectly sound,
perfectly well! I have no pain; there's no such thing as pain! I have
no disease; there's no such thing as disease! Nothing is real but Mind;
all is Mind, All-Good Good-Good, Life, Soul, Liver, Bones, one of a
series, ante and pass the buck!"

I do not mean that that was exactly the formula used, but that it
doubtless contains the spirit of it. The Scientist would attach value to
the exact formula, no doubt, and to the religious spirit in which it was
used. I should think that any formula that would divert the mind from
unwholesome channels and force it into healthy ones would answer every
purpose with some people, though not with all. I think it most likely
that a very religious man would find the addition of the religious spirit
a powerful reinforcement in his case.

The second witness testifies that the Science banished "an old organic
trouble," which the doctor and the surgeon had been nursing with drugs
and the knife for seven years.

He calls it his "claim." A surface-miner would think it was not his
claim at all, but the property of the doctor and his pal the surgeon--for
he would be misled by that word, which is Christian-Science slang for
"ailment." The Christian Scientist has no ailment; to him there is no
such thing, and he will not use the hateful word. All that happens to
him is that upon his attention an imaginary disturbance sometimes
obtrudes itself which claims to be an ailment but isn't.

This witness offers testimony for a clergyman seventy years old who had
preached forty years in a Christian church, and has now gone over to the
new sect. He was "almost blind and deaf." He was treated by the C. S.
method, and "when he heard the voice of Truth he saw spiritually." Saw
spiritually? It is a little indefinite; they had better treat him again.
Indefinite testimonies might properly be waste-basketed, since there is
evidently no lack of definite ones procurable; but this C. S. magazine
is poorly edited, and so mistakes of this kind must be expected.

The next witness is a soldier of the Civil War. When Christian Science
found him, he had in stock the following claims:

Indigestion,
Rheumatism,
Catarrh,
Chalky deposits in
Shoulder-joints,
Arm-joints,
Hand-joints,
Insomnia,
Atrophy of the muscles of
Arms.
Shoulders,
Stiffness of all those joints,
Excruciating pains most of the time.

These claims have a very substantial sound. They came of exposure in the
campaigns. The doctors did all they could, but it was little. Prayers
were tried, but "I never realized any physical relief from that source."
After thirty years of torture, he went to a Christian Scientist and took
an hour's treatment and went home painless. Two days later, he "began to
eat like a well man." Then "the claims vanished--some at once, others
more gradually"; finally, "they have almost entirely disappeared." And--
a thing which is of still greater value--he is now "contented and happy."
That is a detail which, as earlier remarked, is a Scientist-Church
specialty. And, indeed, one may go further and assert with little or no
exaggeration that it is a Christian-Science monopoly. With thirty-one
years' effort, the Methodist Church had not succeeded in furnishing it to
this harassed soldier.

And so the tale goes on. Witness after witness bulletins his claims,
declares their prompt abolishment, and gives Mrs. Eddy's Discovery the
praise. Milk-leg is cured; nervous prostration is cured; consumption is
cured; and St. Vitus's dance is made a pastime. Even without a fiddle.
And now and then an interesting new addition to the Science slang appears
on the page. We have "demonstrations over chilblains" and such things.
It seems to be a curtailed way of saying "demonstrations of the power of
Christian-Science Truth over the fiction which masquerades under the name
of Chilblains." The children, as well as the adults, share in the
blessings of the Science. "Through the study of the 'little book' they
are learning how to be healthful, peaceful, and wise." Sometimes they
are cured of their little claims by the professional healer, and
sometimes more advanced children say over the formula and cure
themselves.

A little Far-Western girl of nine, equipped with an adult vocabulary,
states her age and says, "I thought I would write a demonstration to
you." She had a claim, derived from getting flung over a pony's head and
landed on a rockpile. She saved herself from disaster by remembering to
say "God is All" while she was in the air. I couldn't have done it. I
shouldn't even have thought of it. I should have been too excited.
Nothing but Christian Science could have enabled that child to do that
calm and thoughtful and judicious thing in those circumstances. She came
down on her head, and by all the rules she should have broken it; but the
intervention of the formula prevented that, so the only claim resulting
was a blackened eye. Monday morning it was still swollen and shut. At
school "it hurt pretty badly--that is, it seemed to." So "I was excused,
and went down to the basement and said, 'Now I am depending on mamma
instead of God, and I will depend on God instead of mamma.'" No doubt
this would have answered; but, to make sure, she added Mrs. Eddy to the
team and recited "the Scientific Statement of Being," which is one of the
principal incantations, I judge. Then "I felt my eye opening." Why,
dear, it would have opened an oyster. I think it is one of the
touchingest things in child-history, that pious little rat down cellar
pumping away at the Scientific Statement of Being.

There is a page about another good child--little Gordon. Little Gordon
"came into the world without the assistance of surgery or anaesthetics."
He was a "demonstration." A painless one; therefore, his coming evoked
"joy and thankfulness to God and the Discoverer of Christian Science."
It is a noticeable feature of this literature--the so frequent linking
together of the Two Beings in an equal bond; also of Their Two Bibles.
When little Gordon was two years old, "he was playing horse on the bed,
where I had left my 'little book.' I noticed him stop in his play, take
the book carefully in his little hands, kiss it softly, then look about
for the highest place of safety his arms could reach, and put it there."
This pious act filled the mother "with such a train of thought as I had
never experienced before. I thought of the sweet mother of long ago who
kept things in her heart," etc. It is a bold comparison; however,
unconscious profanations are about as common in the mouths of the lay
member ship of the new Church as are frank and open ones in the mouths of
its consecrated chiefs.

Some days later, the family library--Christian-Science books--was lying
in a deep-seated window. This was another chance for the holy child to
show off. He left his play and went there and pushed all the books to
one side, except the Annex "It he took in both hands, slowly raised it to
his lips, then removed it carefully, and seated himself in the window."
It had seemed to the mother too wonderful to be true, that first time;
but now she was convinced that "neither imagination nor accident had
anything to do with it." Later, little Gordon let the author of his
being see him do it. After that he did it frequently; probably every
time anybody was looking. I would rather have that child than a chromo.
If this tale has any object, it is to intimate that the inspired book was
supernaturally able to convey a sense of its sacred and awful character
to this innocent little creature, without the intervention of outside
aids. The magazine is not edited with high-priced discretion. The
editor has a "claim," and he ought to get it treated.

Among other witnesses there is one who had a "jumping toothache," which
several times tempted her to "believe that there was sensation in matter,
but each time it was overcome by the power of Truth." She would not
allow the dentist to use cocaine, but sat there and let him punch and
drill and split and crush the tooth, and tear and slash its ulcerations,
and pull out the nerve, and dig out fragments of bone; and she wouldn't
once confess that it hurt. And to this day she thinks it didn't, and I
have not a doubt that she is nine-tenths right, and that her Christian-
Science faith did her better service than she could have gotten out of
cocaine.

There is an account of a boy who got broken all up into small bits by an
accident, but said over the Scientific Statement of Being, or some of the
other incantations, and got well and sound without having suffered any
real pain and without the intrusion of a surgeon.

Also, there is an account of the restoration to perfect health, in a
single night, of a fatally injured horse, by the application of Christian
Science. I can stand a good deal, but I recognize that the ice is
getting thin, here. That horse had as many as fifty claims; how could he
demonstrate over them? Could he do the All-Good, Good-Good, Good-
Gracious, Liver, Bones, Truth, All down but Nine, Set them up on the
Other Alley? Could he intone the Scientific Statement of Being? Now,
could he? Wouldn't it give him a relapse? Let us draw the line at
horses. Horses and furniture.

There is plenty of other testimonies in the magazine, but these quoted
samples will answer. They show the kind of trade the Science is driving.
Now we come back to the question, Does the Science kill a patient here
and there and now and then? We must concede it. Does it compensate for
this? I am persuaded that it can make a plausible showing in that
direction. For instance: when it lays its hand upon a soldier who has
suffered thirty years of helpless torture and makes him whole in body and
mind, what is the actual sum of that achievement? This, I think: that it
has restored to life a subject who had essentially died ten deaths a year
for thirty years, and each of them a long and painful one. But for its
interference that man in the three years which have since elapsed, would
have essentially died thirty times more. There are thousands of young
people in the land who are now ready to enter upon a life-long death
similar to that man's. Every time the Science captures one of these and
secures to him life-long immunity from imagination-manufactured disease,
it may plausibly claim that in his person it has saved three hundred
lives. Meantime, it will kill a man every now and then. But no matter,
it will still be ahead on the credit side.

[NOTE.--I have received several letters (two from educated and ostensibly
intelligent persons), which contained, in substance, this protest: "I
don't object to men and women chancing their lives with these people, but
it is a burning shame that the law should allow them to trust their
helpless little children in their deadly hands. "Isn't it touching?
Isn't it deep? Isn't it modest? It is as if the person said: "I know
that to a parent his child is the core of his heart, the apple of his
eye, a possession so dear, so precious that he will trust its life in no
hands but those which he believes, with all his soul, to be the very best
and the very safest, but it is a burning shame that the law does not
require him to come to me to ask what kind of healer I will allow him to
call." The public is merely a multiplied "me."--M.T.]

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