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|Boojatta (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore||Thu Sep-08-11 01:33 PM
|Mark Twain wrote ...|
Edited on Thu Sep-08-11 01:39 PM by Boojatta
in Book I, Chapter VII of Christian Science:
I have hunted, hunted, and hunted, by correspondence and otherwise, and have not yet got upon the track of a farthing that the Trust has spent upon any worthy project. Nothing makes a Scientist so uncomfortable as to ask him if he knows of a case where Christian Science has spent money on a benevolence, either among its own adherents or elsewhere. He is obliged to say "No." And then one discovers that the person questioned has been asked the question many times before, and that it is getting to be a sore subject with him. Why a sore subject? Because he has written his chiefs and asked with high confidence for an answer that will confound these questioners -- and the chiefs did not reply. He has written again, and then again -- not with confidence, but humbly, now -- and has begged for defensive ammunition in the voice of supplication. ...
Through friends in America I asked some questions, and in some cases got definite and informing answers; in other cases the answers were not definite and not valuable. To the question, "Does any of the money go to charities?" the answer from an authoritative source was: "No, not in the sense usually conveyed by this word." (The italics are mine; i.e., Mark Twain's) That answer is cautious. But definite -- although quite Christian-Scientifically foggy in its phrasing. Christian-Science testimony is generally foggy, generally diffuse, generally garrulous. The writer was aware that the first word in his phrase answered the question which I was asking, but he could not help adding nine dark words. Meaningless ones, unless explained by him. It is quite likely, as intimated by him, that Christian Science has invented a new class of objects to apply the word "charity" to, but without an explanation we cannot know what they are. We quite easily and naturally and confidently guess that they are in all cases objects which will return five hundred per cent on the Trust's investment in them, but guessing is not knowledge; it is merely, in this case, a sort of nine-tenths certainty deducible from what we think we know of the Trust's trade principles and its sly and furtive and shifty ways.
in Book I, Chapter IX of Christian Science:
The Christian Science Church, like the Mohammedan Church, makes no embarrassing appeal to the intellect, has no occasion to do it, and can get along quite well without it.
Provided. Provided what? That it can secure that thing which is worth two or three hundred thousand times more than an "appeal to the intellect" -- an environment. Can it get that? Will it be a menace to regular Christianity if it gets that? Is it time for regular Christianity to get alarmed? Or shall regular Christianity smile a smile and turn over and take another nap? Won't it be wise and proper for regular Christianity to do the old way, the customary way, the historical way -- lock the stable-door after the horse is gone? Just as Protestantism smiled and nodded this long time (while the alert and diligent Catholic was slipping in and capturing the schools), and is now beginning to hunt around for the key when it is too late?
in Book II, Chapter I of Christian Science:
Figuratively speaking, Mrs. Eddy is already as tall as the Eiffel tower. She is adding surprisingly to her stature every day. It is quite within the probabilities that a century hence she will be the most imposing figure that has cast its shadow across the glove since the inauguration of our era. I grant that after saying these strong things, it is necessary that I offer some details calculated to satisfactorily demonstrate the proportions which I have claimed for her. I will do that presently; but before exhibiting the matured sequoia gigantea, I believe it will be best to explain the sprout from which it sprang. It may save the reader from making miscalculations. The person who imagines that a Big Tree sprout is bigger than other kinds of sprouts is quite mistaken. It is the ordinary thing; it makes no show, it compels no notice, it hasn't a detectable quality in it that entitles it to attention, or suggests the future giant its sap is suckling. That is the kind of sprout Mrs. Eddy was. From her childhood days up to where she was running a half-century a close race and gaining on it, she was most humanly commonplace.
She is the witness I am drawing this from. She has revealed it in her autobiography. Not intentionally, of course -- I am not claiming that. An autobiography is the most treacherous thing there is. It lets out every secret its author is trying to keep; it lets the truth shine unobstructed through every harmless little deception he tries to play; it pitilessly exposes him as a tin hero worshiping himself as Big Metal every time he tries to do the modest-unconscious act before the reader. This is not guessing; I am speaking from autobiographical personal experience ...
in Book II, Chapter II of Christian Science:
She had written a Bible in middle age, and had published it; she had recast it, enlarged it, and published it again; she had not stopped there, but had enlarged it further, polished its phrasing, improved its form, and published it yet again. It was at last become a compact, grammatical, dignified, and workman-like body of literature. This was good training, persistent training; and in all arts it is training that brings the art to perfection. We are now confronted with one of the most teasing and baffling riddles of Mrs. Eddy's history -- a riddle which may be formulated thus:
How is it that a primitive literary gun which began as a hundred-yard flint-lock smooth-bore muzzle-loader, and in the course of forty years has acquired one notable improvement after another -- percussion cap; fixed cartridge; rifled barrel; efficiency at half a mile -- how is it that such a gun, sufficiently good on an elephant-hunt (Christian Science) from the beginning, and growing better and better all the time during forty years, has always collapsed back to its original flint-lock estate the moment the huntress trained it on any other creature than an elephant?
... The prominent characteristic of the Poems is affectation, artificiality; their makeup is a complacent and pretentious outpour of false figures and fine writing, in the sophomoric style. The same qualities and the same style will be found, unchanged, unbettered, in these following paragraphs -- after a lapse of more than fifty years, and after -- as aforesaid -- long literary training. The italics are mine:
1. "What plague spot or bacilli were (sic) gnawing (sic) at the heart of this metropolis ... and bringing it (the heart) on bended knee? Why, it was an institute that had entered its vitals -- that among other things, taught games," et cetera. -- C.S. Journal, p. 670, article entitled "A Narrative -- by Mary Baker G. Eddy."
2. "Parks sprang up (sic) ... electric-cars run (sic) merrily through several streets, concrete sidewalks and macadamized roads dotted (sic) the place," et cetera. -- Ibid.
3. "Shorn (sic) of its suburbs it had indeed little left to admire, save to (sic) such as fancy a skeleton above ground breathing (sic) slowly through a barren (sic) breast." -- Ibid.
This is not English -- I mean, grown-up English. But it is fifteen-year-old English, and has not grown a month since the same mind produced the Poems. The standard of the Poems and of the plague-spot-and-bacilli effort is exactly the same. It is most strange that the same intellect that worded the simple and self-contained and clean-cut paragraph beginning with "How unreasonable is the belief," should in the very same lustrum discharge upon the world such a verbal chaos as the utterance concerning that plague-spot or bacilli which were gnawing at the insides of the metropolis and bringing its heart on bended knee, thus exposing to the eye the rest of the skeleton breathing slowly through a barren breast.
"His spiritual noumenon and phenomenon silenced portraiture." Page 34.
Yet she says she forgot everything she knew, when she discovered Christian Science. I realize that "noumenon" is a daisy; and I will not deny that I shall use it whenever I am in a company which I think I can embarrass with it; but, at the same time, I think it is out of place among friends in an autobiography. There, I think a person ought not to have anything up his sleeve. It undermines confidence. But my dissatisfaction with the quoted passage is not on account of "noumenon"; it is on account of the misuse of the word "silenced." You cannot silence portraiture with a noumenon; if portraiture should make a noise, a way could be found to silence it, but even then it could not be done with a noumenon. Not even with a brick, some authorities think.
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