The news this week is a little like the weather, very dry. I can’t recall the weather being this hot and dry for such an extended period of time. There is little in the news. Continued killing and unrest in Afghanistan and the Middle East is about it. Not anyone notable has died and there is really no one left after the demise of Michael Jackson since he was the King.
With the paucity of news it’s time to reflect on my favorite author, Mark Twain. I fell in love with Mark Twain after a course in college. I have collected all of his works and read most of it several times. A bust of Mark Twain adorns the entrance hall of our home.
The religion of Mark Twain has always been a subject of debate. There is no question that he was a student of the Bible. He was raised as a Presbyterian but a great critic of the church. He was mostly a critic of mans interpretation of religion and hypocrisy.
I was recently reminded about his remark regarding faith. “There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the school boy who said, Faith is believing what you know ain't so.” He also had this to say about faith. “Nobody deserves to be helped who don't try to help himself, and "faith without works" is a risky doctrine.” That is a pretty conservative statement by the great man.
There is no question that he believed in the one named Jesus and his message. Twain’s problem was in how everyone else interpreted and corrupted that message. This is what he has to say about the Nazarene. “If I could, I would make such havoc among the shams of Palestine that I would leave little there for men to feast their eyes and feed their fancies upon save the Hill of Calvary, and the lesson it carries to the most careless heart that pulses in its presence. I would leave it to tell of Him who suffered there, and to suggest the picture of the Crucifixion more vividly than the multitude of its surroundings, which are at best of questionable holiness, can ever do. All things must pass away but that one Figure, and when they do, the world will be none the loser for it. ... the Teacher of Nazareth, standing upon the height of Calvary -- sacred because the theatre of the noblest self-sacrifice man has yet conceived -- shall say to them that mourn this desolation, "Peace! I am the Resurrection and the Life!"
I am sure no preacher and a poor attendee of church but I appreciate Mark Twain’s views on religion. Reading Tom Sawyer’s experience in church is priceless stuff.
As I have said before, the one person I would most like to visit with on the porch would be the Nazarene himself. Mark Twain would be my next choice. I hope to see Twain in the next life to get a few good laughs but he may be in a different camp because he didn’t especially like the company of most Christians.