Christian Science by Mark Twain
It is hard to locate her, she shifts about so much. She is a shining drop of quicksilver which you put your finger on and it isn't there. There is a paragraph in the Autobiography (page 96) which places in seemingly darkly significant procession three Personages:
1. The Virgin Mary
This is the paragraph referred to:
"No person can take the individual place of the Virgin Mary. No person can compass or fulfil the individual mission of Jesus of Nazareth. No person can take the place of the author of Science and Health, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science. Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity."
I have read it many times, but I still cannot be sure that I rightly understand it. If the Saviour's name had been placed first and the Virgin Mary's second and Mrs. Eddy's third, I should draw the inference that a descending scale from First Importance to Second Importance and then to Small Importance was indicated; but to place the Virgin first, the Saviour second, and Mrs. Eddy third, seems to turn the scale the other way and make it an ascending scale of Importances, with Mrs. Eddy ranking the other two and holding first place.
I think that that was perhaps the intention, but none but a seasoned Christian Scientist can examine a literary animal of Mrs. Eddy's creation and tell which end of it the tail is on. She is easily the most baffling and bewildering writer in the literary trade.
Eddy is a commonplace name, and would have an unimpressive aspect in the list of the reformed Holy Family. She has thought of that. In the book of By-laws written by her--"impelled by a power not one's own"--there is a paragraph which explains how and when her disciples came to confer a title upon her; and this explanation is followed by a warning as to what will happen to any female Scientist who shall desecrate it:
"The title of Mother. Therefore if a student of Christian Science shall apply this title, either to herself or to others, except as the term for kinship according to the flesh, it shall be regarded by the Church as an indication of disrespect for their Pastor Emeritus, and unfitness to be a member of the Mother-Church."
She is the Pastor Emeritus.
While the quoted paragraph about the Procession seems to indicate that Mrs. Eddy is expecting to occupy the First Place in it, that expectation is not definitely avowed. In an earlier utterance of hers she is clearer--clearer, and does not claim the first place all to herself, but only the half of it. I quote from Mr. Peabody's book again:
"In the Christian Science Journal for April, 1889, when it was her property, and published by her, it was claimed for her, and with her sanction, that she was equal with Jesus, and elaborate effort was made to establish the claim.
"Mrs. Eddy has distinctly authorized the claim in her behalf that she herself was the chosen successor to and equal of Jesus."
In her Miscellaneous Writings (using her once favorite "We" for "I") she says that "While we entertain decided views . . . and shall express them as duty demands, we shall claim no especial gift from our divine origin," etc.
Our divine origin. It suggests Equal again. It is inferable, then, that in the near by-and-by the new Church will officially rank the Holy Family in the following order:
1. Jesus of Nazareth. --1. Our Mother.
I am not playing with Christian Science and its founder, I am examining them; and I am doing it because of the interest I feel in the inquiry. My results may seem inadequate to the reader, but they have for me clarified a muddle and brought a sort of order out of a chaos, and so I value them.
My readings of Mrs. Eddy's uninspired miscellaneous literary efforts have convinced me of several things:
1. That she did not write Science and Health.
Finally, I think She is now entitled to the capital S--on her own evidence.