Christian Science by Mark Twain
"We consciously declare that Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, was foretold, as well as its author, Mary Baker Eddy, in Revelation x. She is the 'mighty angel,' or God's highest thought to this age (verse 1), giving us the spiritual interpretation of the Bible in the 'little book open' (verse 2). Thus we prove that Christian Science is the second coming of Christ-Truth-Spirit." --Lecture by Dr. George Tomkins, D.D. C.S.
There you have it in plain speech. She is the mighty angel; she is the divinely and officially sent bearer of God's highest thought. For the present, she brings the Second Advent. We must expect that before she has been in her grave fifty years she will be regarded by her following as having been herself the Second Advent. She is already worshiped, and we must expect this feeling to spread, territorially, and also to deepen in intensity.
Particularly after her death; for then, as any one can foresee, Eddy- Worship will be taught in the Sunday-schools and pulpits of the cult. Already whatever she puts her trade-mark on, though it be only a memorial-spoon, is holy and is eagerly and gratefully bought by the disciple, and becomes a fetish in his house. I say bought, for the Boston Christian-Science Trust gives nothing away; everything it has is for sale. And the terms are cash; and not only cash, but cash in advance. Its god is Mrs. Eddy first, then the Dollar. Not a spiritual Dollar, but a real one. From end to end of the Christian Science literature not a single (material) thing in the world is conceded to be real, except the Dollar. But all through and through its advertisements that reality is eagerly and persistently recognized.
The Dollar is hunted down in all sorts of ways; the Christian-Science Mother-Church and Bargain-Counter in Boston peddles all kinds of spiritual wares to the faithful, and always on the one condition--cash, cash in advance. The Angel of the Apocalypse could not go there and get a copy of his own pirated book on credit. Many, many precious Christian- Science things are to be had there for cash: Bible Lessons; Church Manual; C. S. Hymnal; History of the building of the Mother-Church; lot of Sermons; Communion Hymn, "Saw Ye My Saviour," by Mrs. Eddy, half a dollar a copy, "words used by special permission of Mrs. Eddy." Also we have Mrs. Eddy's and the Angel's little Blue-Annex in eight styles of binding at eight kinds of war-prices; among these a sweet thing in "levant, divinity circuit, leather lined to edge, round corners, gold edge, silk sewed, each, prepaid, $6," and if you take a million you get them a shilling cheaper --that is to say, "prepaid, $5.75." Also we have Mrs. Eddy's Miscellaneous Writings, at 'andsome big prices, the divinity- circuit style heading the exertions, shilling discount where you take an edition Next comes Christ and Christmas, by the fertile Mrs. Eddy--a poem--would God I could see it! --price $3, cash in advance. Then follow five more books by Mrs. Eddy, at highwayman's rates, some of them in "leatherette covers," some of them in "pebble cloth," with divinity- circuit, compensation-balance, twin-screw, and the other modern improvements; and at the same bargain-counter can be had The Christian Science Journal.
Christian-Science literary discharges are a monopoly of the Mother-Church Headquarters Factory in Boston; none genuine without the trade-mark of the Trust. You must apply there and not elsewhere.
One hundred dollars for it. And I have a case among my statistics where the student had a three weeks' course and paid three hundred for it.
The Trust does love the Dollar, when it isn't a spiritual one.
In order to force the sale of Mrs Eddy's Bible-Annex, no healer, Metaphysical-College-bred or other, is allowed to practice the game unless he possesses a copy of that book. That means a large and constantly augmenting income for the Trust. No C.S. family would consider itself loyal or pious or pain-proof without an Annex or two in the house. That means an income for the Trust, in the near future, of millions; not thousands-millions a year.
No member, young or old, of a branch Christian-Scientist church can acquire and retain membership in the Mother-Church unless he pay "capitation tax" (of "not less than a dollar," say the By-Laws) to the Boston Trust every year. That means an income for the Trust, in the near future, of--let us venture to say--millions more per year.
It is a reasonably safe guess that in America in 1920 there will be ten million Christian Scientists, and three millions in Great Britain; that these figures will be trebled in 1930; that in America in 1920 the Christian Scientists will be a political force, in 1930 politically formidable, and in 1940 the governing power in the Republic--to remain that, permanently. And I think it a reasonable guess that the Trust (which is already in our day pretty brusque in its ways) will then be the most insolent and unscrupulous and tyrannical politico-religious master that has dominated a people since the palmy days of the Inquisition. And a stronger master than the strongest of bygone times, because this one will have a financial strength not dreamed of by any predecessor; as effective a concentration of irresponsible power as any predecessor has had; in the railway, the telegraph, and the subsidized newspaper, better facilities for watching and managing his empire than any predecessor has had; and, after a generation or two, he will probably divide Christendom with the Catholic Church.
The Roman Church has a perfect organization, and it has an effective centralization of power--but not of its cash. Its multitude of Bishops are rich, but their riches remain in large measure in their own hands. They collect from two hundred millions of people, but they keep the bulk of the result at home. The Boston Pope of by-and-by will draw his dollar-a-head capitation-tax from three hundred millions of the human race, and the Annex and the rest of his book-shop stock will fetch in as much more; and his Metaphysical Colleges, the annual Pilgrimage to Mrs. Eddy's tomb, from all over the world-admission, the Christian-Science Dollar (payable in advance)-- purchases of consecrated glass beads, candles, memorial spoons, aureoled chrome-portraits and bogus autographs of Mrs. Eddy; cash offerings at her shrine no crutches of cured cripples received, and no imitations of miraculously restored broken legs and necks allowed to be hung up except when made out of the Holy Metal and proved by fire-assay; cash for miracles worked at the tomb: these money- sources, with a thousand to be yet invented and ambushed upon the devotee, will bring the annual increment well up above a billion. And nobody but the Trust will have the handling of it. In that day, the Trust will monopolize the manufacture and sale of the Old and New Testaments as well as the Annex, and raise their price to Annex rates, and compel the devotee to buy (for even to-day a healer has to have the Annex and the Scriptures or he is not allowed to work the game), and that will bring several hundred million dollars more. In those days, the Trust will have an income approaching five million dollars a day, and no expenses to be taken out of it; no taxes to pay, and no charities to support. That last detail should not be lightly passed over by the reader; it is well entitled to attention.
No charities to support. No, nor even to contribute to. One searches in vain the Trust's advertisements and the utterances of its organs for any suggestion that it spends a penny on orphans, widows, discharged prisoners, hospitals, ragged schools, night missions, city missions, libraries, old people's homes, or any other object that appeals to a human being's purse through his heart.
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 object. 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. A reply does at last come to this effect: "We must have faith in Our Mother, and rest content in the conviction that whatever She does with the money it is in accordance with orders from Heaven, for She does no act of any kind without first 'demonstrating over' it."
That settles it--as far as the disciple is concerned. His mind is satisfied with that answer; he gets down his Annex and does an incantation or two, and that mesmerizes his spirit and puts that to sleep--brings it peace. Peace and comfort and joy, until some inquirer punctures the old sore again.
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.) That answer is cautious. But definite, I think--utterly and unassailably 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.
Sly? Deep? Judicious? The Trust understands its business. The Trust does not give itself away. It defeats all the attempts of us impertinents to get at its trade secrets. To this day, after all our diligence, we have not been able to get it to confess what it does with the money. It does not even let its own disciples find out. All it says is, that the matter has been "demonstrated over." Now and then a lay Scientist says, with a grateful exultation, that Mrs. Eddy is enormously rich, but he stops there; as to whether any of the money goes to other charities or not, he is obliged to admit that he does not know. However, the Trust is composed of human beings; and this justifies the conjecture that if it had a charity on its list which it was proud of, we should soon hear of it.
"Without money and without price." Those used to be the terms. Mrs. Eddy's Annex cancels them. The motto of Christian Science is, "The laborer is worthy of his hire." And now that it has been "demonstrated over," we find its spiritual meaning to be, "Do anything and everything your hand may find to do; and charge cash for it, and collect the money in advance." The Scientist has on his tongue's end a cut-and-dried, Boston-supplied set of rather lean arguments, whose function is to show that it is a Heaven-commanded duty to do this, and that the croupiers of the game have no choice but to obey.
The Trust seems to be a reincarnation. Exodus xxxii. 4.
I have no reverence for the Trust, but I am not lacking in reverence for the sincerities of the lay membership of the new Church. There is every evidence that the lay members are entirely sincere in their faith, and I think sincerity is always entitled to honor and respect, let the inspiration of the sincerity be what it may. Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword, and I believe that the new religion will conquer the half of Christendom in a hundred years. I am not intending this as a compliment to the human race; I am merely stating an opinion. And yet I think that perhaps it is a compliment to the race. I keep in mind that saying of an orthodox preacher--quoted further back. He conceded that this new Christianity frees its possessor's life from frets, fears, vexations, bitterness, and all sorts of imagination-propagated maladies and pains, and fills his world with sunshine and his heart with gladness. If Christian Science, with this stupendous equipment--and final salvation added--cannot win half the Christian globe, I must be badly mistaken in the make-up of the human race.
I think the Trust will be handed down like Me other Papacy, and will always know how to handle its limitless cash. It will press the button; the zeal, the energy, the sincerity, the enthusiasm of its countless vassals will do the rest.