CHAPTER 86 MARK TWAIN ON FAITH HEALING, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE, AND MARY BAKER EDDY: SUPPLEMENT: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CONSERVATIVE-REPUBLICAN CHRISTIAN: JESUS IS A SMALL-C COMMUNIST

 

Faith in the doctor. Perhaps that is the entire thing. It seems to look like it. In old times the King cured the king's evil by the touch of the royal hand. He frequently made extraordinary cures. Could his footman have done it? No—not in his own clothes. Disguised as the King, could he have done it? I think we may not doubt it. I think we may feel sure that it was not the King's touch that made the cure in any instance, but the patient's faith in the efficacy of a King's touch. Genuine and remarkable cures have been achieved through contact with the relics of a saint. Is it not likely that any other bones would have done as well if the substitution had been concealed from the patient? When I was a boy a farmer's wife who lived five miles from our village had great fame as a faith-doctor—that was what she called herself. Sufferers came to her from all around, and she laid her hand upon them and said, "Have faith —it is all that is necessary," and they went away well of their ailments. She was not a religious woman, and pretended to no occult powers. She said that the patient's faith in her did the work. Several times I saw her make immediate cures of severe toothaches. My mother was the patient. In Austria there is a peasant who drives a great trade in this sort of industry, and has both the high and the low for patients. He gets into prison every now and then for practising without a diploma, but his business is as brisk as ever when he gets out, for his work is unquestionably successful and keeps his reputation high. In Bavaria there is a man who performed so many great cures that he had to retire from his profession of stage-carpentering in order to meet the demand of his constantly increasing body of customers. He goes on from year to year doing his miracles, and has become very rich. He pretends to no religious helps, no supernatural aids, but thinks there is something in his make-up which inspires the confidence of his patients, and that it is this confidence which does the work, and not some mysterious power issuing from himself.

Within the last quarter of a century, in America, several sects of curers have appeared under various names and have done notable things in the way of healing ailments without the use of medicines. There are the Mind Cure the Faith Cure, the Prayer Cure, the Mental Science Cure, and the Christian-Science Cure; and apparently they all do their miracles with the same old, powerful instrument—the patient's imagination. Differing names, but no difference in the process. But they do not give that instrument the credit; each sect claims that its way differs from the ways of the others.

They all achieve some cures, there is no question about it; and the Faith Cure and the Prayer Cure probably do no harm when they do no good, since they do not forbid the patient to help out the cure with medicines if he wants to; but the others bar medicines, and claim ability to cure every conceivable human ailment through the application of their mental forces alone. There would seem to be an element of danger here. It has the look of claiming too much, I think. Public confidence would probably be increased if less were claimed.[232]

"Faith in the doctor. Perhaps that is the entire thing." Faith in the doctor is not perhaps the entire thing. It is the entire thing. All illness is psychosomatic. Twain recognized that diseases were cured with placebos. He calls it imagination.

Which is the imagined state or condition? Is it the instant cure that is the imagination at work, or is it the disease or injury? Why is the disease the thing taken as the sure thing, the unimagined thing? Why are some illnesses called psychosomatic and others not? The doctors can find no "organic" reason for the illness; therefore, it is psychosomatic. However, when they see "organic" reasons, then it is not psychosomatic but real. Then how are these "real" illnesses healed by faith? Likewise, doesn't the sick person stay sick who firmly convinces himself he will never heal? The organic signs remain, yet the mind is clinging to the illness.

The degree of faith in the cure, in the healer, is what comes directly up against the magnitude in the mind of the illness, the degree to which disbelief has been engrained over time.

If Jesus cured them and made them whole, what would be the state of reality if all humanity were heal thusly and were healed completely of all corrupting processes? Immortality of the flesh and soul together would result. Indestructibility would result.

Why believe in only a little power of faith in the doctor, the doctor here being God? Why limit the mind to accept some degree of mind and spirit over matter?

Twain buys some, but he couldn't allow himself to believe what would happen with the deepest faith.

Mary Baker Eddy founded Christian Science. Twain's book attempts to make a complete fool of her, even while he backpedaled himself by freely acknowledging that from a given person's perspective everyone is insane who doesn't agree with him—insane at least concerning the area of disagreement.

The Real Liberal Christian Church is not the church of Mary Baker Eddy. We believe that when Jesus told Thomas to touch his wounds, Jesus was there in the flesh. We believe that the manifest spirit is real. We believe at the same time that the context in which Eddy used the term real, she was correct. These two contexts are not mutually exclusive, something neither Twain nor she apparently grasped.

God is spirit, but God manifests incarnate and is real in that form. Jesus was such: Duality.

Twain wrote, "...the others bar medicines, and claim ability to cure every conceivable human ailment through the application of their mental forces alone." Well, what would he have said to Jesus? With that attitude, there would have been no healing. It was only with those who believed more deeply that radical healing occurred.

We have century after century of wrong mindedness to overcome to return to God to be completely healed, many centuries of engrained conditioning in the lie that God can't heal us in the blink of an eye. It is belief in the lie and the doubt in God, it is that negative spirit that withholds the very thing the world could otherwise have.

Tom Usher

About Tom Usher

Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.