Mark Twain and Religion
Huckleberry Finn is over 100 years old. There were many celebrations, not only of Huck Finn?s birthday but Mark Twain?s genius.
One of the finest stage shows in America was Mark Twain Tonight (VHS Tape or audio cassette), with Hal Holbrook. Ernest Hemingway paid his tribute to Mark Twain in these words: "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain, called Huckleberry Finn." T.S. Eliot called it "one of the permanent symbolic figures of fiction." William Dean Howells has called Mark Twain "The Abraham Lincoln of American literature."
The word brilliant may be overused, but surely in the case of Mark Twain it applies. He seems forever contemporary. His linguistic needles are as sharp, his observations on the human race as precise, and his sarcasm and humor as glittering today as they were when he originally placed pen to paper.
I guess that everybody has read Huckleberry Finn, but I find few who have read Twain's Letters From the Earth, a book that is filled with his observations on something that we call "religion." That book made my summer a few years back.
For several glorious and wondrous weeks I lived in a teepee high on an alpine meadow in the mountains of Montana. After getting my new home in order, I lay down under a mountain sun, bathed by cool afternoon breezes, and started reading Twain on "religion." Perhaps some samples will whet your appetite for more:
"The Bible tells about creation. God did it. He did not call it the "universe." That name is modern. His whole attention was upon our world. He constructed it in five days?and then? It took him only the one remaining day to make 20 million suns and 80 million planets and 8 billion galaxies." (Twain would have had a field day with today?s creationists.)
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