There you have the top crust. There will be four hundred and seventy- five men and women present who can draw upon their training and deliver incontrovertible judgments concerning cheese, and leather, and cattle, and hardware, and soap, and tar, and candles, and patent medicines, and dreams, and apparitions, and garden trucks, and cats, and baby food, and warts, and hymns, and time-tables, and freight-rates, and summer resorts, and whiskey, and law, and surgery, and dentistry, and blacksmithing, and shoemaking, and dancing, and Huyler's candy, and mathematics, and dog fights, and obstetrics, and music, and sausages, and dry goods, and molasses, and railroad stocks, and horses, and literature, and labor unions, and vegetables, and morals, and lamb's fries, and etiquette, and agriculture. And not ten among the five hundred--let their minds be ever so good and bright--will be competent, by grace of the requisite specialized mental training, to take hold of a complex abstraction of any kind and make head or tail of it.

The whole five hundred are thinkers, and they are all capable thinkers-- but only within the narrow limits of their specialized trainings. Four hundred and ninety of them cannot competently examine either a religious plan or a political one. A scattering few of them do examine both--that is, they think they do. With results as precious as when I examine the nebular theory and explain it to myself.

If the four hundred and ninety got their religion through their minds, and by weighed and measured detail, Christian Science would not be a scary apparition. But they don't; they get a little of it through their minds, more of it through their feelings, and the overwhelming bulk of it through their environment.

Environment is the chief thing to be considered when one is proposing to predict the future of Christian Science. It is not the ability to reason that makes the Presbyterian, or the Baptist, or the Methodist, or the Catholic, or the Mohammedan, or the Buddhist, or the Mormon; it is environment. If religions were got by reasoning, we should have the extraordinary spectacle of an American family with a Presbyterian in it, and a Baptist, a Methodist, a Catholic, a Mohammedan, a Buddhist, and a Mormon. A Presbyterian family does not produce Catholic families or other religious brands, it produces its own kind; and not by intellectual processes, but by association. And so also with Mohammedanism, the cult which in our day is spreading with the sweep of a world-conflagration through the Orient, that native home of profound thought and of subtle intellectual fence, that fertile womb whence has sprung every great religion that exists. Including our own; for with all our brains we cannot invent a religion and market it.

The language of my quoted prophets recurs to us now, and we wonder to think how small a space in the world the mighty Mohammedan Church would be occupying now, if a successful trade in its line of goods had been conditioned upon an exhibit that would "appeal to the intellect" instead of to "the unintelligent, the mentally inferior, the people who do not think."

The Christian Science Church, like the Mohammedan Church, makes no embarrassing appeal to the intellect, has no occasion to do it, and can get along quite well without it.

Provided. Provided what? That it can secure that thing which is worth two or three hundred thousand times more than an "appeal to the intellect"--an environment. Can it get that? Will it be a menace to regular Christianity if it gets that? Is it time for regular Christianity to get alarmed? Or shall regular Christianity smile a smile and turn over and take another nap? Won't it be wise and proper for regular Christianity to do the old way, Me customary way, the historical way--lock the stable-door after the horse is gone? Just as Protestantism has smiled and nodded this long time (while the alert and diligent Catholic was slipping in and capturing the public schools), and is now beginning to hunt around for the key when it is too late?

Will Christian Science get a chance to show its wares? It has already secured that chance.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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