Pop quiz. Was Mark Twain
1. an atheist,
2. an agnostic, or
3. a deist?
Well, the author’s name is on Wikipedia’s list of agnostics.
Also, on its list of deists. Hmm.
Now go looking for a list of famous atheists, and yup.
So what did Twain believe? Depends on whom you ask. In other words, it’s complicated — but not to Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson. Swanson has gotten it into his head that Twain was one of the wickedest men who ever lived, on account of the fact that America’s greatest humorist frequently made fun of religious phonies with observations like this one:
“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
Twain also loved shocking the citizenry of his day with witty inversions of their orthodoxy:
“But who prays for Satan? Who in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most, our one fellow and brother who most needed a friend yet had not a single one, the one sinner among us all who had the highest and clearest right to every Christian’s daily and nightly prayers, for the plain and unassailable reason that his was the first and greatest need, he being among sinners the supremest?”
Stuff like that gives Kevin Swanson the vapors, so to him, the answer to my lead-in question is
4. a Satanist.
You see, the other day,
Swanson appeared on TruNews with host Rick Wiles. There, he discussed his theory about how Twain was possessed by the devil. Swanson theorizes that Huckleberry Finn was an “attack on the Christian church” because it exposed Christian hypocrisy regarding slavery. He states that “Mark Twain was probably the strongest apologist against the Christian faith that America’s ever seen. … He mocks Christianity throughout and Huckleberry Finn is an atheist himself.”
Swanson argues that “Huckleberry Finn” “is extremely, powerfully, cynically against the Christian faith. … Mark Twain himself I believe turned out to be demon-possessed.” For that, Swanson cites Twain’s “Letters from the Earth.” Swanson called [it] “one of the most acidic, horrific, evil books I think ever, ever written by any human being in the history of mankind.”
I would love to mock the good reverend here, but I don’t want to open myself up to charges that I’m in league with
my Lord and Master Satan. I will say, though, that I’d rather spend an eternity in hell with Mark Twain, than a year in heaven with billions of Ned Flanders-wannabes like Kevin Swanson.
P.S. Letters From the Earth is out in a brand new edition. Amazon.com offers this brief description:
Letters From the Earth is a somber collection of essays and stories written by Mark Twain after the death of his wife and one of his daughters. Satan writes a probing letter to his fellow archangels Michael and Gabriel about the inconsistencies of human religious faith, in the title story. In this posthumously published book, Twain uses his characteristic acerbity and lucid powers of observation to investigate the nature of existence.
You can order your copy here.