Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mark Twain on the scriptures

Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand. Mark Twain
US humorist, novelist, short story author, & wit (1835 - 1910)

In many of his writings, Twain pokes fun at organized religion, and he takes the opportunity to do so in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. With Tom and his friends, Twain points out the superficiality of religious revivals. In the nineteenth century, religious revivals were a common occurrence in the summer. Here, all the boys “got religion”—momentarily, at least.

You can read 5 short humorous blasts against religion.

The Bible According to Mark Twain: Irreverent Writings on Eden, Heaven, and the Flood by America's Master Satirist

Mark Twain takes on Heaven and Hell, sinners and saints and showcases his own unique approach to the Holy Scriptures including Adam and Eve's divergent accounts of their domestic troubles, Satan's take on our concept of the afterlife, Methuselah's discussion of an ancient version of baseball, and advice on how to dress and tip properly in heaven. Behind the humor of these pieces, readers will see Twain's serious thoughts on the relationship between God and man, biblical inconsistencies, Darwinism, science, and the impct of technology on religious beliefs. The Bible According to Mark Twain is vintage Twain and is sure to surprise, delight, and perhaps shock modern readers.

Tomorrow's sermon is on the Mark 9:30-37. That scripture start off with Jesus telling them about his impending death, and they don't understand. They get into an arguement over who is the greatest. Jesus uses the object lesson a child to teach them a few things, that once again the Kingdom is not what you think it is. But I am not sure that the disciples understood that either.
But we are not so different from them, we have a hard time understanding what Jesus said and taught. But I think we understand a whole lot more than we admit and like Mark Twain those passages get to us and bother us.

Lord help us to understand what your words mean today, and how to live those out in our lives. Forgive us when we don't. And Lord even if the word bothers us, give us the grace to accept it, maybe with some humor.


SingingOwl said...

I love Mark Twain. I have most of his books...and I remember my sister introducing me to the Adam and Eve accounts when I was in my teens--one of the most hilarious things I ever read! And quite insightful, even while funny.

He made me sad too though. I once read somewhere or other that his wife was a committed Christian. On her deathbed she told her husband that she was afraid. He replied, sincerely, that she should pray to the God in which she believed. She said, "I cannot. You have assured that I no longer have any faith." If true, that is a sad story.

But when I read Twain's works I always find myself wishing that he had met a few more religious types that weren't Or maybe he did and just did now want to see.

ANyway, I know this wasn't the point of your post. I was just taking a walk down memory lane with one of my favorite writers.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Sounds like a great book! I am going to order my copy today.

Revem said...

Rev Abi,

If you don't have a second job as a book reviewer you should. What a fantastic review. You have made me want to go out, get a copy and start reading it now.

Well done


Sally said...

echoing the other comments- what a great review- and if the passages we do understand don't bother us they should... and we understand less than we say... we live in the tensions and the gaps don't we!

revabi said...

I want to own this, and make it clear, that I did not write the review of Mark Twain's book. Wish I had, and thanks for the compliment. I believe I got it from one of the reviewers at If you click on the book it will take you there. But I found many of the stories that are in the book are on the internet, and those are linked as well. I am glad i have some sister and brothers who at one or another liked Mark Twain. And singingowl, I don't know that much about his wife's death and the story surrounding it.

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain hated organized religion but wrote one of the best biographies of one of the most spiritually devout people to ever live. I am referring to The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc which is available online free at