E mails from Mark Twain

You won’t believe this, but occasionally I get an E-mail from the long past, from a person I have not met but feel I know. I am usually honored. In the case of old Sam Clemens I was thrilled. He is one of my secular heroes.

E-mail from: Sam Clemens

To: Craig Gosling

Subject: Diversity

“Wherever I have traveled, across the seas to foreign lands, I have witnessed the huge diversity of humanity almost as if all these people were unique in their creation, having sprung from different origins and developed independently according to some mysterious Divine plan. But then, I saw the underlying commonality of the Moroccan, the Hindu, the Chinaman, and the Briton. I know this commonality well, for I have studied it in myself with disdain. Indeed, the Good Lord must be quite skilled to endow all humanity with the same imperfections of character and abundant intolerance for each other, and then to parcel His creations in ribbons and bows to disguise the inherent ugliness in us all. Sam Clemens”

E-mail from: Sam Clemens

To: Craig Gosling

Subject: Moral Righteousness

“The Good Lord, in His infinite wisdom, most certainly has endowed all His children with a sense of moral righteousness so they could recognize the inequities of the hostile world into which they were born, and then in guiltless action, smite their foes according to His will. So effective was The Creator, that the peoples and nations of the world have been in relentless battle against each other to satisfy this inborn need to be treated in a righteous manner. Sam Clemens”

E-mail from: Sam Clemens

To: Craig Gosling

Subject: Extremism

“Luke warm water does not chill the lemon drink in the hottest August, nor does it stoke the tea bag in the coldest January. How much better do ice chips and boiling water accomplish these same tasks. We must ask ourselves how much better does extremism in religion smite down the pagan, and how much better does extremism in foreign policy strike down the heathen of foreign lands than does moderation. Extremism, for righteousness sake, is the sharp sword of the Church and State while moderation is the gentle song of reason, sung so softly that it is seldom heard. Sam Clemens”

E-mail from: Sam Clemens

To: Craig Gosling

Subject: Racial Prejudice

“The southern Church must have had a direct line from The Almighty. Sam Morse and Tom Edison could only admire the efficient communication between the southern preacher and the Good Lord. I would have loved to have been witness to these secret and divine messages so construed to vilify the Negro, and to maintain his bondage in a country founded upon the equality of all men. The nation’s racial tragedy is compounded when our Presidents, politicians, and judges claim to have their own heavenly communications. Sam Clemens”


My comment: Clemens was so right. Too many politicians have conversations with their Gods. I cannot complain. God used to speak to me and I to Him in my youth. Fortunately I got over my gullibility and matured, but when I get the occasional E-mail I read it critically, with interest and pleasure.


Another E-mail just arrived and it’s from Clemens

E-mail from: Sam Clemens

To: Craig Gosling

Subject: Crisis in Catholicism

I am pleased to have this opportunity to express my view on the current crisis in the Catholic Church. Because my views concerning religion are well known I have always been a popular target to those who delight in persecution. I have no doubt that what follows will be of no surprise to my readers and most certainly will not change their preconceived ideas of our magnificent planet and not so magnificent me.

In fairness to other world religions, those deceased and those few survivors, I must disclaim any special preference for or distain of any particular faith. They are all passengers in similar vessels on the stormy seas of human strife. They struggle to patch their leaking vessels and make them seaworthy. Although it is true that their vessels provide temporary security from the deep abyss, they will eventually sink and join the deep wreckage of sunken superstition and false hopes. New vessels will be built as the old ones sink in an endless cycle, which began when the first conscious mind invented the concept of a divinity.

The Church of Rome has been one of the prime shipbuilders for the last two thousand years. Its fragile and unseaworthy spiritual vessels of the past have been replaced, as needed, by magnificent ships of war. These ships have won many spiritual battles, captured much booty and many prisoners, as evidenced by the once extensive colonial empires under the flag of the Holy See. But now these great warships too have foundered and sunk. Blue prints of new ships gather dust on planning tables while designers argue, weep and apologize over the inadequate designs of the past. In truth, I do not know what the future holds for shipbuilding and superstition. No doubt it will continue in one form or another. Ships will always be needed to float human hopes and desires. Ships will be needed to protect mankind from the biblical leviathans and behemoths of dark depths.

I find that my greatest interest is not in shipbuilding but rather in the captains of the ill-fated ships. I wonder how they chart their passage through stormy seas. Do they have a destination? Are they competent enough to be entrusted with the lives of crew and passengers? Do they consult with the sea god who controls the storms and pounding waves of destiny? Surely, with his help, they could guide their vessel into calm waters. So why does his ship founder in the storm like all other ships of faith? Is the sea god unaware of the crisis at hand? Has he not received the captain’s desperate SOS for salvation? On stormy nights captains kneel with bowed heads and clasp their hands in prayer. To whom do they pray and what was the message they claim to have received?  Could it be that the captain did not hear the whole message over the roar of the storm, or could he not comprehend that which he heard over the cries of his passengers? Perhaps the sea god, in his wisdom, had a greater plan far beyond man’s puny senses. Perhaps he was more interested in the natural evolution of seaworthy ships constructed upon the wreckage of past failures and bloated bodies. Perhaps Captains of the Christian ships were needlessly concerned with their leaking hulls. And yet, having trust in the unfathomable and faith in the unknown is dear respite for the endless task of repairing the old hull and designing new ships.

Such was and is the crisis of the world’s religions. They and the Roman Church will never find safe haven in port, and their passengers will never disembark onto dry land. They must, in some peculiar way, enjoy the heaving deck beneath their feet, the omnipresent dread of the raging storm, and the false promise of safe haven. Their ongoing discomfort and worry unites them in praise of their captain and his assurance of safe passage. Fear is their strength, as it is in all spiritual endeavors.

What more can I say on this subject except that I am not surprised such events have continued to happen in your time as well as they had in mine. Inquisitions, pedophile abuse, war, corruption, greed and false promises are natural events inherent in human society and religion. The only escape lies with the human ability to reason and understand science. Unseaworthy ships promise much but deliver few goods.

I must admit that although I have never enjoyed sea travel, I have on occasion found myself standing on the heaving deck and searching the horizon for safe haven. We humans are slow learners.

S. Clemens


About cgosling

I am a retired medical/scientific illustrator and creator of patient teaching simulators, who has given up illustration to write about science, superstition, and secular humanism. I consider myself all of the following: atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, freethinker, skeptic, and nature lover. I have several published books but the mass of my writing is unpublished. I write children's fiction, poetry, essays, and several plays and radio theater shows, that are available as free downloads to be used on secular podcasts and meetings. They can be heard on Indy Freethought Radio or on YouTube “secularradiotheater”. I hope some of my writings will be of interest to like minded freethinkers who I cordially invite to respond. I am also a Darwin impersonator. I invite readers to listen to and use the Darwin script for secular purposes.
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