I’ve mentioned before that Mark Twain is one of my heroes. It’s not because of Huckleberry Finn. It’s only because I love his attitude as expressed by quotations–about facing fear and so on. Bet when I found Twain’s Letters from the Earth, which were not published until 1962, I found a whole other dimension. The first section of the book is a series of letters written by an archangel on Earth to his colleagues back in heaven. Twain’s fierce love of rationality, his hatred for hypocrisy and the cruelties of religion as expressed both in the Bible and by its practitioners, suddenly rang familiar. It’s a campaign that science blogger PZ Myers, knowingly or not, has taken up.
Excerpt from Letter 1:
Man is a marvellous curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of low-grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm. Yet he blandly and in all sincerity calls himself the “noblest work of God.”
Moreover–if I may put another strain upon you–he thinks he is the Creator’s pet…. He prays for help, and favor, and protection, every day; and does it with hopefulness and confidence, too, although no prayer of his has ever been answered.