The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

Mark Twain - Innocents Abroad

from a friend:
You would absolutely love the book I am reading now, which is Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. Actually, it is the last part of the book, regarding his journey through the Holy Land that you would enjoy most. The local attractions and traditions receive quite savage treatment from him, and it is laugh-out-loud funny. Plus, he is subtly making important points about thinking for yourself, and the willingness of religions and devout worshipers to forego valuing truth and good deeds in favor of a host of less exalted objectives. Anyway, it is wonderful. Irreverent to say the least.

I am sure that he was the first (and last?) "Christian" author not to sugar coat his descriptions of what he saw and felt. Many of the funny passages are his juxtapositions of what the existing guide books described compared to what he himself saw.

The entire book is interesting, but the last part is the best.

I responded with:
Thanks for the suggestion. I have a few Mark Twain books on my shelf that I need to read and now I've got another on the list. I don't think you can call Twain a "Christian" though. "Letters From the Earth" is downright atheistic. For a Christian to have written it would be far beyond blasphemy.

He responded with:
In this book, he seems to often come back from his tirades with little statements that put him in the camp of people who essentially believe in the divinity of Jesus. But I understand this was written rather early in his career. His views may have changed, or he may have become more forthright about his views as time passed.

Here is a passage written about his trip to Bethlehem. He and his group are being shown what is purported to be the actual birthplace of Jesus. This passage is uncharacteristic in that it doesn't transition back into a statement reflecting general belief, but it is very characteristic of his overarching mood in the Holy Land:

This was the "manger" where Christ was born. A silver star set in the floor bears a Latin inscription to that effect. It is polished with the kisses of many generations of worshiping pilgrims . . . I have no "meditations" suggested by this spot where the very first "Merry Christmas!" was uttered in all the world, and from whence the friend of my childhood, Santa Claus departed on his first journey to gladden and continue to gladden roaring firesides on wintry mornings in many a distant land forever and forever. I touch, with reverent finger, the actual spot where the infant Jesus lay, but I think - nothing.
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