“Christ And Christmas”

From Miscellaneous Writings by




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         An Illustrated Poem

         This poem and its illustrations are as hopelessly origi-
         nal as is “Science and Health with Key to the Scrip-


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1      tures.” When the latter was first issued, critics declared
         that it was incorrect, contradictory, unscientific, unchris-
         tian; but those human opinions had not one feather’s
         weight in the scales of God. The fact remains, that
5      the textbook of Christian Science is transforming the
         universe.

         “Christ and Christmas” voices Christian Science
         through song and object-lesson. In two weeks from the
         date of its publication in December, 1893, letters extoll-
10    ing it were pouring in from artists and poets. A mother
         wrote, “Looking at the pictures in your wonderful book
         has healed my child.”

         Knowing that this book would produce a stir, I sought
         the judgment of sound critics familiar with the works
15    of masters in France and Italy. From them came such
         replies as the following: “The illustrations of your poem
         are truly a work of art, and the artist seems quite familiar
         with delineations from the old masters.” I am delighted
         to find “Christ and Christmas” in accord with the
20    ancient and most distinguished artists.

         The Christian Science Journal gives no uncertain dec-
         laration concerning the spirit and mission of “Christ and
         Christmas.”

         I aimed to reproduce, with reverent touch, the modest
25    glory of divine Science. Not by aid of foreign device
         or environment could I copy art,—never having seen
         the painter’s masterpieces; but the art of Christian
         Science, with true hue and character of the living God,
         is akin to its Science: and Science and Health gives
30    scopes and shades to the shadows of divinity, thus im-
         parting to humanity the true sense of meekness and
         might.


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1      One incident serves to illustrate the simple nature of
         art.

         I insisted upon placing the serpent behind the woman
         in the picture “Seeking and Finding.” My artist at the
5      easel objected, as he often did, to my sense of Soul’s
         expression through the brush; but, as usual, he finally
         yielded. A few days afterward, the following from Roth-
         erham’s translation of the New Testament was handed
         to me,—I had never before seen it: “And the serpent
10    cast out of his mouth, behind the woman, water as a
         river, that he might cause her to be river-borne.” Neither
         material finesse, standpoint, nor perspective guides the
         infinite Mind and spiritual vision that should, does, guide
         His children.

15    One great master clearly delineates Christ’s appear-
         ing in the flesh, and his healing power, as clad not in
         soft raiment or gorgeous apparel; and when forced out
         of its proper channel, as living feebly, in kings’ courts.
         This master’s thought presents a sketch of Christian-
20    ity’s state, in the early part of the Christian era, as
         homelessness in a wilderness. But in due time Chris-
         tianity entered into synagogues, and, as St. Mark
         writes, it has rich possession here, with houses and
         lands. In Genesis we read that God gave man do-
25    minion over all things; and this assurance is followed
         by Jesus’ declaration, “All power is given unto me
         in heaven and in earth,” and by his promise that the
         Christlike shall finally sit down at the right hand of the
         Father.

30    Christian Science is more than a prophet or a proph-
         ecy: it presents not words alone, but works,—the daily
         demonstration of Truth and Love. Its healing and sav-


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1      ing power was so great a proof of Immanuel and the
         realism of Christianity, that it caused even the publi-
         cans to justify God. Although clad in panoply of power,
         the Pharisees scorned the spirit of Christ in most of its
5      varied manifestations. To them it was cant and carica-
         ture,—always the opposite of what it was. Keen and
         alert was their indignation at whatever rebuked hypocrisy
         and demanded Christianity in life and religion. In view
         of this, Jesus said, “Wisdom is justified of all her
10    children.”

         Above the fogs of sense and storms of passion, Chris-
         tian Science and its art will rise triumphant; ignorance,
         envy, and hatred—earth’s harmless thunder—pluck
         not their heaven-born wings. Angels, with overtures,
15    hold charge over both, and announce their Principle and
         idea.

         It is most fitting that Christian Scientists memorize
         the nativity of Jesus. To him who brought a great light
         to all ages, and named his burdens light, homage is in-
20    deed due,—but is bankrupt. I never looked on my
         ideal of the face of the Nazarite Prophet; but the one
         illustrating my poem approximates it.

         Extremists in every age either doggedly deny or fran-
         tically affirm what is what: one renders not unto Cæsar
25    “the things that are Cæsar’s;” the other sees “Helen’s
         beauty in a brow of Egypt.”

         Pictures are portions of one’s ideal, but this ideal is
         not one’s personality. Looking behind the veil, he that
         perceives a semblance between the thinker and his thought
30    on canvas, blames him not.

         Because my ideal of an angel is a woman without
         feathers on her wings,—is it less artistic or less natu-


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1      ral? Pictures which present disordered phases of ma-
         terial conceptions and personality blind with animality,
         are not my concepts of angels. What is the material ego,
         but the counterfeit of the spiritual?

5      The truest art of Christian Science is to be a Chris-
         tian Scientist; and it demands more than a Raphael to
         delineate this art.

         The following is an extract from a letter reverting to
         the illustrations of “Christ and Christmas”:—

10    “In my last letter, I did not utter all I felt about the
         wonderful new book you have given us. Years ago,
         while in Italy, I studied the old masters and their great
         works of art thoroughly, and so got quite an idea of
         what constitutes true art. Then I spent two years in
15    Paris, devoting every moment to the study of music and
         art.

         “The first thing that impressed me in your illustra-
         tions was the conscientious application to detail, which is
         is the foundation of true art. From that, I went on to
20    study each illustration thoroughly, and to my amazement
         and delight I find an almost identical resemblance, in
         many things, to the old masters! In other words, the art
         is perfect.

         “The hands and feet of the figures—how many times
25    have I seen these hands and feet in Angelico’s “Jesus,”
         or Botticelli’s “Madonna”!

         “It gave me such a thrill of joy as no words can ex-
         press, to see produced to-day that art—the only true
         art—that we have identified with the old masters, and
30    mourned as belonging to them exclusively,—a thing of
         the past, impossible of reproduction.

         “All that I can say to you, as one who gives no mean


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1      attention to such matters, is that the art is perfect. It
         is the true art of the oldest, most revered, most authen-
         tic Italian school, revived. I use the words most au-
         thentic
in the following sense: the face, figure, and
5      drapery of Jesus, very closely resemble in detail the
         face, figure, and drapery of that Jesus portrayed by the
         oldest of the old masters, and said to have been authen-
         tic; the face having been taken by Fra Angelico from
         Cæsar’s Cameo, the figure and garments from a descrip-
10    tion, in The Galaxy, of a small sketch handed down
         from the living reality. Their productions are expres-
         sionless copies of an engraving cut in a stone. Yours
         is a palpitating, living Saviour engraven on the heart.
         You have given us back our Jesus, and in a much better
15    is form.”






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Love is the liberator.