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Mis 371:26 - 376:14 by Mary Baker Eddy

27 An Illustrated Poem

This poem and its illustrations are as hopelessly origi-
nal as is "Science and Health with Key to the Scrip-
1 tures." When the latter was first issued, critics declared
that it was incorrect, contradictory, unscientific, unchris-
3 tian; but those human opinions had not one feather's
weight in the scales of God. The fact remains, that
the textbook of Christian Science is transforming the
6 universe.
"Christ and Christmas" voices Christian Science
through song and object-lesson. In two weeks from the
9 date of its publication in December, 1893, letters extoll-
ing it were pouring in from artists and poets. A mother
wrote, "Looking at the pictures in your wonderful book
12 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
18 with delineations from the old masters." I am delighted
to find "Christ and Christmas" in accord with the
ancient and most distinguished artists.
21 The Christian Science Journal gives no uncertain dec-
laration concerning the spirit and mission of "Christ and
24 I aimed to reproduce, with reverent touch, the modest
glory of divine Science. Not by aid of foreign device
or environment could I copy art, — never having seen
27 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
1 One incident serves to illustrate the simple nature of
3 I insisted upon placing the serpent behind the woman
in the picture "Seeking and Finding." My artist at the
easel objected, as he often did, to my sense of Soul's
6 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
9 to me, — I had never before seen it: "And the serpent
cast out of his mouth, behind the woman, water as a
river, that he might cause her to be river-borne." Neither
12 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
18 of its proper channel, as living feebly, in kings' courts.
This master's thought presents a sketch of Christian-
ity's state, in the early part of the Christian era, as
21 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
24 lands. In Genesis we read that God gave man do-
minion over all things; and this assurance is followed
by Jesus' declaration, "All power is given unto me
27 in heaven and in earth," and by his promise that the
Christlike shall finally sit down at the right hand of the
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-
1 ing power was so great a proof of Immanuel and the
realism of Christianity, that it caused even the publi-
3 cans to justify God. Although clad in panoply of power,
the Pharisees scorned the spirit of Christ in most of its
varied manifestations. To them it was cant and carica-
6 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
9 of this, Jesus said, "Wisdom is justified of all her
Above the fogs of sense and storms of passion, Chris-
12 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
It is most fitting that Christian Scientists memorize
18 the nativity of Jesus. To him who brought a great light
to all ages, and named his burdens light, homage is in-
deed due, — but is bankrupt. I never looked on my
21 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-
24 tically affirm what is what: one renders not unto Caesar
"the things that are Caesar's;" the other sees "Helen's
beauty in a brow of Egypt."
27 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-
1 ral? Pictures which present disordered phases of ma-
terial conceptions and personality blind with animality,
3 are not my concepts of angels. What is the material ego,
but the counterfeit of the spiritual?
The truest art of Christian Science is to be a Chris-
6 tian Scientist; and it demands more than a Raphael to
delineate this art.
The following is an extract from a letter reverting to
9 the illustrations of "Christ and Christmas": —
"In my last letter, I did not utter all I felt about the
wonderful new book you have given us. Years ago,
12 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
"The first thing that impressed me in your illustra-
18 tions was the conscientious application to detail, which
is the foundation of true art. From that, I went on to
study each illustration thoroughly, and to my amazement
21 and delight I find an almost identical resemblance, in
many things, to the old masters! In other words, the art
is perfect.
24 "The hands and feet of the figures — how many times
have I seen these hands and feet in Angelico's 'Jesus,'
or Botticelli's 'Madonna'!
27 "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
1 attention to such matters, is that the art is perfect. It
is the true art of the oldest, most revered, most authen-
3 tic Italian school, revived. I use the words most au-
thentic in the following sense: the face, figure, and
drapery of Jesus, very closely resemble in detail the
6 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
9 Caesar's Cameo, the figure and garments from a descrip-
tion, in The Galaxy, of a small sketch handed down
from the living reality. Their productions are expres-
12 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 form."