(3rd Book) Introduction to The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New

(Introduction to The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New)

Vonnegut, Stevenson, and Adams Talking in My Head –

In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness. And God said, “Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.” And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely. “Everything must have a purpose?” asked God. “Certainly,” said man. “Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God. – Kurt Vonnegut

But our early man has a moment to reflect and he thinks to himself, “Well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in,” and then he asks himself a very treacherous question, a question that is totally meaningless and fallacious, but only comes about because of the nature of the sort of person he is, the sort of person he has evolved into, and the sort of person who has thrived because he thinks this particular way. Man the maker looks at his world and says, “So who made this, then?” Who made this? – you can see why it’s a treacherous question. Early man thinks , “Well, because there’s only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me, and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he’s probably male.” And so we have the idea of a God. Then, because when we make things, we do it with the intention of doing something with them, early man asks himself, “If he made it, what did he make it for?” – Douglas Adams

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love… God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. I John 4

This year I’ve had the great good privilege of holding conversations with authors Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series), Kurt Vonnegut (author of Slaughterhouse Five and other equally amazing novels), and D.E. Stevenson (author of the Miss Buncle books). Okay, so I didn’t, like, actually talk to any of them in the person – seeing as how they’re all dead and everything, but I did have the great joy of reading their books for the first time this year, and sort of… well… talking to them in my head.

We all laughed together at the nonsense of life and humankind and ourselves, we chatted about God, and I found kinship with them in our similar views of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” (another of Adams’s books).

Adams and Vonnegut were atheists (I didn’t find any place in her writings where Stevenson actually voices her thoughts regarding a belief in God) and, although I do believe in God, I, too, am an atheist when it comes to an anthropomorphic god who lives in the clouds and zaps his children to hell periodically. I am of the opinion that THAT kind of a god should have long ago gone the way of Zeus and Mars and ridden off into the sunset on his fiery chariot never to be seen again except in the study of ancient cultures and literature.

I wish I would have found Adams, Vonnegut, and Stevenson earlier in my life. I can’t believe it took me so long. I’m sad that I didn’t get to know Adams – who was only five years older than me – when he was walking the earth. I’m sad that his sudden death at the age of 49 didn’t have the significance to me that it would have, had I known him then. I wish I would have understood , then , what his early departure meant to the world . And when I read his last book, The Salmon of Doubt – compiled in the year after his death by his friends and editors – I found myself sobbing when I got to the end of it – knowing there wouldn’t be any more. I felt like I had lost a good friend.

Kurt Vonnegut introduced his readers to the fictitious but way cool religion of Bokononism in his book, Cat’s Cradle, and I will be making periodic references to Bokononism in my book.

And D.E. Stevenson introduced me to the wonderfully enlightened and wise Miss Buncle, who’s brought me laughter and the comforting feeling that I am not alone as I pretend to be a grown-up.

I’m going to bring my new friends into this book with me. They are a part of my life now, and they need to be a part of this book, too.


The Wisdom of Miss Buncle

No, she was not like other people. Other people took grown-up things as a matter of course— things like late dinner, and wine, driving cars and going to the theater; things like marriage and housekeeping and ordering commodities from the shops; whereas she was just playing at it all the time, pretending to be grown up, when, really and truly all the time, she was just Barbara— a plain, gawky child… but not least, she still enjoyed the same things— ice cream, and sweet cakes, and crumpets with the butter oozing out of them— and she still loved being out at night when the stars were shining… Someday, she was convinced, somebody would find out that she was an imposter in the adult world. –  D.E. Stevenson, Miss Buncle Marries


I know, right?! I can so relate to this! There have been times when I’ve sort of stood back and looked at my life – at my children, my marriage, my home, my job, the responsibilities of being an adult – and had to chuckle that I’ve managed to pull it all off without anyone suspecting I’m actually just a tree-climbing ten year-old in a grown-up body.

A month or so ago I was introduced to the writings of D.E. Stevenson – the author quoted at the top of the page – and have very much enjoyed reading her books. Her stories, which take place in her native Britain, were written in the 1930’s and 1940’s and capture really well the cozy, quirky charm of life in a small English village. They have the same feeling to them as an Agatha Christie story – only without the murder. They are wise.  They are thought-provoking. And there were times – as in the passage below – where I found myself laughing out loud:

“I was wondering what we should write in the Bible,” said Dorcas, looking at Jerry inquiringly.

“I know what to write,” Simon declared. “I’ve seen it written in a book before. It’s the proper thing to write in a book. Daddy has a book with that written in it and he said it made the book more valuable— that’s what Daddy said.”

“What is it?” asked Jerry and Dorcas with one accord.

“With the author’s compliments,” said Simon proudly.

– from The Two Mrs. Abbots by D.E. Stevenson


The passage below captures the essence of a character named Helen really well – and haven’t we all known people like Helen? In fact, maybe we’ve ALL been Helen now and then… 🙂  –

She was a born meddler. In the garden, for instance, everything was directed by Helen. The raspberry canes, the sweet peas— even the ramblers were obliged to grow in the direction Helen thought best. She bent them to her will, tying them firmly to stake or trellis with pieces of green bass she carried in her pocket for the purpose.  – from The Two Mrs. Abbots by D.E. Stevenson


I even found mention of Christian Science in one of Stevenson’s books! And she didn’t write us off as completely loony! I really appreciated that. 🙂

“You are interested in Christian Science,” said Markie, handing her a duster… she had found a book upon Christian Science in Jane’s room when she went in to make the bed.

“Yes,” said Jane. “At least I don’t know much about it. I just thought it might help to— to clear up something in my mind.”

“Perhaps it may,” agreed Markie. “There was a mistress at Wheatfield House who practiced Christian Science and she had an extremely lucid mind…” Here Markie knelt down upon the hearth rug and began to lay the fire in the empty grate. “She was agreeable and cultured,” continued Markie. “I liked her very much and I was much interested in her conversation.”

“Did she convert you?” Jane asked.

“No, dear. If I have a pain I just take an aspirin in a little water. There is no need to bother God about it.” 

– D.E. Stevenson from The Two Mrs. Abbots


I love how Stevenson describes a child’s take on “grown-ups” and how they spend their time:

Trivvie listened with growing pity to the stumbling narrative— grown-ups were odd, she thought (not for the first time). Here was a perfectly strong and healthy grown-up with the whole day to do what she liked with, and nobody to say she mustn’t do this or that or the other, and look at what she did— it was really pitiable. “How dull!” she said at last, sadly shaking her untidy head. “Doesn’t it sound dull, Amby?”Miss Buncle Marries


I do not believe in ghosties or supernatural hokum pokum, but I have felt an “atmosphere” when I’ve walked into old buildings. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (the textbook for Christian Science):  “Though individuals have passed away, their mental environment remains to be discerned, described, and transmitted. Though bodies are leagues apart and their associations forgotten,  their associations float in the general atmosphere of human mind… Do not suppose that any mental concept is gone because you do not think of it. The true concept is never lost. The strong impressions produced on mortal mind by friendship or by any intense feeling are lasting…”

In Miss Buncle Marries, Stevenson addresses this feeling when she writes: “Slowly she became aware of Unseen Presences in the empty rooms— the aura of those who had lived in the house and loved it. And these Unseen Presences were friendly toward her, they welcomed her coming— she was sure of it— they would do her no harm. There was nothing ghostly about this aura, nothing supernatural, nothing frightening, it was more a sort of warm atmosphere, comfortable to the spirit as the warmth of a good fire is comfortable to the body.”


Yes, I am enjoying D.E. Stevenson very much. Every now and then I read a book and think – “Wow! This author would have been my friend if we’d ever met!” And that is precisely how I feel about the author of the Miss Buncle books.


It was a great relief to find that somebody wanted her, that she was not utterly and completely useless. – from the Two Mrs. Abbots by D.E. Stevenson