By Judy Brandon: Local columnist
According to family records and oral family history, my cousin has long maintained that we are related to the famous writer Mark Twain.
As a child, I was always thrilled to tell that I was related to him.
In grade school once we were reading a short story by Twain, and I announced to the class that I was kin to him. I had great pride telling that, and my teacher was impressed.
Some time ago, I found an account of Twain. This column addresses the subject of fame and calls for some contemplation on a deeper level as well.
With his writings about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s fame spread throughout the world. He was not only acclaimed in America as a great literary figure, but his celebrity began to take hold even in Europe. As a result of his success, he traveled extensively around the world.
On one trip to Europe, he took along his little girl. She was amazed that everywhere they went, there were crowds to see her father, who was celebrated even by royalty. In every city where they stopped, they socialized and met with the well known and influential — from scientists to government officials to musicians to writers.
To his daughter, Twain was “Daddy,” and she had trouble understanding why everyone made such a fuss over him. She saw how her father attracted hundreds of people, honoring him as a very important person. Reports of his visits made the newspapers in the cities they toured.
Written commentaries tell about the impression this trip made on the girl. Toward the trip’s end, she remarked, “Well, Papa, it seems that you just about know everyone in the whole wide world but God!”
I have seen that it is possible to have scores of influential friends and associates and yet not know God. Some people are very good at “name dropping.” I suppose they have a higher feeling of self-esteem if they think others know that they in turn are acquainted with someone important. Still some believe that being acquainted with those in government, commerce or entertainment makes their future secure.
On the other hand, a person may be acquainted with no one famous, influential, wealthy or powerful. Does it make a difference? Perhaps the words of Mark might be appropriate when thinking about this issue of fame and standing in this world. He wrote, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
It would be sad to make it to the peak of success in this life, have far-reaching influence, be world renown and still not know God. All that would make no difference on one’s deathbed. At last breath, what matters: worldwide recognition or a relationship with Christ?
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org