Saturday, June 20, 2009

Why I Was Ready

When I was a small child in a Southern Baptist church in Louisiana, my Sunday School teacher told me, with a perfectly straight face, that Catholics didn’t go to Heaven. She never could explain why. I don’t think she even tried.

My teachers taught me, too, that hell was the fate of anyone who didn’t believe ‘Jesus Christ’ was the Son of God. But, what about people in jungles and out-backs who’d never heard of Jesus? Would they go to hell? How could a God who loved 'His' children consign people to hell in such a scenario?

Meanwhile, back to those Catholics: I had very close friends who were Catholic and I knew they deeply believed in the Divinity of Jesus. So why would they go to hell?

And, if Jesus was the “Son of God” what about me? Didn’t God make me, too?

My questions met with blank stares most of the time—along with a change of subject and a steadily decreasing tendency to call on me in class.

Fairly quickly [while still in elementary school] I solved the Catholic Problem: I recognized the blatant bigotry for what it was and dismissed it.

Then, some years later, I learned that the Southern Baptist Convention splintered off from the American Baptist Church because of a fundamental difference of opinion. The Southern Baptists stated that the practice of slavery was ok. Bringing people to our shores against their wills—tearing families apart, subjecting people to all the cruel practices inherent in the institution, the whole nine yards—were just fine because the 'enlightened Americans' were teaching these ‘savages’ about Christianity and how much God loved them.
And these people had a problem with Catholics?

Still later, I learned other historical facts that did not sit well with me either: The Witch Hunts of Medieval Europe. The Inquisitions that stretched well into the Renaissance Period. The forced conversion of the the Jews to Christianity. The Pogroms. And on and on. Oops.

So, on the fateful day when, wandering around a used bookstore, I picked up a book by Ruth Montgomery [A Search for the Truth] that spoke of a different way of looking at God & Stuff—I was enthralled. I couldn’t put it down.
Here, at last, I could see a way out of the quandary I still carried around with me about the fates of people who didn’t believe in Jesus because they’d never heard of Him. Reincarnation solved that problem neatly, for me. People had more than one chance! Salvation was no longer a case of geography and luck.

Karma explained most if not all of the cruelty I saw down through history as well as all around me in the present day. Grace was present in these concepts, too.
It turns out that being truly sorry about things we’ve done in the past can, in certain circumstances, change the way karma works. It’s complicated and I’m not sure I understand all the dynamics. That’s one of those things that’s simmering on my back burner—maybe I’ll go back and stir that pot one day.

This one example I do understand: Suppose you and I meet in an alley. There is no karma between us, no tie of any kind, but suddenly I get a wild notion and I slice your face open. Karma calls for you to meet me in an alley and give me the slice-&-dice in your turn. In fact, if our souls are young enough, we can go on tit-for-tatting each other --and escalating-- for centuries if we choose to.

But sometimes, something else happens. Many lifetimes have intervened before we get around to balancing this experience. We may even have tried, and failed, several times. But now, we’ve both matured since that first chance meeting. You and I came to an understanding long since about that encounter and I’m really, really sorry for having started the ball rolling.
So, the next time we meet in the alley, someone else is threatening you with a knife. And I have the chance to save you from this person [a colleague who agreed to act as mediator for us.] If I rise to the challenge and risk injury or worse, the slate is wiped clean and balance is restored in that corner of the universe. No one gets cut and no new karma is created.

The rest of the Grace concept is, as I’ve said, still out there awaiting my next attempt to comprehend it. No problem—it’ll be there when I get around to it. :)

22 comments:

TomCat said...

TC, in my opinion, the dogma of the religious right is not Christianity, but legalism masquerading in it's place. Exactly how will God deal with non-Christians in the afterlife? I don't know how he or she will deal with me, let alone anyone else, except I trust that it will be with love and mercy for all.

two crows said...

hey, TC--
agreed about the far-right dogma -- which is why I opted out.

this whatchamacallit that I study doesn't ask us to take anything on faith but to apply logic to everything it suggests. that's one of the things I like about it.

okjimm said...

yuppers....I was raised Catholic and the kid down the street told me that Catholics would not be allowed in heaven....and a Nun told me that Presbyterians would not make it to heaven....I was only in third grade and already some of this did not make sense.

So I asked my uncle what a Presbyterian was and he told me it was a strange religion that did not believe in driving..."See, there is the sign!" and sure enough, big letters..."Pedestrian crossing".

He also told me that Catholics could get a St Christopher Medal if you ran a Presbyterian over. He had one on the sun visor and a real glow-in-the-dark Plastic Jesus on the dashboard.

My uncle was a great guy with a great sense of humor. Too many religions have none. I may or may not believe in God, but I have a very dim view of most religions.

In third grade I decided that everyone gets to heaven (whatever that is) and it is really mean to run someone over just because they don't believe in something you do.

Mary Ellen said...

tomcat- well, I guess when you end up in that big litter box in the sky, all your questions will be answered. Maybe you'll be reincarnated as a dog?

two crows said...

'My uncle was a great guy with a great sense of humor.'

hey, okjimm--
so THAT'S where you get it! :D

and I'm in your corner when it comes to religion: do I believe in spirit? absolutely! do I believe in religion? not a chance!

if that keeps me out of heaven -- my bad. but I kinda doubt it'll keep me off the astral plane.
you know that one, right? the big airline in the sky? with unlimited salted peanuts

Mary Ellen said...

okjimm- all those religions or religious leaders who say that either one person or another will get to heaven are doing exactly was the church is supposed to teach against. No one knows or understands the mind of God...and if you want a convoluted reason why God is a woman, no one understands the mind of a woman...so there ya go, God must be a woman!

Nevertheless, for a human being to say they can speak for God and say who will or won't enter his kingdom should check their arrogance at the door, IMO.

Mary Ellen said...

two crows---So, according to these belief's, if I die and have to come back (is it a forced issue,coming back?), am I automatically put into a life where I have to meet up with the person whom I've hurt so they can hurt me back, or is it just a coincidence that you run into that person?

two crows said...

hey, Mary Ellen --
'for a human being to say they can speak for God . . . should check their arrogance at the door, IMO.'

mine, too.
like Falwell declaring who God hates -- fergoshsakes? [speaking of karma -- there's a case of someone coming back as a gay -- in Alabama!]

and that church in Topeka whose members go to the funerals of the troops and get in the mourners' faces shrieking about gays?

my thought: God, deliver me from religion, please!

Mary Ellen said...

two crows- and that church in Topeka whose members go to the funerals of the troops and get in the mourners' faces shrieking about gays?

I actually ran into that crowd when I attended a funeral of a family friend who died in Iraq about a year or so ago. It's one thing to see them on the news, another thing when they are right in front of you, it's sickening.The police came and gave them the choice of leaving or all being thrown in jail for disturbing the peace. We now have a law that says no group could picket a funeral or be within sight of a funeral home, which prohibits that from happening in our suburb again.

two crows said...

hey again, Mary Ellen --
well, the way I understand it: it's all by choice.
still, we gave a lot of thought to our decision before our 1st lifetime here and, most likely, we'll see it through to the end. still, we CAN opt out if we choose to -- it's just rarely done.

as to automatically coming back and facing karma immediately -- nope. you can put off any karma you want to for as long as you want to.
most people clean up most of the karma they created within a certain period [I'll be getting to soul-ages and levels later -- suffice to say-- 6th level is the most intensive clean-up time for most soul ages].
even then, people can put off the HARDEST stuff till almost the end of all their lives [toward the end of the 'old-soul' phase] then scurry around with a mop-&-bucket during their last few life-times. being the procrastinators we are -- that's a pretty common scenario.

the down-side, tho, is that virtually all karma does have to be cleaned up before we're ALL done on the physical plane. that's what makes it the hardest plane to complete.

and, here's where that stuff about Grace comes in that I DON'T understand. there are SOME situations where we can clean up SOME karma at the low-astral level -- at least I think that's what Seth says somewhere.

like I've said, it gets kinda complicated.

two crows said...

oh, Mary Ellen!
SO sorry that happened to you!

and I wonder WTF is happening to our world when laws have to be passed to force people to show some respect around a group of mourners.

okjimm said...

aw, gees &stuff....I can't BELIEVE I am hanging out at a religion blog.....ME-it's all your fault!!!!

For the most part I believe most religions where instituted by men (yuppers, MEN) with a distinct lack of imagination and forbearance and a acute sense of self importance.... which goes along way to explain the Westboro Baptist Church and their obscene displays..... what a foul bunch of assholes....they seem to promote a philosophy of 'Jesus Loves You----but God sure hates everyone....... whatta crock a stuff&shit....

My father was a very devout Catholic......and instilled in me an extreme amount of respect for everyone(excluding assholes and internet trolls).

I cannot, will not, engage in debate about religion. I have a back pocket philosophy that everyone is correct (theologically) and everyone is wrong.

Woody Allen once said that he wasn't sure about the existence of Heaven, but he was gonna wear clean underwear just in case. I kinda just gave up on the underwear altogether. Cuts down on laundry.

Wowsers! the big hand is on twelve and the little hand is on five! Time for communion, ah, beer. But I like all you guys&such.

two crows said...

hey, okjimm--
and don't forget the guilt --not to mention terror-- that EVERYONE ELSE is supposed to feel.
ferget that shit---

intone with me--
"With Beer All Things Are Possible"

Hey! That's as good a basis for a religion as I've seen anywhere! and better than most!

okjimm said...

//with beer all things are possible//

gees, not really. I still went home alone last night. should have said a prayer, too huh.

two crows said...

awwww -- sorrreeee, okjimm--

well, you know what they say: all prayers are answered-- just sometimes the answer is 'no'.
hmmmmmmm---
were you worshiping at the white porcelain altar? sometimes that puts the ladies off. . . .
:)

an average patriot said...

There is more than one way to Heaven and no one Religion has an exclusive4 on the route. Certainly those perverted Christians tied in with this mis-Administration have hell mixed up with Heaven.

Ghost Dansing said...

i think talking about religion is a different subject than talking about God. all the religions that exist (there are apparently over 2000 versions of Christianity) seem to prove that human beings are interested in God, but it would appear that they cannot quite agree on a single understanding. the Bible is more about human beings than it is about God.... it is almost more like how humans misunderstand God..... maybe humans don't understand God at all.... it would appear they misunderstand God much more..... Jesus tried to make it simple.... love your brother as yourself.... humans kind of choke on even that simple instruction. it is good that God (we hope) is infinitely kind and merciful....

the fact that humans die has something to do with their understanding of God..... or misunderstanding......

the song is about a lady that had aids....

link

two crows said...

I agree with you, AAC--
when I was in my 20's, I had an altar in my livingroom that included a Buddha, a Book of Confucius, a cross, a star of David, a Koran, etc. etc. I've still got my old Talmud but the rest is long gone.

Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell would probably have loved to have tossed me into a dungeon somewhere. :)

two crows said...

'all the religions that exist (there are apparently over 2000 versions of Christianity) seem to prove that human beings are interested in God,'

hi, Dave dubbya--
we may be interested in God -- tho I wonder sometimes, how interested God is in _us_. and, if it is, WHY?

there must be a whole lot more interesting species than humans around. like carpenter ants, maybe? or meerkats! now, _they're_ fascinating!

have you seen the series about them on APL? every morning they line up and face the sun. I've often wondered if they're worshiping it. :)

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Interesting post. Like you, I spent my youth in strict Fundamentalism. I quickly realized the vast disparity between what various religions said was required to get in this "heaven", vs what the human being was capable of on their best day.

As I grew older, one fact appeared concrete: The dozens of "get to heaven" plans (hundreds?) all had one thing in common: IF...this Heaven stuff was true, and IF I had to live a certain way, then whoever "possessed" the teachings pf that way had the lucky lottery ticket, and all the others were headed for that other mythical place, hell, which meant Heaven was going to be pretty empty. Here's the real kicker: Nobody can give you proof 100% money back if they're wrong. The Las Vegas crap table called Religion soon became apparent to me early on, and is reinforced near daily, it seems. The only thing religion does for the human race, is absolve millions of personal responsibility and accountability.

two crows said...

'The only thing religion does for the human race, is absolve millions of personal responsibility and accountability.'

hi, future--
my sentiments, exactly.

I used to [well, I still do, actually] have a BIG bone to pick with AA for that reason [when I was working with alcoholics.]

I used to tell people, 'use AA as a support system to help you get through the rough times but as far as giving your life to a "higher power" -- isn't that what you've been doing all this time with alcohol?
so, when you YOU get to take responsibility [and credit] for your life?'

so, tho I still believe the All that Is is out there [or in here or wherever the hell it is] -- I don't have it on speed-dial to bail me out of jams. that's my job.

it gets neither the credit nor the blame for my life. and I like it that way.

two crows said...

oops--
that's "when DO you get to take responsibility. . . ?'

dang proofreader!!!

I swear, it's just impossible to get good help these days! :)