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August 6, 2011 / twocrows1023

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. :)

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