AN: Whatever possessed you to write a book called “The Karma of Jesus?”
MH: The brainstorm sideswiped me after I was heckled in church. I am a pastor and I was speaking during a worship service when a young man in his twenties spoke up out of the audience and began peppering me with questions about the differences between Christianity and New Age thought. I invited him to come up afterward to talk. He told me his personal story, and along the way I discovered that he anchored his life on his understanding of Karma. As I listened, I suddenly thought of a way to explain the Christian way of seeing the world in his language. That’s the backdrop of the book – the essence of our actual dialog, where I introduced to him the idea that Jesus invites us: “dump our Karma.” I don’t know how our conversation has ultimately impacted him, but it changed me and the way I understand my role as a follower of Jesus.
AN: If Karma is so intertwined with popular cultural thought, do you write this in attempt to detach culture from that?
MH: I believe I’m following an ancient tradition of Christian communicators who’ve dared to borrow pagan language to communicate orthodoxy. In the New Testament itself the Apostle John used the Greek concept “logos” to explain Jesus. He starts his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Logos… and the Logos became flesh.” Logos came from Greek philosophy and it meant “the organizing principle of the world.” John swipes this word and uses it to describe Jesus. No, I’m not trying to detach “karma” from the popular parlance; I’m doing with Patrick in Ireland did when he baptized Celtic symbols like the shamrock to explain the Christian vision. Christianity is very elastic. What we believe doesn’t change but the way we “incarnate” it in culture always does. My job, as a Jesus-follower is to translate Jesus, without distorting him. Our culture now idolizes elements of the ancient idea of “Karma.” Ask people and they will tell you: “Good comes to those who do good, and trouble comes from trouble.” That’s our ethical system today. So, in The Karma of Jesus I present a classic interpretation of Christ’s life, teachings and death starting from the language of modern New Age spirituality. It’s my assumption that Jesus is always the answer; I just have to know what the question is. The question today is, “Karma’s a bitch; What the hell can I do about that?” Answer: “dumpyourkarma.”