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Prayer, Plain and Simple

Alex Ness is a writer, poet, and social critic. Recently Alex interviewed me about my book, The Karma of Jesus. Here are some excerpts:

AN: Have you considered whether or not this treatment by you of Karma is just another in a long line of attempts by Christians to co-opt powerful, indigenous positive moral structures to replace them with Christian ones?

MH: I’m co-opting the language but not the moral structure of Karma. I admit this up front. As I said, I’m following an ancient tradition of Christian communicators who’ve dared to borrow pagan language to communicate orthodoxy. Christians have no problem admitting that Truth can reside in other belief systems. The Bible doesn’t tell us details of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, though the worldview offered in the Bible is thoroughly consistent with this scientific reality. Truth is truth. We’ll take it and leverage it wherever we find it. There’s a certain self-evident element about elements of the Karma principle. Christians offer a different solution to the problem – we don’t accept reincarnation as a solution for instance. We believe reincarnation simply stalls off the fundamental issue while Jesus’ death and the offer of grace settles the matter in time and space. We like to say that “Jesus is the answer; what’s the question?” In this sense Christians feel free to play in any sandbox. And when we do we’ll find ways of seeing Jesus there. There’s a Christian sociologist named Don Richardson who says that every individual and every culture has “eternity written within.” Christians can therefore readily engage any religious or moral system in conversation, because almost all of us agree upon the root of the problem – humans have screwed things up. But then Christians will offer a different solution, a unique and surprising one of grace and forgiveness in one perfect and divine human being who lived in real time and in a real place.

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