Advertisement

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

“The Karma of Jesus” Interview vii with Alex Ness

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: If Karma isn’t necessarily correct, it is at least a more consciously moral way to live than Christianity.  How many wars were fought over Karma versus say, doctrinal difference or ritualistic Christian debate?  

Advertisement

MH: I’ll give you your critique that wars have been fought over Christian doctrine. That’s irrefutable. But to assume from that Christianity itself is morally inferior to other systems is an illogical jump. We need only examine history to discover that proportionately, Christians have, on the whole contributed to more than they have diminished the world’s status. Christians have built more hospitals and schools than adherents of any other belief system. We rescued unwanted babies in Rome, set up make-shift hospitals in the middle ages in plague inflicted European cities, and today, in the battle against human trafficking we’re doing much of the dirty work of rescue in the back allies of Bangkok.

Advertisement

Karma of course does offer an alternative moral standard, but it’s a standard of utilitarianism that has no bend in it. No bend but a lot of break. Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith has written a book called “Souls in Transition” about the religious and ethical views of young adults in America. Smith did a longitudinal “National Study of Youth and Religion,” using statistics and face-to-face interviews to paint a picture of the moral and spiritual lives of 18- to 24-year-olds in America. Smith concludes that “emerging adults” tend to hold to a vague moral reasoning. The dominant metric they seem to use in deciding right from wrong, is a strange marriage between “if it feels good do it,” and “karma” – “do it if it works.” The problem, answered one of his respondents: “Karma’s a bitch.”

Advertisement

Indeed it is. I agree that Karma is a predictable moral standard, but it’s a brutal standard that never bends or makes exceptions or takes appeals or tardy slips. Screw up and there’s a price to pay. The Bible offers a similar bold exactness it calls “righteousness.” But the difference is that for in Christianity there’s a Person behind the standard, a Lawgiver behind the Law who can, out of love and mercy find a way to both keep the Law and bend it, which is what he does in Grace and in Jesus.

AN: As you know I am a Christian.   But my worry is that in an attempt to write what is a very interesting book, and one that I find convincing, it could wound instead of heal. How do you leave people unbruised but interested enough to explore further?

Advertisement

MH: I don’t think there’s any way around getting bruised. Life is tough. We get beat up. The unique thing about Jesus is that he blatantly brings the bad news before the good news. He offends us, but the truth sometimes really is inconvenient. I find Jesus refreshingly honest. There’s no blind Pollyanna platitudes in his words. He’s straight up about injustice and the dark intentions of the human heart and corruption in powerful places and the grief inherent in the death of the young. Jesus faces facts and I find that this gives me courage to be honest as well, about my life and my world. Stuff is screwed up and I’m partly to blame Okay. That’s the bad news. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes forward to solve the problem. He bruises us with a naked blast of truth, then he resolves it in a surprising and loving way: He takes the bruises on himself.

Advertisement

700 years before Jesus lived the Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote about the one day coming Messiah. Christians believe Jesus is that promised One. Isaiah said (Isaiah 53),

He was despised and rejected by men,
       a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
       Like one from whom men hide their faces
       he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities
       and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted.

Advertisement

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.

There’s no promise we won’t get bruised. In fact, the bad news is we all are and must be. The good news follows though. Jesus takes the bruises for us. We can trade places. He already has. We just need to follow suite and make the exchange.

Previous Posts

A Prayer to See From God's POV
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:18) I have seen you in your ...

posted 2:05:26pm May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Learning To Love Yourself
To acquire wisdom is to love yourself. Proverbs 19:8 Loving and forgiving others is a skill that few of us fully perfect. Loving and forgiving oneself is no less of a challenge. Reading in Proverbs today, this Scripture stood out as though I ...

posted 2:49:01pm May. 27, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer to Remember The Fallen
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:13 "The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die." Psalm 116:15 "...That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they ...

posted 12:12:34pm May. 25, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for Victims of PTSD
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8) The Lord is well aware of our need for compassionate eye contact. Looking into the eyes of a fearless person has power to ...

posted 12:44:13pm May. 21, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer to Promote Peaceful Plans
"Joy fills hearts that are planning peace!" Proverbs 16:20  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 What are you plans ...

posted 11:12:52am May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.