AN: People use the word “Karma” in many ways. What does it actually mean, in your frame of reference?
MH: Karma is an ancient Hindu word; the complete concept is very complex. Most religions, including Judaism and Christianity include some tenet similar to the concept of Karma. When we experience trouble, we imagine there must be some cause. A shattered relationship, financial struggles, health problems, family strife – Why? What’s the reason? We also want to know if there is a way out? It’s almost instinctive to explain our troubles by saying, “We reap what we sow,” or “The piper has to be paid,” or “The chickens always come home to roost.” We seem to understand that if we act well, blessings come back to us; if we act badly, problems come back to us. This, in its simplest form is “Karma.” Again, I know it’s much more nuanced than this for those who spend a lifetime exploring the depths. But in a popular sense, this is what I mean when I use the word.
AN: Why is our culture so fascinated with Karma?
MH: The word “karma” is chic. It seems to explain everything, I suppose. And more, it promises me some control over my own destiny. Karma gives me a kind of roadmap for mastery. It may take me a eons, but at least it gives me direction. We like this. Google “karma” and you could get 106 million results. Not bad for an arcane word coined 4,000 years ago to describe a concept almost impossible for westerners to fully grasp. Now alongside belief in a God who communicates, cares, makes choices and prefers one thing over another, many have added faith in “Karma” – a belief in the sovereignty of cause and effect. In order to communicate the gospel in this environment, we have to take into account the belief in Karma and go from there. Again, I’m starting here and using this as a bridge to talk about – and hopefully better understand – Jesus. That’s the essence behind my book “The Karma of Jesus,” and the website www.dumpyourkarma.com.
February 10, 2010
Weight: 199 lbs
Weight lost: -7 lbs
I love chocolate. I like coffee. I prefer to drink my coffee with a “shot” of chocolate. This morning I’ve parked at my butt at Caribou Coffee to plow through a procrastinated stack of emails… and to add this post to my blog. This morning Caribou is brewing a French roast dark. I ordered a cup and to make a good thing better, I added a package of raw sugar, some half and half and – confessions – three squares of a bar of dark chocolate I smuggled in just for the occasion. Ambrosia!
Chocolate must be divine. I admit my fetish. There is clearly something powerful about the stuff. And coupled with a fresh roasted cup of coffee, it carries a punch of near glory. I’m admitting it here: not all foods are created equal. Some – and I put chocolate at the top of this list – have more provocative, even seductive power than others. Real vanilla ice cream, t-bone steak, new potatoes with cream sauce and fresh peas, and semi-sweet dark chocolate… Powerful desires…
Today, I’m aware of the powerful way hunger and cravings drive my choices. I get something in my head, an urge that begins in my stomach, and I move heaven and earth to get it… I’m aware of this – and here’s the confession – because this morning I went way out of my way – literally – get hold of my chocolate. I actually drove one mile to my office before driving to Caribou because I’d stashed a chocolate bar in my office… I grabbed it, then headed to the coffee shop. Is that nuts?
How much do I desire God? Am I as addicted to him as I am to chocolate? It’s an almost silly, simplistic question, but I wonder.
“God, possess my hunger and drive my cravings. As much as I love chocolate, deepen my root desire for you. Make me obsessed with tasting you, with the sweetness of your presence, with consuming your goodness. As I take communion today, satisfy me, but also dissatisfy me! Make me long for more. Fill me, but make me aware of my infinite emptiness without you. Drive me to drive toward you. I want to be a addict for glory and grace! In Jesus…”
“The Eucharist Diet” adventure is my six month experiment taking daily communion and tracking and posting the results in my personal life, relationships, health, and body fat percentage.
A few weeks ago, we posted an update on David Hames, the Compassion International volunteer who was buried under the rubble of the Hotel Montana following the massive earthquake in Haiti. It is with a heavy heart that we provide you with the following update about David. It is my hope that after reading this and even before, you would put yourself in a position of prayer to intercede on behalf of the family and friends of David Hames.
From a statement released by Vanguard Church on Tuesday, February 9, 2010:
“The death of one that belongs to him is precious to the Lord.” (Ps. 116:15)
The remains of David Hames were identified by the State Department this morning, and Renee and her boys are grieving the loss of their husband and father. We know that our dear brother and friend is in heaven, but even so, Renee is grieving the loss of the man she loved with all her heart.
Our faith in God is not shaken by this terrible tragedy, but we still mourn the loss of this adoring husband, amazing daddy, and faithful friend. We all know David loved Jesus, and we know that he is safe today, at home with our Heavenly Father. Now we will band together to care for his sweet wife and their two young boys. I will post again soon about a memorial service at Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs as well as additional ways to support Renee, Aidan, and Zander.
Please join us in prayer for the family and friends of David Hames, a servant of the Lord, who we pray is now present with Him.
We thank you for the life of David Hames, a man who thought it not robbery to serve your people as a Compassion International worker. We thank you for the wonderful father he was to Aidan and Zander and the wonderful husband he was to Renee. In this time of mourning we pray that you would help them to remember the times that they had with him on this earth. May they cherish those moments. We pray for a special covering over Renee as she deals with the loss of the love of her life. May you comfort her and send her all the love she needs. Be in the midst of their children, Aidan and Zander, reminding them of your great and affectionate love for them. Bless and protect all the family and friends of David Hames. May they all come together on one accord to remember David, to encourage one another and to build one another up. May all turn their hearts toward prayer and positive thoughts for David’s family and friends. May God meet every need those spoken and unspoken. May wailing be turned into dancing, sorrow turned into joy and beauty be turned to ashes in God’s perfect timing. May it all be well with your souls Renee, Aidan, Zander and other family and friends. Rest in peace David.
In Jesus’ Name,
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.”