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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Roger Answers Your Questions, Anthony

But before that, one last question from Scott:

5. (I may have missed this somewhere in your posts) Have you ever considered becoming a minister?

When I was 12, and probably a year or two before and after, I was pretty much convinced of it. I had a "born-again" experience when I was nine, and it seemed like the logical path.

And now to Anthony:

1. What is the one thing that if they didn't have it in heaven you would seriously think about taking up residence in the other place because you would miss it so much?
Music. You get the sense that they'll be celestial choirs singing all of the time. If heaven is tuneless, that'd be hell.

2. What is the hardest passage of Scripture for you to accept?
Interestingly, I've a great rationalization for any of those loopy Old Testament readings such as Deuteronomy 25 as a message for a different time.
(I can even go a couple hours on Thou Shall Not Kill: what DOES that mean in terms of self-defense, war, capital punishment, war, abortion, stem cell research, et al.?)

What's harder to deal with, and this ties directly into the conversation about becoming a minister, is perhaps a core tenet of Christianity, at least as understood by many: John 14:6 - Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
At the point I was 15 or 16, I was having a difficult time with the notion that a good Hindu or Buddhist, who had never heard of Jesus Christ, was going to hell - the reason we were supposed to go out and "save those savages", in Africa and elsewhere. It was at this point I pretty much turned away from the faith of my youth, and it took over a decade before I found my way back, with the ability not to necessarily buy into the doctrinaire positions of fundamentalism. I've gotten better with ambiguity. I've talked with Christian clergy, and at least a few struggle with the same issues.
I read a biography of Mahatma Gandhi decades ago, and there was a quote in there that has stuck in my mind about why he chose not to be a Christian: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it's not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time." Don't think that was the exact quote, but close enough.

3. What do you dislike most about yourself?
My ability to go to a very melancholy place rather easily.

4. What is the most profound spiritual experience you have had?
I was in a play (Our Town), and became good friends with this woman named Rusell. She ended up contracting this rare but almost always fatal disease and was at some hospital in Boston. A bunch of us went to our church chapel in Albany, stood in a circle and prayed for Rusell. At about that time, she was cured and fully recovered; it was, the doctors said, a miracle.
Dorian reimagines Christmas.
New England 16-0. Feh.


1 comment:

Anthony said...

Roger - Thanks for being so bold as to open yourself up to people's questions and responding to them.

Regarding music, I would have to agree with you on that one. Silence has its place, but there has to be music. If I want to heaven and there was no music, I would seriously question if I was indeed in heaven. I would be like, "C'mon, you're bullshitting me. This can't be heaven!!"

Deuteronomy 25 is a hard passage. I mean, if some guy was beating the crap out of me, I certainly wouldn't blame my wife if she wanted to come to my aid, and in doing so she grabbed the dudes nuts to put him out of commission. I mean, I could perhaps understand under the eye-for-an-eye ethic how a woman's hand would require severing as atonement for severing a guy's nuts, but it does not seem commensurable to sever it just for laying a hold of some dude's genitals.

Finally regarding Jesus and other religions, I had a professor in grad school who referred to this as "the scandal of particularity". When I heard this, I thought that even if you don't agree with the idea of salvation in Christ alone at least his naming of this idea sounded cool. As for myself, I tend to prefer Karl Rahner's idea of the anonymous Christian, which basically says that the Holy Spirit can minister the grace of Christ to people in other religions and cultures without hearing of the Gospel. In this theory, It is also said that the grace of Christ can be ministered to people who have heard the Gospel and rejected it, but did so because of how Christ is misrepresented by his people. I like this idea because it maintains the priority and uniqueness of Christ and yet provides an account of good people of other faiths and cultures.