Jack Gator's Grace Notes

The tie-dyed church 
There it was in a well-written documentary about a society within society. Gator was engaged in the book and suddenly the old memories of conversation style emerged even before he knew what he was reading. The “oneness” of a piece of art, the “universal symbol” of prehistory. Stuff like that.
Gator knows a few folks who have bought into the “all religions lead to the same place” belief.
If they are all the same, then what's the big deal of all the disagreement on doctrine, statements of adherence, and so forth?
You most likely have seen a bumper sticker with symbols of all the major streams of faith spelling the word “Coexist.” On the surface, a good idea, to love your neighbor as yourself. It's a partial summing up of the Christian faith. It's impossible. There is a precept to this simple idea.
Gator must love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. How is this done when the very idea of God is anathema to a great many people?
A lot of spiritual-sounding bits and pieces of language that mean absolutely nothing come to mind in the old Gator's memory. “All paths lead to God.” “The God lives inside of you” (you are god, he assumes). “That painting represents the goodness of man in all his deepest places.” “Today's sermon is the pathetic … I mean prophetic dance showing our oneness with the universe.”
The First Church of Berkeley would be defined as having communion with pot brownies and Pete's coffee. (It is terrific coffee) and then standing around the barista bar in an old Grateful Dead T-shirt and chatting about how the waves at McClure's beach represent the oneness of the water within us. A laid-back religion that relies on sussing the vibes for when to meet and where.
Much later in Gator's life, the appeal of that church's statement of faith lost its appeal and Gator began reading books written for grown-ups about life, the universe and everything (kudos to Douglas Adams). However, the Christian writers and the Bible made startling claims that the answer is Love and Sacrifice for love eternal. It didn't sound like the others and with a singular claim to all of the answers. No fables, no stories of the corn king, many gods and odd deities with statues.
Jesus' life, his death and reversal of that death a few thousand years ago is true. There are historic authors that document those events, even government records. Jesus had no rules about special clothing, rituals, fantastic statues, deadly orders. Nothing like those religions that say you will attain nirvana, have thousands of sex slaves in the afterlife, a huge stomach, and worship your favorite god, yourself, with no promise of freedom, purpose and romance with the creator of the universe. Complicated religions, with often-dangerous and horrid instructions and precepts that are like the ones children make up when they play Dungeons and Dragons. Easy to believe, akin to science fiction. With only one author instead of 60 or more in their histories and declarations of “the answer.”
Not long ago, Jesus Christ claimed to be God. You have probably heard this, but it bears repeating: He was either demented, a liar, or who he claimed to be. Make up your own mind. Gator did. Jesus lives. It's pretty good.
Jack Gator

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