In Gods' Good Time
C V Ford
Chapter 12: Theology
The talk came a couple days after the hit but initiated by Duffy. While clearing a vent atop Class As' first tier, he noticed Yuri, with Noda, walking to the roofs' railing. Leaning and watching out over the athletic field, they sipped their soft drinks quietly.
Noting it was almost time for lunch break he decided to chat. Securing a bottle of water from the fanny pack on his waist, Jack strode over to the railing, keeping a respectful distance from the Battlefront leader, with her between him and Noda. For his part, Nodas' mind was at the ready but as Yuri showed no sign of concern, he waited.
Looking out with them over the landscape of playing fields and related buildings the gaijin started the conversation up.
"So ... Another day in Purgatory ..."
"Purga ... what?"
"Purgatory ... Roman Catholic term ... Where the souls of the righteous dead go to have whatever residual sin burned out of them before going on to Heaven. Kinda' like hell ... The difference being you get to leave after a while."
"Purg ... a ... tory." She briefly mulled it over. "Sounds sorta' like our Naraka (1) ... You think that's what this is? ... Or hell?"
"Don't believe in Purgatory myself. Bible doesn't mention it," he answered. "As for this being hell ... no. The Book's pretty clear about what hell's like and this ain't it. No ... Hell's ... much worse than this." (Luke 16:19-31, Revelation 20:12-15) (2)
"Bible? ... Heard of it. Kinda' like ... the Koran?"
"Mmmm ... not quite," Duffy chuckled.
Yuri glanced out over the schools' landscape. "So What DO you think this is?"
"It's whatever you make it I guess."
"Whatever I make it? What do you mean?"
|"... The hyperactive one giving Hinata a hard way to go ..."|
"Well ... Take, for instance ... that one." Jack pointed down toward the expanse of the athletic field."The hyperactive one giving Hinata a hard way to go. Geez! You can hear her all the way up here."
Yuri peered down noting the little pink haired "goth goblin" skirmishing with Hinata, the young mans' protests going totally unheeded.
"Yeah ... Yui."
"Uh huh. Noticed her almost immediately after my ... uh ... 'quarantine' was lifted. Kid's all over the place."
"Yeah ... That she is. Don't know how she got in the Battlefront. Came with the band, I guess."
"I understand she was severly handicapped before coming here. Paralysis wasn't it?"
"Quadriplegic ... could barely move her arms either ... What's this got to do with-"
"So look at her. More alive now dead than when among the living. The simplest things we take for granted are still new and wonderful to her. She's having too much fun. I Doubt she'll be uh ... leaving ... any time in the future."
Yuri, knowing more about Yuis' situation than Jack, still got his point.
"Or look at it from where I'm standing. I take it you uh ... 'left the scene' while still quite young."
"Pretty much as you see me now."
"Me, I left when I was just over 60. Put a lot of wear and tear on this carcass. Gravity starts to creep up on you. Persistant little and not so little aches, pains ... Not to mention sporadic exercise, kidney/gall stones. Then there was cancer."
"Thought it was heart attack."
"The cancer got taken care of years before, no chemo or anything so I was 'lucky'. No, at least I THINK it was heart related in some way ... Chest hurt just before I woke up here.
"You never went through any of the problems you get when you're older, so you feel pretty much the same as you did before your ... demise. Me, I come here with not only those ailments gone but also minus almost thirty pounds and thirty years. I haven't felt this young and alive for ... well ... since my early thirties.
|Andreas Teuber and Richard Burton from the film Dr. Faustus, Columbia Pictures, 1967.|
"... and if this be hell, I'll willingly be damned here ..."
He noted the puzzled look on the young womans' face peering at him sideways.
"A line from a 16th century play ... Dr. Faustus (3). About a man who sells his soul to the devil."
"So you ... um ... Catholic?"
"Not for quite some time. I 'escaped' from 'Holy Mother Church' back in '74."
"Escaped? ... How do you 'escape' from something like that?"
"How can you really 'fight' God?"
"Left is a better term ... for something better."
"Yeah ... While Catholicism is really big on doctrine, tradition and ritual, it wasn't very good about telling me what IT was. I was informed about IT in a roundabout fashion with IT being buried under what to me was a lot of quasi theological 'noise'."
"So ... just exactly what is ... IT?"
"Salvation ... redemption."
"Salvation? From what?"
"Broken hearts ... broken world."
"Yeah." Yuris' face clouded as she turned back looking over the campus. "It's broken alright. Even ... this ..."
Her pause was long.
"Why ... Why does it have to be broken? Why does it have to be THIS way!? And why ... why does ... why does God ..."
"Why does God let it be broken?"
"Yes!" Though in full control, Yuris' sudden tension could still be felt. Noda edged closer to her. He and fellow Battlefront members had seen her like this on rare ocassions before, his concern evident.
"You got it! Just why DOES God let it be broken? Why doesn't he just make things right ... end all the krap that's been going on in the world ... AND here? Why-"
"He doesn't LET anything happen ... And the krap will end ... one day."
"So .. Who did? ... WHO let it?"
"From the very beginning. From the first man and woman to the present day ... We're to blame."
He noted the puzzled looks on the two teens faces.
"Either of you familiar with western theology in any way?"
"You mean like ... " Noda hesitated, "... that Bible of yours and ... Christ-san?
"Yes, exactly." Jack blinked. Up to now, Noda had been silent. Shifting his eyes between them he asked, "both of you Buddhist I take it?"
"Guess so," the girl replied. "Something my parents did. Wasn't very observant myself."
Noda only shrugged.
"So how'd it start?" Yuri enquired. "From your perspective that is."
Duffy drew in a breath, "might take awhile."
"We still have most of lunch period left. Angel won't be snooping around anytime soon."
"OK ... It was at the beginning, after the creation of the world-"
"The Adam and Eve thing?" Noda.
"Yeah. The first man and woman I mentioned before ... They were put in charge of taking care of a beutiful place ... a paradise-" (Genesis 2:15)
"Garden of Eden?"
"Hey Noda!" Yuri exclaimed. "Thought you were Buddhist?"
"Some relatives are Catholic ... Told me some things ...," Noda looked at Jack. "Uh sorry."
"Don't be. You're curious. You wanna' know."
"So what happened?" Though puzzled, Yuri found it interesting Noda would know anything at all about this Christianity thing.
"Well ... they got kicked out of this ... garden. Something about an ... apple?"
"That's the popular symbology. No one knows what kind of tree. They were told by God they could eat the fruit of any tree but one. 'The tree of the knowledge of good and evil'. Unfortunately ... they did." (Genesis 2:16 & 17)
The two younger stared at the older foreigner.
"The point of the story is they were charged with the task of taking care of that paradise. As long as they followed Gods' instructions, they would live forever, eternally young, in perfect health, with God.
"But there was a joker in the deck. Another being ... an angel ..."
He saw the two stiffen up.
"Nothing like what you're up against. No, this was a spirit in total rebellion against God. At one time he was appointed head of all the angels until he and a third of them made a move on God under the delusion they could displace Him ... be like Him. That angel was deposed from his position of authority and has been seeking a way to get back at God and overthrow Him ever since." (Isaiah 14:12-15)
"That how Satan and the demons got started?"
On seeing Duffy nod at Nodas' query, Yuri turned in the young mans' direction.
"Uh ... Yuri ... sorry ... I ...."
"No! Nothing wrong Noda. Just surprised is all. I'm gonna' have to grill you on this later."
"I think he knows a lot more about it than I do."
Jack couldn't help but marvel at Yuri. No mere slip of a girl this one. In spite of her gender and the femininity that went with it, she commanded a small "army" of respectful, even reverential followers. At least half of which comprised of mostly assertive males bigger and stronger than she. The impulsive Noda, no pushover, was constantly at Yuris' side ready to obey and do. And for reasons, Jack was sure, were other than just group/leader loyalty.
Yuri turned back to Duffy. "Go on ... I wanna see what else Noda here ...," she cocked her head toward him grinning, "knows about."
"So Asians do blush," Jack thought as he glanced past Yuri at the young man.
"This rebellious angel, Satan, was in the garden tempting Eve and through her, Adam, into doing what he originally tried against God: Going ones' own way ... Making your own rules and not following that of Gods'. In effect, being your own god so to speak. (Genesis 3:1-7 and 22-24)
"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" Yuri proclaimed. (4)
"Shakyamuni. Yes. (5)" Jack said. "To heck with convention and strike off on your own ... without taking God into account because, after all, you're your own god."
The last quarter hour was full of surprises for Yuri. Not only talking theology, of all things, with this strange foreigner but Noda seeming a little deeper than what he let on.
"Well, they knew what they did was wrong and hid from God when he appeared to them. God saw right through them and banished them from paradise. (Genesis 3:8-24)
"Now he could have forgiven them and let it go at that but the damage was already done. As they had eaten fruit of 'the tree of knowlege of good and evil', they now knew how to disobey God so their innocence was lost. They had to go. Gods' character will not permit imperfection in his presence."
"And without that perfection?"
"History ... It's one long story of people making bad decisions ... sometimes with the best of intentions and others suffering for it. Always been that way ... And until God comes to fix it once and for all, always will."
"So, as you say, none of this is His fault. None of THIS!?" The Battlefronts' leader did a general sweep of her arm towards the landscape below.
Jack had an idea of what Yuri was getting at before it got to this point. Her face darkening on this last question confirmed it. He decided to cut to the chase or rather hers.
"Hon ... I don't mean to be joking or mean with what I'm about to say ... But what happened to your brother and sisters shouldn't happen to anyone and certainly isn't what one would call to be in the will of God."
"God doesn't want anyone to suffer and-"
"Those three ... men ... and I'm being charitable in that definition ... who literally turned you and your parents lives upside down ... made choices contrary to what God would have them or anyone do. What they did was damn sadistic and pure dead bang evil.
"They, of their own free will ... chose evil and made others pay for it. For all we know they may still be at it. What happened to you in particular is pretty much what's happening in the world in general."
Yuri stood silent, glaring at Duffy. Noda, for his part, was right next to her alternating his gaze between the two.
"One thing's for sure ... and if it's any consolation to you ..." Jack paused, not only to give himself a breather but also to give Yuri time to take it in fully. She wasn't about to interrupt then. "Those three creatures ... if they've kept their backs toward God, continuing as they have been ... Are headed to a place MUCH worse than this ... Guaranteed!
"Chances are, at least one's already there cursing the day his mother gave him birth ... There WILL be justice in the end." (Revelation 20:11-15)
Though the American had become unexpectedly direct, Yuri could see he didn't do it out of mean spiritedness. She decided on a different tack.
Y'know," she started. "From the way you're talking, I'd think you're working WITH God."
"In a way ... Yes." He noted more than slightly renewed tension on the two young peoples' faces.
"I'm not in cahoots with Angel, if that's what you think." He swept his arm over the campus scene.
"Nor am I a part of this set-up ... It's that believers are commanded by God through his word, the Bible, to tell every one they can about what He offers to everyone ... which I haven't really gotten to yet-" (Mark 16:15 and 16, supplemental - Matthew 28:18-20)
"Right now I'm only interested in how something two people did waaaay long ago puts me at fault."
"An inherited debt. Passed down from the first couple to present day. One not even all of us combined can pay, because NONE of us is good enough." (Romans 3:10, 3:23 and Psalms 14:1-3.)
"Hardly seems fair," the girl retorted. "No, it's beyond unreasonable. Just like my ... our-"
"Yours ... Nodas' ... everyones situations ... here and in the world of the living ... all are part of the general situation the universe is in ... Think of it as a congenital illness passed on from one generation in a family to the next. In this case, the family being that of all mankind. For that matter ... the universe ... everything in it." (Romans 5:12)
"That 'illness' being ... what?"
"The inclination to sin ... disobey God. Cause and effect ... entropy, decay ... death." (Romans 5:12-21)
"Original ... sin?"
Jack pointed to Noda. "That's what the Catholics call it ... yes!"
"So let me get this straight," Yuri said, left hand gripping the railing. "God sets things up, puts these two people in charge, right? They mess up, the world goes to hell, and ... we're all to blame?"
"Because we ... everyone living and ... ," he cast his eyes over the school grounds, " ... not living ... all inherited ... share the same character of rebellion against God given to us by the first man and woman. We're born with it, stuck with it. Nothing we or any of us can do to correct it." (Ephesians 2:8 and 9)
|"It's as I thought. God's unfair. Unreasonable. At least according to your theology."|
Yuri slowly flung up her arms. "It's as I thought. God's unfair. Unreasonable. At least according to your theology ..."
"I said nothing WE can do to correct it."
Battlefronts' leader looked on skeptically. " I suppose only God could ... as if he would ... fat chance."
To be continued ...
Notes to the reader:
You're probably wondering, if "Duffy-san" knows so much about things spiritual, why is he stuck with these "lost souls" in this "in between"? (6) Find out in the next chapter!
Be sure to read footnote number six ... THIS is important ...
I would like to thank Pastor Jon Powers, chaplain at Ohio Wesleyan University, for his input during the writing of this chapter.
1. Naraka - One of the Buddhist names for Purgatory.
2. Supplemental - Matt 13:41 and 42, 49 and 50. (context Matt 13:24-51), Mark 9:43-48 (context Mark 38-50).
3. The play, Dr. Faustus by Phillip Marlowe. Also known as The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. Published/first published in 1604. There's also a film of the play starring Richard Burton and Elisabeth Taylor (Columbia Pictures, 1967.).
4. The phrase Yuri uses is an example of Linji Yixuans' style of iconoclastic teaching of Chan Buddhism. Something suitable for her frame of mind.
5. Shakyamuni - One of the names of Gautama Buddha. "The sage of the Shakya people."
6. While the Duffy character elaborates on the following in chapter 13, I decided to have this "summary" after the end of this one instead of the next. Two weeks is too long a wait.
The proceeding is what's known to believers as "the Roman road" as most of the verses are from the Book of Romans.
Romans 3:10-12 - 10) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11) There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. 12) They are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become unprofitable; there is none that does good., no, not one.
Psalms 14:3 - They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that does good, no, not one.
Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;
No one is blameless. If you have trouble wrapping your mind around this, think of it as you would an illness or physical condition. It is a state which we are born under.
Romans 5:12 - Wherefore , as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
The how and why we are that way. Adam is the reason we're under the weight of sin and trapped in this deadly cycle of entropy, decay and death.
Romans 5:8 - But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus is the way out. The other side of the equation. With our acknowledgement of our sinbound state we can go on to have the Lord correct that.
Romans 10:13 - For whosover shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:9-10 - 9) That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. 10) For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
This is the how in regard to Jesus. Do these and the cycle has no spiritual claim on you.
Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Jesus is waiting for you to answer. He has been there all along knocking. It could be you just didn't (Or didn't want to.) hear it.
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Of course, it goes without saying, "Go and sin no more". I really stink at this. However, one should always keep going back and asking the Lord for guidance and strength to resist (It's called prayer.). This is what's known as repentance, an active turning away from giving in to ones' baser instincts and it's an ongoing thing.
For guidance I strongly suggest one get in touch with a strong bible believing pastor/church in your area.
Storyline and original characters (only) copyright © 5-1-14 C V Ford
In Gods' Good Time chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
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