The main character in this story is Bunni zu Heltzer, a very, very old Vampiress. In this universe, no-one believes she’s a vampire – she’s an entertainment industry personality that everyone thinks plays the vampire thing really well. In the past, Red Skelton was the great clown, Charro the coochee-coochee girl, and Cher the ultimate Diva. Now we have Bunni, the Vampiress.
In this universe, there are three essential parts of a person. The body contacts the physical realm, the spirit or heart contacts the spiritual realm, and the soul—including the mind, will, and emotions—contacts the intellectual and emotional (or earthly in the Biblical sense) realm.
The interviewer is a popular, established personality capable of handling controversial guests and subjects with respect, humor and class. This interview occurs a couple years after “The Poisoning,” an incident which, in this universe, replaces 9/11 as a foreign sponsored terrorist incident targeted primarily at the United States with a lot of adverse consequences.
[In a foreword, the interviewer appears on screen dressed more casually than usual and offers the following explanation.]
Hello friends, Rick Caveat here with a bit of a foreword about the show you are about to see. On this show I had the privilege of interviewing Bunni zu Heltzer who, as you all know, is a wonderful personality, very entertaining, and she’s been very popular on TV and cable recently. I expected a fun interview with a lot of joking and some chatting about her career and so forth – which would have been fine – but it didn’t turn out that way. What happened was a very deep, searching discussion about theology and religion and religious practices and so forth and I almost didn’t air this episode because it was so very deeply personal.
I talked to Bunni about it afterward and suggested that maybe we should do another interview instead. Well, surprisingly, she was OK with that, but… well it’s not surprising that she was OK with that, of course she would be, but what’s surprising, to me at least, is that after I showed her the final edit of the interview, she said she was OK with us airing it.
Now,… much of the subject matter is controversial, which is nothing new for this show, but it’s so real, and so important to her, the way she spoke about it, that viewers may feel a little uncomfortable with some of the content. So, fair warning, this is some pretty serious stuff she talks about here, much deeper than you might expect from someone we all pretty much think of as,… well,… really an incredibly charming personality and an exceptionally likeable one that we all think of as kind of superficial most of the time. I hope you enjoy it, and hopefully we will have her back for another interview that will be,… relevant in different way. Enjoy!
[Interviewer Rick Caveat introduces himself,…
…introduces Bunni zu Heltzer and welcomes her to the show,…
…complements her and her dress and they exchange pleasantries,…
…Bunni strikes a few poses for the audience,…
…and they sit down and settle in.
Rick: So, tell us a little about yourself. Until a few years ago, you were pretty much unknown. Suddenly you burst onto the scene like Paris Hilton or the Kardashians, and now everyone knows… nothing about you!
Bunni: Yeah, I’m famous for being famous! [pause] Well, I was a recluse for a long time. Kept to myself, got along quietly, but that had been old for a long time. I was looking for some sort of entre into public life when the trend of movies and TV shows featuring zombies and vampires got into full swing, so I just took advantage of it – I sort of fit right in! Then the poisoning happened and things got crazy. Suddenly a lot of,… what,… strange people?… came out of the woodwork and I wasn’t so strange anymore! When The HERO Channel startup was announced, I thought, “Why not?!”
Rick: There is a lot of background in what you just said, do you want to get into that?
Bunni: Sure!… I suppose we should deal with some obvious stuff – in case anyone is wondering about my eyes and teeth,… I mean some people may not know anything at all about me.
Rick: They’d have to be living under a rock for that! But yes, please!
Bunni: OK, as many of you know, I’m a Vampiress,… [smiling to show teeth, audience cheers, whistles]
Rick: Wow, you really do look the part! Very convincing,… [leaning to look closer]
Bunni: [turning to Rick] Do you like my teeth? [smiles to show him her fangs]
Rick: [“Busted” smile] Well, fangs or not, you’re a beautiful woman!
Bunni: [genuine smile] Thank you!
Rick: So you maintain that? You’re a vampire?
Bunni: [good naturedly] Vampiress!
Rick: [eyes widen for a moment] So you are not a feminist then?
Bunni: Nah, all that does is cause strife. Women losing their minds because they think they want to be something they’re not when it’s not all that attractive to begin with!?
Rick: What do you mean?
Bunni: Who wants to be a man?! [pause, Rick acts hurt, the audience joins him in the hurt thing] Before feminism got big, men were expected to go out and fight all the wars, do the manual labor, and all of that. Sure, women helped with that stuff, but really they were supposed to do house work and raise the children. I know that’s thankless stuff, but let’s face it, getting away from that to go do man-stuff isn’t a good trade! And all this noise about changing Mrs. to Ms? There’s still a gender difference! Why not insist on being Mr. too! Or better yet, get rid of Mr., Miss, and Ms., altogether! It’s silly! It’s all silly! I’m happy being Miss! Besides, there’s no changing who carries the baby! So to me, things just are, you know?
Rick: Wow! I’m going to have to invite you back so we can have that conversation! [turns to the audience] What do you think, should I have her back?!
[audience cheers – because it’s Bunni, not because they agree with her]
Bunni: [interrupting] You mean the “have-a-baby” conversation? [Smiles at Rick, teasing]
[polite laughter – including Rick who is blushing, some cheering]
Rick: That’s it then, we’ll have to bring you back sometime! [general applause]
Rick: OK,… getting back, so you’re a Vampiress?
Bunni: Well, yeah! I mean, how else can I explain how I look?!
Rick: But that’s just prosthetics!?!?! I mean, dental work, contacts, bleach your hair,…?
Bunni: You think that would work? You think I could fool people like that?
Rick: [chuckling] You wouldn’t be the first one to fool a lot of people with something simple.
Bunni: [grinning, waiting]
Rick: Are you really a Vampiress?
Bunni: What do you think? [still grinning]
Rick: But that’s just your schtick – right? It’s what you do – like Bob Hope did one-liners, and Jack Benny played the violin?
Bunni: Whatever works! [smiles]
Rick: OK! [embarrassed expression] I’ll play along! If you really are a Vampiress,…
Bunni: Yes…? [grinning]
Rick: Does that mean you’re dead?
Bunni: Yes. [then, quickly] Well, not really dead. Actually, I’m,…[draws a breath for effect]… It’s complicated.
Rick: [smiling, nods understanding, then guesses] Undead?
Bunni: Technically, yes.
Rick: OK, What’s that mean exactly? I mean you are here, you certainly seem alive! We’re talking, but,…? I guess that’s what I’m asking; what is undeath?
Bunni: [takes a long slow breath] When I,… became,… when I was corrupted, I died – or part of me did – and I lost something. I felt broken, incomplete, like something was taken from me. For a long time I didn’t know what it was, I could see and feel and do things, I could think and decide for myself what I wanted to do, but there used to be a part of me that knew right and wrong – that let me know when I was doing something I shouldn’t do – which was missing; it’s still missing.
When I lost that part, I had only memories of those feelings of right and wrong to go back to. I had no compunction anymore, and I knew I was lost. Worse, I had no idea how to choose a guide, or now we’d call it a mentor, someone to show me how to tell right from wrong, because I had nothing in me to use as a gauge. I finally had to watch others and listen to their opinions and sort of accept the majority opinion on who were good people and who weren’t.
Once I identified some people I felt I could trust, I clung to them and tried to remember what they felt right and wrong were, and to build habits in myself to rely on. That’s been a help. There are practical helps too, for instance, I can observe how people react in general to different actions and decide, based on that, whether or not I want to do those things.
Rick: What was it that you lost exactly? What was taken from you?
Bunni: For a long time I didn’t know, I just knew that I wanted it back. I still want it back. When I lost it, religious belief of the day was that the Mists, or Valhalla or whatever you want to call it – purgatory or whatever – was where you went when you died. Well I think that’s partly true but it’s not all of the truth. I’ve been there, many times, and I’ve seen and interacted with people who died in the Prime Material plane – here where everyone lives – and I’ve never met the part of me that I lost. In fact, most of the people there seem kind of lost, like I feel – only worse. They don’t seem to be all there. If you make an effort, you can engage them, some of them easier than others. If you do that, you can have a real conversation with them, but then they go right back to sort of being not quite all there. It’s like in that pirate movie Johnny Depp did, where they are in this sea meeting all these dead people and the Girl, Keira Knightly, wants to save her father, but he’s not really all there and can’t really get a grip on the idea of being rescued.
That’s how I felt for a long time, I still feel that way sometimes.
With all I’ve done, and with all the places I’ve been, material planes and non-material, I’ve never once met anything like an inner light that was once part of a person. So what-ever happened to mine also happened to everyone else’s; either it ceases entirely or it goes to someplace I haven’t been to yet.
Rick: Can you identify what that missing piece is?
Bunni: It’s pretty common for different societies to recognize three basic parts of a person; the body, the soul and the spirit. We look at aspects of a person in the here-and-now and we talk about physical, intellectual and emotional and sometimes we talk about moral and so-forth, but you are asking more about this piece that can be separated – and in my case, was.
Since I’m sitting here, it was obviously not the physical! As for the soul or the spirit, that took a long time to sort out. People talk a lot about immortal souls and saving your immortal soul and all that, but then there are discussions about the spirit of life and the spirit of truth and this spirit and that spirit. Sometimes they seem like semi-divine things that aren’t even part of a normal person.
To make it worse, different religions talk about these things differently if they talk about them at all. The reason I bring up religion is because that’s the intellectual field which has spent the most time trying to identify it outside of psychology, but psychology isn’t concerned with its origin or its end, just its function during your lifetime. Religion goes beyond your physical lifetime.
Recently, like a thousand years ago, I noticed a serious, long-lived religion that survived any nation it was ever practiced in. Serious practice of most religions dies when the nation it was started under dies, but not the Judean religion. Yes, their people are called Israel through most of their history, but that turns out to be a reference to the man their religion says was promised the Holy Land by their God. Israel is not so much a political nation as it is a people.
So this religion survived all this time – thousands of years before I found out about it, it turns out – even though all sorts of bad stuff happens to the Hebrews, this Israel, that practice it. That is pretty powerful faith, more than any other religion in history. Japanese Shinto wasn’t broken-up because the nation and culture were never broken up – after World War II, they were kept together and allowed to create a new government rather than being carried off. Except for some of their cities and industry, their homeland survived intact, but even their religion is blending with Buddhism and some other stuff. China and their national culture has survived and supported Chinese religion throughout its whole existence.
All of the religions we have today are supported by continuously existing nation-cultures that have never known total defeat except Judaism. Israel was captured and carried off by Babylon and their country completely erased from the world. After they were allowed to return and rebuild, they were completely destroyed again. Asians had it, then Turks had it, then Africans and Europeans, it was never a political nation again until after World War II, and despite the holocaust, Judaism still survives.
Rick: So, to you, this is credibility?
Bunni: Don’t you think so?
Now this is just me, but I’ve noticed something about their religion. There is no new canon, no new scripture, for say the last couple thousand years. Up until that time, there were constant additions. I mean, I say constant, but really sometimes there were a couple centuries that would pass before anything new was added that stuck. But, it’s been a couple thousand years now – and this religion was characterized by its constantly unfolding and growing story. Now it seems to have ended.
Rick: …and that’s a problem?
Bunni: Actually, no! The interesting thing is, the story includes hints about its own end all through it. A lot of modern fiction copies this model, stuff like “one will come” or something along those lines and then the book is about a hero or heroine who turns out to be this one who saves their people. It’s a very powerful theme, but no other religion or even major fictional work before two thousand years ago uses it. Suddenly, it’s all the rage!
Rick: What about the Iliad?
Bunni: That was about a trip through the afterlife, not a Savior rescuing a people.
Rick: So what do you think happened to this religion?
Bunni: I think it told us what was going to happen to it and then it happened. I think the God of that religion knew religion and religious practices would not save people from their bad behaviour and they’d all suffer in the after-life because of it, but this God didn’t want them to suffer, so he had a back-up plan from the beginning. I think two thousand years ago, He kicked-in the back-up plan, sent this One, this Savior, to do His thing, He did it, and now we have Christianity.
Rick: Why is there no new unfolding of this religion’s story then?
Bunni: Because Christianity is the be-all and end-all for Judaism. It’s the period at the end of the sentence, just like the heroes in all those sci-fi books, the long awaited prophecy has been fulfilled, “The End.” The patriarchs of Christianity, the Apostles, account for all time to come; there is no need for any more story. In fact, if there were any more new story, you’d know the whole thing was garbage! The whole Judean canon predicts this period at the end of the story – if it were anything but a period, it would all be a lie, all the way back to Adam.
Rick: So, even though the story ended, the religion goes on?
Bunni: Yes! The story is about salvation, which the story says is accomplished; the end of the story is not the end of the religion, it’s the completion of it.
Rick: In the new testament, Jesus disappears after Acts; the rest of it is mostly letters between the Apostles and various churches. Aren’t those letters a continuation?
Bunni: I don’t think so. I’d call it telling people about the period at the end of the sentence, “Hey everyone! The Savior has come and saved us from something much worse than the Romans!” It’s more of a clarification. Everyone assumed the Romans were what they needed to be saved from and they all missed the fact that the real enemy was their own selfish nature.
Rick: And Revelations? Why isn’t that a continuation?
Bunni: Of the story? I don’t think that’s a continuation anymore than the letters. Jesus, the Christian Savior, says He will be back and a whole bunch of other things, but there are a lot of questions left. I think The Book of Revelation answers those questions to the extent God is willing to answer. Remember how enigmatic Jesus was? God being enigmatic in Revelation is par for the course. It’s His way of asking us to trust Him.
Rick: So it’s more of a “Look, I already told you all you need to know” thing?
Bunni: I think so.
Rick: What about the Book of Mormon? Doesn’t that claim to be a continuation? How does that fit in?
Bunni: Oh my,… [smiling] so much to talk about… There are several answers to that question.
First is the whole “errant Bible” thing. Mormonism says it accepts the King James version of the Bible as God’s word but that errors have occurred in the translations which the Book of Mormon corrects. That is a tenet from way back to the beginning with Joseph Smith in, like, 1820 something. There are two problems here. One is the suggestion that God could not work the miracle of protecting His word from translation errors. If God could not protect His word from errors, how can we be sure Smith’s corrections haven’t been corrupted?
Second is the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in the Qumran caves. When those were compared to the King James Bible which the Mormons claim to correct, they found 12 minor errors. By minor, I mean stuff like a misplaced comma, or the word “gate” when it should have been “door,” stuff like that. Nothing theologically significant. These scrolls are original language works from 2600 years to as far back as 3000 years ago, and not discovered until 70 years ago, 120 years after The Book of Mormon was produced, but the Mormons still insist the Bible had errors.
Third , besides the whole “period” thing, it’s just not God’s style, meaning the God of the Pentateuch, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. The God of those manuscripts left lots of archaeological evidence. Not only was there a continuous oral tradition, but there were older manuscripts and artifacts that were always available ever since Moses wrote the Pentateuch. The Book of Mormon is based solely on scriptures that Smith says were taken up to heaven by an angel after he finished translating them – no archaeological evidence.
Fourth, the translation itself is problematic. According to the Mormon Church, only Joseph Smith ever had the ability to do the translation and that was only by a temporary special blessing which disappeared along with the scriptures. Verification is impossible. In the case of the Bible, there have always been many people able to translate, so verification is easy.
Fifth is another piece of that archaeological thing – there is no evidence of a culture in South America that had any writings resembling the rubbings the angel allowed Smith to make before taking the scriptures. There are no ruins to suggest a civilization that adopted the principles in the Book of Mormon or that suffered the fate this civilization is supposed to have suffered.
Finally there is this fantastic 3000 mile journey that the only survivor of this culture made while fleeing destruction and ending up in modern-day New England. There are no tales of this traveller among the several dozen peoples he’d have had to pass through on this trip. There’s just no evidence.
Rick: So you don’t think this is a legitimate part of Christianity at all?
Bunni: That’s a tough thing to say. There are a lot of people who believe the Book of Mormon. They believe on faith and even the Bible says “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” But it is kind of hard to use a Biblical defense if you turn around and say the Bible it comes from is full of errors. So, no, for myself, I don’t believe it.
Rick: Can we talk about the Quran?
Bunni: Sure! It’s not a long conversation. Basically it’s the “errant Bible” problem all over again. The Quran endorses Jewish and Christian scriptures and then conflicts with them. So there is the underlying foundation of the Christian faith, but it conflicts with the Quran.
Rick: Don’t you think it’s a bit convenient to get to use the same arguments to debunk both of these major religions?
Bunni: I think that’s the wrong approach. Apart from Mormons and Muslims, all of the other major religions originate independently or, in the case of Christianity, have firm, unconflicted foundations in the parent religion. There are no other major religions built on the shoulders of existing major religions. There is no hint in the Judean or Christian religions that suggests there will be another religious evolution to come. Even the most conservative Jews acknowledge that it goes Judaism and then one Savior. Anything else requires God to be unable to preserve accurate original scriptures.
Rick: Are you saying conservative Jews acknowledge Jesus?
Bunni: No, that’s the main difference between Jews and Christians; Jews don’t believe the Savior has come yet.
Rick: How do you know He has come?
Bunni: How else do you explain the sudden end of new scriptures in the Jewish religion? The OT is full of pointers to a part 2, when part 1 ends, you look for part 2.
Rick: Ok, so, this wrong approach, how do you apply that to the Book of Mormon?
Bunni: Mormons love to point to the “other sheep” clause in John, that and “no respecter of persons” in Acts. In the Bible, Jesus came to the Jews, but they “knew him not.” So He began ministering to “sheep…not of this fold,” the gentiles, and began to proclaim their admission to the Kingdom. In the Bible, the other sheep means all people everywhere, not just in South America. So either God has to send Jesus to every single culture on Earth to be fair, or He establishes one church and commands its members to go forth and make disciples of all. God’s MO doesn’t vacillate, He has one and He sticks to it. So ‘go forth’ precludes a Jesus-mission to South America.
Rick: How about the Quran?
Bunni: To their credit, they don’t take Biblical scriptures out of context to argue their legitimacy. Islamic scholars simply assume that Christians and Jews have somehow corrupted their scriptures, then go on to assume Mohammed is a Prophet and the Quran is perfect.
Rick: But you’re not so sure?
Bunni: I’m am sure of my belief, that’s different than proof. Islamic scholars defend Mohammed’s teachings and the modern Quran by saying that Christians and Jews altered the Judeo-Christian scriptures after Mohammed taught Islam to respect the Law, the Psalms and the Gospels.
Rick: I notice you said, “the modern Quran…”
Bunni: Yes. There was a Muslim elder named Uthman who took over after Mohammed died. He rewrote the Quran and purged all previous writings including a complete collection of Mohammed’s teachings which his wife had protected until she died some 20 years later. After that, there was only Uthman’s version.
When Muslim scholars denounce Judeao-Christian scriptures, they expressly dismiss the evidence. Assuming that all of the archaeology is wrong asserts that either the artifacts themselves are genuine but misunderstood, or they are forgeries. Islamic scholars agree with Jewish and Christian scholars that the artifacts support the modern versions of Judeo-Christian scriptures. If the artifacts as they are support altered documents, then the artifacts can’t be genuine.
That leaves the assumption that all of the ancient artifacts and manuscripts were somehow corrupted or forged so that they would all agree with the same corrupted scriptures that wouldn’t exist until Mohammed’s death. That magnitude of conspiracy and cooperation is beyond the capacity of people dishonest enough to participate in it.
Rick: So what you’re saying is that the Quran has to be wrong?
Bunni: Again, that’s a hard thing to just say. The Quran lacks a rich archaeological history of artifacts and documents that support it unlike Christian and Jewish scriptures. Also, since Mohamed tells Islam to respect the Law, the Psalms and the Gospels of the Bible, it’s awkward for Muslim clerics that the Uthmanian Quran disagrees with the Bible. That’s why Islamic scholars assume that Christians and Jews must have changed all the scriptures, including the Qumran Scrolls which were hidden centuries before Jesus and not found until centuries after Uthman. And of course, there are the thousands of other artifacts and manuscripts. I don’t see any other way to answer the question.
Rick: How did Islam originate, as you understand it, and why do they differentiate themselves the way they do?
Bunni: Abraham and Sarah were promised a son 2000 years before Christ. They were really old and Sarah was past childbearing age, so she offered her handmaid to Abraham to fulfil the promise, that’s how Ishmael was born. This was not what they were promised. Later, Sarah bore a son, Isaac, and fulfilled the promise. Isaac produced the nation of Israel. As for Ishmael, he produced the Arabic peoples, some of whom eventually took up the Christian faith – including Mohamed, around 600 AD. This was about 2600 years after Isaac and Ishmael were born. By then, Christianity was in full swing, the Catholic church was well established, the Septuagint and Vulgate had already been translated. There were plenty of resources available to Mohammed’s people to study.
Rick: If Mohammed was Christian, what happened? How did Islam start? We never really got that piece. And, why aren’t you persuaded the way he was?
Bunni: He was Christian to the extent that he’d been taught about Jesus. Early Christians were mostly Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah. That message spread through Arabia along with several hundred other gods worshiped there. When Mohammed married Khadijah, he was moved by the Hanefite’s search to discover the one true God – the Hanefites were her family. They sought between Judaism and Christianity to discern the truth. Mohammed had a vision which the Hanefite elders were moved to believe was a revelation from God, so they declared him to be the last prophet.
Rick: This sounds a lot like what you’re going through. Besides the Uthmanian purge, is there another reason you weren’t persuaded?
Bunni: Theft is the one thing I’m sure is wrong on my own without referring to societal norms. It’s all I have left of my inner compass. In their earliest days, these Muslims, “followers of God” as they referred to themselves, sought sustenance through raiding Meccan caravans for the simple reason that Mecca didn’t welcome Mohammed’s message. The parent religions, Judaism and Christianity, both relied on alms, or voluntary gifts, to sustain the needy. I don’t think God changed His mind about “Thou shalt not steal” for Mohammed any more than He did for any other prophet the Muslim’s accept, from Moses to Jesus. In my opinion, they weren’t pursuing righteousness, they were gratifying themselves.
Rick: I thought Jesus was the Messiah?
Bunni: For Christians, yes; if you are Muslim, then he’s another prophet.
Rick: So how do you know Christianity is the fulfillment and not Islam?
Bunni: Mohammed taught respect for the Gospels; he may even have accepted Jesus as Messiah, but we’ll never know because of the Uthmanian purge. Modern, post-Uthmanian Islam acknowledges the same Jesus that Christianity embraces, but not as Redeemer. They essentially throw out all of the old testament after Abraham except the Psalms. To them, Jesus is another prophet, with the unique power of miracles, who proclaimed the Gospel. The twist is they claim he was never crucified but was taken up bodily into heaven alive. To them there is no victory over death to satisfy sin-debt. The Quran says he will return, die a natural death, and be raised with the rest of us on Judgement Day.
There are actually two versions of how this happens.
In one version, Muslims believe God transformed another man to look like Jesus and be crucified. Now, for me, this version falls apart right there. The character of the God of Moses, which the Muslims accept, was not a deceiver. For God to suddenly use deception seems highly suspect to me. Besides, what purpose did this deception serve? Who was mislead and why? What happened to the body? What about the first part of Acts where Jesus reappears? Was that mass hallucination?
The second version says that Jesus the man was indwelt by Christ the Holy Spirit and Son of God. This indwelling Christ was immune to the nails of crucifixion and was the one raised to heaven, leaving the body behind. Again, to me this misses the mark. First: if only the spirit went up, what is coming back and how is it going to “die?” Second: where is Jesus’ body? They have the shroud and the tomb, there ought to be a body. Third: is Christ, the Son of God, divine? Since this cannot be according to Islam’s strict, singular-God assertion, then the Son of God was disinherited from divinity. Why? What did he do? Did this Christ perhaps have some non-divine origin? If so, what was it and how can he then be the “Son of God?” All of this is left in the wind with no attempt at explanation.
Rick: Is there any redemption at all for sin? How do Muslims resolve this sin-debt thing?
Bunni: According to the Quran, the only unpardonable sin is to assert that God is not one. Modern Muslims believe that salvation is only through submission to God’s will and is decided by a reckoning of sins versus righteous deeds on Judgement Day.
Rick: How can you be so sure of Christianity being legitimate if you see all these problems with the other religions?
Bunni: The character of God is the key here. In the Christian model, He goes from requiring ritual sacrifice on a regular basis from individuals, or at least individual families, to requiring a perfect sacrifice once, forever, for all. It’s a final sacrifice paying the penalty for all sin. Redemption still requires sacrifice, it still requires you to interact with God by admitting your sins, acknowledging that you can never make your sins right by your own effort, and then accepting the sacrifice that was offered as being for you. The central requirements don’t change.
In Islam, the requirements change radically. Forget the different versions of the crucifixion, and forget the other changes. The idea that we can gain salvation by simply being good, however we define that, more often than we are bad sets aside the OT’s demand that we always be good. Good 100% of the time is the standard. According to the OT, a single sin separates us from God beyond any power of our own to repair; after that, divine forgiveness via accepted sacrifice is our only hope. By contrast, Islam says God inexplicably lowers the standard to 50+ percent with no penalties as long as you believe God is one.
Rick: What happens if you set aside the OT and the NT and just accept Islam? That brings the very popular idea of “good enough” to the fore. Doesn’t that make sense? Couldn’t that work?
Bunni: Not really. No Muslim from Mohammed on down is willing to dismiss the OT or the NT; they only insist that scripture was corrupted as an explanation for the Quranic discrepancies. If Islam insists that it must be built on the foundations of the OT and the NT per Mohammed, who am I to argue? I might as well make up a religion of my own and believe that.
Rick: Why not figure out a religion that makes sense to you and believe that?
Bunni: Seriously?!?! There are real powers in this world – jealous powers. One of those powers is the ultimate creator and the rest owe their existence to that power. To make up a religion for comfort’s sake would openly disrespect the creator-God. No, I can’t just make one up. If I am wrong and I pick the wrong religion, that’s a bummer, but to make one up? Come on, that’s just asking for trouble.
Rick: How does Christianity satisfy this?
Bunni: Of all the religions on earth, only Judaism and its descendant religions offer a satisfactory account of God’s role in creation; the rest all describe gods who appear in a world that already exists.
Rick: Isn’t just believing in God enough?
Bunni: No, because everyone believes in God, just maybe not the Christian God. Hitler allowed his soldiers to wear “Gott mit uns” on their belt buckles in spite of his high opinion of himself. The NT says, “even the demons tremble.” Shoot, I think even Stephen Hawking believes, he just doesn’t like the way God runs things.
Rick: Getting back, how do we know that there was a fulfillment at all, how do we know the Jews are not correct in saying the Messiah hasn’t come yet?
Bunni: That’s the same as asking how we know Judaism is correct. Basically, you’re asking if Christianity, Islam and Mormon are all wrong. But that begs the question: How do we know the Jews aren’t wrong from the beginning? How do we know God gave us a prophecy at all?
We don’t. We can’t prove their perception of God is correct. We can’t prove it isn’t either. The best we can do is argue alternate religions, including atheism.
Rick: You’re saying Atheism is a religion?
Bunni: Absolutely! Atheism is a religion by definition. Since they can’t prove there is no god, they take it on faith as much as believers.
To me, the archaeological evidence thing is compelling here. There is the string of chariot parts across the Red Sea. There are artifacts from various conquerors of Jerusalem. They even found Noah’s ark, at least I believe they did. Maybe the most compelling to me is the lack of Christ’s body. They have found stuff from many thousands of years ago, including an intact mammoth. They have the shroud of Turin, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the original manger site, King Tut’s tomb, the Terracotta Army, but not Christ’s body. No one doubts whether Christ lived, but his body remains the most sought after archaeological prize of all time, and no one has yet found it.
Rick: What about the Holy Grail or the Arc of the Covenant?
Bunni: They won’t find the Arc until God is ready, if the Bible is correct. The last time it is mentioned is when they take it to Solomon’s house. It says in so many words that the Arc will be forgotten and sacrifices will continue without it, which is exactly what happens after Babylon.
As for the Cup, that’s still in Rome.
Rick: [clearly surprised] Where?!
Bunni: [throw-away shrug] I don’t know, call it a hunch. The Pope gave it to a Deacon in 258 AD. The Deacon was martyred four days later. This was a guy the Pope trusted. This guy would have known hiding places beyond imagination. No one ever reported seeing it again. It’s probably in plain sight on an altar in some 3rd century catacomb somewhere.
Rick: Interesting. Let’s go back to the question of which of the two you lost and how this relates to undeath.
Bunni: The scriptures of the Judean and Christian religions both point to it being my spirit that I lost. According to either of those, it is vital to me in an eternal sense that mine be purified or justified to avoid eternal punishment for wrongs I’ve committed against the Creator and His creation. Logically, for that to happen, l have to have it.
Rick: Let me interrupt you for a second, if I may? Can you explain your understanding of why that’s so vital?
Bunni: Sure! This is how it made sense to me, when I studied it. We will all die physically, the fall of man and banishment from Eden and the Tree of Eternal Life guaranteed that. Then there is the part where if we choose to live only once, we will die twice and if we choose to live twice we will die only once. I believe we have to choose whether to have our spirit purified and justified, and based on that choice, our spirit will either live or die. Then our souls, which I think are immortal, will bear the consequences of that choice. Whether we believe in all this or not doesn’t matter; it’s like gravity.
So how do I get my spirit back? Judean texts don’t offer me any hope there, but the New Testament seems to suggest that the dead will walk again and some interpretations say that will afford the spiritually-dead an opportunity for eternal life. I just hope that, if all this is true, when I get my spirit back, it will cooperate with the rest of me and go for salvation. Right now, I have no spirit. Without it, I can’t live twice and I can’t die twice. That’s undeath.
Imagine the sense of loss when you realize you no longer have the most basic behavioural guidance that normal people are born with.
Rick: May I ask you a final question?
Rick: What denomination are you?
Bunni: Oh that’s a great question. Denominations split things up, break things down into separate bits. The Bible talks about community – joining together, about the body, and the Kingdom. I don’t claim any denomination, I’m a Christian.