With last night’s “Stump the Chump” now in the rear-view mirror, USTAFOS* was waiting for me in a booth near the library coffee shop.
Our eyes met briefly as I slid in across the table. When she opened her mouth to speak her soul seemed to open as well, releasing its contents.
Tornadoes came flying out.
Rick, Gandhi was a man of great peace and love. Just because he wasn’t Christian — are you saying he’s in hell?
My Grandmother is the most wonderful, caring person in the world. She read the Bible but wasn’t impressed. Is she, too, going to hell?
If God commanded us to honor our parents and avoid lying and stealing and murder, why didn’t he also abolish slavery? Slavery in the Bible makes no sense.
I believe that all religions are pathways to God. Yours isn’t the only way. Why do you think it is?
After each objection (and there were others), I’d respond. She’d listen carefully, nod or shake her head, then whoosh, emit the next whirlwind.
Somewhere in the middle of this awesome storm I said something along these lines:
“In Christianity, God is mostly a gradualist. He’s not much into the finger-snapping business, where he fixes things all at once. There are exceptions — like, the parting of the Red Sea.
Rather, he tends to work through long processes. Slavery is one example. Slaves in ancient Israel were treated better than in the surrounding nations. Slaves were given days off, provisions for their families and other benefits.
The NT takes it to the next level, but it’s really up to the church, sixteen hundred years later, to finally outlaw the slave trade. William Wilberforce heads up the abolitionist movement in England. He does so in the name of Christ . . . ”
At this explanation she said reluctantly, “Well, it makes sense.”
She paused for a few seconds.
“But I don’t want Christianity to be true! — “
* * *
Next week: Part 3 with USTAFOS, the conclusion of the terrific tempest.
USTAFOS: Unusually Sharp TeenAger From OverSeas