Salvation:

Evidence Undeniable

Salvation is a way of getting people to do what you want in times of extreme temptation. To better explain, let me give an example.

In Africa, sickle cell anemia is very common. It helps protect people against malaria in that area, increasing their survival rate, and therefore causing it to spread. However, there are also a lot of harmful side effects to being afflicted with sickle cell anemia (blood has trouble transporting oxygen and so on).

Enter the yam. Yams contain a chemical called theiocyanate. This chemical alters the hemoglobin in the red blood cells causing them to return to normal, round shape for a while (not permanent, only temporary). Now, in order to survive, it's important that people only eat the yams when it isn't malaria season, so that they avoid the harmful effects of sickle cell, but don't catch malaria at the same time.

It's not quite that simple however. Malaria season occurs at the same time that there is the smallest amount offood available. How do the people discipline themselves so that they don't eat the yams at a time when it is so tempting? Salvation. It is part of their culture to not eat yams during malaria season, because you will be cursed in the eyes of the gods, and not have a happy afterlife.

See, the people can't point to evidence and say, "Well my uncle didn't die so I won't either!", because they're not worried about death, they're worried about the heaven or hell they face afterwards. Whether or not they have received salvation.

Luckily, in this example, salvation is put to good use. It reduces death. However, it is more often used to make people do things they don't want to do, but someone else wants them to do. They are blinded by the idea of salvation, tricked by it.

Not to discredit any religion, this node simply wishes to show that salvation is often abused, whether or not salvation is used solely for that purpose is a different issue entirely.


Node inspired by The Story of B
When I was fourteen, I made my Biology teacher cry. Reality and expectations are so often polar opposites, creating an indiscernible confusion for impressionable minds. Children trust their parents and elders to provide them with information that is both factual and moral. But this line blurs at the idea of religion: Should a ‘belief’, one which can be equally interpreted as fact by one party and fiction by another, be placed into a child’s set of beliefs to instruct subordination? If it was as simple as a means to create better mannered human beings, the conflict would not arise, but it is the ‘faith’ in the intangible that creates the blur, and when a child sees both facets of possibility, questioning one’s teachings is not far behind. Langston Hughes’ belief deception resulted in a moving and thought-provoking work of art as Salvation, where as mine erupted, rather than blossomed. While feelings of religious deceit are similar among the deceived, the reactions and confrontations to those factual invalids are anything but.

Atheism was always a taboo subject for me. I could never understand why people would willingly damn themselves to eternal suffering, merely by refusing to attend church once a week. In my experiences, church represented a necessary evil, akin to medicine and work; a little pain now will secure positive results in the future. Of course, I wasn’t that analytical when I was six. I knew I did not enjoy church. I knew my father was at home, reading the paper, enjoying himself. I knew my best friend Carlos, was either still sleeping, or up watching cartoons. But I also knew that fire hurt. A lot. Fearful of my own endless torture, I willingly followed my mother every Sunday to the church.

Throughout the seemingly random location jumping that constitutes my life, I’ve had the experience of attending many churches, in varying cultural locales, and much to the similarity of Langston, I too could bide my time. After so many of the same beliefs being hawked verbatim in so many different places, first a revelation of massive unity becomes obvious, and later a callusing. Watching a movie or reading a book over and over becomes meaningless, so why do these people return week after week to hear the same stories over and over? There’s a reason Christians are called Lambs of Christ: young, trusting, sheep. They’ll follow blindly their master to the end of the Earth. But I too was too clouded to realize my deception just yet.

It took a move to Brazil to start me on a track to self, as well as universal, realization of truth. An English-speaking church right in the heart of Baha (a section of Rio de Janeiro), so now at least if we were living in Hell (our opinion of the country was not one of a positive incarnation), we would still be able to thank our God for placing us there. And then it happened. The spark of my disbelief. Langston never saw Jesus, even though he was expected to, thus fueling his questioning of the church’s factual backing. I was never born again. I told my Sunday School class, when I was put on the spot, that I was, but it was just a lie. It was fear of alienation. Everyone else had stories of religious affirmation and enlightenment, and I had a falsity. Perhaps I was doomed to burn in the fiery pits of hell, regardless of all my wasted time at church.

The church had used its devious ways against me once again. It feared me into breaking a commandment to save my assumed purity, just as Langston went against his teachings to ‘save’ himself. “Was I really the problem”, I began to wonder, “or is the church the problem.” For years, I contemplated the puzzle, covering my basis by continuing to attend church, but questioning everything I was told.

In direct correlation to the fellowship in Salvation, it is now apparent to me why churches attempt to secure the members when they are young: they are impressionable and easily scared. Throwing the entire biblical impossibilities aside, let us take the ideal of ‘sin cleansing’ through communion. If I can eat a wafer and drink a shot of wine and rid myself of a lifetime of sin, there is a large conflict of interest between the U.S. Government and the Church. As a child, blindly I followed the inane thinking, but now that I was free to dissect the services, holes and red warning lights popped up all around me in a haze of disbelief. How could those who I held in such high regard be duped into fraudulent beliefs? My moral web was falling apart as contradiction after contradiction pulled at its delicate fibers.

And here we arrive. The moment of my salvation. It started with an offer: my teacher offered me a solution to the predicament that had been plaguing me every Sunday for three years. My ninth-grade Biology teacher offered me Darwinism.

Religion and ‘beliefs’ are banned from schools in the United States due to the ‘Separation of Church and State’ policy. Darwinism was initially based on the beliefs of Charles Darwin, but was later proved, something Christians haven’t been able to do for their belief system in the history of their ideology, and thus Darwinism can be taught in schools. Darwinism (and it’s more common referral, Evolutionism) is invaluable to the teachings of Biology, Geology, and Astronomy, as it gives positive explanation for animal succession (or why we look/act/behave the way be do), correlation dating, and a basis for the explanation of space/time events. Religion is based on faith. And as much faith as I tried to put forth, I couldn’t figure in an all-knowing, all-powerful, triforced, invisible being into the picture.

“And thithss is Charles Darwin,” informed Ms. Coch. She seemed to have a touch of a speech impediment, and oftentimes spat when she got excited about a topic of personal importance. I soon learned to dodge.

“Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, created quite a controversy for him when initially published,” said Ms. Coch, “Even into the twentieth century, when evolution had been scientifically accepted, instances of moral backlash were evident.”

“Such as Scopes?” I offered. It wasn’t really a question. I had discovered the chapter on evolution long before this day, and made myself familiar with its turbulent history.

“Exssellent example. The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ is one of the most famoutss examples of thithsss ethical disbeliefff,” replied Ms. Coch. She was grinning at me for making such a keen correlation. She wouldn’t think so highly of me for long.

“I have another question,” I said. It was all a plan… with the student body I was surrounded (by a group of ‘Magnet’ students, attending a school centered on oceanic sciences), such a line of questioning should most definitely be expected, “What is your religion?”

“Uh… umm… excuse me?” stammered the teacher.

“I’m just interested in which religion you subscribe to,” I replied.

“Not that it’sss of really any relevance, but I am Christian.” She must have known exactly where I was going with this.

“Excellent… so what is it? Is it Creationism or Darwinism? You can’t very well have both now, can you? Choose.”

“What?” She looked around the room for any sign of support, but it was obvious: the class had sided with me now. One cannot believe an ideal, and also believe the direct opposite.

“If you choose your religion, than I might as well leave right now, because I won’t be able to believe another word out of your mouth. On the other hand, if you choose science, than I have to wonder why you feel the need to conform to the conservative created standard of moral code. So, I state again, choose,” I demanded, as I folded my arms and leaned back in my chair, completely justified.

I never received the answer to the question. Ms. Coch burst in tears as a result of my line of questioning, the unsympathetic class, and her own inner conflict, and left the class unattended. Instead of going to class the next day, I sat quietly in the office, and was later assigned to an alternate classroom. Ms. Coch was transferred to an alternate school.

Children’s minds are much like computers: one can put in vast amounts of information, but if conflicting information is found, an error is announced. Unlike computers, the announcement of that error is unpredictable. Langston and I were both deceived by the people we trusted the most, by family and respected adults. As a child, conflict in any form can cause substantial strife, but eternal strife brought on by the ones that are cared about most is unnerving. Langston created, and I destroyed, both as a result of the same stimuli. But we both held on as long as we could. We are only human, and it is our nature to protect ourselves. Even if it means going it alone.

I did not want to go to hell, and, at five, I was old enough to go there if I did not ask Jesus into my heart.

Our Sunday school room was in the middle of the building, cold and windowless. We sat at a table too large for the room. A cabinet full of art supplies and games with missing pieces and a felt-board were crammed in the corner behind the door. There was only one Sunday school class: me and Laura, Randy and Eddie, Elias, and, sometimes Christina.

Mrs. Barnes had replaced Renée, our last teacher, who was beautiful (she had blond hair), smart (she wore glasses), and mature (she was a teenager). Renée had been fired from the job for teaching us “Little Bunny Foo Foo” in class. (The pastor’s wife objected to the song’s assertion that fairies were arbiters of justice.) Mrs. Barnes had a short perm, a cat who shared a name with her (atheist) husband, and no children.

Okay, close your eyes,” Mrs. Barnes instructed. “Now, picture your favorite things in the world. Anything in the world that you want to have.”

My own mansion. With two stories. And a spiral staircase. And a huge, kidney-shaped swimming pool, like the one at Grandma Dorothy’s apartment building, only bigger. I couldn’t really picture the inside of the mansion, but on the outside it was lavender with pink trim. And I was eating ice cream, in my bathing suit, in the swimming pool. I floated in the shallow end in an inner tube.

“That’s what heaven is like.”

I knew some things about heaven, so I filled in the details. My sisters and the pastor’s grandchildren were there. My parents. Renée. The pastor and his wife. I grudgingly allowed Mrs. Barnes, as well. We stood in front of my mansion on streets made out of gold bars.

If you accept Jesus into your heart, when you die, you will get to spend eternity in heaven with Him.”

I pictured Jesus walking up the street to meet us. I would run ahead of the others to hug Him first. He was the glowing Jesus with dark eyes from the picture on the wood-paneled wall.

I knew some things, too, about hell. You could see it from heaven, and when people in hell asked for some water because they were on fire, you could not give it to them, because God did not want you to.

I lay on my bed that afternoon waiting for Laura to leave the room.

I didn’t know what to say to Jesus. I’d prayed to Him before, and it was just like the pastor said it would be. You can talk to Jesus about anything; he is your friend. Once I had felt sad, and I had cried into my pillow, but then I asked Jesus silently, if He was real, would He show me by stopping my tears, and He had.

Dear Lord Jesus,” I didn’t say the words too loud, in case Laura came back, “please come into my heart.”

I waited, my eyes still closed. I didn’t feel different. I tried again: “Jesus, I accept you into my heart.”

I looked out into the hallway to make sure I was still alone, then closed the door just to be safe.

I knelt beside my bed. My knees felt bony against the cold tiles. I thought of how I looked to God. I closed my eyes, and put my palms together. “Dear Lord Jesus, I accept you as my Savior.”

Nothing.

I opened my eyes and sat back on my feet. Maybe I wasn’t finished yet. Closing my eyes: “Please come into my heart and forgive my sins.” I paused and thought of what I’d done.

“I’m sorry for being mad at Victoria, and I’m sorry for saying ‘shut up’ to Christina Jones, and I’m sorry for not telling on Luis for saying a bad word.”

I scrunched my eyes shut tighter, retracing my guilty feelings.

“I'm sorry for everything I ever did wrong. Please take away my sins.”

I couldn’t feel His Spirit in my heart. I only felt tired and heavy. I breathed very slow and opened my eyes.

Amen.”

from The Book of Revelation

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Sal*va"tion (?), n. [OE. salvacioun, sauvacion, F. salvation, fr. L. salvatio, fr. salvare to save. See Save.]

1.

The act of saving; preservation or deliverance from destruction, danger, or great calamity.

2. Theol.

The redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death, and the conferring on him of everlasting happiness.

To earn salvation for the sons of men. Milton.

Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. 2. Cor. vii. 10.

3.

Saving power; that which saves.

Fear ye not; stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to-day. Ex. xiv. 13.

Salvation Army, an organization for prosecuting the work of Christian evangelization, especially among the degraded populations of cities. It is virtually a new sect founded in London in 1861 by William Booth. The evangelists, male and female, have military titles according to rank, that of the chief being "General." They wear a uniform, and in their phraseology and mode of work adopt a quasi military style.

 

© Webster 1913.

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