Soon: Chapter 14: And now for…the rest of…the conversion
Back to Paul’s “private torment,” thinking of “the jarring teaching of the Gospels.”
Should the teaching really be so jarring to Paul? Bad enough that he got a Ph.D. in religious studies without reading Revelation, but he never read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Really?
But even when thinking of the Gospels, Paul doesn’t think of too many specifics. He mentions in passing teachings like…
If you want to be rich, give your money away. If you want to lead, serve.
BECAUSE SO MANY CHRISTIANS DO THOSE THINGS, RIGHT???
(And let’s ignore the fact that this turns charity into a deal. And here I thought people might actually give their money away or serve because they thought those were good things to do, not just because they thought they would get to become rich and lead. Silly me…)
…when Paul allowed himself to consider that Jesus might have died for his sins, he found himself overwhelmed with grief.
Was he a sinner? He had been unfaithful to his wife. He had lied. He had been selfish, caring more for himself than for his family. He had killed people. The weight of it was too much. He did not remember suffering guilt before; he hardly even knew what it was.
Until now. He wanted to shake himself back to reality, to get out from under the awful shame be reminding himself that there were myths, fairy tales.
So, there it is. Paul is upset that he’s done bad things because Jesus died for those bad things. He feels guilt because the “fairy tales” tell him to, not because he thinks he actually wronged others.
Oh, and not for nothing–Paul may be feeling bad only because of Jesus, but Jenkins has done a pretty good job of showing evil atheists, in evil Atheistopia, getting along just fine, and morally, without the fairy tales. How about Jae, as a nice first example–she hasn’t been selfish. She hasn’t cheated. She hasn’t put her needs before Paul’s. She certainly hasn’t killed people. Hmmm…how in the world could she have been so good, without Jesus around to tell her how bad she is?
Finally, FINALLY, the damn plane takes off (and I am still wondering why they just didn’t cancel the flight), and there’s tons of turbulence and Paul is freaking out and they circle Chicago forever. Now, I’m no Rayford Steele or anything, but when you want to land a small plane and there are tons of storms, don’t you just usually divert the plane? Why don’t they go to St. Louis or something?
But instead of doing something sensible like that, they try to land, and people are screaming and puking and Paul thinks:
Was it possible he could die? What if everything he had been listening to was true?
Pascal’s Wager: check.
What if there was a God and a plan of salvation and consequences for not connecting with it? He shook his head. He wasn’t about to become a foxhole convert. That made no sense. He wondered if it would even be valid.
Hmmm…this all sounds a bit familiar:
“But Cameron, I would be doing this only because I’m afraid I’m going to die in this plane! That’s all.”
-Chaim Rosenzweig, The Indwelling
Wow, Chaim really was the dry run for Paul Apostle, wasn’t he?
God, save me, Paul cried silently, and he knew he was not pleading only for his physical life.
Yep, because believing in a soul, when you never have before in your life, is just automatic like that.
There’s a huge ka-banga of thunder and a bolt of lightning…and Paul sees it, his vision miraculously restored!
It’s just that simple!