Nothing—according to many pundits and persons—is as controversial as these two topics—politics and religion; politics was covered in Episode One of this Controversial Topics Snippet Series within The Prodigal Band Trilogy. Ipso Facto, Episode Two deals with religion.
While the trilogy books do mention Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and the Druids of Wales (in the context of their practices against their fictional enemies, Crynnwagg and the Crag-Dwellers who were cannibals, whom the Druids ‘tied to oak trees’ as revenge for their rituals against the Druid priesthood youth), only the fictitious New Age cult led by Swami Negran and Cole Blessing, the Church of the Circle of Unity—and its red crystal of Corion, and Christianity are prominent. I made up the Unity Church cult based off the real cults of Hare Krishna (I had a friend years ago victimized by this cult) and Transcendentalism (led by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who influenced the Beatles and others).
I look at Christianity in a different way than most Christians and non-Christians do—a true Christian follows the Way, Truth and Life of Jesus Christ and accepts the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God the Father, and puts these ahead of doing what most folks think Christians do—go to church, tithe, hand out religious tracts, go to ‘mission conferences,’ and engage in conservative politics, among other things… and partake in Communion, baptism, marriages in churches, and other rituals that attach to various denominations (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and other groups not affiliated with these). Yes, I was baptized (three times—as a baby, in a church where I was teaching in the 80s during Bible study sessions, and in a local baptistry). Yes, I do Communion at the local non-denominational church. Yes, I was married in a Catholic church (because my parents wanted it that way…I really wasn’t a practicing Catholic then). Yes, I read the Bible (without which I never could have completed this trilogy!). Yes, I pray. But that is not what makes me a committed believer on Christ. And that is not why God gave me the trilogy-writing mission to tell the world why they should consider accepting Christ as Savior. It is commitment to Christ by one’s own free will and then doing as such, not religious doctrines, dogmas, and rituals, that makes one a true Christian.
Baptism will not save you. Receiving Communion will not save you. Being married in a church will not save you. Tithing will not save you. Praying, as good as it is, will not save you. Confessing sins to priests will not save you, nor will the practice among Catholics called ‘Confirmation.’ (Done by bishops on eleven- and twelve-year-olds—will these pre-teens keep their end of the bargain as they embark on discovering their lives? I was Confirmed…and then a few years later became somewhat of an atheist! So tell me again how Confirmation ‘saves’ one?). Voting Republican will not save you; most conservative Christians vote Republican. Voting Democrat will not save a more liberal Christian. Orthodox denominations (Greek, Russian, Syrian, etc.) do much of what the Roman Catholics do as well and they also have their own rituals (not that I know much about these; I’ve never been in an Orthodox Church). While Protestant groups don’t do many of these rituals, many so-called ‘megachurches’ almost look as if they are ‘Christian rock concerts,’—Bethel and Hillsong come to mind. No mega-church, nor watching Christian TV networks such as TBN, will save you. These practices—whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant—are good practices as long as your emphasis is on accepting and committing to Christ as well as repenting of your sins and praying thanks to God and Christ. But the religious practices alone will not save you.
Before I go on, let me explain the meaning of baptism as Christ told the Apostles at the end of certain Gospels. Christ claimed one must be baptized of the water and the spirit. This doesn’t mean getting baptized as a baby or in some baptistry with water put on you by a priest or getting soaked in water in a baptistry by a pastor or done in such a way as John the Baptist did–even Christ was ‘baptized’ by this method at the Jordan River. By ‘water and spirit’ Christ meant one must be born of a mother through water that is the placenta, at birth, and then ‘born again’ of the spirit by accepting the Holy Spirit as one repents of sin and then proclaims Christ is the Savior. I was baptized three times–at birth, in a baptistry within a church at Bible Study, and then at the local church baptistry which happened after I had truly accepted Christ when I witnessed a miracle, when I was ‘born again.’ As for confessing sins, repentance means confessing sins upon accepting Christ and after, and confessing to God and Christ. Christ is our ‘High Priest’ so to speak. (See the Book of Hebrews for more about this, in the New Testament.)
Again, only Jesus saves, as my trilogy books claim, especially the final trilogy novel, The Prodigal Band. (The first two, Battle of the Band and The Prophesied Band, tell of the ‘prodigal band’ parable-journey to redemption—read the snippet series ‘Prodigal Band Meets Prodigal Son’ for more on this.)
In the first snippet from Chapter Eleven of The Prodigal Band, while the rest of the band—within a spiritual void being saved from their private jet burning due to a bomb plot—discusses if they should take spiritual advice and accept Christ in order to do the missions God gave them using His angels the Tooters, singer Erik makes his decision, aided by the spirit being, the ‘witch of the Hovels,’ but he wonders if he needs to be baptized.
The image of the Witch of the Hovels appeared in the midst of them. Jack was so startled he found himself nearly falling over backwards.
“Whoa!” the guitarist blurted.
“As I have explained to you before,” she scolded, “the last time we met, that when Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and then resurrected 2,000 years ago, it was His shedding of blood that became the ultimate and final sacrifice to His Father for sin, for all sinners, for all time. To receive redemption from your many sins for all time, you must proclaim that He is your Savior, that He rose from the dead to save from sin, and repent, that is, have a change of heart and try not to sin again. It requires a commitment from each of you, not just empty words. Because only He can bring remission from sin and nothing you ever do will accomplish this, which is why He is your Savior. How you receive this redemption I just told you. Whether you receive it or not is up to you. You must want Christ as Savior and Redeemer. God won’t force it on you. You have a choice.”
“Well,” Erik said boldly as he stood up, “I believe it. That’s what Morwenna was trying to tell me, and I kept arguing with her. But she got me, okay? She put me in my place. She’s like my mother, except holy. I can’t disregard what she says. She’s never lied, cheated, stole, acted all obsequious and then stabbed me in the back like others have done. She is the embodiment of truth.” He then turned to the others. “And you know something? Ger believes it, too. So, even though I don’t know all the details and I’ve never been baptized—do I even need to be baptized? I will tell you all now that I accept Christ as my Savior.” Sigh, as the others looked at each other. “There, I said it. I’m saved. And now, I can officially do the mission without the guilt trip.” Smiled. “It’s that easy. And you know something? I feel great!”
They still looked at each other, and finally said almost simultaneously, “Me, too.”
“But,” Jack reminded, “the test of whether we really believe is still to come.”
“Yeh,” Tom added, “with Torquay and the rest of the devil’s minions.”
In the second snippet from Chapter Nine, their women—Ger, Laurie, Mo and Jarris—discuss what it means to be a Christian, and will their men ‘become Christian’ after all the sinning they’ve done living the rock star lifestyle…and will they as well, living the super-model-TV hostess-new age disciple lifestyles? They are in the atrium of Ger’s home in ‘LA Hills,’ while their men are ‘getting a song’ composed by a former roadie-turned-Christian.
Within the atrium—
“I guess the boys have arrived at Bobby’s place already,” Laurie, slouching on a couch of alpaca wool pillows, heaved a sigh.
Jarris spoke doubt. “And when they come back, they’ll be born-again Christian rockers! Did you hear that song that Bobby wrote for them? ‘He is the Way’ it’s called. ‘He’ being Jesus Christ. Do you believe that? That they’re going to sing about Jesus, and they don’t even believe in Him.”
Mo, who had been a disciple of the demonically-possessed Cole Blessing and saw many lying wonders, believed she had some wisdom to impart. “They won’t come back born-again Christian anything, Jarris. It took me about a year to really become committed to Blessing. And my dad’s a vicar of the Anglican Church. It took him years of divinity school, and even he has some doubts sometimes about his faith. Or he used to. Haven’t spoken to him in a while.” Sighed regret. “But you don’t go visiting a Christian and come back converted, eh?”
The skinny red-head, like her husband the most emotional of the group, sat up and barked back. “Well, fine if they do! What do you have against them becoming Christians? They can do whatever religion they want! Better than that stupid Circle of Unity bullshit!”
Mo dropped her jaw, dumbfounded. “That’s not what I said! Yes, they can become Christians! But what I said was that it doesn’t happen overnight. For one thing, it takes years of Bible study, and I’ve never seen Bry, for one, open up a Bible. Does Keith?”
“Well, then he won’t be converted overnight.”
Laurie broke in. “So it takes reading the Bible to become a Christian?” She mock laughed. “If that’s true, Jack would’ve been a Christian for many years now!”
“You have to read it,” Mo answered, “not get beat over the head with it.”
“And I still can’t believe all you have to do is read the Bible,” Jarris whined. “And, oh yeh, go to church, which I know for a fact Keith hasn’t set foot into since he was a kid. He wouldn’t know what to do in a church if it hit him over the head.”
“Don’t you have to pray or something?” Laurie intoned incredulously. “I mean it can’t just be that easy—read the Bible and go to church and be a good person and give a couple o’ million dollars—”
“Yeh, Mo,” Jarris cut in, “the collection plate?”
Ger, who had been listening intently but had to pay attention to the baby until he fell asleep, which he appeared to be doing, added, “And let’s not forget bake sales and bingos.” Sarcastic snort.
Mo sneered, “Bake sales and bingos, Ger? Like when’s the last time you set foot into a kitchen, let alone a church?”
She placed Jason in his soft, snug baby carrier, got up and rolled her eyes at Mo. “I was joking, okay?” Moved toward the exit toward Morwenna’s office. “Like I think you all are missing the point. You don’t even need to go to church. Morwenna is the holiest person I know and she never goes to church. She says there’s not a church in this area she’d want to go to.”
Jarris said that she heard some famous actress goes to church.
“Well good for her,” Ger snorted. “I’m saying a real Christian like Morwenna doesn’t go to church, but I know she prays a lot and reads the Bible a lot. She’s always trying to get me to read the Bible. I look at it now and then.”
“Look,” Jarris wouldn’t relent, “I have no problem reading the Bible. When my mother was getting beat up by dad she’d always read it to comfort her. But it’s Keith and the guys that need to read it. They’re the ones on that mission of theirs.”
“Well,” Ger answered, heading out the doorway, “I’ll get Morwenna and maybe she can settle this argument.”
The others followed.
“Morwenna,” Ger called about to enter the office. “You there?”
Not seeing the personal assistant, Ger glanced at her desk and noticed the open Bible and the section yellowed-in. She read the highlighted section out loud.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The others entered the office as she read it.
“Oh my God,” Ger wondered. When she saw the others she read it aloud again.
“So like you’re all wrong. This says that all you have to do is believe in Jesus. That’s it.” She looked up at the others.
Mo looked at the Bible. “Yeh, and it’s in red letters. That means Jesus said it.”
“He said that? Then it must be true, because I know one thing about Jesus. He’s the only person who ever lived who never lied.”
Jarris looked at the Bible. “So all of that in red is what He said. So if we read the Bible, that’s mostly what we need to read.” She glanced at the red letters on the opposite page, which began with the story of the Pharisee Nicodemus. Verse 7 read, ‘Ye must be born again.’ She cried out, “Here it is! Born again! ‘Ye must be born again’.”
“But what does that mean?” Laurie wondered. She took the Bible from Ger and read it from the beginning of Chapter Three. “Nicodemus was a Pharisee, some kind of ruler.”
“Yeh,” Jarris broke in, “the hypocrites. That’s what Keith calls Torquay and them.”
“So Nicodemus says to Jesus he knows Jesus is a teacher sent by God, and Jesus says unless you’re born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God. So Nicodemus says,” Laurie looked at the others, “he’s old, so how can he be born again? So Jesus replies that a man has to be born of the water— you know, be baptized—and of the spirit.”
“What spirit?” Ger wanted to know.
“The Holy Ghost,” Mo answered. “You know, Father, Son, Holy Ghost?”
“What does He do?”
Mo shrugged her shoulders. “I have no idea. My dad was a vicar and he tried to get me baptized, but I refused. I always thought all that religion stuff was just a load of dogma. In one ear, out the other.”
In the third snippet from Chapter Ten, Morwenna, Ger’s personal assistant and spiritually imbued with the Holy Spirit assisted by the Tooters to protect her baby boy Jason, explains to Ger exactly what it means to be a ‘Christian’—belief on Christ…and that Christ lived and died and resurrected not for the righteous, but for folks like her—the sinner!
That night at the Manning residence, in the atrium
“But it can’t be simply that you believe in Jesus Christ, Morwenna,” Ger implored to the personal assistant that sat across from her where Laurie had sat a few hours before. “Anyone can say they believe in Christ.”
Morwenna, who supported the open Bible in her lap to John 3:16, replied, “No, you can’t simply say you believe, you’re right. You really have to believe it in your heart.”
“But you also said you have to repent.” Ger cocker her head and sighed. “I’m afraid I have too bloody much to repent for.” She bore a tired look of resignation.
“To repent, Ger, is to have a change of heart. It means to try as hard as you can to stop doing what you have to repent for. It basically means changing the things in your life that make you do things that you’ll have to repent later. And then you have to ask forgiveness, feeling in your heart that you don’t want to do those things anymore.”
She brightened. “I’ve already stopped doing some of the things I used to do. It was my vanity that made me do things that made me get throat cancer.” Picked at a loose thread in her chair. “I stopped seeing other men. I’ve stopped being so worried about how I look. I’ve stopped being so concerned about material possessions. But I guess I could do better.” Tried to cut the loose thread with her hands. “But I certainly don’t want to lose it all.”
The former model did break the thread but in the process it cut into her palm. “Bloody hell, stupid thread.” Showed the cut to Morwenna. “No big deal.”
“Let me look at it.” Morwenna sat beside her and ran her finger around the cut. “It’ll be okay, Ger.”
“But the thing is, about believing, it simply is that you have to believe, with your heart, mind and soul, in Jesus. It sounds hard but it’s simple, and it’s personal.”
“A personal relationship?” Ger laughed softly. “Yeh, I’ve heard that phrase on TV. Heard a TV preacher once.”
“TV preachers are okay to a point but mostly they just want your money. A relationship has nothing to do with other preachers. It is your ability to talk to Him in your heart and with your mouth.”
“Yes, praying, but you can talk to Him in your mind and heart anytime.”
Puzzled. “But I’m not a believer. Why should He listen to me?”
Morwenna slapped her Bible. “Aha! You are precisely the kind of people He listens to!”
“He wouldn’t be much good if all He did was listen to the righteous. Why? Because He died, gave His blood to atone for sins for all time. In other words, He died for the sinner, because otherwise what was the point of His death and resurrection? You are precisely the kind of person He exists for, the reason for His existence, the reason God sent Him. So, yes, He will listen to you.”
Having been looking eye to eye with Morwenna, Ger wept uncontrollably as the words stabbed her heart, and there were no more excuses.
Morwenna looked on, sensing Ger was experiencing a change of heart, as if the torrent of tears were washing her soul. She saw the tissue box, grabbed it, and then handed Ger a tissue.
Ger covered her face with it, all the while mumbling inaudible words. A few minutes later she stopped crying and wiped the rest of her tears.
“What were you saying, Ger?”
Still weepy-sounding, she answered, “I was asking Jesus to forgive my sins. And somehow, though I’ve never really believed all that before, I know what you say is true. All that ‘mission of God’ stuff. Erik didn’t just make all that up.”
Morwenna handed Ger the Bible. “I need to go to bed. Will you be okay?”
The brunette cradled the book. “Yeh, I’m fine.” Smile. “Good night.”
Ger put the Bible on her desk in her office.
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The Prodigal Band Trilogy © 2019 by Deborah Lagarde, Battle of the Band © 1996 by Deborah Lagarde, The Prophesied Band © 1998 by Deborah Lagarde and The Prodigal Band © 2018 by Deborah Lagarde. Permission needed to copy any materials off this page.
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