Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How Jesus of Nazareth Saved Me...A Buddhist

This isn't really a religious post, but Zelda just reminded me of a story and the title of the post is fitting. Before we get started, a quick update. Grandma is smiling and laughing. She still looks quite weak, swollen, and jaundiced. But, she's obviously happier with everyone around.

Back to the title of the post. When I graduated from high school, I was offered a full tuition scholarship to the University of St. Thomas in Houston. It's a catholic university, but I'm Buddhist. I figured as long as I was getting my education for free from a very well respected school, why go anywhere else?

One of the requirements for any degree given by the university was that you had to take 24 hours of theology or philosophy. They had other religion courses like World Religions where you dive into various religions of the world. But, most of the religion courses were Catholic courses.

At the time, I didn't know much about Catholicism or even Christianity. All I knew was that Christianity is a belief that Jesus was the son of God and he did a great many things in the past. That was about it.

The first religion course I enrolled in was the basic teachings of the Catholic Church. It was taught by Sister Grace. Now this little old lady drew all over the board when explaining the basics of the religion. Trying to take notes in that class was indeed quite a challenge. Keep in mind that I knew nothing about Christianity.

The day before the first exam was soon upon me. A group of my classmates and I got together to form a study group. I remembered how it started with Kevin basically leading the session.

K: "Okay, let's start from the beginning. So, Jesus was with the apostles."

J: (interrupting him) "Hey Kevin?"

K: "Yeah?"

J: "What's an apostle?"

K: "Well, there was Peter, Paul, John..."

J: (interrupting him again) "No. WHAT is an apostle? I mean, what exactly are they and what do they do? I hear the word a lot in class and have no idea what it means."

Just then, about 10 heads turned and 10 pairs of wide opened eyes gazed upon me. I felt like I all of a sudden had a spotlight on me. My friends knew that I was and still am Buddhist. They knew that my knowledge of Christianity was limited. They just didn't know that it was THAT limited.

K: "Are you serious?"

J: "Yeeeaaaah. Why? Just how much more do I need to know before tomorrow's test?"

K: "Okay, let's start from the VERY beginning."

After several attempts to explain things to me, Kevin came up with the idea to rent the movie "Jesus of Nazareth" from Blockbuster. When we got back, Kevin put the movie on and would occasionally pause it to explain things to me. Low and behold, it started to make sense. Not much, but it was a start. Did I pass the test? Nope. No way. However, it gave me the very basic background information that I so desparately needed to eventually gain a basic knowledge and eventually pass the other courses.