Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Karma of Jesus by Mark Herringshaw

Rating: 0/5 (I hesitate to even post this review, as I don't want to give free advertising to this load of misguided crap. I can't even label it non-fiction, because it's so full of bull. However, I don't believe in censorship, so...)

Note: I won this book free through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I cannot stomach one more page of this book, so unfortunately my review will be based on the first 58 pages only.

Word to the wise: if you are going to write a book about something, it helps if you take the time to understand it first. Herringshaw's arguments against what he calls "Karma" have very little to do with the ancient philosophy that has been around since thousands of years before Jesus was born. His linear, black and white, God-centric thinking apparently cannot grasp the complexity and context of the real concept of karma. Arrogantly, he writes a chapter explaining how nobody can predict the consequences of their actions (and therefore it is impossible to control one's karma and escape from its "doom"), but at the end of it says with total conviction that for every good thing that comes of an action, at least 3 bad things happen. So nobody can understand consequences, except for him.

Also disturbing is his attempt to tear away the comfort that a recovering addict and street kid has found in the philosophy of karma. I can only guess that eventually this young man breaks down, feels wretched, and then is led to God by the 'compassionate' hand of this pastor.

Herringshaw is under the false impression that karma means the universe "keeps score", and that even well-intentioned mistakes reap horrible torturous consequences back on their maker. He insists that karma dictates a limousine driver will have to pay for everything from WWI through Islamic terrorism. These kinds of hysterical arguments are impossible to take seriously. The universe cannot keep score, because the universe does not make black and white distinctions between good/bad and right/wrong. What is a good outcome for one may be a bad outcome for another. The universe does not judge, does not sit up above us with a score pad. The author's inability to fathom a world without a judgmental overseer shows his lack of imagination and understanding of the context in which karma plays out.

Karma is not an inescapable 'doom' that we need an outside influence to save us from. Herringshaw seems to ignore the fact that Buddhism offers a way out. Of course, this offer does not appeal to him, because he mistakenly represents it as requiring "suppression of desires". I can only imagine the author got this idea from a mistranslation of the Four Noble Truths.

I did not expect a pastor to be unbiased when dealing with an Eastern philosophical concept, but nor did I expect him to be irrational, unreasonable and willfully ignorant. I am disturbed that such a man would waste so much time attempting to argue against the idea of karma, as if it were an affront to everything he believes in. If Herringshaw has convinced himself with his own arguments (levied at his own mistaken idea of Karma), he is suffering under a great deal of ignorance himself. If, on the other hand, this is propaganda, Herringshaw is purposefully using his authority as a pastor to spread misunderstanding and ignorance to his followers.

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