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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pope Benedict's Regensburg University Speech; Muslim and Christian Concepts of God

On September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave a talk at Germany's Regensburg University. The Holy Father quoted Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos' assessment of Islam, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Reaction was immediate, negative, and threatening. Iraq issued a statement urging Muslims "not to harm" Christians. That such a statement was issued in itself speaks volumes. In fact Christians are subject to murder in Iraq and their numbers there have decreased dramatically since the overthrow of Sadam Hussein. Similarly, Indonesia urged its citizens to "self-restraint." Malaysia said that the Vatican would be held responsible for whatever transpired. Pakistan said that the Pope had injured Muslims, thus justifying Muslim retaliation against Christians.

I was amazed when the Holy Father made the statement. I was impressed by his frankness. I was disappointed when he issued what sounded like an apology. I also thought, Gee, Benedict must be rather naïve. Because anyone familiar with international conversations about faith would know that a pope including that quote in a speech was throwing down a gauntlet.

All that aside, his speech is excellent. It is, as the Vatican said, "a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come." What's not to like?

In his speech, Benedict presented two conceptions of God. Benedict argued that in Christianity, God is reason, and reasonable. In Islam, God is not bound by reason. Benedict concluded that "It is to the great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures."

The God described by the Judeo-Christian tradition and the God described in Islam are not the same. I don't need Pope Benedict to tell me that. I grew up, and currently live, in Passaic County, often identified as having America's second largest Muslim population. I grew up with Arabs, Muslims, and Islam, as well as people from every other continent and almost every other major faith.

My friend Narin was one of the most spectacularly beautiful women I've ever met. She was Circassian, home to legendarily beautiful women. Narin was a gentle, quiet girl. We sat next to each other in class. She would doodle endless arabesques in her notebook, in lieu of taking notes. Her spontaneous illuminated notebooks were as beautiful as she. Both drew forth my awe.

I vividly remember the day she told me she would kill me when the time for jihad came. I remember her telling me that if she were to doubt Allah for only a second, she would burn in Hell for all eternity.

I'm reading Ibn Warraq's "Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out." Warraq is himself a scholar and a former Muslim. Warraq identifies himself as an atheist and he is often rather contemptuous of any religious faith, including Christian. On page 92 of "Leaving Islam," Warraq describes how Muslims who convert to Christianity compare the Muslim concept of God with which they are familiar, and the Christian concept that causes them to convert.

"Muslims who have converted to Christianity would be deemed, by Muslims who are now atheists and humanists, to have left one form of unreason only to adopt another. But what reasons do Muslim converts to Christianity give for their conversion? These converts evidently found something in Christianity that they felt was lacking in Islam.

Many are attracted by the figure of Jesus, others find the Christian dogma of forgiveness of sins comforting, and still others are impressed by the charitable behavior of individual Christians around them.

But if there is a common thread running through these conversion testimonies, it is that Christianity preaches the love of Christ and God, whereas Islam is forever threatening hellfire for disobeying, and obsessively holds up the wrath of God in front of the believer.

In other words, the two religions have totally different conceptions of God: In the former, God is near, loving, and protective, God the father. In the latter, God is a remote, angry, tyrannical figure to be obeyed blindly. Or, as one Muslim convert to Christianity was quoted as saying in a truly astonishing article that appeared in the Algerian Arabic daily El Youm in December, 2000, 'Christianity is life; Islam is death."

The full text of Benedict's 2006 Regensburg lecture is here.


  1. This is an excellent post. I so wish I had been brought up believing in a loving god. But the concept of god I was indoctrinated with was closer to Islam: constant emphasis on sin, judgment, and punishment. Self-punishment was encouraged, and suffering praised ("God sends suffering to those he loves"). Human reason was put down as weak and human nature was devalued as hopelessly sinful. I realize now that it was a distortion. Alas . . .

    1. Oriana, I am very sorry to read your post.

      I'm sorry you were brought up to believe that God is constantly judging and punishing you.


    2. Hello Oriana, yes I too am really sorry that you and so many others were brought up to believe this.

      And, yes, I was taught a version of "God sends suffering to those he loves"... And, yet, all the time the Bible on my shelf went out of its way to assure me that he did not.

      For example: "When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.... Do not be misled, my beloved brothers.  Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the [celestial] lights, and with him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow." - James 1:13-17

      Do not be misled. Jehovah is love. He doesn't teach us by inflicting suffering on us. He teaches in the most gentle and patient way, if we will let him.

      We are still living in the post-traumatic shock of what happened in the Garden of Eden 6,000 years ago. Because our first parents cut themselves off from their Creator, their source of life, they not only fatally damaged themselves, but also us, their unborn children.

      We are born imperfect and dying, through no fault of our own. That causes us constant suffering - and also causes us to make each other suffer.

      Everything has become so twisted. Even nature is "red in tooth and claw with ravine". But if you look at the first chapter of Genesis, you will see it was not created that way.

      "And God went on to say: “Here I have given to you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To you let it serve as food. And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.” And it came to be so."

      This was not a world full of hunters and the hunted. This was paradise. And the Inspired Scripture - both Hebrew and Christian Greek - promise us a restoration of that Paradise.

      There is so much to say and I think I have said enough, so I will wait and see if anyone wants to hear any more.

      Re Islam, we lived and worked in the most fundamentalist of Muslim countries for 25 years - living under Sharia law.

  2. Leaving the church was the greatest act of courage in my life. The first set of the shackles of fear and shame and needless guilt fell off instantly. What I didn't realize is that it would take decades to recover more fully from the emotional child abuse that toxic religion is. Not to feel ashamed of myself, to be able to take joy in the genius of humanity, to stand in continual astonishment of the beauty of life in spite of suffering . . . that came slowly, though some moments were flashes of that, even when I was still spending time on my knees, beating my chest.

    But there is no going back even to what I'd call "the better story" (thinking of the Life of Pi). Once the thought, "It's just another mythology," arose in my mind, it was all over for any form of organized religion. Eventually even the "theist doubt" disappeared -- wondering if there might be a "real god" as opposed to all the invented gods. Where do I get my solace? From work and from dear friends.

    But the greatest surprise: the more confident my atheism grew, the more it became a source of courage and strength. Religion never was that, since the focus was suffering and punishment, the mental terrorism of hell-fire. Perhaps most of all, the great value placed on suffering, self-inflicted if need be (the self-flagellating saints). Only much later I came to honor rather than despise happiness. That has been the hardest thing, and a very belated accomplishment. If I were to write a book about atheism as a journey of courage, the title would be The Happy Atheist.

    1. Hello Oriana, and thanks for the reply. What a pity we can't get together for a cup of tea anc a chat - though you might not think so of course! But, unless you are presently by the English Channel - calm and rather a numinous dark blue at the moment - its not likely to happen anyway.

      But I relate so much to your phrase "the mental terrorism of hell fire". Is that perhaps the worst teaching, the cruellest lie, in the world?

      Oddly, what made me start to doubt that teaching was having my tonsils out. I was a convent schoolgirl in my early teens at the time. It was the first time i had ever had a general anaesthetic (not, alas, the last). And when I woke up, I realised that, effectively, I had not existed while being operated on. It was a completely dreamless sleep.

      I began to think that must be what death is. But it wasn't till I was nearly 40 that two JWs called at my door, and showed me this, from the Bible on my shelf:

      Eccl. 9:5: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.”

      They are conscious of nothing at all. They are not suffering anywhere, not being tormented anywhere.

      Why didn't i know that is what the Bible said?

      How many terrors it would have saved me.

      We would love everyone on earth to know what the Bible actually says. What they then want to do about the information is, and must be, entirely up to them.

      It was the beauty of the creation that made me start searching for the Creator of it, to thank Him. But it took me a long time to get there.

      I have a poem about the moment when I realised, IF you are interested. Its very short.

  3. Oriana, I want to respond frankly to what you wrote.

    I don't believe what you are saying.

    Sorry -- I know I risk offending you by speaking frankly.

    I've read your post several times, and given it hours of thought, and I just don't believe it.

    What am I missing? Is there something you are not saying?

    My experience of EE Catholicism bares zero relation to what you wrote.

    I grew up Catholic in the US with numerous visits to relatives in EE -- Poland and Czechoslovakia, and then Slovakia.

    I never encountered the religion you describe in your post.

    My religious friends and relatives never mentioned hell fire -- your words. Never. What guilt was passed around had nothing to do with religion. All my EE friends and relatives knew how to party -- to drink, to dance, to flirt, to cook, to eat, to sing. We did all these things in big, big ways. Dancing all night. Cooking for days. There was none of this grimness you describe, which i find really bizarre and alien to my understanding of EE Catholic identity.

    We partied -- often in church basements.

    You speak of child abuse.

    For me, the words "child abuse" have a real meaning. Children who are beaten, raped, denied food, locked up ... that's child abuse.

    Raising a child Catholic? Calling that child abuse? It makes a mockery of the words. It violates children who have really been abused.

    Courage to be an atheist? Why courage? You don't believe in God. You don't go to church. How is that courage? This isn't sixteenth century Spain. Most of the people I know are atheists and they don't go to church. The vast majority of the people for whom I work are atheists. My religion sets me apart and makes trouble for me. Their atheism helps them climb the ladder of success.

    I've typed this post up a couple of times and deleted it a couple of times. I value you and really don't want to offend you. I just can't relate to a single word you wrote here.

    I'm sure you have lived a real story, but I'm not encountering it in what you wrote here, because you are using words like child abuse and courage in ways that I can't agree with, not on the basis of what you've written, and offering a description of Catholicism, that I just do not encounter in reality.

  4. I am guessing that what Oriana meant about courage in relation to atheism was not so much the courage of appearing in "the world" as an atheist. In fact, in British academe, I expect it would take more courage not to.

    I think what she means - and apologies if I am wrong - is that it took a lot of courage to leave the church and the idea of God behind, given she had been taught, as I was, that our Creator is someone who will torment you in hellfire forever - forever! - if you displease him.

    In my days as a Catholic in 1950s England we were taught that you would be tormented for ever for eating a beef sandwich on a Friday.

    When you are taught that as a young child, the fear goes deeper than you realise. I know that was true for me, as I was nearly 40 when I came to realise there was a Creator, searched for him, and began a study with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Because it was a Bible study, all the fear came back. It was an effort to go on. But with lots of praying and patient teaching, I did, and have never looked back.

    I don't know that the churches - Catholic and Protestant - teach hellfire torment nowadays - and by the way, it was the nuns at school who taught it to us, NOT my parents - but they certainly did back then.

    But of course, what I didn't know was that the Bible does not teach such a thing.

    It would be lovely if we could discuss this more, but... All I can say, is that it was the glory and splendour and tender beauty of the creation that made me see past the horrors of the present system of things on the earth, to the perfect loving qualities of the Creator of it all.

    As the Psalmist says:
    "The heavens are declaring the glory of God
    And of the work of his hands the expanse is telling."

    The beauty of a late Autumn sky in my Northern English hometown told me of the qualities of its Creator as clearly as if it had spoken to me.

    1. I'm at the home of someone I know, grew up with, we both went to the same Catholic church and School.

      Asked, "Did you grow up fearing hell?"

      this woman just said "No."

      FWIW, she, like me, is Polish American Catholic.

      We just were not taught this stuff. I know this woman was into Children of Mary and wearing a blue cape. I liked the stained glass windows.

      Hell? Not a big part of our growing up.

    2. That is interesting. I wonder why the difference?

    3. I was thinking about this in the early hours, and remembered Vatican 2. As you know, I am older than you Danusha - in fact I am rapidly approaching my sell-by date (under the "threescore years and ten" rule) - so maybe you grew up in post Vatican 2 Catholicism?

      I didn't. And perhaps Oriana didn't either.

      While I remain grateful to this day for the excellent education the nuns gave me, the religious teaching was harsh and unBiblical.

      And of course, on the plus side, I was protected from being made to feel "unter" because my father was foreign. Poland was after all (I quote) "a good Catholic nation".

      I don't know if Oriana is of my generation or not, but if so, might that account for such different experiences?

    4. My mother was a Slovak peasant woman. Born and raised Catholic. Raised me Catholic.

      She was born early in the twentieth century.

      I remember her adamantly saying during my childhood, "No meat on Friday during Lent? We are a poor family. We are lucky if we happen to have meat, and, if we do, and if it's Friday during Lent, we are going to eat meat. I told Father as much and he had to agree."

      Of course Father had to agree. My mother was a devout Catholic, a powerhouse woman, and a great mind.

      Sue, i mention this because you say you were terrorized with the idea of going to hell for eating meat during Lent.

      Sorry, that just ... sounds bizarre to me. I'm not saying that you or Oriana is not telling the truth. What I'm suggesting is, rather, that individual people experience things in their own ways.

      I never experienced anything like the Catholicism you two describe, and I think that's because we are different people.

      I saw beautiful art. I learned from a rich intellectual tradition. I felt loved and comforted in empty churches, surrounded by stained glass light and incense smells and lovely statuary and profound echoes of solemn ceremony.

      You guys saw only Hell.

      Six blind men feeling an elephant.

    5. Interesting. I wonder if you didn't have such an intensive religious training at convent school as we did.

      And, yes, what Catholicism gave me was a very good education. Nobody left our primary convent school illiterate or innumerate, unless they had a serious problem (i.e. brain damage), and I am not sure the same could be said of schools today.

      A couple of our schools were like mini stately homes, with their own grounds, deeded to the church by wealthy Catholic families. So we had lovely surroundings and places to play. So important when you are young. And I loved some of the ceremonial. I liked the school plays we used to put on.

      But the teaching then was very clear. We were taught that we had an immortal soul (not a Bible teaching); that if we were good we would go to heaven when we died (not a Bible teaching - well not unless you are one of the saints, or holy ones); that if we were bad - if we died in mortal sin (meat sandwich on a Friday, missing mass etc)- we would go into hellfire torment where we would be tortured forever (NOT a Bible teaching); but most likely after we we died, we would go to purgatory to be in torment for an eon or so to further expiate our sins, and then go to heaven (not a Bible teaching, and also surely a denial of the ransom sacrifice?). Oh and were also taught about Limbo, where unbaptised babies went. A nothing sort of place, where they were eternal babies, neither happy nor unhappy (not a Bible teaching, and no longer a Catholic teaching I believe).

      I couldn't bear the thought that somewhere, people were being tortured forever. I wondered how anybody could ever be happy in heaven - which is where i was taught to aspire to - knowing that that was going on.

      And I wish they had taught me what the Bible said, because once the Jehovah's Witnesses so kindly came to my door and did, i was caught and held by the beauty and power of it. And I am trying in my imperfect way to live by it. I hope and believe I would have tried then if I had only known it.

      By the way, I don't for a moment think that any of the nuns and priests who taught us were deliberately misleading us. They could not teach what they had not been taught themselves.

  5. The difference between Islam and Christianity can be summed up in the following way for me. Christianity offers people unimaginable, pure, unconditional love, from God's ONLY perfect child, who died for us, Islam demands it's followers to make the ultimate sacrifice of martyrdom or murder to prove THEIR allegience to him.We are most definitely NOT talking about tha same God, between the two.

    1. Hello Anon - yes Christianity is an uncompromising religion. It teaches that Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life" - that the only way back to our Creator is through the ransom sacrifice.

      Jesus paid back to his Father the perfect human life that Adam so wilfully threw away in Eden.

      None of us could have done it as none of us even has a life to give, let alone a perfect one. Children of Adam, born cut off from our Creator, our Source of life, we are dying from the moment we are born.

      As the Psalmist says: "Not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him... That he should still live forever and not see the pit." - Psalm 49:7-9


      Because "Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains, And in sin my mother conceived me."- Psalm 51:5

      Sin means "to miss the mark of perfection". All of us are born missing that mark. Through no fault of our own, but because of what our first parents did.

      Have you ever thought how the smokescreen of Evolution works to hide that truth from us?

      However, I did want to say that surely every bit of Jehovah's creation was perfect? One perfect angel chose to disobey and turned himself into Satan the Devil, the resister and slanderer of God. And tragically, our first parents fatally damaged themselves and their unborn children (us) by following Satan in his rebellion and being persuaded to cut themselves off from their Creator.

      But there are myriads and myriads of perfect,faithful angels in heaven.

      Just for a moment God has let Satan run things on the earth so that the questions raised about the rightfulness of Jehovah's sovereignty can be answered - once and for all time.

      After all, what was it Jesus put first when he gave us the model prayer - the Lord's prayer?

  6. I did grow up in the fear of hell. My faint hope was only that perhaps it would be centuries of suffering in Purgatory and then heaven (which didn't seem attractive at all). But mostly I thought I was such a sinner (all the times I fell asleep during prayers! and the times I disobeyed my Babcia!-- ludicrous now, but I took that seriously back then).

    Above all, I am grateful to Sue for understanding what I meant by courage. It was a particular moment, THE moment that split my life in two, the most courageous moment in my life: I was ready to die and go to hell, but just had to do submit myself to this test. I was fourteen, so please forgive what may sound bizarre. Soon after the thought "it's just another mythology," I said in my thoughts: "If god exists, let him strike me with lightning." I was outside, in open space. I thought those words slowly and solemnly, "out loud" insofar as it's possible with thoughts, taking complete responsibility for every word: "If god exists, let him strike me with lightning." And I began to shake violently, terrified -- not wanting to die, but ready to die and go to hell for eternity. My heart was pounding violently. I'd never been so afraid in my life: obviously, god still had enough reality for me that I expected to be punished for blasphemy.

    At first as I was waiting I was paralyzed and couldn't move. Then, gradually, as I saw that nothing was happening or would happen -- I shook off the terror, and managed to start walking, in a daze at first, but then with gathering strength and trust in myself as not a wretched sinner in need of redemption, especially through blood sacrifice -- not as a bad girl headed straight for hell, but as another human being trying to be a decent person and do my best. The first and heaviest set of shackles of fear and shame fell off. I stopped stooping and wearing heavy clothes, which I had been doing to conceal my breasts (which I never, never touched -- that, I thought while still believing, would have been a particularly bad sin, the sin of impurity).

    That the church gave me the concept of the kind of monstrous god who WOULD strike a young girl with lightning for thinking the forbidden -- death penalty for crime thought -- that does strike me as a very toxic indoctrination. (I have to divide this post)

  7. Part II

    Now, I am not saying that I experienced those minutes of the most intense terror, and when they passed and I was alive, I was instantly 100% atheist. For me atheism has been a journey of a lifetime, a slow building of a life philosophy that would give me sustenance in the face of mortality. And I even experienced what I call "theist doubt" -- that perhaps a "real god" existed, not anything like the invented ones. (Only now I understand how this arises from the teleological bias of the human brain -- we tend to assume that something was "intelligently designed" for a purpose; the other part is the Cartesian mind/body dualism.)

    Throughout my late teens and early youth there were brief moments when again I felt utterly doomed to go to hell, but, oddly enough, the true bodily terror never returned. Just a kind of resignation that in case I'm wrong, I'll pay the price. And I felt ready to pay the price rather than return to Catholicism. In the US, I visited 2 Protestant churches, and found them interesting -- democracy! -- but with nothing to offer except post-church socializing (though that's important, I admit; it's just that I'd prefer a book club).

    By child abuse I meant the damage to my self-esteem, the kind you'd get from non-stop put-downs. If I had been an easy-going child, I probably would not have suffered as much damage. But I was emotionally intense, and did take the teachings about being a weak-minded, weak-willed sinner with complete seriousness. I agonized over my silly little sins, since to offend god in the smallest was already such an breach of reverence. I did not see the self-flagellation and other "mortification of the flesh" as practiced by various saints, the whole anti-life, anti-body, anti-woman, anti-sex, anti-happiness set of mind as pathology -- that understanding took a long time. With my intensity, if it happened to be the Middle Ages, I would have likely become a self-tortured ascetic.

    I also discovered that I could still feel very angry at that god I didn't believe in -- and again it was a journey to heal through understanding the more probable causes of the bad things that happened to me or those I loved. It was as if my right hemisphere still believed, and experienced that very real anger at the imaginary. It took a while for enough rational clarity to forgive the Great Absence, so to speak ("forgive" no longer being the correct word, of course -- a shift in perception had to become complete). (again, this got too long)

  8. Part III

    America too was part of the journey, the idea of freedom and the pursuit of happiness being so opposite of my whole religious indoctrination in the cult of suffering and penance for one's alleged badness.

    At the same time I want to acknowledge that I enjoyed some of the ritual (when it didn't go on and on), and I still love beautiful churches and the wonderful quiet dusk between services. I love great sacred music and art. I even have my favorite bible stories and gospels. But just as I wouldn't pray to Zeus or Athena, I would not pray to an imaginary being in the sky. And I can go along with "advanced definitions," e.g. that god is a loving state of mind. But you don't pray to a state of mind, you enter it -- and besides, why not call it simply a loving state of mind?

    The same goes for saying that god and the universe are synonyms -- but why not just say the universe (and I'm totally awed by the size and strangeness of the universe -- that was one of the factors pulling me away from the medieval mind set, knowing we are part of this hugeness, rather than the whole cosmos turning around us).

    The greatest surprise of the journey has been the deepening of atheism -- exactly the opposite of what many predicted. The fear of death abated as I grew more content with my life, seeing that I had not wasted it after all (my greatest fear as a poet used to be that at 80 I'd look back and conclude that I'd wasted my life; now that I've expanded into prose, I feel more confident by far that simply by speaking honestly I have something to give to people, aside from the beauty I try to create in my poems).

    Atheism has been a journey of courage for me because I had to form a sustaining life philosophy that wasn't ready-made. I had to find my ways of staying strong during times of hardship, to find a way enjoying friends who are mostly New Age and believe in soul and destiny and all kinds of supernatural things; they do not help me carry the questions, but they are simply dear, giving me affection and valuing me just as I value them, knowing they had a different journey, different experiences.

    And I am fascinated by the evolution of the concept of god through the ages: how epochs of hardships resulted in cruel gods, and milder ones in more compassionate ones. The history and sociology of religion fascinate me, mythologies fascinate me -- but then everything about humanity does. The joy of the pursuit of knowledge is one of the gifts of my journey, without having to censor myself and struggle against doubt, trying to force myself to believe that I could no longer believe.

    That, in the end, was the hardest part -- forcing myself to believe. And that fell off instantly, with that first set of shackles of fear and shame and false guilt. I felt free to think, to question, to just live . . . yet still decades before I could think of happiness without contempt, and be loving toward myself.

    1. Hello Oriana, very heartfelt postings and I will need to read them through again before I can properly reply. But I am glad to know that I understood what you meant about the courage.

      I am wondering if you have ever read Karen Armstrong's "Through the Narrow Gate"?

      In 1962 she became a member of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus - and reading her experiences as a young nun in training (postulant?) explained a lot to my sisters and me about the Notre Dame nuns who taught us.

    2. Its very interesting to hear about your spiritual journey Oriana, and I identify with so much of it. Only as you know, in the end with me, it was the beauty and glory of the creation that made me realise that there was a Creator -and that he must be good. Not a torturer. And I began to search for him.

      And the universe... the glimpse we see when we look into the night sky... awe-inspiring.

      I wonder if one factor is in how early we were taught all this? My mother didn't go to Covent school until she was about 7 I think. A nun told her that her father who she loved, and who was a Protestant (it was her mother who was the Catholic) would go to hell. Now my mother loved her father very much, and simply didnt believe what she was told. But suppose she had been told that at 4 years old?

      The most powerful defence against such teachings though is what the Inspired Scriptures - both Hebrew and Christian Greek - actually say.

      Suppose you had known from the start that the Bible says: "The wages sin pays is death", and "For he who has died has been acquitted from [his] sin". Romans 6:23; Romans 6:7

      The Bible tells us, simply and clearly, that the price for our sin, our imperfection, is death. And that death acquits us of our sin. We have paid the price.

      So when the dead are resurrected, it will be to a completely fresh start.

      I wish I had known that when I was a child. Do you think it would have made a difference in your case Oriana?