Original Monotheism: Karen

No, not the poor secretary at your dentist’s office. Today’s support of original monotheism comes from the Karen people of Rangoon. Their story draws startling comparisons to Adam and Eve.

The Karens, awaiting a messenger, sat and studied their holy books for a while waiting for the true god. They had turned away, or rejected, by teachers of “nats”, or evil spirits. God could have been protecting them as they waited their true messenger. Again, the messenger was shocked to hear truths about the Triune God expressed in their theology!

Their God, Y’wa, was eternal and contained every perfect attribute. Not only that, but Y’wa was creator and he appointed everything. He is omnipotent and ancient, and the earth is his footstool and heaven his resting place (lit. “The earth is the treading place of the feet of Y’wa. And heaven is the place where he sits.” cf. Isaiah 66:1).

Interestingly, the story of Y’wa comes with huge parallels toward Adam and Eve. Y’wa formed the world and appointed food and drink for man. He gave them detailed orders and some “fruit of trial”. In this garden there were seven types of fruits, a biblically important number. Y’wa had told them that he planned on visiting the couple every seven days.

In time, a tempter came into the garden. Mu-kaw-lee convinced the original couple, now called Tha-nai and Ee-u, that eating the seventh, forbidden, fruit would cause them to ascend to heaven. It contained flavors that the other fruits didn’t, and would give them strength through the love of Y’wa. They ate of the fruit based on his temptations. Because the original couple did not believe Y’wa, they were tricked by Mu-law-lee into eating of the tree. This caused them to die and experience spiritual death. To counter this death, the original couple ran from Y’wa to the arms of Mu-kaw-lee, which led to their religious system being anti-Y’wa.

Because of this transgression, the Karen believed that they lived under a curse preventing their quick access to God.  They had a certain theory of election, saying that because Y’wa loved them, they would see themselves saved by his mercy. They believed that they could repent and gain his mercy again, showing them the light. Y’wa had a promise, but he also had ethical demands. To follow him, they must respect their parents, but also love their neighbor as themselves.

Finally, they had an eschatology close to the Jewish one. I repeat the hymn in its entirety:

“At the appointed season Y’wa will come.
Dead trees will blossom and flower.
Mouldering trees will blossom and bloom again.
Y’wa will come and bring the great Thau-thee.
Let us ascend and worship.”

Let us ascend and worship the God who leaves a witness even in the darkest kingdoms and brings us the mercy to escape the curse our foreparents brought on us!

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