Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Religion

Funeral Pyres on the River Ganges and Reincarnation – Morgan Freeman Story of God Season 1 Episode 1 – Ritualistic Baptism into Manhood in Africa

I grew up as Southern Baptist, which is one of the most fundamental of Christian denominations. If asked whether or not I believe in reincarnation, my immediate response would be. “No!” But if we are honest, Southern Baptists must admit that we endorse a type of reincarnation through Baptism.

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“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6: 4

To me, that sounds a lot like reincarnation.  I am more and more convinced that the world’s religions are vastly similar.



Image Credit Africa Geographic

At least 30 years ago, I was struck by something that I read about a tradition that is observed by at least one of the tribes in Africa. Ihave forgotten which tribe it was, but the traditions sound similar to what I have recently read about the Xhosa boys of South Africa. According to that tribe’s tradition, when a male Xhosa youth is approaching manhood, he starts an initiation period that begins with a brutal circumcision.


Image Credit Africa Geographic

After his circumcision, the boy undergoes weeks [or months of training and healing, while he is confined with other initiates in the Bush. During that time, he is repeatedly covered with white clay.


At the end of the initiation period, the boy is taken to the river and, and his clay is washed away. When he arises from this cleansing baptism, he has become a man.

[Read more about the Xhosa ritual in African Geographic Here]

Thirty years ago, when I first read about this African baptismal cleansing ritual, I became interested in the comparison of world religions. I noted a remarkable similarity in the African washing away through ritual and the Christian baptism to walk in newness of life. In Episode 1 of Season 1 The Story of God, Morgan Freeman visits Hindus in India, and he observes another type of ritual that is associated with a river [the River Ganges], with reincarnation, and with a change of one’s status in life.

A Video Clip is Coming.

©Jacki Kellum January 17, 2017

You Can Binge the Entire Series of Morgan Freeman’s Story of God Now on Demand – Don’t Miss It!

For quite some time, I have noticed ways that many of the world’s religions are similar, and I have wanted to learn more about other beliefs. Morgan Freeman’s The Story of God is an exceptional but quick and manageable way to explore how different people worship and why. The second season of the series has begun on the National Geographic Channel, but for a limited time, you can watch the entire series on demand. In my opinion, it is something that everyone should watch. I plan to watch the series several times. It has helped me to put some pieces of my own religious puzzle together.

Image Credit: National Geographic


In the first episode of Season 1 The Story of God, Morgan Freeman begins to examine the questions: What Happens When We Die? What Lies Beyond Death?

He begins by visiting King Unas’s Pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt, where he discovers evidence that the Ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife 4,000 years ago.

Morgan Freeman is from Mississippi, and his roots are that of most fundamental Southerners.

Although I was born in the Bootheel Region of Southeast Missouri, I lived in Mississippi for 35 years, and I can attest to the fact that our homes and our childhoods forge most of our basic beliefs. But like Morgan Freeman, I have also lived outside of the South, and even before I left the South, I became curious about the belief systems held by other people. I salute Morgan Freeman for delving into the Story of God, and I salute National Geographic for its outstanding production of this series.

When I was a child, over half a century ago, I believed that the photographs and the material in National Geographic were the most exotic of anything that I had ever seen. National Geographic has continued to build its library of images and articles, and through the National Geographic Channel, the magazines that I loved as a child have come to life.

If you go to the National Geographic website, you can use the Search window and find numerous articles to support anything that might interest you. National Geographic has a plethora of articles, photos, and videos about Ancient Egypt and pyramids, but that is true of many other subjects, too.

In the small Southern Baptist Church of my childhood, church services are ended with an Invitation. When I saw that today’s writing prompt was “Invitation,” I could not help but think of my hometown church and of Morgan Freeman’s excellent series The Story of God. In a way that seems appropriate, I want to invite everyone to experience what Morgan Freeman and National Geographic have to say about God, Faith, Death, Afterlife, and Belief. It is a series that offers something for everyone.

©Jacki Kellum January 17, 2017


© 2017 Jacki Kellum

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