Prejudice of the Tolerant

kippah

A man wears a kippa. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Aaron and Esther Silverstein were walking hand-in-hand in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montreal. It was only a five hour drive from Boston, and now that they were retired, the older couple had the time to take relaxing visits to all of the wonderful places that had always surrounded them through their long and busy careers.

“Excuse me, Sir.” A uniformed security guard approached the couple. “If I could just get you to step aside for a moment.”

Puzzled but compliant, the married couple followed the official out of the flow of other patrons.

“Sir, I am sorry, but you’ll have to remove your headwear.”

It took a moment for Aaron to realize that he meant his kippah. “I’m afraid there is some sort of misunderstanding. You see, I’m Jewish, and as part of my religion, I…”

“Yes sir, I am aware that you are Jewish, however it is museum policy that no symbols or items partisan or religious be publicly displayed here. I’m very sorry, but you must remove your headwear immediately. It is for your own safety.”

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Raising Jews

weeding

Found at Balcony Garden Web

Jeff and Peter went together about as well as wine and Twinkies, but they were next door neighbors, and unless one of them moved, there was no helping it.

The former was weeding the flowerbed in his backyard for the umpteenth time when the latter called out over the fence. “I’m having a Bible study over at the clubhouse next Sunday afternoon. I think you’d find it interesting.

It wasn’t that Jeff wasn’t a Christian, but he wasn’t Catholic or anything near it. “Pretty sure Leah has something planned for that afternoon. Sorry, Peter.” He wasn’t sorry, and he’d have to see if Leah wanted to go out for lunch and maybe a movie that day.

“It’s not like we’re going to sprinkle you with holy water or anything. Look, I’m going to be getting sandwiches and drinks at the drive-thru after services get out at “Sign of the Cross.” Come on, it’ll be fun. I’m sure you have some pretty interesting insights about Jesus.”

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That Which is of Good Repute

big brother

Image from the film “Nineteen-Eighty Four (1984).

Warning: This is a work of fiction but also a controversial commentary involving social movements, political positions, and religions and it might not be considered “politically correct” by some or most. If you believe you might become upset or offended by a minority point of view (from my perspective), please stop reading now. Thank you.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NASB)

Joseph Kelley closed his Bible and sighed. “Yes, but what does the world consider true, honorable, right, and pure these days?”

He got up from his bed where he’d been reading, walked into the small closet and felt on the wall behind his jackets. There he found the hidden panel and pressed the three catches in a particular order to release it. With the panel open, he put the Bible back in alongside his concordance, a torn and aging copy of C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity,” and his dear departed wife’s Stone Edition Tanakh. Then he sealed the panel again and rearranged the clothes hangers so his treasure trove was again concealed.

Of course, he had memorized the contacts list for his cell of fellow believers. That was the one thing he could never commit to writing or any other record. Even if he were caught and they found his contraband, they would (hopefully) believe he was a rogue and not part of a larger group or fellowship.

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Thy Kingdom Come on Earth

thunderstorm

Our Father who art in Zion
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy Kingdom come on earth
Thine will be done on earth
Hallowed be Thy name

From “Our Father in Zion”
Performed by Buju Banton
Songwriters: Donovan Germain / Mark Anthony Myrie (1997)

Brian Phelps stood on his back patio and looked out over the fence at the elementary school. It was a Friday and the kids were all tearing around the playground during recess. Being self-employed meant he didn’t have to punch a clock or commute to work beyond taking a fresh cup of coffee from the kitchen into his office and then sitting down at his computer and working on the next chapter of his novel.

Today, he didn’t feel like writing. Well, that was a lie. He always felt like writing, but he didn’t know how to write this one. A few days ago, yet another shooting happened at a public school. Seventeen people died, most of them students. Brian looked at the children happily playing on the school grounds. “It could just as easily have been you.”

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The Moon At My Shoulder

moon

© Justin Peters

“I must be dreaming. I mean, you can’t be God.”

“Yes, you are dreaming and I am a manifestation of the Almighty that won’t totally blow your mind.”

Lucas Todd still felt like his mind was being blown. He’d just been accepted into UCLA’s Astronomy and Astrophysics graduate program. Ever since his Dad told him about watching Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon on television, he wanted to go there, too.

NASA’s manned space program had gotten pretty disappointing since then. His Dad always thought he’d see a permanent Lunar Base or maybe even a colony being established during his lifetime, but poor Dad died of cancer last year. Lucas didn’t want Dad’s dreams to die with him.

If either NASA or a private space agency was going to establish that Moon Base, then Lucas was determined to be a part of it

“I mean, I don’t even believe in God, well not really.”

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One Cold Saturday Morning

log sofa

© Fandango

He had to make a few trips from the house to the rough-hewn log bench his son had carved out for him. He took first his books and reference notes, then a pillow and warm blanket, and finally his large, steaming coffee mug.

He made himself comfortable in the center seat with his mug and books on the left, then took a sip of his coffee savoring the flavor.

Then he picked up his Chumash. He always studied alone both because he enjoyed solitude and because he had few if any like-minded companions. The older man found a greater appreciation of God sitting on the wood, beneath the trees and sky, feeling the chill of a winter’s morning. The world had grown cold, like the season, and only at home could he be free to acknowledge a Creator greater than humanity.

He opened the Chumash to where he left the bookmark and began. “Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines…”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of January 23, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

The “log sofa” actually looks pretty physically uncomfortable, particularly in winter, but it also looked “emotionally” comfortable.

When the weather is nice, on Saturday mornings, I take my Chumash, Tanakh, Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels, and perhaps my NASB Bible and various study resources out onto the front porch to read and study. A cup of coffee also goes with me.

I don’t have log furniture, but I do have a wicker sofa and table I can use. It’s pleasant and warm in the morning sunshine.

Although my wife (who is Jewish) calls me a Christian, I study the Bible using the traditional annual Torah cycle and tend to interpret even what most people call the “New Testament” in a more pro-Jewish and pro-Israel perspective rather than what is preached in most churches every Sunday (which is just one of the many reasons I don’t attend formal worship services).

The Torah reading for this coming Shabbat is Beshalach from which I quoted the first sentence as found at BibleGateway.com (I used the NASB translation because the Stone Edition Chumash is not online).

My understanding is that Torah or Bible study is considered in Judaism as a form of worship and drawing nearer to God, so some of my Holiest moments occur on my front porch in the morning sunshine. I decided to create this sort of experience for my character as well, particularly given a world that indeed (my opinion) has gone cold to morality, decency, and devotion to the Almighty.

For those of you who have a different religious preference or who have none at all, what I’m presenting here is a personal perspective. I am not preaching or expecting to “evangelize” in any way. In the spirit of “inclusiveness,” if you don’t agree with my viewpoints, please allow me have them nonetheless, for as much evil as the mainstream media has blamed “religion” for, people of faith have also done a great deal of good. I’m not all that good, but having faith isn’t about being perfect. It’s about striving to become a better person toward other people by drawing closer to God.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Mystery of the Fifteen Scrolls

scroll

The Temple scroll is the thinnest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Discovered in 1956, it contains God’s instructions on how to run the Temple. Credit: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

“This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation.

“This is one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries, and the most important in the last 60 years, in the caves of Qumran.”

-Dov Smith, February 8, 2017
“Hebrew University archaeologists find 12th Dead Sea Scrolls cave”
Arutz Sheva

Martin Fields wasn’t at the press conference, but he did read this and other news reports about the remarkable discovery.

Actually, he wasn’t all that impressed, but Isis was.

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Why Don’t I Trust You?

trust“If you trust me, why are you so upset?”

“Are you out of your mind? Just look at what’s happening to me? How could you do this?”

They were sitting together on the edge of Mallorie’s bed in the dark. It was just after two in the morning but she couldn’t sleep. She barely ate. She hadn’t been to class in a week. She just stayed in her bedroom in an apartment she shared with two other girls, toggling between mind-numbing despair and panic.

“I never said bad things wouldn’t happen in your life, Mallorie. I just said I’d be here to help you deal with them.”

The young college student wiped tears from red, swollen eyes and tried to compose herself.

“I do trust you.” She started sobbing again, then forced herself to stop.

“I don’t know. Maybe I don’t. I mean if I did, why are my emotions so out of control? Please, please have mercy. I need to heal. My Daddy’s throat cancer need to heal and only you can help.”

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Overcoming Conquerers

Earth

Earth as seen from Apollo 17 – Image: Wikipedia

The T’Quenq had conquered the population of the Earth a generation ago and with good reason. On the verge of humanity developing a working Interstellar drive, the T’Quenq, who had been observing our planet for centuries, were terrified that we would spread our propensity for strife, bloodshed, and harsh colonialism to the nearby inhabited star systems. There was only one way to make sure we never got the chance: subjugate us.

In science fiction stories, the aliens are always just humans who look different from us, four arms instead of two, green skin, pointy ears, that sort of thing. In real life, alien means alien. Concepts of cruelty or kindness were foreign to their thinking. They didn’t even have words in their language for “generosity,” “charity,” or “compassion.” They simply administered resources and populations. The people of the Earth were governed but not a great deal of thought was put into our comfort. Neither did the T’Quenq deliberately cause us to suffer. We simply existed under their rule.

We were conquered a generation ago and since that time, a few things have mellowed a bit. Segregation between T’Quenq and humans was no longer strictly enforced. Some of them thought it adventurous to walk our streets and shop in our stores, while a few human beings were allowed in T’Quenq compounds, only as servants, but a smattering of us got a first hand look at how they live.

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The Apostle is Unhappy About How the Church Misrepresents Him

paul

Image. NPR.org

Ed Tillman noticed the diminutive, middle-eastern gentleman enter the sanctuary and take a seat in the back right before Pastor Taylor began his sermon. Ed was seated in the back as well, but not by design. He’d been waiting for his friend Phil to show up, but he hadn’t been coming to Ed’s church lately.

Ed had expected to see Phil again at the end of what he called the Month of Elul. Ed had completed the thirty-day plan of prayer and repentance his friend had suggested. Elul, the Jewish High Holy Days, and the holiday of Sukkot were long gone, but so apparently was Phil.

When Phil was absent, Ed usually sat with his friend Mark and his family, but Mark’s wife Evelyn had the flu and Mark stayed home to take care of her, leaving Ed to attend alone once again.

As usual, Ed was taking notes on Pastor’s sermon, which this week was on how the grace of Jesus Christ had replaced the Law, but he kept sneaking peeks at the stranger. He didn’t often see people from the middle-east here. The man was dressed well, but not expensively. He had a full, rich beard streaked with gray, and was nearly bald.

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