A not so chance encounter

I had a wonderful discussion with a man from Rwanda that I met in the parking lot at the FDA where I am serving as a senior business systems analyst. While my French is atrocious, I could see that the book he was carrying was a history book dealing with the struggles between blacks and whites in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994. I asked him if he had seen the movie Hotel Rwanda and if it was accurate. He told me that he had and unfortunately, it wasn’t. We started talking about the Hutus and the Tutsis and racism. He asked about the origins of racism. I talked to him about Dutch and British colonialism, the caste system in India and the Untouchables in particular, and also the treatment of the aboriginal people of Australia by the British settlers and even more contemporary Australians. Then he asked me a very poignant question, “what do we do to get rid of racism in this country?” I told him that the best things that we can do are to dispel falsehoods by teaching the truth and to show ourselves as friendly and respectful toward those of different people groups. We have to dispel the falsehood that there is a unified hatred of one group by another by proving that at least one person of that group doesn’t hate them.
We discussed what sort of teachings might change people’s minds. I spoke to him about the common ancestry of humanity as described in the Hebrew Scriptures. I told him stories of Moses and how his own brother and sister were upset with him because he married an Ethiopian woman. I told him of the Jewish people from Ethiopia that stood as a testimony to the fact that we are truly one race of people, a message he echoed to me earlier in our conversation. I told him of the origin of humanity being from North Africa and drawing the conclusion that if all people came from one place, then the essence of all humanity is identical and we simply have different appearances.
I asked him if he was familiar with the Gospel story and how when the edict went out to kill the male children two years and younger that Mary and Joseph fled to North Africa. He knew the story well. Being a Jew in my heritage and my pedagogy, I asked him a question versus presenting my conclusion. I asked him, “would parents of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy hide in a place where everyone had brown skin and black hair?” He smiled and said, “no.” Then he surprised me. He pulled out a book and asked me if I though it was legitimate because he had a friend that only spoke French who needed this book in French. The title was, “Nouveau Testament.” He knew there were versions floating around that had slight changes to promote the doctrines of certain cults. I opened the book to Jean 1:1, recited John 1:1 in English and asked him if that’s what it said. He confirmed that. I asked him to look at the phrase, “and the Word was God” and make sure that there was no indefinite article there, a trick of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to substantiate their Arian (not to be confused with Aryan) doctrine of Christ. He said there was none. We did a similar drill with Jean/John 3:16. He confirmed that what it says was what I recited. He was very happy because now he could give his friend what he was asking for.
We both ended our work days with a wonderful encounter. I have been telecommuting for five years. While I dislike making the drive, I love meeting people face to face.

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What is love?

Love is a willingness to lose anything for someone who means everything while expecting nothing.

That is the love that scores the greatest dramas and the mightiest epics. We sing songs of that love and write poems about that love. Every time that someone dies for that kind of love, a little bit of evil dies too. That is how Christ loves us. That is how we should love each other.

These things I believe

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’ve taken some time to be alone, in quiet, and examine what I believe. Some of these are theological, some philosophical, and others are political. They are in no particular order and may not be comprehensive. These are right for me. You may feel differently and I’d love to civilly and respectfully discuss those differences. Here is the result of my self-examination of what I stand for. These things are an integrated unit so if you are interested, read them all first and then we should talk. I believe…

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Standing in the stead of God

Technology has given us the ability to breathe lifelikeness into a person whose soul has long since departed. God knows the paths we walk and when we are to walk no longer. Whenever we stand in the stead of God, no matter how innocently nor unawares, we simply prove that He is and we are not.

These are the words of Qoholeth, the Preacher,

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”
before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,
in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,
and the doors on the street are shut–when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low–
they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets–
before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,
and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
–Ecclesiastes 12:1-7