Recently I had the chance to meet in person an acquaintance of mine from the Naval War College. We were part of a group watching a documentary that had won the Group Documentary competition for the National History Day competition, which had come out of Southwest Washington. The documentary was a very polished student-produced effort about POWs in Vietnam and the way that they kept themselves sane and alive through working together and making sure that no man was left behind. Of particular interest to the students, for fairly obvious reasons, was the friendship that had been forged between a black Air Force pilot, who has only recently died, and a Southern white navy pilot, where the North Vietnamese had sought to pit the two against each other due to racial animosities. As my acquaintance, who happened to know both men, noted, the Southern naval pilot, who helped nurse his black comrade-in-arms back to health in the Hanoi Hilton, was not prejudiced against his fellow prisoner because of race, but because the pilot was an Air Force pilot instead of a fellow naval pilot. With such savoir faire and good humor difficult situations are made at least a little easier to deal with, and it was a story I appreciated hearing.
When I arrived at services this afternoon just in time to keep Sabbath School from being canceled, I gathered the fairly small class I had today, and we discussed Joseph and the famine . I was struck by the fact that in the story of Joseph reconciling with his brothers that there was likely to be at least one very unhappy brother of the lot, namely Simeon. Simeon, and his tribe, get a rather bad rap in the Bible as a whole. Along with Levi, they were brutal in their vengeance for their sister Dinah’s honor  and were also one of the two tribes (along with Levi) that were promised a punishment of being scattered among their brethren, but without the compensating benefit of being a priestly tribe . Instead, they were given a certain allotment of land within Judah’s and were seldom heard from ever again. And why would Simeon have been particularly unhappy about Joseph’s mind games with his brothers? For one, during the whole time that his brothers dithered over whether to bring Benjamin back with them to Joseph, Simeon was sitting in an Egyptian jail as a hostage. Of course, Joseph had spent a lot of time in an Egyptian jail without deserving it, but given Simeon’s crimes against humanity, as well as the fact that he was likely the ringleader in the efforts to terrorize Joseph, he likely deserved what he got, and a lot more.
After listening to a sermon that reminded me of both my speech about prophetic passages that deal with the nature and family of God, and a sermon I listened to last night from a minister who speaks often about the subject of the father and son relationship of God and Jesus Christ, I was fairly busy after services, but it does not seem as if the result was particularly pleasant. For one, there was the matter of handing off the keys to the Grange Hall to someone who can hand it to someone who can hand it to the person to whom they actually belong, because I had to run off to the sermonette class and had a hard time making my request directly enough for the people I was talking to, which is a fairly common occurrence, unfortunately. At the sermonette class, I got some very useful constructive criticism, but I was a bit annoyed by the fact that it seemed that the other two people who had been assigned had either given their sermonette already, in one case, or were given clear guidance to plan to give it in the near future, but I was not, even though all of us received a great deal of both praise and suggestions for improvement. I also felt a bit irritated that someone decided to join the sermonette class uninvited while I was speaking . Then, after that, I was both spectacularly unsuccessful at making plans to spend the evening with brethren and I ended up being the unwelcome and hopefully very temporary custodian of a book from our local pastor, largely because I happened to notice it sitting on the stage next to my backpack, and because I firmly believe that no book should be left behind, and so after calling my pastor to let him know I had it, and asking him how and when he wanted it back, it now gets to hang out with me for the next week. I suppose it would make sense that I would notice what was being left behind and deal with it, something that happens far too often . But what happens when one notices what is left out and left behind and doesn’t know how to communicate that to others very effectively, others who are less observant, and less sensitive to such matters, perhaps.
So it was that I spent my evening sitting in the neighborhood Chipotle, finishing one of the books, finally, that a friend of mine had loaned me some weeks ago giving a liberal elitist perspective on the Reagan’s presidency. Chipotle, of course, has recently had some bad press because of e.coli outbreaks in their food, and they sought to rebuild trust and business by sending out some freebie coupons to a wide audience. Judging from the long line in the restaurant I went to, it appears to have been successful in bringing people in the door, at least, because Americans like me will risk the small chance of getting sick from our food to get free food, I suppose. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I can’t imagine it says something good. Anyway, it struck me in sitting there that I was one of the few people there alone. There was a group of high school cheerleaders, in uniform, some people on dates, some groups of friends, a single mom and her daughter in line right behind me, but unlike the people around me, I was by myself, finding a quiet spot to sit and read while occasionally interacting with those around me. It seemed that I was far more sensitive of the presence of those around me than they were of me. But that’s usually the way life works, isn’t it?
 See, for example:
 See, for example:
 See, for example: