1) The Baptist meets the rabbi.

It’s Bible study coffee time.
Sunday, September 30, 2018.
2) This is a story told to me.
3) Once upon a time there was a Baptist.
4) The Baptist knew God from a tender age.
5) He tried to keep his own counsel, and be respectful at all times.
6) He had just finished boot camp when his grandmother passed.
7) The family gathered at her home and they were picking at her belongings. Fighting over who would keep this, and would keep that, to remember her always.
8) Finally he just couldn’t take it anymore.

“Stop fighting over nothing!”
9) He stormed out of the house.
10) After some time, his mother came out and got him.

“It’s OK. Everybody’s sorry.”
11) He felt bad about getting angry and tried to keep his temper in check yet again.
12) He went back to the Church and found that things had changed in his absence.
13) The congregation felt consumed by a spirit of evil, palpable but inexpressible.
14) He realized that it was the head of the Church who was the problem. (I am not clear specifically what role they played.)
15) A few months went by, and his unease grew progressively worse.
16) Finally, he just couldn’t take it anymore.
17) So one Sunday, he stood up in the middle of the service.
18) And while I can’t recall the specific words he shared with me, I do recall what the Church elders said: “SIT DOWN.”
19) At that point, he said, his father got up from his seat.

“My father is a big guy.”
20) “My father never speaks. But he spoke that day.”
21) Low, slow, but very clearly, his father said to the Church elders:

“You are the ones who need to sit down, and listen. My boy’s heart is pure.”
22) It was at that point that the Baptist, who loved and feared God, spoke to the Church community about the terrible spirit that had come to engulf them.
23) I don’t know if they fired the head of the Church.
24) Here is the last part of the story. The third and last time this Baptist ever got mad.
25) He’d met a woman and they settled down with her children.
26) The woman and her children were of a different ethnic background.
27) He brought them home to meet the family, and some unkind family members acted racist.
28) At this point the Baptist paused in the telling of the story.
29) “I told all this to a rabbi,” he said. “After we spoke, I never got angry again.”
30) “What did the rabbi do?” I asked the Baptist.
31) “What happened was, this woman in the family made fun of the kids’ last name,” he said.

“And I went off on her. I just lost my shit, her acting racist and uneducated like that.”
32) “And I told the rabbi, sometimes I just get angry, and even if I’m right, I regret it.”
33) “Tell me all about it,” the rabbi said to the Baptist. “Can we go somewhere to get a bite?”
34) The Baptist said to me, “I grew up in a very small town with two stoplights. I didn’t know any Jews.”
35) “So I took him to a diner, and ordered a cheeseburger.”
36) “The rabbi asked for some salad.”
37) “I felt bad afterward, him watching me eating a greasy burger and fries, and stuck with some lettuce and tomato.”
38) I nodded.
39) “So I told the rabbi everything that happened with my girlfriend at dinner, and how they treated her kids and her.”
40) “The rabbi heard all this and stood up. He slammed his napkin down on the table.”
42) The Baptist looked at me, incredulously.
43) “I think he was from New York. Are you from New York?”
44) I nodded. “It’s the accent. I know.”
45) “Anyway,” said the Baptist, “the rabbi sat down after that. And we finished our meal without so much as a word.”
46) “What I learned from that is that there’s times when you have to call a spade a spade. And getting angry is the right thing to do.”
47) “It’s been five years since the rabbi and I had lunch. And I have had to handle some really tough people. But I’ve never gotten angry again.”
48) “But why?”
49) “Because I know that God is with me. And when I see somebody doing the wrong thing, I remember how angry the rabbi got that day.”
50) “My mother, my father and the rabbi, in fact. They all stood with me.

You have to say something.
You have to fix it.
You do the right thing.
And then you never look back.”

A lesson for life.



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