“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Monday, June 21, 2004

Some stories

Once a man who attended our group (we were in Pasadena, CA at the time) used to carry a briefcase to class each week. Among other things in the leatherette case was a baton which he used to lead singing each week. He used to take the public bus back and forth to church. One day after class, I went out with him to wait for the bus to arrive. I noticed that his briefcase had several large bulges in it, so just to make conversation I asked, "What do you have in your briefcase." He pulled out a jar of peanut butter and a can of corn and became somewhat indignant. "You wouldn't believe the people here. They just throw this stuff away!" he replied. "They have trash cans here and just throw it away!" Well, he had been pilfering the barrels (actually trash cans) that were used to collect canned goods for the poor. He qualified, so I told him to go ahead and take something he might see in the barrels in the future.

On another occasion, a woman with down syndrome who was about 55 was in our class. The teacher that day was teaching a session about the notion that God is eternal, a difficult concept for anyone to understand. After referring to the fact that "God is eternal" several times, the disabled woman finally turned to me and said "What is all this God is a turtle business?" I agreed with her that the lesson wasn't very relevant.

Then, we used to have a class member who enjoyed watching Christian television to the point where he learned various Christian phrases used in prayers on the station. Without fail, each week he would volunteer to pray. In a manner he had no doubt seen hundreds of times on tv, he came forward, carefully removed his glasses and struck an austere pose. He then went on to string together a series of random phrases which he had heard on the television. It would go something like this:
"O God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of our sins
the bounty of your righteousness
through the Holy Spirit
and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ
bring us together today
from the bounty of your righteousness
and the forgiveness of sin
etc. etc.
Other class members were quite impressed.

Finally, another fellow was barely able to speak coherently. He would ask to pray and go forward. As he would pray, the class members in their honesty and desire to understand would be saying "What did he say?" as the prayer went on. So the scene was a man speaking unintelligibly with his eyes closed, while most of the others in the room were saying in loud voices, "What did he say?" I also wondered what he might be saying. He, however, was undaunted. Anyway, sometime later, we taught the class the Lord's Prayer. Imagine my surprise when as I taught the phrases of the prayer, the man with the unintelligible speech would repeat each different phrase in an unintelligible yet consistent manner each time. Actually he had been saying the Lord's Prayer every time he had volunteered to pray, but you might say he was speaking it in a different tongue (or language). A tongue unintelligible to me but not to the Lord.


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