Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bread & chocolate

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Today is World Chocolate Day. This Cadbury’s ad has been on TV a lot here. Nice music!

I won’t be offended if you don’t believe this, but it really happened at our assisted living center:
    The residents have small apartments but they all eat at a central cafeteria. One morning one of the residents didn’t show up for breakfast so my wife went upstairs and knocked on his door to see if everything was okay. Through the door he told her he was running late and would be right down, so she came back to the dining room.
    An hour later he still hadn’t come down, so she started back up, and she found him on the stairs having a real hard time. She said he had a death grip on the hand rail and seemed to be having trouble getting his legs to work right. She told him she was going to call an ambulance but he told her no, he wasn’t in any pain and just
wanted to have his breakfast. So she helped him the rest of the way down and he did eat his breakfast.
    But when he tried to get up to return to his room he just couldn’t. So my wife finally called an ambulance for him.
    A couple hours later she called the hospital to see how he was doing.
    The receptionist there said he was fine. All that was wrong was that he had put both of his legs in one leg of his boxer shorts.

I had the willies for a moment this afternoon. As I was pulling out of the parking lot of one of those Big Box stores, I saw a guy in the car next to mine making the sign of the cross before he opened his door and got out. I couldn’t help associating this with what I had heard on the news last night, about jihadists wherever it was crying “allahu akbar” before detonating their suicide vests. As I drove away, I had images of the guy in the parking lot going into the store and crying “Repent and accept Jesus” before pulling the cord.
    I told my wife about it when I got home. She said I was lucky this time. Next time I might be entering the store.

We passed a Baptist church this morning with one of those lawn bulletin boards. This one displayed the statement, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” We didn’t know at the time it was a quote from the Bible. My husband said, “What does that mean, ‘God is the Lord’?”
    I said I thought it meant, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Christian God,” or “…whose God is obeyed by the people as their master.”
    He said, “Oh, like maybe the Baptists back there are advocating for America to become a Christian caliphate?”

Christ as the Man of Sorrows
by Luis de Morales
[Editor’s Note: The following items were in response to Sunday’s post, “Misunderstood, disrespected, resented: A meditation on Jesus: Glad, mad, and sad,” which was up for only about 11 hours before it had to be taken down, for personal reasons.]

I was quite sorry to read of these events! I do have an observation: For a long time I held the opinion that e-mail (involving written language) could more clearly convey thought than spoken words. I have been disabused of that notion. I find that many people read messages into words that the writer did not intend to convey. The very brevity inherent in most e-mails shears them of nuances we might pick up in face-to-face communication. This board member no doubt read into your e-mail a subtext of criticism to board governance. People with thin skins need to grow thicker skins before holding such an office.
    The best way to confound one’s enemy is to show him common courtesy. (But I must admit to sometimes slipping in a remark with some understated “zing” when I can. [My wife] informs me that what I consider understated is often quite blunt. Wives! They really are our better halves.) Anyway, a suggestion: Remain on speaking terms with this board member. Next time you see him, give him a nice greeting and make no reference to the altercation. You will prove him a fool and this will also dissipate some of your anger at his rude behavior on the social network.

It is certainly possible to interpret the whole thing as a lesson in humility or something like that. To my mind, the lesson is about the thorough inadequacy of contemporary forms of communication that seem to have entirely superseded the old-fashioned face-to-face encounters of eras long gone. Such a series of misunderstandings could not have happened under the old regime. You must feel like that lonely protagonist in the Kafka story: the only one left who is not a rhinoceros. My heart goes out to you. Things like this have happened to me also. It feels awful. I am in awe of your patience and ultimate goodwill about it all.

Grateful for correspondence, Morris Dean

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