Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lamentations of the Father

I got this from AllanE a long time ago.

A Father's Laws Concerning Food and Drink
Household Principles
Lamentations of the Father
by Ian Frazier

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all
foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the
living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into
burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the
cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not
in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the
wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright
color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living
room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen
after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living
room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in
sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may
you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where
the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you
may not eat, neither may you drink.

But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something,
then may you eat in the living room.

Laws When at Table

And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as a
greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as
they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon
the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you
have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the table
are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink your milk as it is
given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor
spoon, for that is not what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick it off, you will be sent away. When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not
bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck; for you will be sent away.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have
swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister
what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister has done the same to you. Eat your food only; do not eat
that which is not food; neither seize the table between your jaws,
nor use the raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to
you, do not touch it, but leave it as it is. And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the
table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why. And
though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not
stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that,
that is why. Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side
or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed
me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

Laws Pertaining to Dessert

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that
is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have
dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have
eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each
bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six
peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of
your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can
see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number
of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have
dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten,
you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion ther eof.
And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around
with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not,
you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no

On Screaming

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are
given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each
other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the
ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal
seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning
is loathsome to you, and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain
from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause
you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your
throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your
nose. For even now I have made the fish as it should be; behold,
I eat of it myself, yet do not die.

Concerning Face and Hands

Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to
the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are
upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice
thereon. And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the
tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a
manner wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it
must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on
bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself against cars,
nor against any building; nor eat sand.

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should
so afflict it with tape? And hum not that humming in your nose as
I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will
drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Complaints and Lamentations

O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you
must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail;
and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and
even sometimes do you spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other
blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof
when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that
no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has
years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in
anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straightaway,
"Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, you may not come out." And
again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you
ask again a third time, then you may come out.

Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay
again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount
higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give
six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even
this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member
of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we
still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth
within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for
surely you cannot know.

For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and
unfairness of it and rend my receipts. And you shall remember
that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.

Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father;
Volume 279, No. 2; pages 89-90]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Unlucky in Love, or, Addicted to Addicts?

First Samuel 25 is one of those passages in the Bible that makes you wonder what the "rest of the story" was. We know precious little about the life of Abigail. The rest we read between the lines. She was married to "A certain man in Maon (who) was very wealthy. He owned property ... His name was "Bobbo" (OK, it was Nabal, but it turns out that meant "fool" in his native language, so, I'll just substitute the Korean word for fool). His wife's name was Abigail. She was a wise and beautiful woman. But her husband was rude and mean in the way he treated others."

So, how on earth did this wise and beautiful woman get stuck with a bad charactered jerk like old Bobbo? Arranged marriage? Desperate circumstances? We aren't told. And, what made Bobbo turn into such meanie anyway? Was it because everyone called him a fool, or was that why they called him fool?

"David was staying in the Desert of Maon. While he was there, he heard that Bobbo was clipping the wool off his sheep. So he sent for ten young men. He said to them, 'Go up to 'the old fool' at Carmel. Greet him for me. Say to him, 'May you live a long time! May everything go well with you and your family! And may things go well with everything that belongs to you! I hear that you are clipping the wool off your sheep. When your shepherds were with us, we treated them well. The whole time they were at Carmel nothing that belonged to them was stolen. Ask your own servants. They'll tell you. We've come to you now at a happy time of the year. Please show favor to my young men. Please give me and my men anything you can find for us.'"

OK, hold it right there. Who on earth does David think he is? He thinks he and his gang should get some special favors just for being law abiding citizens? That's no better than the guy who held the door for a little old lady and then complained that she didn't express any appreciation. Was he opening the door to help her or to get an ego feeding? Nobody asked David for any help or had a contract with him. However, in his defense, social customs at the time probably had some kind of good neighbor policy in place, delineating who you had to share with. Bobbo had nothing but common decency obligating him to share with David. Similarly, the little old lady would probably expect to be expected to be courteous and at least say thanks.

Evidently Bobbo wasn't into "common decency". "When David's men arrived, they gave Bobbo the message from David. Then they waited. Bobbo answered David's servants, "Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are running away from their masters these days. Why should I give away my bread and water? Why should I give away the meat I've prepared for those who clip the wool off my sheep? Why should I give food to men who come from who knows where?" So David's men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported to David every word Bobbo had spoken."

You know how some people have some obvious reason why they are always on the defensive? Maybe a little something different about them, something that caused them to be mocked as a child. Now that they are adult no one is openly mocking them, but, still their guard is up. But, in Bobbo's situation, while all of that could possibly have also been true, this was not just a knee-jerk reaction. He had time to ponder over his answer while David's employees waited for it. What we have here is an example of a mean-spirited person outright. But, what, what, WHAT could have made him that way? Was he abused as a child? Did his parents set him a horrible example of public relations? Does he feel like a victim instead of a survivor? Or, had he simply chosen wrong over right so many times in his life that he no longer gave it a thought? Had he let his character slip without even caring about it? We can only surmise.

Enter David-who is no prize either. You know that bumper sticker "I don't get mad, I get even?" Well, get a load of this! "David said to his men, "Put on your swords!" So they put their swords on. David put his on too. About 400 men went up with David. Two hundred men stayed behind with the supplies. One of the servants warned Nabal's wife Abigail. He said, 'David sent some messengers from the desert to give his greetings to our master. But Nabal shouted at them and made fun of them. "David's men had been very good to us. They treated us well. The whole time we were near them out in the fields, nothing was stolen. We were taking care of our sheep near them. During that time, they were like a wall around us night and day. They kept us safe. Now think it over. See what you can do. Horrible trouble will soon come to our master and his whole family. He's such an evil man that no one can even talk to him.'"

There is no denying David's group did a good deed to the fool's shepherds. But, how malicious is it to make plans to knock off someone who doesn't respond to your good deed the way you want them to? Bobbo may be a fool, but David is a manipulator. Both of them are rage-aholics (glad they don't drive): Bobbo with his shouting and making fun, and David with his undue retaliation.

No wonder the servants went to Abigail with their concerns. No one can even talk to Bobbo. But, here is where it gets sticky. Some have labeled Abigail a "co-dependent", saying that it sounds like she has a track record of fixing Bobbo's disasters. True, the servants wouldn't have come to her unless they expected her to DO something about the problem. But, I wouldn't go so far as giving her a label that presumes she is getting some kind of benefit from the situation (power, feeling holier than thou, loyalty from the staff, whatever). It could have been that she was stuck in an unfortunate situation and doing the best she could to keep the household together. And to keep from getting beat up. Never mind discussing the limits she should have set in the past to avoid everything getting out of control. Hind sight is 20/20. She is now to the point of an emergency.

"Abigail didn't waste any time. She got 200 loaves of bread and two bottles of wine. The bottles were made out of animal skins. She got five sheep that were ready to be cooked. She got a bushel of grain that had been cooked. She got 100 raisin cakes. And she got 200 cakes of pressed figs. She loaded all of it on the backs of donkeys. Then she told her servants, "Go on ahead. I'll follow you." But she didn't tell her husband Nabal about it. Abigail rode her donkey into a mountain valley. There she saw David and his men. They were coming down toward her."

It is clear that this is a very divided home. No meeting of the minds. No concurring on anything. Of COURSE she did not tell her husband what she was doing. No one could talk to him anyway. He has not shown any wisdom in the past, so, why should she trust his judgment now. She chooses to believe her servant's report that the whole household is about to die at the hands of a band of renagades. Her actions at this point of the story seem wise indeed. But, then things kind of fall apart.

"David had just said, "Everything we've done hasn't been worth a thing! I watched over that fellow's property in the desert. I made sure none of it was stolen. But he has paid me back evil for good. "I won't leave even one of his men alive until morning. If I do, may God punish me greatly!"

Pretty scary! No wonder Abigail felt she had to kiss up a bit. When she "saw David, she quickly got off her donkey. She bowed down in front of David with her face toward the ground. She fell at his feet. She said, "Please let me speak to you, sir. Listen to what I'm saying." Even considering the customs of the place and time, that seems a little excessively polite.

The she said "Let me take the blame myself...I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see the men you sent." This is where people start saying, "See, she is a co-dependent, taking the blame for someone else's mistakes!" Not so fast! She is not REALLY taking the blame for anything. She "didn't get a chance" to see the men David sent. All she is doing here is deflecting the attention away from Bobbo. She is an operator. Her manipulative skills make David look like a beginner. But, she goes too far when she says, "Don't pay any attention to that evil man Bobbo. His name means Foolish Person. And that's exactly what he is. He's always doing foolish things." Her contempt for her husband really spills out here. People aren't that interested in seeing your dirty laundry. There are much more genteel ways to express that you don't approve of another person's actions.

She is good though. She really knows how to butter up her opponent. "Sir, the Lord has kept you from killing Bobbo and his men. He has kept you from using your own hands to get even (italics mine). May what's about to happen to Bobbo happen to all of your enemies. (BTW How did she know something was about to happen to him? Was she planning something?) May it also happen to everyone who wants to harm you. And may it happen just as surely as the Lord and you are alive."I've brought a gift for you. Give it to the men who follow you. Please forgive me for what I've done wrong. "The Lord will certainly give you and your family line a kingdom that will last. That's because you fight the Lord's battles. Don't do anything wrong as long as you live. "Someone may chase you and try to kill you. But the Lord your God will keep your life safe like a treasure that is hidden in a bag. And he'll destroy your enemies. Their lives will be thrown away, just as a stone is thrown from a sling. "The Lord will do for you every good thing he promised to do. He'll appoint you leader over Israel. When that happens, you won't have this heavy load on your mind. You won't have to worry about how you killed people without any reason. You won't have to worry about how you got even. The Lord will give you success. When that happens, please remember me."

Now how did she learn to smooth things over like that? I'm guessing from her mom. She probably came from a dysfunctional home that mirrored her married life.

And, dysfunctional David ate it with a spoon. David said to Abigail, "Give praise to the Lord. He is the God of Israel. He has sent you today to find me. May the Lord bless you for what you have done. You have shown a lot of good sense. You have kept me from killing Nabal and his men this very day. You have kept me from using my own hands to get even. "It's a good thing you came quickly to meet me. If you hadn't come, not one of Nabal's men would have been left alive by sunrise. And that's just as sure as the Lord, the God of Israel, is alive. He has kept me from harming you." Then David accepted from her what she had brought him. He said, "Go home in peace. I've heard your words. I'll do what you have asked."

Bobbo is not the only fool. See, David's problem is that he DOESN'T take responsibility for any of his actions. First Bobbo made him do it, then Abigail made him not do it, all the while he wants God to back up his foolish knee-jerk reaction. Yeah, he'd make a good king - spineless, in need of anger management, and more interested in getting even than doing the right thing. Well, he was a youngest child and probably accustomed to getting his own way.

"Abigail went back to Bobbo. He was having a dinner party in the house. It was the kind of dinner a king would have. He had been drinking too much wine. He was very drunk. So she didn't tell him anything at all until sunrise. The next morning Nabal wasn't drunk anymore. Then his wife told him everything. When she did, his heart grew weak. He became like a stone. About ten days later, the Lord struck Bobbo down. And he died."

Oh! So, someone COULD talk to him. That someone was Abigail, providing she chose the right time. But, why did he stroke out like that? Did he get so mad his blood pressure went through the roof? Or, was this the first time she ever stood up to him? If so, what gave her the courage to do it this time as compared with all other times. Had she already decided she was done with him? Questions, questions.

"David heard that Bobbo was dead. So he said, "Give praise to the Lord. Bobbo made fun of me (oh boo-hoo, poor baby). But the Lord stood up for me. He has kept me from doing something wrong. He has paid Bobbo back for the wrong things he did." Well, yes, David was kept from doing a horrendous act. And, for that he really should praise God. However, had he been ready for it, God might have also had opportunity to show him that he does not have to lose his temper every time he has a presumed right to do so. He could be a grown-up and ignore it when someone makes fun of him. It is not necessary to act like a spoiled child everytime things don't go his way. It is possible to do a good deed without expecting something in return.

"Then David sent a message to Abigail. He asked her to become his wife. His servants went to Carmel. They said to Abigail, "David has sent us to you. He wants you to come back with us and become his wife." Abigail bowed down with her face toward the ground. She said, "Here I am. I'm ready to serve him. I'm ready to wash the feet of his servants." Abigail quickly got on a donkey and went with David's messengers. Her five female servants went with her. She became David's wife." Here is where the wisdom of Abigail falls short. She jumps from the frying pan into the fire. And, she did this quickly, hardly with any thought.

Surely she had other choices than jumping from one addicted husband to another. Bobbo had his rages, stupidity, and booze. David had his dangerous road-rage-pay-you-back-at-any-cost type anger. And David was addicted to women. He was already twice married and only once divorced. ("David had also gotten married to Ahinoam from Jezreel. Both of them became his wives. But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David's first wife, to Paltiel.)

What could have caused Abigail to have so little self worth? Other than living with an abusive husband, of course. Did she feel like she was not worth anything on her own. Did she feel she had to be with a man at any cost? Way back then we see the same old problem. The abused don't think they are worth anything better. How sad.

But, the hope that the Bible gives us is that God can work with anyone-regardless of their issues or their past. Even David and Abigail. When we are ready for it, He is prepared to give us the experiences that can give us growth. And, HE is capable of picking up the pieces of those wounded on the way. That's no co-dependency!

Note: For the Bible text I used the New International Reader's Version available at

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Rip the hearts right out of our chests and stomp those suckers flat

They were in the prime of life but both beyond "marriagable age". She had never found Mr. Right, although many had applied for the position. He had been through one disasterous relationship. He wasn't precisely burned, but, certainly careful. They were introduced through friends. He read every single word of her blog before meeting her.

As love would have it they were lucky. Two very fine people who recognised each other's qualities. Bloggers both, they delighted us with tales of their adventures. Since they lived a continent apart and across an international border, it was a sometimes long-distance relationship. That was all meant to change with the faithfully blogged "popping of the question." They planned a wedding to remember for exactly one year from the date they met. Now posts were about the preparations.

Mere weeks before the big event, he got a bad diagnosis. She raced to his side and never left it. Posts were now about treatments and options until it got down to the grim fatality of, "How much time is left?" Many friends, old and new, on-line and otherwise, and "virtual" strangers logged on and left comments of support, hope and prayer.

There was never any question that they would still get married as planned. The only question was when. Finally it was settled to go with the originally scheduled date but very scaled down.

He barely made it to his own wedding, sick as he was. He couldn't get off the floor the night before and would have been hospitalized had not his father-in-law and the grandmother of his wife's niece hovered over him tending him tenderly. (And if THAT isn't true love, I'd like to know what is!) She barely made it to the wedding-it took her that long to compose herself. He was rushed to the hospital as soon as "I do" was said. He was admitted for 9 days. As soon as he was able he blog-bragged about being "off the market". Told us the story in his own words. We all cried.

Plucky couple kept us all up to date. He was blogging about his toy trains just 10 days before he passed away-which was just over two months after they got married. She proceeded to blog his memory and the grief process. She told us that in spite of everything it was worth it. Tears fell on keyboards all over the world.

And Jesus wept.