Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fighting With a Deacon

Theologians, don’t know nothing, about my soul – Jeff Tweedy

You might think that anybody who gets into a fistfight with a deacon must be a bad person. Well, not so. This person, according to my dad, was my Uncle Kees (pronounced case). He like my dad won’t give you the shirt off of his back, because it’s too worn down. He’ll buy you a new one instead. Unlike my dad, if he likes you, he’ll play you up like you’re the best person in the world, and he’ll do anything to help you out. However, if you cross him, you’re the spawn of Satan and he’ll want nothing to do with you.

Last year while my dad was dying, my Uncle Kees was there visiting his little brother almost every day. They went through a lot together, and my dad told me quite a few stories about their times. Sometimes when we would cross paths visiting my dad, I would try to lighten the atmosphere by having my uncle recount some of those stories. Generally, it would work. However, I was a little bit apprehensive about bringing up the story about him getting into a fistfight with a deacon. My uncle can be a bit sensitive when it comes to recounting stories that involve him being less than how he views himself, so I never brought it up.

I guess this sensitivity may come from how hard he had it growing up. My dad had a tough time growing up, but my uncle had a heartbreaking time, so he tends to take himself very seriously. Considering what he went through, I totally understand. I just wish he could understand that it’s not a knock on him. It’s more a story about youthful situational ignorance, which I’m sure everyone has suffered from at one time. Hell, I still do.

Basically, the story goes like this. It was a Sunday afternoon in the early 50s, and my uncle was home on leave, off of the merchant ship which he worked on. He decided that it was a nice day to work in the garden. He really does love working in the garden.

Well, while he was working in the front yard, a deacon happened to walk by. Seeing my Uncle Kees working in the garden, the deacon felt it was necessary to remind Kees that he was not keeping holy the Sabbath Day. Kees told the deacon that he was not working. He was enjoying himself. Working in the garden was fun. It was his hobby. A theological argument ensued, which was later reduced to trading personal insults. Fisticuffs soon followed.

Hearing a racket from outside, my dad went to check it out. He found Kees and the deacon on the ground trading punches, so he did like any other brother would do, he broke up the two bloodied theologians.

From the perspective of my Uncle Kees, he went through hell growing up. My Uncle Kees believed that being able to work in the garden was a freedom and a way to celebrate God. God gave this day to him. Kees wasn’t going to squander it, and he wasn’t about to let some zealot who didn’t come close to going through what he did, tell him that he was wrong about how he felt.

Yes, it was not the right thing to do. But when you think about it, it’s just a microcosm of the world’s religious battles. Religion is at the core of your heart, and when somebody tells you that the core of your heart is wrong, you want to passionately let them know otherwise. This has been going on for years and is still going on. Shouldn’t religion bring people together instead of driving them to conflict with one another? I think this is why Richard Nixon once said, In the long term we can hope that religion will change the nature of man and reduce conflict. But history is not encouraging in this respect. The bloodiest wars in history have been religious wars.

I guess my Uncle Kees just did what most of the world does when somebody questions their belief. Next time you get into a theological argument, remember the person you’re arguing with believes just as strongly as you do, and also like you, wants the world to be a better place, so make it a better place and agree to disagree.

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