My brother John called me this weekend to tell me a story.
He lives in Sarasota, Florida, where I spent most of my childhood as well, and he now lives across the street from a Messianic Jewish temple. Messianic Jews hold to Jewish worship traditions and identity, but accept the idea that Jesus was the Messiah they were waiting for, while other religious Jews are still waiting for that Messiah to come. The Messianic Jews tend to be marginalized by many other religious groups, because they tend to be seen as ‘other’ by both mainline Christians and traditional Jews.
On Saturday John noticed that there were several security guards around the temple, and he walked across the street to check in and see if everything is alright. The security guard who seemed to be in charge said that there had been a threat from a Neo-Nazi group, and that’s why they had extra security. It appeared, though, that the guys with guns in front of the temple were congregation members rather than hired security guards.
John came home and got his own copy of White Flour, then took it back across the street and gave it to the security guard, who promised he would get it to the Rabbi. John asked if the security guard had kids and he said ‘Not yet,’ but John explained that White Flour is kind of a children’s book for adults.
When he came back home, my brother looked out the window and saw the security guard sitting in the shade reading the book (it was 84° yesterday in Sarasota). He finished the book, took off his sunglasses and wiped his eyes, then marched into the Temple.
There’s no telling whether anyone else read the book, but I’m glad that the security guard seemed to have been touched. There’s no telling how far a story goes or what effect it may have, but I do know that it matters which stories we tell. I hope these folks who are enduring a painful time will take some comfort from it and feel some support.