Post 345

We Were Upside Down:
Reflections on Coronavirus

The most popular song right now in the United States is Post Malone’s “Circles.” You can count me as a fan of the song as well.

I find Post Malone interesting, but sadly, I haven’t been able to find any other songs of his that I like. Mainly, I didn’t like the way he used the word “bitch” in so many of his other songs’ lyrics, because it struck me as misogynistic. I don’t think I would go so far as to say that Post Malone is misogynistic, though he may be, but from his lyrics it seems that he doesn’t understand women.

Now before you say that it is normal to not understand women, I will say that if a man wants to understand women, he will understand them, provided that his motives are noble and good. Provided his motives are noble and good, a man will understand women well enough. He’ll understand them well enough not to use the word “bitch” in his songs when referring to them.

But all of this isn’t what I was planning to say here. I brought up the song because it begins with the words “We couldn’t turn around ’til we were upside down.” I think that this phrase explains why God allows the coronavirus. He allows us to consider ourselves from another angle, as a way of asking us if we want to keep going the way we were going.

Now, I don’t presume to be the one charged with the responsibility of defending God, in the sense that I don’t want you to think that I see that as a role which I have exclusively. I think we are all supposed to try to understand God and try to empathize with him, as opposed to assuming that he’s big enough to take care of himself. I think we’re all part of God’s legal defence team.

God doesn’t want the suffering of humans, but sometimes he allows it because there’s no other way to stop something worse than earthly suffering. He has a broader view than we humans do. Our view is narrow and really quite short. We overemphasize the short term. God takes the long view, and the broader view. But don’t imagine that his view is so big that he can’t arrange things just for you. He is perfectly capable of making everything line up in such a way that you receive the messages / signals / signs / coincidences which you need in order to move towards doing the right thing. In other words, he can manage life for everyone all the time so that he controls the big picture while also looking out for you. God is big and small at the same time. It’s called a paradox. God is full of them, and if you like to read the writing of G.K. Chesterton, then you will agree with me that Chesterton was always pointing out paradoxes like that.

God doesn’t want the suffering of humans, so he didn’t make coronavirus to punish people. He loves people. He doesn’t want to see them suffer. What you can say though, is that he does sometimes allow things to go in a way which has, as one result, earthly suffering.

In the case of the virus, you can blame science. Don’t blame God or nature for making this disease. Don’t blame the innocent people selling or buying food at the markets in Wuhan or elsewhere. When the virus is over, I hope that we will all agree that not everything done in the name of science is acceptable. For too long, we have bowed at the altar of science, and looked to it for advice and solutions. But this pandemic is increasingly shining a light on science in general, and on what the Wuhan Institute of Virology was doing in particular. There are many similar problematic centres of science around the world, and they are doing what is immoral. (Thank God that the disease which is plaguing the world is only as powerful as it is. Half the people who get it have no symptoms. Many have mild symptoms, and many who have severe symptoms do not die. Young children are also safe.) Science must be regulated by sensible and honourable people to ensure that its aims are good. Too often scientists take advantage of the fact that the average person does not understand what is happening behind closed doors, and so they feel unaccountable for their choices. It is not necessary to have laboratories like Wuhan’s. You may say that they are necessary in order to study diseases, but I will say that the temptation to tinker and to do wrong is too great. People want power, in general, and the ability to spread disease is considered, by many very evil people, a nice power to have. Those who don’t have disease laboratories do other things to spread germs on purpose. Maybe you’ve seen the stories about that, about the groceries that needed to be discarded as a result. We view such people as despicable, yet at the same time, taxpayer funds are being given by powerful and prestigious people to other powerful and prestigious people who have similar aims: to cause human suffering or to increase their own power by being able to threaten human suffering.

In passing, did you not find it particularly creepy how Tedros Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, threatened that if President Trump did not want more body bags, then he should refrain from criticizing the World Health Organization? Trump has been an absolute disaster to watch, and part of that has been watching him try to find an enemy to blame for the abysmal American response to the virus. Nevertheless, I feel that in Ghebreyesus, he may have found someone deserving of blame. His “body bag” threat is creepy and he sounds like a bully.

I did not mean to mention Trump, particularly, but there you have it. I find that when I sit down to write a blog post, what comes out is not only what I meant to write about, but also a lot of other things that I’ve been thinking about.

What I primarily want to write about is this idea of turning around. The virus gives all of us a chance to reconsider everything about our lives. Some people will reconsider their life’s choices as they face the end of their life. And truly, as I write this, there are people dying, and many of them are wishing they had lived their lives differently. In that context, we must remember that the rest of us are given time, for now, to rethink things, as well as — and this is important — the opportunity to change things. This is a really big gift.

So this blog post is a sort of examination of conscience, you could say. For those who haven’t heard the expression “examination of conscience,” it’s a phrase which refers to the process of looking inward and asking yourself whether there is anything that nags on your conscience, or doesn’t sit well. What have you done wrong, according to your own conscience? An examination of conscience is about paying attention to “the little voice,” which has been telling you that you could be doing better. Please note that the voice of your conscience is not overly negative. It lists things, and identifies issues, but it doesn’t drag you down into the depths of despair and make you feel really worthless. That’s a different voice.

I say it’s “sort of” an examination of conscience, because I am planning to cover a wide range of topics, and I really don’t know how this will turn out. So perhaps a better name would be “Things to Think About.” Or even better, “Things to Think About While You’re Here.” And when I say, “While You’re Here,” I mean while you’re alive, not while you’re reading my blog. The blog post, after all, will end. It may not seem like it, but it will, eventually. Scroll down to see that what I say is true, if you don’t believe me. Mind you, your life will end too. So I guess they’re the same that way. But anyway…


1. To make things easy, I will start big. Let’s talk about your choice of career. With the virus, we have divided careers into two groups: essential and non-essential. It’s not a bad starting point, but I suggest a different one: good and bad. There are some careers which are bad. I was initially going to use the word “immoral,” but the word “bad” is better, being a little less specific. You see, I wouldn’t call being a tattoo artist an immoral career, but I would call it bad. I would call it icky. We could go with that, actually: “Icky.” On the other hand, I see that it doesn’t work as well as “bad,” because there’s also the connotation with “gross” for the word “icky,” and many rather gross jobs are essential and therefore good. So let’s stick with “bad.” To get you started, I’ll name a few bad careers: thief, psychic, astrologist, tattoo artist, drug dealer, prostitute or Instagram-user posting bikini photos, abortionist, human trafficker. Some of you will say that if you didn’t engage in these things, then someone else would come along and do them. You are probably right, but I’m talking about you. God does not want YOU to be doing these things. If the others do not listen to his voice, then that is their responsibility. However, you must take responsibility for your own life and your own choices. Abandon careers which are bad.

2. Are you abusing your position? Sometimes people wrongly take advantage of their profession for selfish reasons, or they use the knowledge that they have gained through their profession to use it in twisted ways. For instance, it is not necessarily wrong to be a scientist, but if you use your position in order to cause harm, then you’ve changed your neutral or okay job into a bad one. Similarly, if you are a cosmetic surgeon, it is good to help restore people who have been disfigured by accident or fire, but it is not good to take advantage of people’s insecurity about their appearance or their narcissism to improve your finances. It is not wrong to be a politician, but you must use your power properly. The more power you have, the more careful you must be. However, even a person who has only a little bit of power must be careful with it. Sadly, I find that it is sometimes those with ‘small’ power who behave in the most petty and spiteful ways. Sometimes the ‘behind the scenes’ people want to prove that they actually control the universe. Thank God that they are not in charge of more than they are, because they are already acting like sick dictators, deliberately and capriciously inflicting pain just for their own amusement. So this is the second point: have you been using your role at work properly, or have been somehow abusing it, for example by using your status/position in order to put other people down? If you think that the temptation to continue to do wrong is too great, then it’s time to get out. Yes, other people will continue to abuse their position, but that’s not your concern. You must take responsibility for your own life and your own choices. Abandon careers which are bad for you.

3. Do you need to prioritize your children? Don’t blame your children for being “annoying.” They are not decorations or pets. They are just like you: human. And if you find them annoying, the problem is not that you are spending too much time with them now. The problem is that you did not spend enough time with them in the past. You don’t know each other well enough. You haven’t tried to know them well enough, and as a result, you find it difficult to empathize with them. You haven’t been there for them. You have been running away from them, finding other people to take care of them. You have been finding other people and objects to distract them so that you didn’t have to do the work of raising them. Stop treating them as “beneath” you, and don’t abuse your position, your control of the household or finances, or your larger size, because the truth is that you owe them more than they owe you. They deserve your love and your attention, no matter what. Furthermore, your children must take precedence over your community. It is not right for parents to value ‘saving the world’ above taking care of their own children. As a society, our praise always tends to go towards what is external and “manly,” doesn’t it? Who cares about the responsibilities or the sacrifices of the housewife? Not many. In any case, it is true that many of your friends aren’t prioritizing their children, but that is their responsibility. You must take responsibility for your own life and your own choices.

4. Do you need to homeschool your children? The virus has proven that much of what happens in school is nothing more than child care, and I use the word “care” in the most general sense. Many parents see now that they could homeschool their children, but the discussion should not really begin with the abilities of the parent. The discussion should begin with what your children need. Most, if not all, children are better off being taught at home. Public schooling is a failed social experiment. Despite the massive financial cost and despite the huge number of hours invested in it, the results in reading and writing (or math, though that doesn’t matter as much) are not impressive. Instead, the school system tends to foster listlessness, inaction, and an attitude of avoiding responsibility. You can do better than the teachers at school because you love your child, and you will be motivated to teach your child the basics, giving your child access to more advanced material when your child is ready for it. Yes, most parents don’t have a teaching degree, but in the first place, a teaching degree is not very practical or useful, and in the second place, you did not have or need a parenting degree before your child came into your life. You learned and adapted as the need arose, and the same would be true of home schooling; you will learn as you go. It is true that other people will send their children back to school, but that is not your concern. You must take responsibility for your own children, doing what is best for them.

5. Do you need to settle down? Maybe it’s time for you to stop partying and being promiscuous. What do you have to show for all the hours you spent partying? Is this how you want to continue? Is this the point of life? Nobody needs to go out every weekend. You can socialize in simpler, sober ways. Take a walk with your friend. Go to a cafe during the day. Enjoy the sunshine more, and the night lights less. You will meet enough people if you pursue an honest life of work and hobbies. You will make better choices of friends and partners if you take things more slowly and introduce your new friends to your family and your real life. Think about what you really want, and make the tough choices and sacrifices that will improve your chances. By this, I mean that if you want to find the love of your life, someone who is with you when both of you are old and surrounded by your children and grandchildren, then stop acting like all you want is a fling. Be intelligent. Have you seen those YouTube dating videos where people ask prospective partners some questions? I watched a fair number of them, and I was really amazed at how stupid the questions were. Who is making these questions? It’s crazy: you have twenty questions to narrow the field, and you’re wasting them asking about favourite places to go for a date? This is what you want to know:
1) Have you ever been married? 2) If yes, was your marriage annulled or did your former spouse die? 3) Do you have children? 4) If yes, who takes care of them? 5) Do you want children? 6) Are you religious/atheist/”agnostic”? 7) Explain. 8) How old are you? 9) What is your educational background? 10) What is your current occupation? 11) What do you want to change about your life? 12) Tell me about your family. 13) Has anyone ever accused you of being addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.? That’s off the top of my head, as rather obvious things to find out. I would say those questions should be answered on the first or second date. Don’t you deserve to know? Life is short. If you have more time than that, you can ask some more questions: 14) What do you think of Trump, the Kardashians, Meghan Markle and Harry, Pope Francis? (There aren’t really any correct answers here; what you’re looking for is a thought process which impresses you on some level, as well as his/her ability to communicate these thoughts.) 15) What do you think about birth control, abortion, and euthanasia? 16) What do you think about immigration? 17) What do you think about women’s rights and feminism? 18) Tell me about your past relationships. 19) What are your life goals? 20) Are you in good (physical and mental) health? These questions aim to confront, or at least peek at, the big issues which will not disappear over time. You might as well know where the potential obstacles are if you are choosing a life partner. My point is that there is a proper way to proceed, and it is through conversation. Ideally, the conversation should take place in a public place during the daytime. You can clearly see each other, and you will both be safe. You will be able to hear each other. The current system, of choosing a partner over the internet, or in a crowded, dark, and noisy place, is not good. So if you want to settle down, change your practices to improve your odds of finding the right person. If you don’t want to settle down, then don’t be romantic with anyone, period. I can’t emphasize this enough. It is simply not acceptable to flirt or do anything of that kind when you are not looking for a spouse. It leads to problems and pain. If you’re not looking for commitment, stop looking.

6. Do you know what you want? Are you aimlessly looking for pleasure and distraction? You know that this is not how you are meant to spend your life. Life is a gift, and time is precious. If you don’t know what you want out of life, then I will start you off by saying that everyone is called, by God, to one of three different vocations: 1) married life, 2) religious life, 3) single life. Married life is for people who want to settle down with another person and raise a family. Religious life is for people who don’t want to get married, but would like to be part of a religious community to serve God, as a priest, brother or sister. Single life is for people who don’t want to get married, and don’t want to be part of a religious community, but want to help people. All of the vocations involve following God’s will, and all of them involve serving other people. It is unfortunate to see people choosing the wrong vocation. I have seen many instances, and the result is that the person really struggles. In any case, there are three different vocations, and it is important to think about these different types. God will generally give very large hints about your real vocation, and generally, the vocation which seems the most appealing is the one that is meant for you. So if you don’t feel that finding a life partner is the route you want to go, then perhaps the reason is because you were never meant to be married. Perhaps you are meant to be part of a religious community, as strange as that may seem to you right now. Or perhaps you are meant to devote yourself full-heartedly to politics or medicine or working with the poor. Most people are meant to be married, and if the thought of “never meant to be married” makes you feel kind of sad, then probably married life will be your way, but it’s not the right time for you yet, and you should focus on your education or work or hobbies and your friendships for a little longer. In the same way, some young men and women who are meant to later join a religious community cannot join just yet; they also should focus on their education or hobbies, etc for now. Ultimately, everyone is meant to spend life in a wholesome way which is pleasing to God. Don’t judge a life by how much attention it receives in the world of internet approval. Some of the very best lives are quite hidden. The key thing is that you should live an honest, wholesome life that is suited to the phase of life that you’re in. The good life of a mother isn’t going to look the same as the good life of a 10-year old boy or the good life of a retired grandfather or priest. So the goal is to live out your vocation honestly and properly, in such a way that when you are on your deathbed, you can say that you did your best.

7. Do you need to chase money or fame as much as you do? As a group, American celebrities have shown themselves in a very negative light during the pandemic. They have shown that they have very, very, little to offer. During a time of great anguish and suffering, far too many celebrities want only one thing: attention for themselves. Their selfishness and self-absorption was previously obscured, because hedonism was everywhere. Now, however, many people have lost family members or friends to the illness. People are also very frightened of becoming sick or losing their jobs, businesses or homes. Some have already lost these things. Many people are going to work even though they are scared of catching the virus. In a world of heightened suffering, the lives and concerns of the celebrities are pathetically out of touch with the reality of the majority. Even those celebrities who offer a donation (in an amount which sounds impressive, but which is a small fraction of their assets) to a worthy cause are generally not doing it selflessly; we hear about their donations in the media, sometimes through their own media feeds. The current situation also highlights how their success has depended on an apparatus of talented people around them. Most of them need the writers, the set designers, the agents, the publicists, the directors, the cameramen, the videographers, the make-up artists, the hairdressers, the producers, and the paparazzi, though they pretend to disdain the latter. Without these helpers, most of these celebrities lolling around in their homes are really quite boring. They cannot manage daily life as well as the rest of us. They cannot cook or clean for themselves or organize their day. They don’t know what to do with themselves, and they seem utterly lost. It’s because their spare time used to be filled with strategically socializing, dining in restaurants, and being photographed wearing the latest fashions. As a society, I hope that we can address our preoccupation with these famous people. They are not really adding anything to our lives, and for their sake, actually, they should not view their lives as worthy of so much attention. I am pessimistic that we will change in any significant way, because the habit of checking Instagram and Twitter and so on is very ingrained in us, but I’ll ask anyway: do you need to be following all of the celebrities and influencers that you follow? Are they making your life better? Will their influence on you, going forward, help make you a better person?

8. Do you need to worry about your appearance as much as you do? I am truly happy for the women of the world who are now rediscovering what it feels like to have that child-like disregard for personal beauty. We were headed in a crazy direction. Fake nails, fake hair, fake eyelashes, fake tans, uncomfortable undergarments, uncomfortable shoes, uncomfortable jewelry, dyed hair, plumped-up skin, layers upon layers of make-up — this is all a type of insanity, really. How much of this do you need? Do you want to continue like this? You will grow older without even knowing the colour of your own hair. Your natural appearance is part of who you are. You know, whenever I look at those before-and-after photographs, where the woman is covered with make up for the ‘after’ photo, I always, always, find that the ‘before’ photo is someone far more relatable, approachable, and sweet. The ‘After’ woman looks harsher and colder. Some women completely transform themselves into a different person. Is that how you want to live your life? Isn’t it difficult to maintain? You put yourself into a prison and a cycle when you alter your appearance like that. I would hope that women would allow themselves to be more natural. We don’t really need the beauty industry. They have so many devious ways to make us feel badly about our appearance; they have their scare tactics and they have their false promises. All they want is women’s hard-earned money. I hope that you can believe that you don’t need all of that. If you must, hang on to a little bit of lip colour and a cream or two, but stash away all of the other stuff, if you aren’t brave enough to just pitch it.

9. Are you communicating enough with those around you? As a society, we had moved, with astonishing speed, away from in-person interactions to virtual interactions. Now the virus has taken away what we were neglecting, the in-person interactions. This is interesting. The virtual interactions are different; they tend to be quick and quite shallow. For one thing, it’s easy to step away from a conversation which is getting more difficult. It’s easy to avoid answering that email or text. So is that how we want to live? Do we want to always skim the surface of our connections with other people? There are some really important conversations which aren’t happening, and we are becoming further apart, fooling ourselves into thinking we are connecting because we are always reachable through our phones. Maybe it’s time to see that we had things wrong, and I know that now many families and spouses are finally discovering that there have been massive gaps in communication. How well do you know the people in your own home? How long has it been since you’ve really been open with your spouse? Now is the time for honest dialogue: “I get frustrated when” “I am scared of” “I need” “I want” “I like” “I dislike” “Do you love me?” I hope we can experience the conversations and the sharing. For a while now, I have been saying, don’t delay. You see how some people are taken into hospital, and it’s really the end for them. They do not see their family members ever again, and when the cell phone rings, it will be unanswered. Isn’t now the time to say what we really should say? Or will we separate like this?

10. And what about prayer? Maybe the word itself, “prayer” seems foreign to you. Does it seem awkward? Maybe it does. That’s okay. Don’t let it stop you. Nobody has to know that you pray sometimes. You probably do other things that you wouldn’t want to have broadcast to the world. And it would be better to get a little practice on the praying front now, so that you’ll be ready when it’s your turn to go. Trust me, when it’s your time to go, prayer won’t seem like such a bad idea. So how about a meet-and-greet, just to get prepared? Think of Mary as your mother, or the mother you never had. This is the Hail Mary. It’s quite short: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” See? I could have substituted the “thou” (=you) and the “thy” (=your), but I’m used to it the old-fashioned way. And you already know the Our Father, right? “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.” But it doesn’t even have to be like that. You might feel uncomfortable or hypocritical to pray, even though you shouldn’t. So you can do something really simple, really casual. Go like this: “Hi God.” And you can insert an awkward pause, if you like. Then you can say, just really quickly, before you even have a chance to think about it too much: “Thank you for giving me another day to live. Please help me do better tomorrow.”


Post 344
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 26, 2017

My daughter, I have not forgotten; I remember and I will not let you trust in me and be disappointed. I always tell my children to trust. I always want them to. I gave promises to Abraham, Moses, and many of the prophets and people in the Bible, and I asked them to trust, and all of their promises were fulfilled.

My daughter, I did not leave them to be humiliated or neglected. I gave a child to Abraham, and later, I tested his faith yet again. And I did not let Abraham’s trust not have reward. I said to Noah that a flood would come, and I instructed him to build an ark. He built an ark when there was no sign of rain, in trust, and my words were fulfilled. Mary, your Mother, mother of the Church — she also believed. She said, “Let it be done according to thy word.” And the Word was made flesh. I will never leave you when you come to me and trust in me.

. . .

Trust in me. Trust in my love for you and my people; trust in my mercy. I show you my love. Do not disregard it and pretend I do not. My love is all around — in the moon and in the sun, in the stars and in the sky, in the sunset and the sunrise, in the mountain and in the valley, and in the rainbows and in the waterfalls. All around is my love.


Post 343
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 24, 2017

My daughter, joy and peace are coming. Soon I will come again and bring food for the world. No longer shall one thirst, no longer shall one hunger, no longer shall one die in war or natural disasters. I will bring gifts to everyone, to the world. No one will not have something, whether it is a promise for them, a promise for their family, or a gift or promise for their country. No one will be excluded from this party.

Not all will receive all of my gifts; indeed, many will not, but it will be known that they were offered it, and they shall have no excuse. When it seemed impossible to believe, I showed them it was real. When it was too awkward to believe, I made it more natural. When it seemed too strange to believe, I showed you it could be strange but true. Even when it was possible to believe, even when it was natural to believe, even when it was strange but true, you rejected what I had. This is what you wanted, this is what you prayed for, but even when I appear and tell you I am there, you reject me. No one who rejected will not understand; they will know, and the world will know what they rejected.

I will come to every corner of the world. I will bring golden gifts which will be filled with peace, joy, love, food, water, and many more. Each country will be beautiful, with new forests, clean currents, flowers of God, sunsets of mercy, and rainbows of love. I give you, my people, the earth and its creatures as a sign of my love and my power.

By praying, you come closer to me, and I listen to your prayers. Even though you do not see me or hear me or feel me, I am very close to you when you pray. I listen to your prayers and I honour them. People do not understand the importance and power of prayers; they do not know the value. Prayers are like diamonds, whether they are the prayers of a child or an adult. You are never too old to ask things of me; you are never too hardened to come to me. My children, how I love you! How I want you to come to me, and I want to give you gifts. Adults are my children; their prayers are no less important than the child’s. The child is innocent and in need of caring. The young adult is wanting independence from care, even though they need it most. The older adult is often wiser but also often going into the depths of evil.

The young adult must be guided by his/her parents and cared for and nurtured, so when/if the child chooses to go astray, and runs away, the child will stay away from evil and follow their conscience more carefully, and one day, the child will return (if he/she ever went away).

[What about Venezuela?]

Justice will come, even though it is nowhere to be seen. Even though it is almost beyond imagination (for some), it is coming. I am coming, the giver of peace, the Prince of Peace. Poverty will go away; food will be available to all. No one will stop people from getting food; neither money nor location will stop the people from getting food, and no one will steal food. The corrupt governments will crash down, and fall down the cliffs. These are my people, and I have heard their cries. It is very displeasing to me (how the current situation is). I will bring them food and water. I will give them new birds and new animals; the old animals (insects etc.) will disappear and the new animals will take their place. Plums will be gone, but a new fruit, a fresh orange fruit, will replace it, which will be more tasty.

[What will happen to the USA?]

It will also be greatly changed. Its influence on other cultures will not be the same: it will not influence other cultures in a bad or displeasing way, and it will not influence them so greatly. The culture will not be so modern and cool as it is now. The internet will be of less importance: it will not distract people from me, and many things on it will go. The websites, the apps, and the articles are very displeasing to me. Hollywood will not exist; another place will be there instead. The corrupt leaders will be removed and the injustice will go. The weaponry will not be used and will be destroyed. The Americans and the Mexicans will not be divided. Any wall between two nations will crumble and turn to dust, for the Americans and the Mexicans are both my people, my children whom I love.

[What about Mexico?]

There will be food for all who hunger and drink for all who thirst. The deserts will flourish and be green, the sun will not kill, and the will air not be so hot and without breeze. The country will have peace and victories. Poverty will perish. They are blessed, for they are my people. It will be a safe and peaceful country, and it will also have new animals to replace old ones. There will be no natural disasters, and Mexico will be very beautiful.

[What about Spain?]

This country’s corrupt government will also be destroyed and replaced. “The unjust rulers will come down from their thrones and the unheard shall reign.” Catalonia will stay part of Spain and the Catalan and the Spanish will be one but both unique. The protest/ers will not be ignored or pushed away, for I hear their calls for victory and justice. It will be a very beautiful European country, as well.

[What about China?]

The culture of China will change greatly. The traditions will change also, for the old and young are equal. The old are not always wiser than the young. Woman and man: both are of equal importance and without one would not be the other. The Chinese will have just rulers. The religious/traditional beliefs will be changed and corrected. The Chinese will have many children, like other countries. The country will become beautiful and the way it should be. They are my people — my children, as all peoples are, and my children will be blessed.

[What about Ukraine?]

This will be a beautiful independent country. It will have peace. The war shall cease and people will return to their homes. The villages will be fully restored, as well as nature and harvest fields. Children will not be scared or frightened; they will be able to play without worry, and people will be able to walk in the evenings and in the day. The signs/remains of war will disappear and the damaged buildings will regain their old beauty. The disappeared will be found and the lost will come home into the arms of those who love them. The prisoners will be set free and any mistreatment (while in prison) will be undone; they will be restored. The soldiers will return home to their families, and the families will be reunited again. The families of the deceased (of those in the war) will have joy as well, a joy that will be understood later. The Russians and the Ukrainians will not clash or have tension. They will be able to be happily together. Friends will be able to be friends without feeling like they are betraying their country. The wrongdoings of the Russian leaders will not be forgotten, and they will be punished. Ukrainian leaders who acted wrongly will also be shown. There will not be tense ties between the countries, for both nations are my people. No nation is completely bad.

The countries suffering from war, poverty, hunger, thirst, destruction, injustice, crime, or cruelty will be vindicated, and the prayers, calls, and cries will be heard and heeded. There will no more be suffering from these things, and I will bring joy, food, drink, reparation, justice, peace, and vindications and victories.

When you are in pain come to me, and I will give you rest.



Post 342
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 22, 2017

My daughter, rejoice. A time of peace is near. Do not be afraid to believe. Do not prepare yourself to be disappointed. The Father never leads his children into regret and sorrow; he leads his children closer to him and closer to their home in heaven. He will make everything come true; you do not have to try to do anything humanly.

I have many gifts I want to give the world. I want to bring love and peace into the hearts of the wicked; I want them to not harden their hearts. As a mother follows and watches her child (even) as the child turns away from her and runs away, your Father in heaven watches and follows you. He watches the evil trick you and lead you astray, he watches you follow them away, he calls to you to tell you to stay near him, and you do not care; you do not listen. He watches you as you do wrong, he watches you hurt what is good and as you become like those who led you away from him. I called you, but you ignored me, I loved you but you hated me, I followed you and you ran away. I watch you as a parent watches his child. You run away from me and hurt me when I come to save you. But (even) as a father is pushed away by his child, how can he abandon his child? For the Father remembers when his child was young and needed and loved him; he remembers when his child was weak and without defence. How can he leave his own child?

I speak through your conscience. Never ignore it, for I speak to you through it to call you out of sin. Your conscience is like a sheepdog: it barks to its master telling him the wolves are near and the shepherd can then heed the calls and barking of his dog, or ignore them and tell the dog to quiet. This is like your conscience. It should be heeded, for it is my voice and meant as a guide.

My daughter, do not worry about the future. I will fulfill my promises and give to you what you want. I know what you want even when you are unsure; I know the way even when you do not understand. Trust in me, for I am your Father, I know what my children desire.

Justice is coming! Victories and vindications for all (who need them). I will sow new seeds and I will make the world anew.

The Righteous will be blessed and the wicked revealed. All will be seen in new light. Lies will be broken, truth shall reign. The love of God will be known. Intentions will be shown, feelings and actions shall be recognized.

One does not have to be a Christian to do good, and one does not have to be of a pagan religion to do worse evil than some. When the Christian ignores his conscience, it is worse than when the atheist does, for the Christian is closer to God and should recognize his Shepherd’s voice. The atheist has not made promises to love me, or keep my commandments. All people, regardless of religion or belief or culture, are my children, whom I love.

Let the earth rejoice, for your Redeemer shall return and bring world peace.


Post 341
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 21, 2017

My daughter, follow me and you will always be guided. Trust in me and you shall never be deceived. Love me and you will always be loved. You are my daughter and my child, whom I love.

The Father loves his children unconditionally. The Father gives his children many gifts: the earth, the oceans, the air, and animals. He made these gifts for you, for you to see his love and his power. He wants you to look up in awe at the sunset; he wants you to dance in his gardens, like little children. He made you these things to increase your joy and happiness. I do not want you to worry about the earth being hit by an asteroid; I do not want you to worry about the ocean’s uncleanness; I do not want you to worry about the air or the animals. I will make new animals. I will make new eagles and owls, whose eyes are no longer so pointed, but vultures will go [vanish], for they are signs of death. I can make the ocean clean, and the air fresh. The earth will change, but it will not be destroyed.

Honour your Creator; do not give credit to evolution or any other belief of how man came to be. I will make the world anew. I will clean human evil when I come again. Everyone will have clean water. The good and the wicked deeds will be recognized throughout the world.

Repent now. Change your actions now. For the time is near when the world will be healed.

Mary, your mother — she too will come. The angels of heaven, the guardian angels, and the archangels will all be visible to all. When the day comes, all shall be there, everyone on earth. Every land and valley (those who live there) will see the glory of God.

My daughter, tell those in FTR what I told you. For they wanted to know what plans I have for them, which I have partly revealed. Tell them, if they want these gifts and accept them, they shall receive them. If they do not believe them or do not want the gifts or FTR, they will not receive them. All who want my gifts can have them, and I will give them to anyone who accepts them.

O my children, prepare your hearts! A time of great joy is coming.


Post 340

Family Counselling, Part 16:
Goodbye for Now

BLOGGER: My assistant told me that you have come to say goodbye.
JACOB: Indeed, we have come to say goodbye, and to thank you once again for your assistance many years ago.
BLOGGER: So, you will tell me where you are going?
JACOB: Egypt. We go to Egypt.
BLOGGER: Oh! To Egypt!
JACOB: This is where my son is. Joseph is there! He is not dead! All of this time, he has been alive!
JUDAH: We saw him ourselves! We all saw him!
BLOGGER: You did?
JUDAH: Not my father — he hasn’t seen him yet — but he also will!
BLOGGER: What happened?
LEVI: We met him again. We met him when we went the first time, and then we met him again. The second time we dined with him at his own house!
REUBEN: Levi, start from the beginning!
GAD: Tell her about when I found the money in my bag even though we thought we gave it!
LEVI: That isn’t the most important part!
BENJAMIN: Tell about how Joseph wanted to see me, and how you had to leave Simeon behind as a ransom.
SIMEON: Indeed! And why don’t all of you tell her how it took you forever to come back to get me?
JUDAH: No quarrelling! Remember what he told us?
JUDAH: Joseph told us not to quarrel when he sent us back to get our father.
BLOGGER: Joseph wanted you to bring Jacob, your father, back to him?
BENJAMIN: Joseph cannot leave because he’s in charge of Egypt.
SIMEON: He’s not in charge. The Pharaoh is in charge.
BENJAMIN: Well, practically, our brother is running everything.
SIMEON: But the Pharaoh is in charge, still the leader.
BENJAMIN: But Joseph is the one who gives all the orders.
SIMEON: Joseph is the governor; he’s not the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh is almost a god for the Egyptians.
REUBEN: Alright, alright. We all understand the idea.
JACOB: My son is a very powerful man in Egypt.
BENJAMIN: Second only to the Pharaoh.
SIMEON: Here we go again.
JACOB: And he manages everything, including the stores of grain.
LEVI: Egypt has massive piles of every kind of food that can be stored.
ZEBULUN: The Pharaoh had a dream in which the Lord showed him to store the grains.
REUBEN: The dream did not tell him what to do.
ZEBULUN: It basically did.
LEVI: The Pharaoh did not understand what the dream was telling him to do at all. That’s how Joseph got involved.
SIMEON: The Pharaoh was looking for someone to interpret the dream.
LEVI: And Joseph told him that the dream meant that there was going to be a famine after the years of plenty, so Joseph told him that he should store grain in order to prepare.
ZEBULUN: That’s basically what I said.
REUBEN: Not quite.
ZEBULUN: Basically.
LEVI: So Joseph was storing up grain even before anyone realized that there was going to be this famine.
DAN: And the famine will continue for five more years from now, according to our brother.
BLOGGER: Joseph said there will be five more years of famine?
DAN: Yes.
BLOGGER: Tell me about how it was when you realized that Joseph was Joseph.
LEVI: Oh! It was —
GAD: He started crying!
ASHER: Really loudly!
GAD: Everyone would have been able to hear him!
REUBEN: We were all in shock!
LEVI: He cried, “Everyone leave my presence!” and all of his attendants left the room. Then he said, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?”
JUDAH: But none of said anything. We were too frightened, too confused.
SIMEON: Especially me! I had seen him more than my brothers, because I was held prisoner there, and yet I never recognized him.
JUDAH: I was dumbfounded. I thought he was Egyptian. He spoke perfect Egyptian.
LEVI: Yes!
ASHER: Not that YOU could know whether his Egyptian was perfect.
JUDAH: How can you say that? He spoke really smoothly. Everyone understood him and did what he said.
ASHER: That doesn’t mean it was perfect, though.
JUDAH: It was probably flawless.
LEVI: Look. He lived in Egypt long enough to learn it, surely?
SIMEON: He has been in Egypt since he was 17, and now he’s 37.
BLOGGER: He’s spent more than half his life in Egypt, then.
JACOB: His sons were born there. He has an Egyptian wife and two sons.
BLOGGER: And how did you feel, Benjamin, once you realized that he was your brother, and not a stranger?
BENJAMIN: What can I say? Even now, I don’t know how to describe it. I thought he had died, and now he was alive.
ZEBULUN: You should have seen how much food he gave him! Plates all over the table, with no space extra, each plate piled like this.
BENJAMIN: I didn’t understand it.
BLOGGER: But you understand now?
BENJAMIN: He missed me.
ASHER: And what about all the gifts he gave you?
BENJAMIN: He gave all of us gifts.
ASHER: But he gave you extra. He gave everyone one set of new clothes, but he gave you five sets of clothes, and three hundred shekels of silver.
GAD: Ha! It’s clear who he favours!
ASHER: Who needs five whole outfits?
REUBEN: Don’t be envious. We are but half-brothers. Benjamin is his full brother. And besides, our mothers are alive, and their mother is gone.
JACOB: But at least I have Benjamin back, and soon I will lay my eyes on Joseph too.
ZEBULUN: I cannot wait to return. The food!
IS’SAHAR: Pharaoh’s household has as much meat as it wants, because some people are starting to sell their livestock to him in exchange for rice and grains.
ZEBULUN: Not just meat! Everything! Fresh fruit! Wine!
IS’SAHAR: You’re always thinking of food.
ZEBULUN: And you do not?
JACOB: We will load up the carts after two days and depart.
GAD: Joseph gave us the carts!
ASHER: So that we could all travel there.
LEVI: That’s actually how we were able to convince our father that Jacob was alive.
JUDAH: When he saw all the carts, he finally believed what we were saying.
JACOB: What they say is true. When they returned, the eleven, they said to me again and again, “Joseph is alive!” but I thought they were deceiving me, or that they were somehow mistaken.
JUDAH: Your were shaking your head, no, no.
JACOB: What they said, it was too much.
LEVI: And so we were pointing to all of the donkeys.
GAD: Ten male donkeys and ten female donkeys!
LEVI: These were presents from Joseph.
GAD: Carrying all kinds of grains and dried fruits!
ASHER: And all sorts of other gifts!
LEVI: We were asking him to look, to understand that it was real.
JACOB: I could not comprehend, not at first.
LEVI: We told him, look Father! Joseph has sent all of these to you, and he wants us to all return.
ZEBULUN: The famine is going to continue for five more years. That’s what Joseph told us.
LEVI: He wants us to settle in Egypt, so that he can take care of us.
REUBEN: And those were his words to us. He said “It was to save lives that the Lord sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But the Lord sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
JACOB: The Lord has shown his goodness to us!
BLOGGER: What else did Joseph say?
REUBEN: He said, “Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.”
JUDAH: He said, “Tell my father about all the honour accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. The Lord has made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”
BLOGGER: And you all understood that it was really Joseph, and not a stranger?
REUBEN: Yes, we believed. We could see that it was really Joseph.
JUDAH: Not a stranger. He said to us, “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you.”
BLOGGER: And then what?
JUDAH: We all just wept. Twelve brothers. We were all weeping and embracing him. He embraced Benjamin, and wept more, and we were all overcome with emotion.
JACOB: How I wish I had been there as well!
REUBEN: We will bring you there swiftly. Only two days and we will leave!
JACOB: I will not let my old age prevent this meeting!
BLOGGER: Of course! So who is going? Is everyone leaving?
JUDAH: All of us. We will bring our wives, our sons, our daughters, our grandsons and grandchildren, just as he said. We will bring our livestock and everything we might need.
LEVI: Though Joseph did say, “Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.”
SIMEON: Joseph said to us, “You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there.”
BLOGGER: Yes. And how long will you stay?
REUBEN: We will stay as long as we must. With Joseph in power, no harm will come to us.
JACOB: Where my sons are, I will be also. We shall never again be separated.


Post 339

Family Counselling, Part 15:
The Weight of Waiting

The stories of those who wait are rarely told.
Part of the reason is that those who wait are often forgotten.
They are in the background.
They are not active, catching everyone’s attention.
So often, they are the women.

When I think of Jacob waiting, I think also of the women.
What about Dinah, the sister and half-sister of these brothers?
What about the wives of the men?
What would become of them if their husbands did not return?
Surely they had their fears as they counted the days and rationed the food.
When will my husband return?
When will they be back?
Will my husband be among them?

And what of the mothers?
Leah, Bilhah and Zilphah
Would they not wait as well?

Who considers the waiting of a woman?
Yet to be a woman is to wait
To be a woman is to wait

A man remembers the time he waited
But it is not his very existence
It is not his strength

A man recounts the time he waited
But is not his very existence
It is not his strength

A girl learns early that she must wait
As her cycle begins, runs its course, and finally

And again
Her cycle begins, runs it course, and finally

I claim it for woman
It is our life

It is our life
To such an extent
That we forget
The ways in which we wait

A woman wants a man
She waits for the man to notice her
Modernity has not changed everything
A man wants to think he chooses the course of his life

A woman waits for the man
To pursue and to propose
The story of the woman who proposed
Is a story
This proves my point

A woman who wants to conceive
Waits for the man to begin and to end
And then she waits again
Will this month be the one?

Ah no,
Not this time
Maybe the next

A woman has conceived
At first, it is her secret alone
Later everyone knows
That she waits

But they forget
How she waits
Oh, how she waits!
She waits to feel the kick
She waits for the pains to begin
She waits for the pains to end
The birth

The newborn babe wakes
And sleeps
— Finally!
The newborn babe suckles
(The new mother’s toes curl with pain)
And is done
— Finally!
Bless the mother with twins

Which man can understand?
No man can understand.
This I can say for sure.
How I wince when a priest describes childbirth.
Leave that analogy alone.

To wait is difficult.
Watch people who are waiting and you will remember
The feeling of life in suspense
Outward inaction because of inward unease
Flip through the magazine if you will
Flip through your phone if you will
You can do nothing better
Conversation is halted
Cannot get traction
Because we wait
The weight of waiting is underestimated
And misunderstood
Study any waiting room anywhere
Study the lobby of an airport
A person in line
Is a person in limbo
To wait is difficult
What is purgatory if not waiting?
To wait is not in our nature
We want fulfillment
We want solutions
We want happy endings

But this difficult thing
Belongs to women
Before it belongs to men
It belongs in two senses
First, even in the world we call modern
We do it more often
So often that we do not realize how often
Second, we do it better
And yes, this is a comparison
A contest we win
Women do it better than men
A man who says otherwise
Talks nonsense

Post 338

Family Counselling, Part 14:

Jacob waits now
He waits for his sons
For Benjamin, his son by Rachel
For Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Is’sahar and Zebulun, his sons by Leah
For Dan and Nephtali, his sons by Bilhah
For Gad and Asher, his sons by Zilpah
Eleven sons, because long ago, he learned not to wait for twelve

Each of these he knew from birth
Each of these he held
Each of these he has loved from birth
Now each a man
Will all return?

Jacob waits now
Like many others have before him
Like many others will after him

What does he see?
Today, nothing
Like yesterday

What does he see?
Today, again, nothing
Like yesterday

When he was younger,
He too covered vast distances
Where has he not gone?
He has been everywhere
But not Egypt

They will return
Will they not?
Could he lose them all?

How foolhardy to send them all!
What folly especially to send Benjamin!
What use is Benjamin to that man?
Yet to me he is everything!
All that I have left of Rachel
The man will be merciful, will he not?
My sons will speak on my behalf
If only he will hear them!

Let the story not end thus!
It cannot end with me like this!
Surrounded by the sons and wives of my sons
The four sons of Reuben
The six sons of Simeon
The three sons of Levi
The three sons and two grandsons of Judah
The four sons of Is’sahar
The three sons of Zebulun
The seven sons of Gad
The four sons and two grandsons of Asher
The ten sons of Benjamin
The son of Dan
The four sons of Naphtali
Yet unable to provide for them
Unable to provide for anyone
A failed patriarch
Watching his entire family fall into ruin
At the mercy of a foreigner

Let the story not end thus!

Our food dwindles
But I cannot eat anyway

The sun sets and the house becomes quiet
But I cannot sleep anyway


Post 337

Family Counselling, Part 13:

Dear Blogger,

Because of the famine, my brothers came to Egypt.
O Egypt, My Egypt!
Country of paradox
Cultivated yet wild
Lush yet barren
Ancient yet new
My prison, my refuge, my kingdom
My home
My sons have known no other place.
To my firstborn I gave the name Manas’seh, to mean:
The Lord has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.
To my second born, I gave the name E’phraim, to mean:
The Lord has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction

What do my brothers know of this place?
They arrive confused
Bewildered by the sights
Dazzled by what is cosmopolitan and vast
Puzzled by the language
The crush of people from every nation
Overwhelmed and afraid

To them, my heart goes out
I know them
I see them
But they cannot imagine I am here

Their security is in my hands
And I am fiercely watchful
I know their comings and goings
They shall receive everything I can give them
And as for Benjamin
Fully my own flesh and blood
My brother
What will I not do for him?

Everything they see
Everything they touch
Everything they hear
This is all within my control
My thoughts and my wishes become the reality
Which surrounds them

But they see me not
They know nothing of my care
Who was it who directed that their sacks be filled nearly to bursting?
Who was it who directed that all their money be returned untouched?
They know nothing of my love

They cannot imagine the depth of the love
In the heart of the one they condemned to death
The one they sold into slavery
As if worthless

Part 2

And now
Now they enter my city
They are tired and they are hungry
My stewards invite them to my home
And they are frightened at being so directed
They speak among themselves
“Now the man will seize us!”
“He thinks we stole from him!”

My steward reassures them
And brings Simeon into their presence
Yet still they tremble to know that I will arrive at noon
Ah! To them, I am “the Man”
I am nameless
Yet they bow to me
When I arrive

I survey them
Here is Benjamin
He dares not look me in the eye
Benjamin, do you not know me?
We have the same mother!
We were born of the same womb!
But he knows me not

I say to them,
Is this the one?
Is this the youngest of whom you spoke?
Why do I ask?
I pretend to not know my own flesh and blood
They answer that he is
Yes, this is Benjamin, your servant

I say
God be gracious to you, my son
But it is too much

It is too much

I excuse myself

I weep for Benjamin
I weep for myself
I weep for the past
Our long separation
Our broken youth
He was but fifteen when I was taken
Oh Benjamin!

Part 3

They are seated now
But not at my table
An Egyptian man does not dine with a Hebrew man
As if the blood which runs through me is not as theirs

But to their table
From my own,
Food is carried again and again
They are amazed by the richness of the dishes
Meats, breads of fine flour, and every delicacy
Fruits familiar and exotic
During a time of famine
Each has his fill
And Benjamin is given five times the portions
As if I can feed him food enough for our twenty lost years

The wine flows
And my brothers begin to lose their fear
They talk with me
And I pretend that I need my interpreter
As if we did not learn to speak under the same roof

I speak Egyptian to my steward
Fill their sacks to the brim with as much as they can carry
Return their money
It will be with the grain

And while they are asleep
I direct something else
Take my silver cup
Place it into the sack of Benjamin

Blogger, you will say that I was deceitful
You will say that my plan was wrong
But can you understand?
How could I bear to see him leave?

To my steward, I speak thus:
Tomorrow, after they leave,
Overtake them
Charge them with the theft of my cup
Direct that the thief must stay with me

Such was my plan

Part 4

My plans always achieve fulfillment
And I had imagined how I would speak
Full of consternation, my brothers returned to me
I had not seen them as stricken with terror
As when they returned to me
Confused by their guilt

One brother and the next
Protesting and tearing at his clothes
Weeping and asking for mercy

Did I not weep like this
Did I not beg for mercy like this

Was I not innocent too?
Blogger, was I wrong to do this?
I fear you will say that I was

But I have already suffered,
And all of Egypt has heard my weeping.

I listened as Judah spoke
He spoke of my father
My father, whom I have not seen for twenty years
And as he filled my ears with the words spoken by my father,
I could not contain myself

“My wife bore me two sons
One left me
Torn to pieces in a field
I have never seen him since
If you take
If you take this one
This one
If harm befalls him
Him too
Then to Sheol I will go
In sorrow”

It is too much!

But I cannot even excuse myself

With a loud cry
Such as is heard through the house of Pharaoh himself
I begin to weep

I am no longer the governor
I am only Joseph
Joseph son of Jacob

Post 336

Family Counselling, Part 12:

BLOGGER: It’s nice to see you again.
JACOB: We wanted to say hello. It has been so many years.
BLOGGER: So many.
JACOB: You have not aged.
BLOGGER: Thank you. People tell me that, but I know I have.
JACOB: You live a good life, I think.
BLOGGER: I am very blessed, yes.
JACOB: Your family is well?
BLOGGER: Yes, thank you.
BLOGGER: Judah was telling me — it’s Judah, am I right?
BLOGGER: Judah was telling me as you were walking in that you have been to Egypt once already, and that you are going to leave again in a few days?
JACOB: Not me. No, I haven’t been, but they went. And they will soon depart again.
JACOB: Yes, to buy more food. We are running low again.
BLOGGER: I understand. Provisions are low everywhere.
REUBEN: And also there is the matter of Simeon.
BLOGGER: Simeon?
REUBEN: We left him in Egypt.
BLOGGER: Your brother? You left your brother Simeon in Egypt?
REUBEN: Not because we wanted to.
BLOGGER: Why? What happened?
REUBEN: The man there — he forced us to leave Simeon.
BLOGGER: What man?
REUBEN: The man in charge of the grain distribution.
BLOGGER: In Egypt?
REUBEN: The Egyptian man. He didn’t believe us, and he had Simeon taken prisoner.
LEVI: He made us, and we saw Simeon being bound up right before our eyes and carried away.
REUBEN: He wanted to keep Simeon until we returned with Benjamin.
BLOGGER: Benjamin wasn’t with you?
REUBEN: No, he didn’t accompany us to Egypt. Our father wouldn’t let us take him.
JACOB: He’s the youngest one!
BLOGGER: But he’s not so young now? He’s, what, thirty years old?
BENJAMIN: I am thirty-five.
JACOB: But if anything happens to him, I will have none of my sons from Rachel. His brother has already died. I cannot lose Benjamin too.
BLOGGER: So you stayed behind on the first trip?
BENJAMIN: I remained here in Canaan with my father.
BLOGGER: So why was the man asking for Benjamin? How did he know about Benjamin if Benjamin wasn’t there?
REUBEN: The man asked us to tell him about our family. He asked about our father, and if we had other siblings.
BLOGGER: So you told him that you had a sibling at home, Benjamin.
REUBEN: Yes, of course.
BLOGGER: And what did he say?
REUBEN: Well, he didn’t seem to like us very much from the beginning, even though we were very respectful to him. He spoke very gruffly to us, and the interpreter told us what he was saying. There were many interpreters there, because there were so many people from so many countries coming to buy grains and rice. He said, “Where do you come from?” We said, “We are from the land of Canaan, and we are here to buy food.” He said to us, “You are spies. You have come to discover the weakness of our land.”
BLOGGER: He thought you were spies?
REUBEN: Yes, he didn’t believe we were ordinary men. Perhaps because there were so many of us, and we don’t all look very much alike, but we explained, we said, “We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants are not spies.”
BLOGGER: You called yourselves “his servants”?
REUBEN: Yes! He was very severe, and we wanted to appease him in any way that we could. We bowed very low, and we spoke with deference.
BLOGGER: What else?
REUBEN: We said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no longer living.”
BLOGGER: “No longer living” — as in, Joseph.
BLOGGER: Did he believe you then? I guess he didn’t.
REUBEN: No, he didn’t believe us, and he said, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.”
REUBEN: So he made a rule that nine of us would remain in prison, while one of us went back to fetch Benjamin.
BLOGGER: But didn’t you say that —
REUBEN: He changed the rule. After we were in prison for three days, he came to us and said that he would let all of us go, except for one. He said: “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined in your prison, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, and bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.”
BLOGGER: So you chose Simeon to stay in his prison?
REUBEN: We didn’t have a chance for discussion. He ordered his men to take Simeon, and right then and there, Simeon was bound and taken out of our sight.
JUDAH: That’s the last time we saw him.
BLOGGER: The last time you saw Simeon?
BLOGGER: So you haven’t been back to Egypt since then?
BLOGGER: How long ago was that?
REUBEN: It was almost eight months ago.
BLOGGER: Simeon has been there, imprisoned, for eight months?
REUBEN: We have been too frightened to return.
BLOGGER: But what about Simeon?
JACOB: You see? This is how I lose another son!
BLOGGER: But you are going back?
REUBEN: Yes, we are going back. We have run out of food. Our household is very large now, with wives and children and servants, and so even though the amount of food was large, we need to act soon.
BLOGGER: So you did receive food from Egypt.
REUBEN: Yes, we received a great amount of food.
GAD: And we received it without payment!
BLOGGER: Without payment? How did this happen?
REUBEN: How should we know?
BLOGGER: You don’t know?
JUDAH: Each of us brought our own small bags of money, and we each gave them the money in exchange for the grains, but when we were on our way home, Gad went to feed his donkey, and he found his bag of money at the mouth of the grain sacks!
REUBEN: And for each of us it was likewise: in each of our bags of grain, was our money again, untouched.
BLOGGER: Why? What happened?
REUBEN: We don’t know.
JACOB: It will be all the worse for us, for the man will accuse them of thievery! I will lose all my sons!
BLOGGER: It is dangerous, then. Did someone make a mistake? I guess things were very busy there, but then I don’t know why the money would be in with the grains, and it was like this for all of you.
REUBEN: We don’t know.
BLOGGER: So what will you do?
JUDAH: We will return. My father has suggested —
JACOB: I said to them, “take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man a present, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take double the money with you; carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight.
BLOGGER: You hope to avoid his wrath.
REUBEN: Indeed.
BLOGGER: And you will also bring Benjamin this time?
JUDAH: Yes. This time, we will bring Benjamin.
BLOGGER: And Jacob, you allow them to take Benjamin this time?
REUBEN: We have no choice!
JUDAH: The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’
JACOB: Why you needed to reveal you had a younger brother, I don’t understand.
REUBEN: Father, we already explained! He questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, “Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?” We were merely answering his questions. How could we have predicted that he would say, “Bring your brother down”?
JACOB: Now I risk losing another one!
REUBEN: We have promised you, Father!
JACOB: You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come upon me.
REUBEN: We have promised you father! We will not lose another one!
JUDAH: I said to my father, “Send Benjamin with me, and we will arise and go. We must have food, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones.” I said to him, “Look, I will be surety for Benjamin; of my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame for ever.”
REUBEN: And I too, have said the same. I said to my father: “Slay my two sons if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.”
BLOGGER: Is this enough for you, Jacob? You will let them take Benjamin to see the man?
REUBEN: We are running out of food!
JACOB: I said to them, you can go. I said, “Go again to the man. May the Lord grant you mercy before the man, that he may send back your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”
BLOGGER: That’s how you feel?
JACOB: Yes, that’s what I said.
BLOGGER: You are prepared for the worst?
JACOB: Can anyone be prepared for the worst?