I am slowly catching up on languishing Comments of the Day. Where a Humble Talent comment is involved, I don’t feel too badly about a late posting; like Mrs. Q, Chris Marschner, Glenn Logan, Steve-O and others, he is a master of the form and has hardly been neglected. This post, from November, relates to the suddenly lively topic of the duty to confront, and is also a cherished genre here, the personal reminiscence.
Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, Confession: I Wimped Out:
My Grandmother, who I loved very much, had a religious streak that often delved into the extreme.
She had been saved, you see. She was a morbidly obese woman until she had some kind of attack (I was never told what exactly, but taking my family history into account, I assume it was a heart attack.) and she saw an angel. Then she dropped 150 pounds, picked up a bible, and never looked back. The problem, I think, is that she, like I, see the inconsistencies between different sects of Christianity, and she wasn’t sure which one was right. She, unlike I, attempted to do as much as possible from as many different faiths as possible, often dipping into the absurd. She kissed the cross with the Ukrainian Catholics, danced up a Storm with the Pentecostals, bought an amazing amount of rubbish from Morris Cerullo, and tried her damndest to teach me the “And Also With You” responses at Roman Catholic mass. It was like she couldn’t say no; any of these things could be the gatekeeper to heaven, and so she had to try all of them.
There was a time when I was coming home from Fort McMurray, 1300 kilometers away from home (800ish miles) and the whole family showed up. I mean my immediate family of five, all five of my aunts and uncles, their kids, grandma and grandpa. And the 20 of us wanted to figure out where to eat, so we went through the list of local restaurants. Grandma was being belligerent about where we were going, restaurants were too expensive, too gaudy, too cheap, too greasy, not big enough (which might actually have been true), eventually one of my aunts got fed up, saying, “Mom… You’ve said not to literally every restaurant in town except Pizza Hut, so I guess we’re going to have to go there.” This was both true, and the worst way possible to pick a restaurant, but I digress.
We were hungry and frustrated. When we got in, we eventually ordered multiple family meals, had them bring out 6 pizzas, a bunch of pastas and salads, and breathed a sigh of relief… food was coming!
Grandma flipped her plate upside down.
Apparently, she didn’t actually have problems with all those other restaurants, she was fasting, hadn’t told anyone, and was apparently too embarrassed to admit it before getting to that point. I got fed up, and said, “Grandma, I drove 1300 clicks to get here. We got the whole family together. This isn’t going to happen again for years. We eventually settled on this restaurant after you vetoed literally every other place in town, and now you’re going to flip your plate upside down and not eat with us? No. Flip that plate back over, because you’re eating with us”
.Grandma flipped her plate rightside up.
And maybe this is just nostalgia, but she actually looked like she enjoyed the meal. She definitely ate, and she was definitely engaged. It was like she needed permission to do what she actually wanted to do. Regardless, afterwards, my mother had words for me. “Jeff,” she said, “you shouldn’t have spoken to your grandmother like that.”
“Probably not, but someone had to,” I replied.
“Probably, but you two have a good relationship,” she countered. ” It worked out this time, but if you get between her and God one too many times, you might end up not having a relationship. So pick your battles.”
Which is the counterargument of the duty to confront: Sometimes you have to play nice to get along, and does it really matter?