Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 78

FOOD AS A SYMBOL OF GRACE - Harper care for him, because you were once aliens. It doesn’t matter when he shows up to your house; you feed him. And if you don’t, you’re going to shame the village and yourself as well as God. And this is still true today. I’ll never forget when my son was in high school he lived in Egypt for a while. I think he was a junior or senior in high school. It was when the war between Israel and Lebanon was going on. The Marines actually took this kid from Lebanon and brought him over here to Vancouver because he had family here. He didn’t speak any English. My son speaks Arabic, so one of the vice principals at the high school got them together. They became great friends. One day Drew said, “Dad, I need you to take me over to Mohammed’s house.” We went over and it was about seven o’clock at night. And he said, “Come in, come in. Wasala and Rayid want to say hello to you.” So we got to the house and Wasala came out saying, “Oh Brad! Brad! Welcome! Welcome! Come on in! Come on in! I’ll give you dinner!” I said, “Well, I just ate.” “No, no, no, I’ll feed you.” “You don’t understand; I just ate.” “Sit down.” “Okay.” She brought me the entire refrigerator. Everything was out on the table. I stuffed myself. And after I ate for a while, she said, “Now, go sit down on the couch with Rayid and I will bring you dessert.” And he was so funny. He said, “Brad, as a student of the Bible, you should know you cannot come into a Middle Eastern home and not eat. We have to feed you.” And I said, “I know, I know.” It’s the issue of love and honor and propriety and community. “I’m feeding you,” means “I’m making you part of me.” And, “I can’t hurt you in my house. I need to feed you and make you part of my community.” It’s very, very cool. Man 4: I was recently reading about a Middle Eastern dictator. He had a son who later took over his position. He had him thrown in prison because he broke this hospitality law against some of their enemies. Even though it was his son, and even though they were people who were traditionally their enemies. It was so serious. Even though they hated these people, because he broke the hospitality law, the ruler had him thrown in prison. BH: Even if there is a lot of unrest going on, generally the safest place for you to be in the Middle East is at a meal with Middle Easterners. They’re not going to kill you at a meal. My son learned this, too. Last time, he was in Egypt during the Arab Spring. He was living in a neighborhood that wasn’t a great neighborhood. He was walking back from the store where he bought a Coke, and there was a group of four or five Egyptian tough guys following him and getting closer. He started running and they started chasing after him. 75