|Marcus, there is no arguing about the grammar. He's a smart guy. That said ...|
Fathers and Daughters
by Joseph Salem
Elizabeth Kipper put the last of her possessions into her suitcases and zippered ...
"Dad ... " she began, and her voice wavered. She started over, stronger this time: "Dad, I am leaving to go to my own apartment now."
Her father chuckled a bit. "Why whatever for? Your two sisters seemed not to mind living here. Why waste your money? I am perfectly happy to support you through college. It is something I want to so and besides, what about honoring your father and your mother from the Ten Commandments or -- " his eyes brightened cleveryly -- " obeying your parents from the book of Ephesians. You think I never hear any of that gospel you preach?"
She glowered at this. He was always attempting to make fun of her for believing strongly in anything. No matter how many times she tried to explain to him that Christianity wasnít about memorizing scriptures, it never made a difference -ó he would say it again.
"No, Dad, I canít take your money anymore. You may not mind supporting me through college, but I mind you supporting me."
"Oh ho! I see ... my money is not good enough for you then?"
"No Dad, I donít want money that you made helping career thieves stay in power. I donít want to profit off my neighbor's losses."
"What are you talking about now?" Her father looked more confused now than angry.
"The government officials that you helped get elected are using eminent domain to steal the houses of our neighbors, four blocks from here, so that they can hand them over to private developers and increase their loot next tax season. Whatís more, we canít do much about it because the Supreme Court ruled in favor of this type of government theft; property rights are nearly meaningless. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house.... And besides the love of money is the root of all evil..." Either way, I wonít be a part of it, I wonít take another dime." She felt a moment of relief at having finally said most of it out loud.
"Not another dime, huh?" he shouted, "My money was good enough for you when you were growing up but now it's Ďnot another dime, Dad.í You had better get your head on straight, girl, because this world is cruel to idealists. Youíll see your ideals are worthless in time, it just doesnít work the way you want it to in the real world. Itís not time to make such a drastic change as you want." He calmed himself and then continued, "Besides, you canít afford to go it alone on your income."
"Iíll get another job, keep my expenses low. Drop out of college if I have to ... but I canít take your money anymore. Not when I know that it's money made at the expense of my neighbors, looted by your clients. Not when you support them."
"They arenít bad men! Eminent domain is an important and legitimate power that our government needs, especially in modern times. The Supreme Court ruling merely expands this useful tool so that the government may more readily gather land for economic development. This ruling hasnít outlawed property rightsówe still own our homes. In fact this ruling helps homeowners because the newly developed areas increase the value of neighboring properties. For example, the development that is going in a few blocks from here that you mentioned. When that goes in, it will increase the value of our property and that of our immediate neighbors. Iíll probably be able to get over a quarter million for this house in five years."
"But you profit by infringing upon the rights of others." She was making a concerted effort to keep her cool. Try to help him understand why, she thought to herself. Maybe heíll understand.
He shot back with the hint of a dare, quoting Romans 13:1. "The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."
"Our neighbors are going to be forced from their homes, their long term financial plans cut short by government interference, and what will they receive in compensation? A measly portion of the money they might have gotten for their property had they sold it on the market."
"Nonsense," he father replied. "You know as well as I do that they can hold this up in the courts and not one widow or orphan will lose a dime of value. Besides, we had hearings, it was in the papers for months, and, yes, it went all the way to the Supreme Court. It's not like we evicted them with troops in the middle of the night."
"Every government suffers from the same pride and arrogance. It has been that way since the days of King Saul -- but it does not have to be that way. You can choose to do the right thing. You have free will. You choose to be arrogant and prideful."
Her father leaned forward, poking his finger at her from his chair, "Donít you judge me, young lady! You know what I see? An ungrateful brat who dares to look a gift horse in the mouth. But regardless little Ms. Greed. It should be left to the market then? Private developers should collect the land for development on their own, buying each homeowner out of their home? I mean, at least, that way no one's rights are infringed upon by government force. No one has their property stolen then. Would that be okay?"
"Father, if it is a sin to steal, do you avoid sin by hiring someone else to steal for you?"
She sat down in the chair across the window from her father, aware that this was going to take a little longer than she thought. She put the newspaper she had in her hand on the top of the suitcase.
She took a second before responding, "When Jesus said that He is going to come like a thief in the night, He was not telling people to become thieves. When he pardoned the thief on the cross, He was not endorsing thievery. When He saved the harlot, He said, "Go and sin no more." You can stop what you are doing. You do not have to be involved in this or anything else. You provided for us all these years -- I've seen you working hard, late and night, going to breakfast meetings at 6:00 am and not coming home until the last after dinner meeting at 10:00, dead tired, exhausted. They all drink and have a good time and you do too, but I know you usually do not. You have to keep your wits about you when you pull those factions together. I know what you think you have to do for us -- but you do not. God provides. God is abundant. All you have to do is recognize Jesus as your Saviour and you will enjoy bliss beyond recounting. The Lord will not let us down. And even if we do without new clothes or a new car, what difference does it make?"
"I guess I hadn't thought about it that way. I always figured that we were put here to work and suffer and if we stayed out of trouble, we'd go to heaven. Do you mean to say that God will replace your 1994 Honda with a new model? I mean, I used to pray for a bicycle but then I realized that God does not work like that. So I stole one and prayed for forgiveness." He laughed at her scowl.
"Dad I love you, but you're wrong. The Bible does not differentiate among sins. Some sins are worse than others in the effect they have on others, but the commission of any sin -- no matter how small -- condemns the sinner. That is why Jesus died for us, to redeem us from sin. Christ's coming was prophesied in the Old Testament. More than that: Jesus was the Word and the Word was with God when God created the Universe. As the revealed word of God, the
Bible is unified, whole and complete. So, you will understand when I show you this headline and tell you that all is vanity and there is nothing new under the sun." With this she tossed the newspaper onto his lap, and it unrolled to expose the headline, "Council Approves Creek Rerouting: More homes to be taken for development project."
Her father just stared down at the headline and turned pale. Then he looked up at her, his face turning red with rage, "Weíll see about this!" He crossed the room to the phone and dialed the phone number of his most recent client, a councilman in the city government. "Get me Councilman Jacobs ... Yes, this is Mr. Kipper ... What do you mean heís unavailable, I am his campaign manager for Christ's sake! Well, you tell him when he gets in that he has a fight on his hands if he thinks heís going to run a creek through my house! I donít care about development, this is my house weíre talking about damn it! My livelihood!" He slammed the phone down, and the receiver bounced off its mount. He grabbed the phone, tore it from the wall, and tossed it into the next room.
"Don't blame them, Dad. I know you do. Give yourself to Jesus. Know the sacrifice that Christ made for you when he was nailed to the Cross and said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
She grabbed her suitcases and rolled them towards the front door. He was slumped against the wall next to where the phone had stood holding his head up when she closed the front door behind her. He understood now, though not fully. She was choosing to leave and if he didnít understand now he would in the following weeks when the bulldozers came to level his home to make way for a ditch filled with water. Maybe then he would finally understand.
She started her car; the suitcases secure in the back seat. As the wind blew by her car she felt something new, things were changing for the better, and for the first time she really was beginning to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.