March 18, 2016

Of Rage and Love…

Category: News — Ira @ 6:00 pm


Have no lips trembled in the wilderness?
No eyes sought seaward from the rock’s
sharp edge for men returning home? Has no
pulse beat more hot with love or hate upon
the river’s edge?….No love?

—Thomas Wolfe

He walked in that Saturday morning at the office. And I looked at him as he approached to where I was standing behind the counter. An old man, with a lean hard face. Kind of shabbily dressed, like old people are sometimes, and they don’t realize it. He had seen better days. He looks a little hungry, I thought to myself. And he had a grumpy air about him, as if he knew this day would be like all the rest have been, lately. It would not bring him many good things. Tired, is how he looked. Tired and old and grumpy. Still. He was a customer, or at least he might be one. And I smiled and greeted him, just like I try to smile and greet anyone who walks through that front door on a Saturday morning, or any other morning. Can I help you? I asked.

He nodded. I could, yes. And he told me. He had this little bitty storage shed back home, down south over the Maryland line a ways. It needed a new roof. He had a lot of questions. And he took his time, asking. And I took my time, answering. There wasn’t much else going on at the office right then, anyway. Might as well pay some attention to the old man. Don’t matter, how small his project is. Just take care of him, like you would if he was asking about a big building he needed. That’s what I thought to myself. And me and the old man just talked along. My first impression was right. He was in a grumpy mood. He kind of snapped out his questions. Maybe he’s just tired, from all he’s seen, I thought. Maybe it’s just not a good day for him. And we kept talking.

The phone rang, then, and I glanced back at my desk. Just let it go to voicemail. I’m busy here. But the old man wouldn’t have that. “Answer the phone,” he told me. “I’m in no hurry. I’ll wait. I just have a few more questions.” So I answered and chatted with a builder for a few minutes. Sorry, I said as I hung up. We only got one person in the office, on a Saturday. And today, that’s me. The old man waved it off. “Don’t think a thing of it,” he said. And he went right back to asking questions about metal for his little roof. I showed him color samples of what we have. Metal. Trim. Screws. He absorbed it all. He’d have to go back home and get some measurements. And then he’d get back to me. We were winding down. He took my card. And I thanked him for stopping by. We’ll have your stuff, when you’re ready for it, I told him. Call me, and we’ll have it ready for you when you get back.

And he turned away to walk back out. And just that close, he did. But just as he was turning, his eye caught the little poster taped to the back of my computer screen, facing him. My book. He stopped, and looked at the poster closely. Then he looked at me. Then back to the poster again. And he got all curious. His whole face changed. And he asked me. “Did you write that book? Were you born Amish?” Yes, I said. I did and I was.

And he looked at me. “Were you ever shunned?” he asked. Yes, I said. I was. For years and years. But as Dad got along in years, he let it go, dropped the shunning. I am very thankful that I get to sit at the table with him now. He’s old, in his nineties. But better late than never. Way better. Let me tell you that.

And the old man leaned in toward the counter, totally focused on what he had to say. It was like a light went on inside him. “I know all about what it is, to be shunned,” he said. The grumpiness was gone, replaced by a quiet, well, I don’t know what. A quiet knowledge, I guess. He went on. “I was a Jehovah’s Witness, years ago. I left them, back in the eighties. And they’re a lot like the Amish are, if you leave them. They’ll shun you. Oh, yes, they will. They still won’t have anything to do with me, the ones I knew back then. Still not today.”

The light died in him, then. And it drained out of him, his eagerness to tell me what he knew and thought. He was just a tired old man again. He settled in, settled back, seemed to shrink into himself. “It sure is a strange thing,” he muttered. “It sure is strange, how they treat you. And all because they claim to love you.”

Yeah, it sure is strange, indeed, I said. And I know how it affects you, to be rejected like that. I know all about how that is. I’ve been there. And we stood there and talked about what it was to be shunned. How you deal with it. How you adapt, in your head and in your heart. He had definitely seen some hard places. I could tell. He had been down some hard tough roads.

“I could still go back,” he said, suddenly. I was startled. No one had mentioned anything about going back. But he wanted to. “I mean, if I wanted to, I could,” he said. “Not that I do. But they would take me back. If I went, I would have to get to the service on a Sunday after it starts. I’d have to sit by myself all the way in the back, and then I’d have to get up and leave just before it ended. Eventually they would take me back, as a member, then.”

Wow, I said. I could go back to the Amish, too, if I had a mind to. Which I don’t. I’m just saying. I could. They wouldn’t make me sit in the back, though. Actually, you’d sit pretty close to up front, where they can keep an eye on you. And they would make me walk a pretty strict line for about six months or so. But they would accept me, and genuinely so, during the process. I guess different groups do things different.

There was a silence, then. We just stood there, in the company of each other, the old man and me. It was soon time for him to go. But still he lingered, as if there was something more he wanted to say.

And I told him what I thought about the whole shunning business. My take on it. Yeah, I said. It hurts, to be shunned. And yeah, it’s no fun. But I have always stood for people to have the right to believe what they want. Don’t have to make sense to me. I’ll defend the Amish all day, and the JWs, too. They have the right to be who they are. They have the right to believe what they want.

The old man looked at me. I think it had been a few years since he’d thought much about the shunning. It had been a while since he’d talked to anyone about it. Especially someone who halfway understood where he had been and what he had seen. And he seemed to be considering his next words carefully.

“Yes,” he said. “We all have the right to be who we are, and to believe what we believe. That’s a given. But that don’t make it any easier to be shunned.”

It was time to go. He turned to the door. But then he turned back. He had one more thing to tell me. One more thing to say. He didn’t shake his finger at me, or anything. But what he said came from somewhere buried deep inside. There was nothing grumpy, nothing tired about the old man now. And then he spoke.

“They claim they’re doing it out of love, the people who shun you,” he said. “But it’s not love, to reject a person just because that person leaves your group. Maybe it’s hate. For sure, it’s rage. It’s not natural, for a parent to reject a child, to cut off all contact with a child. It’s not natural. It’s not Christian, either. You can claim it’s anything you want to. But it’s not love.”

No, it’s not love. I agreed. It’s not love, to shun someone. Real love is what those people need, the ones who shun. What they’re missing. And real love will never allow a parent to reject a child. Never. That don’t mean you have to approve of what the child is doing. But you won’t reject him. It’s impossible, with love the way Jesus taught and lived it.

“No, it’s not real love,” he answered. “And yes, real love is what those people need, what we all need.” Yes, I said. It sounds trite, but it really boils down to love. We all need love. Those who shun and those who are shunned. We need to love and be loved.

It was time, then, to leave. He offered me his hand, and I shook it. “I’ll give you a call when I got those measurements for my metal,” he said. “And thanks for your time.”

You do that, I told him as he turned and left. We’ll be here.
Almost, this blog didn’t get written. And one might think. It’s March. The bad month for Ira. Last year, it got real dark, and he freaked out and never posted a word. It’s March. So of course that’s why he got stuck, writing.

But it’s not. It was way less complicated than that. I got March, this year. It will never freak me out again, not like it did. Not saying I’ll never skip a blog in March. But it won’t be because I’m freaked out. The thing is, I got a nice, new PC, a desktop computer. And a friend came over and set it up. The nice, new computer didn’t work. Kept freezing up on me, and losing the writing I had just labored on. There wasn’t a lot of peace of mind involved. I got a little fretful, I will concede. And for a while there, this week, it looked like this post wasn’t gonna get done.

My old computer was pretty ancient, in computer age. I bought it back on 2008 or 2009. Way back when I was blogging every week, and finding my writing voice. It’s an old-style desktop with an old-fashioned flat monitor. And it has more than served me well. I cranked out a lot of writing on that computer. I’ve worked my way through a few keyboards, and I’m on my second office chair. And the book. Every word was punched out, or at least edited, on that old computer.

And a few weeks ago, I got to thinking. I better get something new, before this old thing crashes and I lose all my stuff. So one day last week I emailed my ex-brother-in-law and good friend, Paul Yutzy. I’m thinking about picking up a new computer. Could you come over and set it up sometime, if I do? Paul is a computer geek, works in the field, and has always been my go-to guy. He answered right back. Sure. Get what you want. Brand doesn’t matter much these days. I can stop by one evening and set it up for you.

So on Saturday after work, I headed on over to Best Buy to pick up a cheap PC. That right there was my first mistake. But I didn’t know. So I went in and lurked around the computer section. Surely someone would see I needed help, I figured. I mean, in a big box store like this, you always have to fend off the sales people. They won’t leave you alone.

And almost right away, here comes this beautiful girl, all smiling and friendly. She had a name tag, so I figured, here we go. Great service, this. She smiled very prettily and gushed at me. “Oh, I just LOVE your hat (I was wearing my Aussie.). You wear it SO well.” Why, thank you, I said, genuinely pleased. It’s real nice of you to notice. She smiled again, and then started asking questions for some survey she was doing. She didn’t even work at Best Buy. So that little compliment went out the window, whoosh, just like that. I felt deflated.

After shaking her off, I kept loafing around, looking at computers. No one came. It all figures, I grumbled to myself. When you’re looking to buy, no one pays any attention to you. When you’re just window shopping, you get assaulted by some pesky sales person every time you turn around. I finally approached the sales desk, where four guys were standing around, cracking jokes and laughing. I got some questions about a computer, I said, and one of them rushed to help me. He knew his stuff and I was on my way in twenty minutes with my new PC. A Lenovo, an all-in-one model, where everything is in the screen. Pretty wild stuff, those computers are. I unloaded at home, and set the big box in a corner.

The next afternoon, Sunday, Paul and his friend Malinda came over. I shuffled around, trying to stay out of the way, while Paul set up my new model and transferred the data from old to new. All my docs, and all my pics, and all my other stuff. By late afternoon, he was done, and we sat down to the fine meal Malinda had whipped up. And then they left. I felt good. A brand new computer. Latest model. I was all set, I figured.

Almost right away, things did not go well. I surfed around a bit on the internet, and then left the desk for a few minutes. When I sat back down and moved the mouse, nothing happened on the screen. The thing was frozen stiff. No movement, no nothing. I finagled around and hit various combo keys. Control, Alt, Delete. Restart. Nothing. Finally, I reached down and unplugged the computer. It went dark instantly. I fired it back up. Maybe that was a fluke, I thought.

It wasn’t. The computer froze up and locked up randomly, maddeningly, at the most inopportune times. I had an outline started for this blog, and pulled it up. I punched around, writing, for fifteen minutes. And then, boom, the screen froze up again. No. No. NO. I screamed inside. I can’t lose all that stuff I just wrote. And again, the only way to get rebooted was to unplug the computer and start over. I’ll never get a blog written this way, I thought. Oh, well. Just skip this week, I guess. But still, I wanted to. And I kept working away, off and on. And the computer kept freezing up, mostly when I was online, and mostly after I turned my back for a few moments. It was all real frustrating.

Came this Wednesday evening, early, then. I sat here, working on my blog. And I saved the words, now and again. And then there was a long stretch, probably half an hour. I should save, I should save, I thought. But I kept writing. And all of a sudden, the mouse wouldn’t move. Frozen again. No. No. NO. But it was. I yanked the plug-in from the wall, and then fired up again. Word would not, could not retrieve the words I had not saved. It was still early. I got pretty livid. I shut down my new computer unplugged everything, threw the keyboard and mouse into my messenger bag and loaded my truck. Back to Best Buy. That’s where this piece of junk was going.

I walked in and up to the Service counter. And our conversation remained polite throughout, I gotta say. But they were rigid, unhelpful, and totally lacking in service. They wanted to charge me $100 to move my data from the defective computer onto a new one, and it would take five days. Frustrated, I excused myself and stepped aside and called Paul. I told him what was going on, and he got all indignant. “It takes five minutes to transfer that data,” he told me. “Get your money back, go home and plug your old computer back in. I’ll find something that’ll work for you in a day or two.”

So that’s what I did. Asked for my money back. At least they didn’t make a fuss about the refund. As I was walking out, I almost bumped into the pretty young survey girl who had swooned about my Aussie hat last Saturday. Still out there, still as pretty as ever, still accosting people for her survey. She recognized me, her eyes widened, and I tipped my hat. Ma’am, I said. And then I got out of that place. I will not shop at Best Buy again.

And then I went back home and reconnected my trusty old computer. My old friend. I thought we had parted for good, but now we were together again. The computer fired right up, and everything worked, just like it always has. And that’s why this blog got posted this week.



  1. I like how everyone you meet is a story. You experience the world through adventures. (and good ones) You make each person you meet sound colorful and interesting, like an old time radio drama. It is fun for us readers to settle back on occasional Fridays and leave the world of barbaric politics behind and read your fascintinating tales. Thanks for entertaining us.

    Comment by carol ellmore — March 18, 2016 @ 6:28 pm

  2. You need a Mac. (No, you don’t actually. I just saw so many people say it, I thought to myself, “It must make one feel good to say it.” But I felt nothing. Shrug.

    BTW, I too know the sting of the rejection. One of my excommunications was after I fessed up to bunch of stuff. They said no ban. A few days later i remembered something else. Fessed it up too. Wanted a clean slate. “Ah, this shows you don’t actually have a repentant heart.” Ban time! And just like that, I was shunned again.

    Comment by RAM — March 18, 2016 @ 6:40 pm

  3. Shunning is detrimental to the soul of both the shunner and the shunnee. It kills and destroys. Nobody has a right to do something that kills and destroys. Nobody. No person. No family. No group. And most especially not if it’s done in the name of serving a God whose primary command is to love one another. Not that it’s about having rights or not – the whole idea of humans having “rights” is a construct of civil law, not divine law. But, because Love, as exemplified by Jesus, is about reconciliation, restoration, redemption. The complete opposite of shunning.

    And, yeah, you should get a Mac. Because it’s the right thing to do. :)

    Comment by Ava — March 18, 2016 @ 7:07 pm

  4. Two great stories in one blog. I switched over all my devices to Apple five years ago and I have never regretted it. You might want to think about it. Love the larger Captcha Code.

    Comment by Rosanna F. — March 18, 2016 @ 7:23 pm

  5. Solve all your troubles at once. Get a wife/secretary. P.S. Forget about the dog.

    Comment by Lisa DeYoung — March 18, 2016 @ 11:36 pm

  6. It seemed as though you’d written two blog posts. Both beautifully executed. Then at the end they melded together. Nice!

    Comment by Kate — March 19, 2016 @ 7:59 am

  7. A few years ago, several innocent young boys were molested by a member who had a history of molesting boys in his previous community. The church leadership knew about it but did not warn other parents. And, one of our current head minister’s sons was also molesting boys. As this generation (the victims) have grown up, several chose “the world”. For any that had joined, they are now placed under the ban. Members disapprovingly whisper about all the awful things the heretics are doing. Meanwhile, I’ve spent way too many years being afraid to say what I was really thinking. (Partly because there have been some buildings, including a couple houses, rather mysteriously burn down.) I wonder what God thinks of my cowardliness. What are we-the parents-doing??? Could it be that we are victimizing them twice? It’s all so heartbreakingly WRONG!

    Comment by Phyllis Myers — March 19, 2016 @ 8:23 am

  8. I may not be Amish…or ever was…but I know the pain of being shunned. By family, so-called friends, etc…all because I decided to not take emotional/verbal abuse of a marriage that died about 15 years before. All because my ex is a narcissist who lies. Yes, I know well the pain…the agony of being ‘shunned’ and it doesn’t hurt from the ‘so-called friends’ because they were never really friends then to begin with….but when it came/comes from FAMILY…from a SON…a son who, I, WAS HIS BIGGEST CHAMPION and caregiver for his entire life…A son who hasn’t spoken to me in over 2 years now. Who ignores my texts, phone calls, cards, gifts…because I still reach out, still remember him at birthdays and holidays. A son who only last week…saw me only yards away from him, standing there…and he turned…and walked away. He and I used to be so close. My buddy. Someone who made me laugh all the time. Who now…just makes me cry. Oh, I know this pain only too well and it hurts like nothing I’ve known before.

    Comment by C.C. — March 19, 2016 @ 8:45 am

  9. Thanks for the clarity…

    Comment by Kathy — March 19, 2016 @ 11:11 am

  10. I was shunned by a co-worker. Suddenly, one day, the woman who’d sat beside me for several years, just stopped talking to me. When I’d ask her what was the matter, she’d say “Nothing”, curtly, but still wouldn’t talk. It hurt. This went on for months. Eventually, our unit was broken up during a big reorganization, and we went our separate ways. Eventually, I met someone who knew her ex-husband. His take on the divorce: “Well, wouldn’t you divorce someone who just stopped talking to you one day and wouldn’t tell you why?” Until she moved to the west coast, I never knew what set her off. It still kind of bothers me. End of story.

    Comment by Cynthia Chase — March 19, 2016 @ 11:59 am

  11. Good story Ira, keep us posted on the guy who needs a roof for his shed :) I just had to laugh when I read about your computer issues…..sounds like mine. I bought a Mac. yes they are suppose to be the best, but I have to say I have had nothing but issues….taken it back to the Apple Store I think now 4 times, and called in for tech. service so many times have lost count…and yes just today it did the same thing….it too keeps freezing up….I have to restart and it will be fine for awhile and then do it again…..sure wish someone could tell me what it is…..even Apple can’t fix it….I’m so disgusted…so I’m not so sure you need a Mac. I still have my desk top and it works fine…..had it about 7 yrs. now….it works when Mac won’t……so maybe buy a Dell :)

    Comment by kentuckylady717 — March 19, 2016 @ 7:40 pm

  12. I have really enjoyed all the comments this week. I have been sick and almost forgot to check my email. I agree with the person said that you can take a person or situation and make it the most interesting reading. I would love to read more of your writings. I also agree with you about the shunning…. I have never been shunned but one time and mine was because of a divorce. But since I have Jesus on my side, I made it through it and to God be the glory. Thanks for making my Friday nights something to look forward to. God bless you Ira.

    Comment by Linda Morris — March 19, 2016 @ 8:42 pm

  13. Best Buy has gotten weird all over apparently! I had the same experience of NO HELP. It used to be, once upon a time, that they’d be all over you like white on rice as soon as you walked into the store. But not no more. Now you can stand there PRAYING for someone to come and no one comes. But i noticed on our store they have a sign that they are hiring so maybe they have let a bunch of people go or are short staffed.

    On being shunned…..

    Being shunned by church people (I don’t call them Christians) is a regular occurrence for me. There IS a biblical basis for shunning people in the church but no one who has shunned me has ever followed the protocol for it as laid out in the scriptures; those cowards never even bothered to come to me and voice whatever their complaint was first. Totally gutless.

    Shunning, in the scriptures, is reserved for those who *call* themselves Christians but who are living in overt sin. For example, if someone professes to be a Christian but is living life as an unrepentant wife beating drunkard or blasphemer or thief, etc etc and then comes to church on Sunday and sings Hallelujah like a hypocrite.

    You at least had the luxury of *knowing* why you were being shunned. I was given no such grace. To this day I am clueless and lay in bed sometimes at night wondering why suddenly one day I showed up at church and not one soul would speak to me or sit at the brunch table with me. I was a babe in Christ at the time, still learning, and wondered if maybe I had asked the wrong questions; the pastor’s wife had seemed threatened by some of my questions and issues raised on one occasion. But the pastor or elder could have come to me at any time to speak peaceably about it or whatever was bothering them and no one ever did. Yet Matthew 18 says that if your brother sins against you GO and TELL him his fault…
    Clearly church people are selective in what scriptures and teachings of Christ they will and will not follow.

    I’ve had nothing but bad experiences in churches, so I no longer go to one. And I’m a LOT less lonely since I stopped going. From now on, instead of going to church, I will just go to Jesus.

    Comment by Cy — March 19, 2016 @ 11:57 pm

  14. Very interesting and sad comments! Shunning does take different forms with the same result. But does not get the intended results, it seems. Sad.
    Good luck with the next computer.

    Comment by Linda Ault — March 20, 2016 @ 8:32 am

  15. Hi Ira,

    Thanks for your persistence in writing the blog about shunning. To know we are loved is the best. Actually when Jesus prayed He said that He wanted the world to know that the Father loves us as much as He loves Him (Jesus). Who can take that in? When we really know how much we are loved, it removes the inclination to shun others. Love you,

    Jerry and Jeannette

    Comment by Jeannette Vandervalk — March 20, 2016 @ 10:27 pm

  16. My perception of putting some one in the ban and shunning them is that the whole thing is really more about mankind’s need for control and power.Fear based with a good dose of judgement on the side.A little touch of the dark side.And that ain’t love in my book.When a group of people use their definition of the bible as an excuse for their bad behavior it gives this old boy a reason to keep my distance.Move along,there’s nothing to see here.Been there,done that.When it happened to me decades ago I remember the power I gave it and my feelings of disgust and shame.Now I look at it in a humorous way,it’s just a part of who I was at the time.I think the karma in the whole process is that it really reflects more on the people who do it then the people who it is done against.God bless em,they need it…just sayin’..and to the matter of the electronic devices that seem to be a necessary evil in our lives..what a pain when they don’t do the task they were designed for…makes one want to put the hurt on if they could feel it.A good quality Android tablet is enough for my needs.The charging ports are the weakness in them I’ve found out.Good post,IRA,keep on keepin’ on and peace to all..

    Comment by lenny — March 30, 2016 @ 12:25 pm

  17. For those of us who are shunned, banned, ignored, or snubbed…just quietly bless them and move on. It is their loss, but our gain of peace of mind and genuine freedom from such hateful people. Di

    Comment by Di Kisinger — March 31, 2016 @ 11:18 am

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