Between Life and Death
Between Life and Death
Unable to stop thinking of Levvi, although having only stayed four days with her, George boarded the plane, wondering what her secret was?! She seemed like an angel in a cruel and unfair society; he sadly remembered her discussions about the status of women in Judaism and how they basically have no rights. What kind of religion is that which hands down women like property or like rubbish and doesn’t give them the right of heritance, in fact no rights at all!!! He remembered the discussion about the distortions of the Torah, and about the chosen people who have the right to kill, plunder and steal “the sons of Shiloh”. He also remembered their dialogue about the imaginary monuments that claimed to be the proof of the Jews’ right to possess the land of Palestine. He smiled when he remembered that she said she wouldn’t abandon the complications of Judaism for that of Catholicism. While his was reminiscing, the passenger to this left turned and asked him:
•Passenger: What is this injection you are holding, sir?
•George: It was given to me by my doctor. He stressed that I should keep it with me on the plane in case I run a sudden temperature.
•Passenger: Can I have a look at it, please?
•George: Here you are. Are you a doctor?
He examined the injection and read the instructions on the attached paper.
•Passenger: I’m a pharmacist; this injection seems to be really important for you, yet this kind of medicine is rarely used. What do you need it for?
•George: I’m not too sure. The doctor didn’t tell me.
•Passenger: All that I do know is that this injection is used for a serious condition, to reduce the impact of viruses that can’t be destroyed.
•George: I’m fine, but it seems that my friends are taking extra care of me.
•Passenger: Maybe. But I can’t agree with you because this injection can’t be bought except in the case of emergency and with a prescription.
•George: Maybe, I don’t know, but I feel healthy.
•Passenger: Good health is a crown on the heads of the healthy which is only seen by the ill. Sorry for bothering you.
•George: Never mind… thank you.
George began reminiscing again…his heart still felt sad when he thought of Levvi. He felt at ease while remembering Habib, although he was an Arab. George enjoyed his company and remembered their discussions about Muslims, when he had said to him: “You are a Muslim dressed in the robe of Catholicism”…he was thinking that his journey which was really enjoyable and… Then the stewardess interrupted him. She said:
•Stewardess: Excuse me sir, what would you prefer: chicken or meat?
The pharmacist turned to him, saying:
•Passenger: You’re very engrossed in your thoughts!
•George: Oh… I was just recollecting my trip. It was a fantastic journey; rich with knowledge.
•Passenger: How long did you stay in Jerusalem?
•George: Four days.
•Passenger: Only four days!?
•George: Yes, but they were worth months, I’ll never forget the fantastic people whom I met nor the things I learned from them in that sacred land.
•Passenger: Are you a Jew?
•George: No, why?
•Passenger: Because I am. And excuse me for saying, but when you expressed how happy you were and how fantastic the people you met there were, I thought that you must be a Jew because they are the only people who are comfortable there. As for the Christians and Muslims, they aren’t comfortable because their conditions are different from the Jews.
•George: I met both Jews and Christians there, and they were all fantastic.
•Passenger: Maybe this is the case in Britain, but not in Tel Aviv where religion is the prime factor that moves the people.
•George: Seeing as you said you’re a Jew, can I ask you a question?
•George: Do you understand the teachings of the Torah?
•Passenger: No, they can’t be understood except through the Talmud.
•George: Great, so then do you understand the Talmudic teachings?
•Passenger: Ha ha ha! No again, but they came to us in this state.
•George: Excuse me, but doesn’t this internal contradiction upset you?
•Passenger: Of course it does, but people are different in how they deal with things that upset them.
•George: How is that?
•Passenger: I run to my work, some people run to wine or women, some to researching these issues, and others to blind religiosity.
•George: This is nice, you are so honest with yourself.
•Passenger: Thank you.
•George: But the question remains: does escaping lead to having a peace of mind or not?
•Passenger: I think that all the wise people have agreed that an atheist man is a sick one, so escaping is a way to stay far from both atheism and the contradiction of religion.
•George: Except those who choose to delve into these issues as a means of escaping. Don’t you agree with me?
•Passenger: Yes, but I don’t like this way; it makes you feel grief, sorrow and confusion.
•George: Do you mean that there is no solution but escaping?
•Passenger: Yes and no.
•George : Ha ha ha! How’s that?
•Passenger: Yes as I don’t know anything else, and no, as it’s impossible for God to leave us in loss, contradiction and taking escape as the only solution.
•George: Oh, now you seem to be a philosopher, not a pharmacist.
•Passenger: This is exactly what confuses me; the scientific way contradicts what I’m saying. Yet pharmacology only accepts the scientific way; this is what I have studied.
•George: Seeking the truth, or as I always say “the path to happiness”, leads to happiness, not misery.
•Passenger: “The path to happiness”! What a nice expression.
•George: Sorry for interrupting you, but isn’t the plane cold? I feel so cold.
The pharmacist put his hand on George’s forehead, it was hot…
•Passenger: Maybe this is why the doctor gave you this injection. How do you feel now?
•George: I’m feeling even colder, and a bit sick too, but don’t worry; I’ll be fine in a little while. Now, what’s your opinion of “the path to happiness”?
•Passenger: Forget about that now; please give me that injection and the medical examination paper.
•George: Here they are.
The pharmacist asked the stewardess if there was a doctor on the plane, she answered in the negative and told him he was supposed to be on board, but he was late…
•Passenger: No problem, I’ll give him the injection myself. I have attended an advanced course on first aid, besides being a pharmacist. He is going to be in a coma until we land. Can you arrange an ambulance to wait for him at London airport?
•George: You don’t have to do that, you’re over exaggerating; beside my wife will be waiting for me with an ambulance.
•Passenger: I’m not exaggerating; I just don’t want to contradict the scientific way of dealing with things.
When George woke up, he found himself in a hospital in London with Katrina beside him, smiling…
•Katrina: Thank God you’re safe, honey.
•George: Where am I?! Where is the pharmacist?
•Katrina: You’re at the hospital in London, but who is this pharmacist you’re talking about?
•George: In the hospital?! Where is the passenger that was sitting next to me on the plane?
•Katrina: Aha! He didn’t leave until he was sure that you were safe with me in the ambulance, then he took our address and left. Thank God you’re safe.
•George: How have you been, honey? I missed you so much. I’m sorry for tiring and annoying you; I didn’t expect things will be like that.
•Katrina: The doctor read your previous medical reports and took some blood samples. They gave you an x-ray and said that your medical test results should be available tomorrow.
•George: When can we go home?
•Katrina: I don’t know, maybe after the test results are available. They said that they will determine how long you’re going to need to stay, but that it won’t be less than a week.
•George: A week?!
•Katrina: It doesn’t matter; they have assured me that you’ll be fine and this is what really matters. They were surprised that you weren’t kept at the hospital in Jerusalem.
•George: They tried to keep me in the hospital there, but I refused.
•Katrina: I’ll have to take a vacation to be able to stay with you. I’ve really missed you. This is a good chance for us to stay with each other.
•George: I’ve missed you too, but I really just want to get out of here. I want to get back home with you.
•Katrina: Don’t worry, you’ll go home soon, honey. Did you visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher?
•George: Yes, just as I promised you; I visited the church of Mary too.
•Katrina: Oh! How happy those who have prayed in this blessed church must be! I really wish I could visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher one day too.
•George: I prayed there for you as I said I would, but what kind of happiness do you mean? I don’t feel it.
•Katrina: There is no happiness equal to that of being engaged in worshipping God.
•George: This is what religious Jews say, although their worship and festivals are basically about sorrows and wailing!
•Katrina: This is right, but they worship God according to an abrogated religion that was ended with the emergence of Christ; they even combated Christianity, killed the Christ and tortured his followers.
•George: But Christians believe in the Torah, as it is the Old Testament, don’t they?
•George: So then how can you say that Judaism was abrogated by the emergence of Christ?
•Katrina: You seem zealous about Judaism, though it has ended as a religion, and the teachings of the Torah only remain as a guide for us.
•George: How do you believe in altered teachings and allow yourself to be guided by them?
•Katrina: Who told you that they’re altered?
•George: The Torah says about the daughters of Shiloh: “Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go, lie in wait in the vineyards; And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come you out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.’” Do you know who the daughters of Shiloh were? Do you believe that such a text is from God?
•Katrina: I know who the daughters of Shiloh were very well, and honestly I don’t want to talk about it. That is supposed to be explained by the priests and the popes.
•George: The Torah also says: “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’” Can this cruelty be from God?
•Katrina: Please let it go for now. I know these texts and many others and don’t like discussing them, besides I want you to have some rest now.
•Katrina: I told you I don’t like discussing these matters. I think you’re going to have enough time here for searching and reading.
•George: You’re right, that’s why I want my laptop to be with me. I want to buy some books about Christianity as well, to read about its doctrines.
•Katrina: That’s fantastic, maybe you’ll convert to Catholicism.
•George: Maybe, maybe not.
•Katrina: Your reading will be good preparation for our trip - you didn’t forget, honey, did you?
•George: I didn’t. I’ll talk tomorrow with the doctor about getting out of here as soon as possible. I’ll also take advantage of my long stay here to read.
•Katrina: Don’t worry about staying here; I’ll stay with you to talk to you, we’ll enjoy it together.
•George: Oh Katrina; I love you so much.
•Katrina: Me too, honey. Can I leave now and come back tomorrow? It’s getting dark and I’ve been here since yesterday.
•George: Sorry for exhausting you, honey; I’ll be waiting for you. I just want my laptop and mobile next to me to finish some work.
•Katrina: I’ll put them on this table beside you, but promise me you won’t exhaust yourself; I want you to rest honey. See you tomorrow.
It was still early and George didn’t feel sleepy, so he decided to read for a while and check his email. When he opened his mail, he found an email from Levvi, asking him about his health and how he was doing; he wrote back to her telling her what had happened to him, and thanked her a lot for everything she had done for him; for the injection and for being so welcoming to him. He told her that he didn’t forget his promise to her, but that he had only just got his laptop and mobile a few minutes earlier. He reassured her he would tell her regularly what was happening during his “path to happiness”, and asked her to thank Habib for him.
He found another email from Adam, replying to his previous one about the happiness of the body and the misery of the soul, and it said: “…if the body and soul aren’t happy at the same time, then what you call the happiness of the body is in fact the misery of both the body and soul. But this philosophy, thinking only of the happiness of the body, is a bleak one that supposes that life is absolute misery and that there is no place for happiness in it; but is that why we were created?! To live in misery?! Thinking that we’re created for misery is very close to atheism, which attributes all shortcomings to God, or to the pagan religions which are far from understanding God or humans or religion, or to some other religions which have been affected and distorted by paganism. Anyway, this way of thinking shows you the misery and the internal conflicts of those who think this way, more than anything else; It does not represent any scientific, philosophical, or religious view… You must have arrived by now, we can meet and discuss later after you rest from your trip.”
After finishing reading the email, George read it again then said to himself: “This is just like Adam. I don’t know if he is a great philosopher, protestant or a Jew?! In spite of being young and having a simple job, I don’t know how his speech is so simple and deep at the same time?! Adam’s right, neither the body nor the soul can be happy separately; man is an integrated unit, dismantling this unit is a sort of superficial vision of such deep issues.” What kind of pleasure of the body is the pleasure that is experienced through casual whims followed by the misery of the body?! And what kind of pleasure of the soul is the pleasure that is experienced through asceticism and ignoring natural instincts, even if this is described as being ethical or spiritual, such as the asceticism of Buddhism?! On the path to happiness, the soul, mind and body should be blended together in a combination that makes them happy, not miserable; this is why one can enjoy the body when it has a wise mind that is surrounded by the pleasures of the soul, as the mind disciplines the body and makes it lofty! Some religions abandon the body’s pleasures for that of the soul’s, while others abandon the soul’s pleasures for that of the body’s, and none of them manage to achieve the soul’s and the body’s happiness at the same time.
George looked at his watch; it was eight o’clock, so he called Adam:
•George: Hi Adam, I’m in a hospital in London so I can’t meet you, but can you come to visit me here to talk about your philosophy and continue our discussions?
•Adam: I hope you are better soon…I’ll come to see you and I promise not to annoy you with my discussions or philosophy, as you call them.
•George: I didn’t mean that, I hope you didn’t misunderstand me; in fact, I enjoy your philosophy and your discussions.
•Adam: I didn’t mean that your words upset me. The matter is simple and I love to be simple. I’ll try to see you tomorrow in the evening, during the visiting hours.
•George: I really missed our discussions. See you tomorrow, Adam.
•Adam: Ha ha ha! See you tomorrow; it seems that you confuse your longing for our discussions with that for the coffee I usually make for you, bye now.
George ended the call wondering to himself, “What is it that attracts me to Adam so much? He doesn’t appear to be American, maybe he is Greek or Italian, or from Latin America; nevertheless I feel so comfortable with him. What if Adam met Levvi? What would she think about him? Ha ha ha! Would he be able to resist her blue eyes and blonde hair, or would he be just another Kach? Would he follow his own advice or would they be just theoretical, just as many people are? Ha ha ha! Or just as they sometimes are for me?! Anyway, he’s coming tomorrow and I’ll tell him all I’ve gone through…”
The nurse woke George up early and put his breakfast on the table…
•George: When will the doctor come to see me?
•The nurse: He does his rounds of this ward at nine o’clock. If you run a temperature, tell us immediately, otherwise we’ll take your temperature once every hour starting from eight o’clock, when the effect of the injection you’ve taken has worn off.
•George: Thank you. It seems that my high temperature is really serious and that’s why it’s regularly inspected.
•The nurse: Yes, so if you run a temperature or feel cold, tell us immediately.
After finishing breakfast, George began to contemplate on what the nurse had said… He remembered how Levvi watched while he was injected, and he felt a little worried and uneasy about the doctor’s arrival. His train of thought was interrupted by the entrance of the doctor at nine thirty…
•George: Tell me frankly about my condition, please.
•Doctor: Until now, they are the same as in Jerusalem.
•George: Excuse me, but I actually haven’t been told anything yet. What did they say – what seems to be the problem with me?
•Doctor: There is an unknown virus that has attacked your brain cells. It makes your have a very high temperature very unexpectedly, so we have to keep you here, although your condition is normal and you don’t have anything wrong with you. When you run a temperature, you have to be injected with a sedating antipyretic, which works for one to two days.
•George: How many days will I have to stay here?
•Doctor: I don’t know for now, but we’re expecting the results of some other tests to be ready in the next two days. You’re expected to stay for two weeks at the worst, unless your condition becomes critical.
•George: What caused this virus?
•Doctor: Even until today, it is unknown; but we’ll try our best to make you comfortable and regularly update you with all that you need to know about your condition. Sorry, but this is all we know for now.
•George: Thanks for your help, Doctor.
When the doctor left, George turned on his laptop to plan his long stay in the hospital. He decided to read most of the time, especially since in his “path to happiness” he needs to be more acquainted with his religion, the most important religion. He mocked himself, mumbling: “Be acquainted with Christianity and its doctrines, acquainted with my own religion!” He also decided he would discuss the matter with Katrina - being a Christian theologian - and Adam and Tom, and maybe if he had some time left, have online discussions with Levvi and Habib as well. While finishing planning his stay, he became particularly engrossed in reading about the comparisons between the Orthodox church, Catholic church and the Protestant church , as they are the most famous and important doctrines of Christianity, and if he studied every doctrine of Christianity he’d never finish.
In the afternoon Katrina came to visit and brought Michael and Sally with her. George was so happy to see them as he had really missed them. He let them sit beside him and began to joke and play with them. Amidst laughing with them, he thought about the pleasures that make both the body and soul happy, and realized for the first time that he felt this kind of pleasure while being with his kids. He wondered to himself: “What if I discover all that makes both the body and soul happy at the same time? Then I would definitely reach happiness…”
He turned to his kids, asking them a question that came to his mind…
•George: What makes you happy the most in your life, Michael?
•Michael: Playing with you, Dad, and playing football.
•George: What about you, Sally?
•Sally: I love playing with you, Dad too, and playing with my dolls.
•George: I love playing with both of you, sweethearts, as well, but is there something else that makes you happy except playing?
To his surprise Michael replied:
•Michael: Sometimes I feel happy and I don’t know why, and other times I feel miserable and also I don’t know why. Why do you ask, Dad?
•George: Why do you think you feel sometimes happy and other times unhappy, Michael?
•Michael: Maybe I feel happy because I helped a friend, and miserable because I did something wrong.
Katrina smiled listening to this fantastic family discussion, and said: Maybe we feel happiness in our hearts because we love people and wish good for them, sweetheart.
•Michael: You mean just to wish good for people without even doing anything for them, Mummy?!
•Katrina: Sure, and hating people and wishing bad things for them is the same, even without doing anything bad to them.
George wanted to enrich this discussion, so he asked Michael and Sally:
•George: So then why do people choose misery, and not happiness?
•Michael: Because they’re stupid.
•Sally: Or because they don’t know.
•Katrina: Or because they are both, sweethearts. And besides, being guided to goodness and happiness is a blessing from God.
•George: That’s why it’s important to seek to find the path to happiness.
•Michael: I heard you telling Mum that you were going to Jerusalem to find the path to happiness, is it only in Jerusalem?
•George: Ha ha ha! No, son, it’s just I’m trying to reach that goodness and happiness we’re talking about, and my trip to Jerusalem coincided with the signing of a business contract there; so I became acquainted with new people, and learnt and benefitted from them.
Sally spontaneously said:
•Sally: I don’t like the people of Jerusalem.
Surprised by her remark, George asked her:
•Sally: A girl at school told me that her family goes to Jerusalem in Israel, and that it’s full of killings, imprisonments, torturings and people being bombed. So I don’t like her or the people of Jerusalem.
Katrina was taken aback by what Sally had said, and so she said: No rational human likes terrorism or killings; all the divine and human laws dictate justice and kindness.
Katrina’s words reminded George of the classes of Buddhism and the laws of the Old Testament with regards to killings, women, and the daughters of Shiloh, but he smiled and said:
•George: There are also very kind people in Jerusalem from all the religions; Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
•Sally: Then I don’t like the Jew, Levvi, as she likes the killings and arrests that happen there.
•George: And who’s Levvi?
•Sally: She’s the Jewish girl from school.
•George: Well done, Sally! It’s good to like or dislike people according to their principles and morals, not because of their appearances or origins.
•Michael: I don’t like David, a boy at school; he’s always talking about wine.
•George glanced at Katrina and smiled…
•George: What’s wrong with wine, Michael?
•Michael: I don’t know, but it seems to make one drunk and unconscious.
•Katrina felt embarrassed, so she said quickly:
•Katrina: You’re right Michael, wine is also forbidden in our religion, as it says in the New Testament: “ neither let her drink wine or strong drink.”
Katrina noticed that George seemed surprised, so she talked about something else:
•Katrina: Did you meet the doctor, George?
•Katrina: Is there anything new?
•George: No, the new test results are the same as they were in the hospital in Tel Aviv.
•Katrina: Strange, didn’t the doctor in Tel Aviv tell you the results of your tests?!
•George: No, the company there provided me with a service as one of its employees was in contact with the hospital, so Levvi was the one who got the results, but she refused to tell me what they said, so as not to scare me.
•Katrina seemed jealous.
•Katrina: It seems that Levvi is very pretty, and very keen not to hurt your feelings as well!!
•Sally: If she’s like the Levvi at school, that doesn’t make her pretty or kind, Dad.
•George: But Sally, Levvi is kind and pretty.
•Katrina: According to the Jewish women, sex is easy for them, as it says in the Old Testament.
•Michael: Does the Old Testament promote sex, Mum?
•Katrina: I was just kidding Michael. Wasn’t I, George?
•George: Yes…sure, your mother loves kidding. No right religion would promote killing people, drinking wine or undisciplined sex. Besides, no true believer would believe in these.
Katrina understood what George was trying to tell her by talking with Michael, so she tried again to talk about something else, she said:
•Katrina: It’s getting late, I’m leaving now, George, to take the kids home, then I’ll come back to you.
•George: I’ll be waiting for you, honey. I wish that you’d come to see me every other day at least, my heroes. Love you guys very much.
After Katrina left with the kids, George became engrossed in his thoughts, wondering to himself: “Am I going to live the rest of my life in conflict with thoughts, philosophies and religions?! Why can’t all the religions work together in harmony for the happiness of all humanity?! Why can’t humans just live in internal peace with themselves, and in external harmony with each other?!” He smiled talking to himself: “Maybe I’ve become a big dreamer; life is so strange; sometimes it changes us into some kind of a utopian! What if God guided the people to him without the effort destined for them? But then I imagine that life would be boring, or that we’d maybe even be another sort of creation other than humans with our weaknesses. Then there wouldn’t be something called evil or even good, as goodness can’t be realized except through the existence of evil. The existence of both evil with good is evidence of our existence. Wow! How man can easily lose himself in his own philosophies and ideas unless he realizes his destination and the significance of his life and death.”
George was waiting for Katrina and Adam, although she had just left. He switched on his laptop to check his email when he found a message from Kach, thanking him for finishing the job and telling him that he would visit him that day or perhaps the next, after finding out from his wife, Katrina, that he was sick. Afterwards, he logged onto Facebook to have a look at Adam’s profile, but he didn’t add him in order for Adam not to notice that he was reading what he was writing about him regularly. He found a second article, titled: Lessons from my friend on his quest to find happiness (2): “My friend who is seeking happiness is still as determined as ever to find the path, and I’ve learned the following lessons from him: 1- Great things, like seeking happiness, require exerting a large amount of effort and facing great trials. 2- Determination creates opportunities; the more my friend persists, the more opportunities to learn and gain knowledge are opened up for him. 3- Overcoming oneself; not overcoming the incidents of life, is the greatest victory and the biggest success ever achieved by a seeker of happiness. 4- In spite of my friend’s great determination, I’m concerned as although he knows what he doesn’t want, he doesn’t focus enough on what he does want. Stay tuned for another lesson soon, thank you all, Adam.”
George read the article again, slowly this time; he felt as if Adam knew what was inside his head. He began talking to himself: “What did Adam mean with ‘the great trial’? And what did he mean with ‘overcoming oneself’? Does Adam know that his friend failed the trial, as he abandoned his principles and bribed someone? Does Adam know that he kissed a beautiful woman and desired to betray his wife with her? Does he know that he isn›t yet able to make a decision to leave that company which is managed by the immoral Kach? Does he know that he sometimes even helps Kach with bribery? And what did Adam mean by his last point? Why is he worried that I know all that I don›t want but not what I do want? Doesn›t knowing what I don›t want mean knowing what I do want? But as I don›t want to be a lost atheist, nor an unreasonable Buddhist, nor a Hindu worshipping a cow or thousands gods, nor a complex Jew, then what do I really want? Perhaps Adam›s right about his concerns. I›ll try to discuss this with him today, without telling him that I›ve read what he›s written about me, so that he will continue to write freely.»
George felt that he was getting cold; he tried to lower his temperature, but he started to feel a bit sick. The nurse saw him so she came quickly…
•The nurse: Do you feel cold?
•George: A little bit, but maybe my temperature has lowered now.
•The nurse: No, the temperature is the same. Relax on your bed. I’ll tell the doctor and bring the injection in a minute.
The nurse came back quickly to give George the injection…
•The nurse: This is the new injection prescribed for you.
•The nurse: Yes, it lasts longer than the previous one, but you’ll become totally unconscious. Sorry, but you’re supposed to be injected as soon as possible! Would you please stretch out your arm?
George lost consciousness a few minutes after being injected.
When Katrina came back and found George in that state, she sat herself beside him and waited for him to wake up. She was looking at him lying in the bed, feeling so much in love with him. She knew well that he loved her, but he kept on arguing with her and refusing to submit to God, as Catholicism dictates. Then she began thinking how she enjoyed their discussions so much, although she had no clear answers to many of his questions and often became confused and embarrassed. She asked herself: “Isn’t submission to God enough to make George abandon those questions and discussions? Or is submission a way of irrationally escaping the answer? It’s true that Catholicism sometimes confuses me, but Judaism and even Protestantism have the same contradictions, and many more too. Sorry Jesus, I don’t mean, of course, that you didn’t save us, but…”
Then Levvi, the pretty Jew that George talked about, crossed her mind… She trusted George very much and knew his good principles well and also his faithfulness, but why did he come back from his trip with only stories about the opposite sex?! She smiled when she realized that she was feeling jealous, and wondered where this jealousy was when Tom kissed her? She said to herself: “George’s right, how do I allow myself to drink wine when I know that the New Testament forbids this, and how could I go on teaching that to my kids?! Oh my God! What am I going to say when he discusses it with me…?”
While Katrina was absorbed in her thoughts, she heard someone asking the nurse: “Where’s George, gorgeous?” His inappropriate looks at the nurse were even ruder than his words. The nurse pointed at the room, then he entered and shook hands with Katrina.
•The visitor: Hi, are you George’s wife?
•Katrina: Yes, who are you?
•The visitor: I’m Kach, George’s mate at the company; you answered my call yesterday and told me that George was in the hospital, remember? How’s he doing now?
•Katrina: Have a seat please. He’s fine now, but had a fever. They injected him with a sedative and antipyretic, so he is unconscious – it’s a side effect of the medication.
•Kach: You don’t look British!
•Katrina: I’m British of Indian descent.
•Kach: Yes, I see. Your Eastern beauty is clear; maybe that’s why George wasn’t impressed when he went to India.
•Katrina: Impressed by what?!
•Kach: Impressed by the Indian ladies of course, ha ha ha! Anyway, it seems that you’ve infatuated George, congratulations.
It became clear on Katrina’s face that she resented his words…
•Kach: This is the first time I’ve seen you; maybe George was hiding your beauty from me. Anyway, nice to meet you. I’m ready to help you any time with anything you need, and you’re welcome -if you want- to work with us at the company.
•Katrina: Thank you, but I’m a teacher of theology and I’m dedicated to the church.
•Kach: With us the payment will be better, and I think you’ll be more comfortable.
•Katrina: But I’m dedicated to the church and don’t want to give up my job.
•Kach: It’s up to you, but think about it. To be frank, George has worked hard for the company, and the board of directors are really impressed by his achievements, especially after his last trip to Tel Aviv. Can you imagine that he brilliantly managed - in two successive trips - to win the target deals and also sign the contracts with the clients with their complete satisfaction?
•Katrina: Maybe that was because of your instructions; you’re his boss.
•Kach: Maybe, but I don’t think so. Especially concerning my instructions for him about the women.
Just then a man knocked at the door, asking:
•The visitor: Excuse me, is this George’s room?
•Katrina: Yes, I’m his wife. He’s in a coma now, who’re you? Come in.
•The visitor: I’m Adam, a friend of George; he called me earlier today and was fine. What happened?
•Katrina: With the kind of illness that he has he doesn’t know when he’s going to be sick, because his temperature can rise at any time, and that’s why he had to be injected with a sedative and antipyretic which puts him into a deep coma.
•Adam: I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do for him?
•Katrina: I really appreciate your noble feelings. Have a seat, please.
•Adam: Thank you.
When Adam walked towards Kach to shake hands with him, Kach arrogantly shook hands with him, so Adam felt rather embarrassed, and said:
•Adam: Sorry, I don’t know who you are yet. .
•Kach: I’m Kach, George’s boss in the company. What do you work as?
•Adam: I’m Adam; a waiter and a friend of George.
•Kach: A waiter?!
Adam’s face reddened with anger, but he disciplined himself and calmly said:
•Adam: Yes, ask him when he wakes up! Friendship is based on psychological, spiritual and mental affinity, not on financial affinity.
Katrina interrupted the discussion, feeling upset by the pompous tone of Kach:
•Katrina: Never mind, Adam; George speaks about you a lot. He’s very happy with your friendship, and your opinions and wisdom.
•Adam: That’s so kind of him… Then he glanced towards Kach and added: But if it wasn’t for his kindness, he would see me just as a waiter, as he is a highly qualified engineer!
Kach said arrogantly:
•Kach: Of course, because that’s all that you are!!
•Katrina: Kach! Show some respect to George’s friend.
•Kach: Ha ha ha! Show respect to a man whose income hardly equals that of my cleaner!?
•Katrina: He’s George’s friend and money doesn’t matter; do you think that people are appreciated according to the money they own?
•Kach: You seem just like George, and sitting with a waiter doesn’t suit me. Anyway, my offer is still on the table, here’s my card with my number; just give me a call if you need anything. See you soon, and I hope George gets better soon.
•Katrina: Sorry about that, Adam.
•Adam: You don’t have to apologize, you didn’t do anything. My value is determined by what I think about myself, not by what others think about me.
•Katrina: George was right about you.
•Adam: Thanks, that’s so kind of both of you.
•George: He speaks a lot about your religiosity, wisdom and advice.
•Adam: George’s a true seeker of the truth, and he’s going to reach it because God never lets down anyone who tries to reach the truth.
•Katrina: These words show that your trust in God are really deep; but aren’t you afraid that it’s possible for him to forsake all religions because of their contradictions?
•Adam: No, I don’t think so.
•Katrina: Why are you so sure about that?
•Adam: Because the right religion has no contradictions, and he’ll reach that religion.
•Katrina: Are you a Catholic or Protestant?
•Adam: I’d rather not answer that?
•Katrina: It’s up to you, it was just a question.
•Adam: I’ll visit George again tomorrow, but now please excuse me.
•Katrina: George will be so happy with your visit tomorrow, so don’t be late.
•Adam: I’ll try to come tomorrow or the day after, but I’ll call him tomorrow in any case, see you.
The side effect of the injection began to wear off and George regained consciousness, but it was difficult for him to move his body, as if it was a dead weight. He was hardly able to open his eyes, but he had heard some of what Katrina, Adam and Kach had said. He understood some parts clearly, while other parts were jumbled up. After Adam left, George started feeling better and was about to open his eyes when he heard someone’s footsteps getting closer, so he decided to keep them shut. He recognized the visitor from his voice when he greeted Katrina - it was Doctor Tom…
•Tom: How’s our philosopher doing?
•Katrina: Hi Tom; he spiked a sudden fever so they injected him with a sedative, and as a side effect he’s in a coma.
•Tom: I hope he gets better soon. George’s a unique man and although I pick arguments with him a lot, I benefit from him more than he does from me.
•Katrina: You’re his doctor, and he’s much better since the first visit with you.
•Tom: It’s me who’s getting better; you and George maybe don’t know it, but I used to be an immoral doctor who didn’t care about anything except women and pleasure. And I don’t know why, but George’s philosophy and my reading about religions, coupled with my visits to the church with you, have really changed my life for the better! By the way, I wanted to apologize for the kiss; believe me I didn’t mean to act like that. I don’t know what came over me!
•Katrina: It’s over. Maybe it was my mistake; I drank heavily that day.
•Tom: Sometimes we like to philosophize over the mistakes that we make that we aren’t sure about or we were forced to make. Let’s leave this subject now. Tell me, what has the doctor said about George’s condition?
•Katrina: Things aren’t clear right now; but I hope that everything will be clear to his doctors in the next couple of days.
•Tom: God will look after him; he’ll be just fine.
George pretended to slowly open his eyes, as if he was just waking up and wondering where he was…
•Katrina: George, honey, you’re awake!
•George: How long have I been out?
•Katrina: Three hours; the nurse told me that you had been injected just before I came. Thank God you’re safe… Then she turned to Tom and said: Your doctor came to greet you and make sure you’re fine.
•Tom: How are you, George?
•George: Fine, how are you Doctor?
•Tom: I’m fine. I was asking Katrina about you and she reassured me you’re fine. I don’t want to exhaust you now, so I’ll leave, see you later.
•George: I’ll be here in the hospital for a while, I guess. When will the next session be?
•Tom: It’ll be here at the hospital, whenever you want.
•George: Great, then let’s make it in the next few days.
•Tom: If you have the time, continue reading about divine religions to enrich our next session.
•George: Great, it’s a deal.
Katrina picked up one of the books that was beside George, then smiled and said:
•Katrina: He started reading this yesterday.
•Tom: That’s fantastic, George.
•George: I’ll try to fill my long stay here with dialogues… He turned to Katrina and smiled… but she doesn’t like discussions and ends them quickly.
Katrina blushed and said:
•Katrina: I’ll try my best not to end them.
•Tom: Ha ha ha! Very good. I’ll visit you more than once, if I’m able to, so that we can have a discussion. I wish you a speedy recovery, but I must go now.
After Tom left Katrina turned to George, smiling:
•Katrina: Sorry about ending the discussions honey, help me to stop doing that.
•George: I was kidding.
•Katrina: But you’re right… I wanted to ask you: tell me about that rude man Kach who says he’s your Boss?
•George: What about him?
•Katrina: He came today and behaved so indecently; if it wasn’t for your sake, I would have kicked him out.
•George: For my sake! You should’ve kicked him out! Oh how I hate him! What did he do?
•Katrina: He’s just so rude; his looks, his words, behavior, his gestures, everything about him is rude. Can you imagine that he looked down on Adam as he is a waiter, and spoke inappropriately to the nurse!?
•George: Did Adam come?
•Katrina: Yes and he was so polite, although Kach was so disrespectful to him.
•George: Sometimes I feel that Kach is the exact opposite to Adam.
•Katrina: Despite his young age and simple job, Adam talks with the wisdom of the elders and philosophers.
•George: So was I right about what I told you about him?
•Katrina: You absolutely hit the nail on the head about him. I love you George; Kach told me that you’re unlike him concerning women - that you’re decent.
•George: And what about the charming Urmila and the pretty Levvi?
•Katrina: I trust you, honey, and trust your morals; do you trust me?
•George: I do.
•Katrina: And my evenings with Tom?
•George: Tom told me about what happened between you and him the last time you two met.
•Katrina: Believe me; I don’t know how it happened!
•George: Oh… we make many mistakes and don’t know how we make them, but I’m sure of your religiosity and morals, honey.
•Katrina: I love you, George.
She looked at her watch and said:
•Katrina: I have to leave now, but I’ll return tomorrow.
•George: See you, and remember you’ve promised to discuss with me without ending our conversations abruptly, because I want to discuss with you “neither let her drink wine or strong drink, “, as it is stated in the Gospel.
•Katrina: Okay honey, I promise to be honest with you about that.
•George: Good, we both agree on that, honey.
After Katrina left, George closed his eyes trying to recollect what he had heard when he was regaining consciousness. He clearly heard the words of Tom, more than the others, especially concerning what he said about him changing, thanks to George, with a tone of truth which greatly surprised him.
He could remember some of what Kach said and his arrogance and disdain towards Adam, while Adam replied politely in return. He smiled when he remembered how Kach praised him for signing the contracts and how impressed the board of directors were. He wondered: “Will I be courageous enough to resign from the company after I’m released from the hospital, and stop being an immoral tool in the hands of Kach? Or will the love of money beat my principles?”
He was totally absorbed in his thoughts when he heard the voice of the nurse asking him:
•The nurse: Hello George. How is your temperature now?
•George: I’m much better, thank you.
•The nurse: We expected you to wake up sooner than this.
•George: Actually, I was awake, but felt so tired that I didn’t open my eyes.
•The nurse: Okay then, no problem, and your temperature now is fine. Excuse me, I have other patients to check.
•George: Thank you, and sorry for the rudeness of my visitor; my wife told me about it.
•The nurse: It was another nurse on duty not me, but anyway, we’re used to such people, so don’t worry about that. And thanks for your kindness. My name’s Zinta, you can call me anytime if you need anything.
•George: Zinta …your name’s unusual.
•The nurse: I have Austrian, not British, roots.
•George: I know another Austrian and she’s kind, just like you.
•The nurse: That’s odd; there are only a few Austrians here.
•George: Levvi doesn’t live here; I met her in Tel Aviv.
•The nurse: A Jew! The Jews corrupted Europe, so we got rid of them by giving them to Palestine and Jerusalem.
•George: You seem to be prejudiced.
•The nurse: Maybe, but you haven’t lived among them for long enough and don’t know what it’s like... anyway, if you need me, you can call me anytime. You’ll have dinner now because you didn’t have lunch, and then you should have some rest.
•George: Thank you.
•The nurse: Any time, Mr. George.
George woke up the next morning feeling full of energy and vitality, something he hadn’t felt in a while. He even wished that he could leave the hospital, as his stay was becoming boring. He ate his breakfast earlier than usual and then began to read, waiting for the doctor. He decided to make some comparisons between Judaism and Christianity, and read about the status of women in Christianity compared to that of Judaism. He wanted to discuss this issue with Katrina, and maybe with Habib and Levvi too.
When the doctor came George greeted him and asked:
•George: Have the latest test results revealed anything new?
•Doctor: Some results are already available and some aren’t yet, but don’t worry.
•George: I’m not worried at all, it was just a question; what about the available results?
•Doctor: We have to wait for the rest of the results before making the final diagnosis, but I don’t want you to worry about this now. Though it is possible that you’ll need to undergo surgery.
•Doctor: Please don’t be worried; the cure lies only with God; we’re just the instruments.
•George: Believe me, I’m not worried at all; I’m just surprised that my condition has worsened so suddenly.
•Doctor: I know. The nurse tells me that she always sees you reading and discussing, and never sees you depressed, which is fantastic. We’re waiting for the results tomorrow or the day after, at the latest.
•George: I’ll be waiting and I’m sure that everything is going to be just fine.
•Doctor: Great, you’re right. But would you explain to me how come you’re so confident?
•George: I have no doubt that God is the most Merciful.
•Doctor: So you’re religious… that’s it! Generally the religious are more likely to be happy and comfortable than the atheist patients, who believe that they have only one life to live.
•George: I didn’t mean that; all I meant was that God is merciful towards us in this life. But even if what you said has a deep meaning, i.e. a believer believes in another life in the hereafter, this view is confined only to those who believe in divine religions.
•Doctor: Sorry, you are starting to philosophize and I don’t have much time, but tell me in short: why don’t those of other religions, like Buddhists and Hindus, have that view of life?
•George: Because they don’t believe there is another life; instead, they believe that their souls transfer to others.
•Doctor: Ha ha ha! A primitive dogma. In spite of your very interesting talk, I have to leave now, duty beckons.
George was occupied once again with reading and analyzing matters when Adam called …
•George: Hi, Adam; Katrina told me that you came. Thanks for your visit.
•Adam: Is there anything I can do for you, my friend?
•George: It’s so kind of you to ask, Adam. I’m grateful to you, but be sure that if I need anything I’ll tell you… hold on a second, I remember, there was something…
•Adam: Anything George; I’m really happy, you make me feel like we’re true friends.
•George: I want to see you; I have many things that I want to discuss with you.
•Adam: Okay, but I’m sorry I can’t come today as we have double the amount of work in the café, since one of the waiters is off sick.
•George: That’s okay, I’ll wait for you tomorrow.
After George ended the call, Katrina arrived with a big cheerful smile…
•Katrina: How’s my honey today?
•George: I feel much better; what about you?
•Katrina: All I can say is thank God for His graces.
•George: What graces do you mean?
•Katrina: The grace of religion and being busy with the church and… and the grace of you being my husband.
•George: So you think religion is a grace?
•Katrina: Absolutely; being without God is the worst thing ever.
•George: Then what do you think about atheists?
•Katrina: Honestly, and from my point of view; atheism is a disease rather than a religion; it harms the self and the soul, the mind and one’s reasoning, and the universe and creation.
•George: I completely agree with you, but how can being sick be a grace?
•Katrina: I meant the grace of you being my husband, not of you being sick.
•George: And what is the grace in that?
•Katrina: I mean that some men insult women and don’t appreciate them; they aren’t faithful like you, honey.
•George: Isn’t insulting woman directly connected to religion?
•Katrina: What do you mean?
•George: The more religious you are, the more you should insult women.
•Katrina: Again, who told you that?
•George: The teachings of Judaism illustrate women with the worst type of descriptions.
•Katrina: You’ve just said Judaism, so why do you generalize this with Christianity?
•George: Paul said in Corinthians in his first epistle: “Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be submissive,” didn’t he?
•Katrina: Now you seem to be a theologian!
•George: I told you that I’d read about Christianity during my stay, didn’t I? And didn’t Tom tell me to do that in front of you?
•Katrina: Good… that’ll make you more religious, and maybe make you convert to Catholicism instead of Protestantism.
•George: Maybe, but let’s return to our subject; honestly, isn’t the status of women in Christianity contemptible, just like Judaism?
•Katrina: I’ve promised you to be honest and to continue discussing things with you, so I’ll continue, although I don’t like what I have to say.
•George: I don’t want you to do something that you don’t like, so I’ll excuse you for that reason.
•Katrina: No, I’ll continue because you need to submit to God, and I need to reason and think.
•George: You’re right; there’s no belief without submission, but God is Just and can’t charge us to believe in contradictions or any irrational orders.
•Katrina: What do you mean?
•George: Can a true religion be irrational?
•Katrina: Give me an example?
•George: Such as a god that is weak or that needs his slaves, or a god whom his slaves kill; how could such a being be a true god?
•Katrina: Although the implications of what you say are really serious, you have a point.
•George: What implications do you mean?
•Katrina: That’s not what we are talking about now; we were discussing the status of women in Christianity, weren’t we?
•Katrina: To be frank, I’ve always wished I could be a man, because in Christianity the woman is of a lower class.
•George: Oh, just like Judaism?
•Katrina: Perhaps not as much as Judaism; but it is the altered Torah and Talmud that have such crude teachings and are full of sexual accounts that are impossible to believe… also women in the Gospel are lower than men, and it contains some awful things concerning her, but they aren’t as bad as that of Judaism.
•George: I know some crude teachings of the Old Testament.
•Katrina: Like what?
•George: The woman is handed down like property: “If brethren dwell together, and one of them dies, and has no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry outside unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him as wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother unto her,” also she has no right of heritance: “And you shall speak unto the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter,” and about the menstruating woman: “And whoever touches those things (the menstruating woman) shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until evening.” It that enough, or do you want more?
•Katrina: Enough… enough… in fact, Christianity has set the woman free from her position in Judaism. Although the position of women is tragic in Christianity, it’s much better than it is in Judaism.
•George: How is that so?
•Katrina: The Jews, in the era of Christ, allowed the man to divorce his wife for the most insignificant reasons; such as spoiling the food. But Christianity gave the woman her rights; Christ confined the reason for divorce to only adultery, and so he set her free from the control of men and protected her from his whims.
•George: That’s good… can you mention more examples?
•Katrina: In fact, just as the Bible is full of such texts that you mentioned, it is also full of other texts that honor women.
•George: And what are the true texts, those which are from God? It doesn’t make sense that the texts are from God and are contradictory at the same time!
•Katrina: You brought up a topic which is even more difficult; believe me, I’m not trying to escape the discussion, I’m just really tired.
•George: What is the topic which is difficult and we’ll discuss it later.
•Katrina: It’s the topic cocnerning which texts are from God and which have been altered by people.
•George: Okay, let’s end the discussion for now and finish it later, another time.
•Katrina: Will you tell me about the Church of the Resurrection now?
•George: Sure. I went to it as I promised you on Friday, and there was a huge traffic jam…
They were interrupted by Brad, who came to visit George.
•Brad: Hi George… hi Katrina.
•Brad: I heard that you were sick and thought maybe you would need me.
Brad turned to Katrina and said, mischievously:
•Brad: Oh you’re here; I thought you’d be with Tom.
•Katrina: What do you mean?
•Brad: Nothing, don’t get upset, ma’am.
George sat up and said:
•George: This matter has nothing to do with you, Brad.
•Brad: Maybe, but Tom often talks about Katrina and how beautiful she is, so I expected her to be with him.
George said, angrily:
•George: You’re such a liar, and rude as well.
•Brad: Tom also told me that you wanted to go to Tora Bora; is he a liar too?
Katrina said: Tora Bora?!
•George: Don’t make me mad. Thanks for your visit and please go now, I want to rest.
•Brad: I’m leaving now, but don’t let Tom deceive you with his sweet words, he’s a specialist in playing with words. I can tell you about all the women he had affairs with… and as you know George, I have a solution for all your problems. I’ll be waiting for your call, bye.
Once Brad left, Katrina sank into the chair, sighing…
•Katrina: I hate that man.
•George: Me too; he doesn’t have any morals or principles at all.
•Katrina: But what did he mean?
•George: About what?
•Katrina: Do you really want to go to Tora Bora?
•George: Ha ha ha! Do you even know what Tora Bora is?
•Katrina: Yes, it’s a mountain for terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Anyhow, what has it got to do with you?
•George: Something strange happened. Tom was talking with me about religions and Islam, and he jokingly said to me that if I converted to Islam I would go to Tora Bora. Then on my way out I was surprised when Brad asked me if I was going to Tora Bora.
•Katrina: He and Tom are lying; don’t believe what they say about me.
•George: I know that Brad is lying, but as for Tom, he told me about the kiss and told me that he didn’t mean it. And I don’t know why, but I feel that I believe him.
•Katrina: Regrettably, Tom’s right about that, but it was my fault more than his; if I hadn’t been drinking, he’d never have dared to do that.
•George: I can understand that Tom’s behavior was involuntary, but what I can’t really understand is your insistence on drinking wine!
•George: And even more strange is what you said to our son about wine: “Now drink no wine or similar drink.”?
•Katrina: Man may philosophize or rationalize his mistakes- at least to himself- but I’ll be honest with you.
•George: Sorry for interrupting you, but what do you mean by philosophizing and rationalizing mistakes?
•Katrina: I mean that there are many teachings of the religion that we don’t know and many others that we know and choose to disobey, but the problem is that we don’t want to admit our mistakes, so we search for rational or philosophical and even religious interpretations in order not to appear mistaken. Maybe the clearest example of that is wine in Catholicism.
•George: Explain it to me more.
•Katrina: The rule on this issue is that it is forbidden to drink wine in both the New and the Old Testaments. The Old Testament says: “It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink; lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the justice of any of th afflicted” and also the New Testament: “And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”
•George: Then wine is essentially forbidden, but does this rule have exceptions?
•Katrina: Don’t mock me; I’ll be honest with you. It mentions in the Old and the New Testaments that the prophets drank wine, so we drink it in the church and justify our actions by referring to what Jesus said in John’s Gospel: “I am the true vine”, and what he also said about his followers: “you are the branches.” So just as the juice of his vine slides into the branches to nourish them, the Christ used the vine’s juice to refer to his sacred blood that we drink to make it glide into our veins to sanctify our blood and our soul. And Christ didn’t give us the vine’s juice to enjoy it or to get drunk with it, but he gave it to us for a sacred purpose, which is a pure secret that only the believers appreciate.
•George: Oh… creative philosophy!
•Katrina: Stop mocking me, or I won’t go on.
•George: Ha ha ha! Okay, so drinking wine became sacred!
•Katrina: See how we philosophize and rationalize what we want in order to make it part of religion?
•George: But this is only acceptable in a made-up religion which has been written according to what its makers want, but it is not acceptable for a divine religion from God.
•Katrina: Oh, you never get tired of discussing, but I have to go home to see Michael and Sally. I’ll try to come back to continue our discussions, but you’re going to need to lower the tone a little with me, because it affects me emotionally if they are matters that highlight the contradictions with our inner selves, even more so than the contradictions in the religion itself .
•George: I’ll be waiting, honey, and sorry for exhausting you. I don’t want you to tire yourself by coming back straight away. If you aren’t able to come back today, it’s okay.
Katrina kissed George on the forehead and cheeks, and left. She was so happy with their discussion; for the first time she felt that she had expressed herself and that her mind had triumphed over her emotions. George was also very happy that he had discovered the extraordinary philosophical, rational and scientific skills of Katrina, which had been covered by abstract submission. George was going over the discussion once again; it was profound. He smiled remembering how Katrina managed to divert the question of “why does she drink wine?” so creatively, feeling unembarrassed.