Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

On Coverage

Posted by flyingbk on 09/30/2010

In the book I just reviewed, there’s a subtle yet poignant scene. Minny Jackson, one of the black maids, possesses a nasty cut over her eye as a result of a struggle with her abusive husband. Aibileen, her friend and fellow maid, walks to her house and invites her to have coffee at Aibileen’s. As Minny prepares to follow Aibileen, she peels the bandage off her eye because she doesn’t want people to see it. In her own words: On some folks around here, a cut-up eye wouldn’t even get a comment. But I’ve got good kids, a car with tires, and a refrigerator freezer. I’m proud of my family and the shame of the eye is worse than the pain.

Check out what happens next: I follow Aibileen through the sideyards and backyards, avoiding the traffic and the looks. I’m glad she knows me so well.

So Aibileen, seeing her friend in such a state, makes sure to take a back way so that no one will witness Minny and her eye. Aibileen knows that Minny has a certain pride that would be wounded bit by bit as other people stared at her eye with mouths agape, wondering about its implications. Therefore, Aibileen covers her friend by choosing the alternate route.  This short episode spoke to me, and reminded me of a similar story in the Bible:

20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness. (Genesis 9:20-22, NIV)

At first glance, it doesn’t appear that Ham does anything egregious. But Ham ends up cursed because of his lack of coverage: He failed to remedy his father’s condition. (NOTE: Many scholars differ over what Ham’s and Canaan’s sin was exactly.) Shem and Japheth perform a similar deed like Aibileen’s, and are therefore blessed.

Here is Noah, a patriarch, someone whom God singled out as worthy of saving before the flood. When a bigshot like him “falls” as in this story, how would we react? We can be like Ham who tells others, or we can be like Shem and Japheth, who quickly cover up and hope that no one else finds out about their father’s sin. Unfortunately, there is a nasty strain in the church today that loves to point out hypocrisy and sin in other people. Instead of covering up, we love to expose, whether it be via gossip and/or joking.

I know that the example from The Help is not completely analogous to this situation in Scripture. After all, Minny didn’t do anything wrong and is more of a victim. But I believe that the principle is the same. I admit that I have been far from perfect in this area; it’s so easy to make fun of people in front of others, and point out others’ faults. But, we should always be looking to cover others’ weaknesses. Let’s focus on building up each others’ strengths, and telling the good things about each other to each other.

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