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Gentile Side of Things

“What does it mean to be a gentile today?”

That’s the question I'm supposed to answer at the beginning of this column, and I don’t even know where to begin. How about a thought experiment? Imagine a world inhabited by personifications of all the colors of the rainbow. There’s a nation of purples, a tribe of teals, and a commonwealth of burnt siennas. Now imagine that one of the hues, let’s say the People of Nation of Periwinkle, decide to ask the question: “What does it mean to be non-Periwinkle today?” And imagine they decide to hire a member of the Maroon community to answer this question for them. And the Maroon individual does his best: he deliberates, he meditates, he ruminates! And lo, within some days he has produced a taut, persuasive treatise on the essential state of non-Periwinkleness. But then he starts getting hate mail. Suddenly the offices of the nation of Periwinkle are flooded with letters from all the assorted Reds, Blues and Yellows of the world. “What is this nonsense?” they wonder. “This isn’t my experience at all. I’m non-periwinkle and I haven’t once looked at the world this way. This reads like the ramblings of a narrow-minded, solipsistic Maroon!” And imagine that poor Maroon, who was only trying to do the job the Periwinkles had hired him to do. He didn’t mean to hurt anyone. He didn’t mean to presume to speak for the whole wide world of hues and shades and tints. He was just trying to make a quick buck! Now, with that in mind, I’d like to pose a question to my new editors: “What does it mean to be a gentile, today?”


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