Treason! (or maybe not)

Treason!  Treason!  The accusation rang loud and long in the palace of the queen, and it was the queen herself making the accusation.  She was suddenly facing an uprising from the priesthood — ironic, considering they were the spokesmen for righteousness and order, which had always translated to supporting the monarch instead of bringing the monarch down.  She was horrified that the people and their leaders would turn on the queen so rudely, suddenly, and ultimately with extreme violence.

As is generally the case, there are two sides to the story.

Read More

Flying with a peacock

There are so many satire sites out there these days, it’s tough to take any bit of ridiculousness seriously — which is, I suppose, a good thing.  Anyway, I figured it was probably a gag when I saw United Airlines had denied a seat and ticket to a woman’s pet peacock, which she needed as an “emotional support animal.”

But no, this one appears to be legit.

Read More


The story goes that Yul Brynner, career flying after the success of The King and I and The Ten Commandments, was a bit annoyed at the upstart television actor named Steve McQueen that he had brought into the production of The Magnificent Seven.  McQueen had a habit of playing with his hat, wiping his brow, basically anything to get the audience’s eyes on him while he and Brynner were in a scene.

It went both ways, though.  Brynner, several inches shorter than McQueen, arranged for small piles of dirt to be nearby for him to stand on when acting with McQueen.  McQueen took delight in kicking the dirt piles over.  Ah, the famous camaraderie of thespians!

McQueen’s antics worked, it seems.  He became one of the biggest screen stars of the 1960s.  Brynner’s career, on the other hand, trended downward more and more.  My generation knows him as much as anything for those creepy lung cancer commercials he made just before he died.

Who is “bigger”?  Men have been fighting over that vague concept for centuries.  And women have their own version of the battle; they’re just not as likely to literally kill anyone in pursuit of the blue ribbon.  “We just tease her until she develops an eating disorder,” one female TV character once observed.

But life shouldn’t be a competition for Christians. Our reward is heavenly (Hebrews 11:16).  And heaven has no limit to its capacity.  “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).  So if someone isn’t bumping us out of line for heaven, why should we worry if he insists on being “bigger” in this life?  That’s his problem.  I don’t have to make it my problem.

Read More

Dead mice, baby eagles, and children

We saw what appeared to be (from inside a car moving at 30 miles per hour) a dead mouse on the road the other day.  It struck me because I had just been thinking how rare that is.  We see dead possums, raccoons, and various other critters all the time in these parts.  But mice, which surely are as plentiful as any of the others, manage to escape road-pizzadom.  Until last week.

As is generally the case, I have a theory.  I think mice have smaller lives than the other, larger mammals decorating the highways and byways of the Florida Panhandle.  They do not need to roam far from their nests, so they have much less reason to cross 20 feet of asphalt.  That has certain advantages which, given the circumstances of this conversation, would seem to be obvious.  And perhaps they are not worldly wise enough to appreciate the disadvantages.  But we appreciate them on their behalf.  And we can’t help but pity them a bit.  The experience is worth the danger, I say.  I suspect you agree.

I write this having pushed one of my mice out of the nest recently.  The other one will follow one day.  And in many ways, it would be safer for them if they stayed home, keeping their lives small and uncomplicated.  But I want more for them than that.  So occasionally, like the eagle of Deuteronomy 32:11, I stir the nest up a bit.  I remain close at hand to catch them if they aren’t quite self-sufficient, certainly. 

But it’s not my job to make them safe.  It’s my job to make them fly.

I want a full life for my children.  But they have a greater chance of heartbreak if they get married.  A child who is never born to them can never apostatize.  They can’t get fired if they never get a job.  So if my top priority is keeping them from the bad things in this world, the reasonable thing to do is to shelter them from all the decisions that can go poorly.  As a side benefit, I get extra people at the table on board game night for the rest of my life.

And then, one day, I’ll die.  Tracie too.  And two teenagers in the bodies of women in their 60s will be left by themselves, completely unfit for life. 

I don’t want that.  So I let them grow.  When necessary, I force them to grow.

Training a child (Proverbs 22:6) is a multistage process.  First they watch.  Then they help.  Then you help.  Then you watch.  Then you leave.  Whether you are teaching them to bake a cake, build a friendship, serve society, or study the Bible, the process is the same.  You will probably go backward a step or two from time to time to finetune their skills.  But the objective is always to abandon them.  They must be allowed to fly.  And, yes, perhaps crash.  Hey, if Geppetto wanted Pinocchio to stay safe, he shouldn’t have wished for a real, live boy.

The problem I see with “helicopter parents,” as they’ve come to be called, is ultimately selfishness.  The parent cannot bear to let the child go, for fear of either the child’s failure or the parents’ isolation; in so doing the parent stifles the child’s development.  Either the child’s life remains small forever, or the child one day wakes up in a world for which he or she is completely unprepared.  And gets run over.  This is fine for parents in the short term.  They don’t have to cut the cord, and they don’t have to watch their child suffer quite as much.  But it hurts the child in the long run.  They can’t sleep in cribs forever.

“The discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) has to be administered by me, the parent.  I teach them what God’s expectations are.  I train them.  I correct them.  I show them the proper way, both in word and in example.  And always, I emphasize that it is His guidance, ultimately, and not mine.  I teach them to obey me (Ephesians 6:1) so they will be positioned to obey Jesus (Matthew 7:21) — even when I am not around to guide them. 

Yes, it hurts to watch them disappear into the world.  But it would hurt more if I left them unprepared, thinking that day somehow would never come.   HH


Read More


Raise bees in your home!  “BEEcosystems” are completely enclosed units that hang on your interior walls and provide access to the outdoors for the bees and access to honey for you.  The bad news is, they’re $599 apiece; however, I am promised, “for the amount of honey you will eat, they practically pay for themselves!”

The good news is, they don’t come with any bees.  That makes them a bit more workable in Tracie’s mind.

Read More

Receiving honor

When Balaam stubbornly refused to curse the people of God, Balak was furious. He was prepared to pay Balaam big money — and judging from the number of meetings Balaam took with Balak, Balaam was more than willing to accommodate him.  But, as Balaam told Balak, that’s not the way inspiration works — “Did I not tell your messengers whom you had sent to me, saying, ‘Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything contrary to the command of the LORD, either good or bad, of my own accord. What the LORD speaks, that I will speak’?” (Numbers 24:12-13).

Read More


A best-selling author in the Seattle area was curious why a Confederate battle flag was flying in her neighborhood — not a hotbed of the KKK, historically.  So she contacted the local paper, and they sent a reporter to investigate.

       Turns out, it was the Norwegian flag — which, if the wind is not blowing and you are of a mind to jump to conclusions, bears a vague resemblance to the notorious Southern Cross.

Read More


Discomfort is the price of admission for a meaningful life, I was told recently. I wish it weren’t true, like we all do.  But it is true, and I choose to accept it and embrace it instead of denying it.

        Anything significant is not only going to be worth pain, it is going to cause pain. 

Read More

Praying for Parkland, and For Us All

Without trying to take sides in the gun vs. anti-gun argument, allow me to cautiously make the following observations: one, a gun tragedy is guaranteed to bring people out of the woodwork, quoting outrageously misleading statistics and claiming that all gun advocates are essentially guilty of murder; two, gun advocates will try to “put things into perspective” by saying the problem isn’t actually as gigantic as it is made out to be, and essentially come off like jerks who think a dozen or so dead children is not that big a deal. In short, everyone still believes what they already believed, they’re just louder about it. 

I find facts a lot less argumentative than rhetoric, so let’s look at some facts.

Read More

Bringing Down the Wall

The Berlin Wall has now officially been down longer than it was up.  That’s astonishing.  I remember 1989 quite well.  The Cold War that had dominated my childhood was officially over.  The dreaded symbol of oppression had been toppled.  It was the end of an age.  For my entire life I had thought of geopolitics entirely in terms of the United States vs. the Soviet Union.  And suddenly, it wasn’t.  The tearing down of the wall was the biggest symbol of that transformation. 


Read More

Don't Blame the Dice!

Most games have some element of luck to them.  Random elements make the game somewhat unpredictable.  It forces the players to be adaptable in the event of unforeseen circumstances.  One of the most common of these elements is dice.  Rolling a pair of dice does not produce a completely irregular pattern; a seven has exactly one chance in six of coming up, while a two or a twelve each have one chance in 36.  Considerably worse, obviously.

Read More


The deer, birds and squirrels weren’t enough wildlife for my mom and dad, evidently.  Now the creek behind their house is a duck habitat.  With the waterways full again, ducks seem to have found their way to the Texas Hill Country again.  (Calm down, all you hunters out there; my mom’s back porch is a strict no-hunting zone.)

Ducks have long served as a metaphor for certain people’s behavior.  On the surface they seem to be at complete peace; beneath the water’s surface, though, they are a flurry of unseen activity. 

I think churches are a lot like that, too.  The average member — somewhat stable in attendance, somewhat lax in activity — is lulled into complacency by the seemingly effortless way the church functions.  In truth, they just don’t have a very good insight into the actual goings-on.  The elders are meeting with morally compromised teens.  The preacher is counseling a couple on the verge of divorce.  Three couples are conducting home Bible studies with friends and recent converts.  Deacons are smoothly slipping “volunteers” into the various slots for public service.

The efficiency of the machine is no excuse for various parts leaving themselves out, though.  It can always run cleaner, quicker, and quieter.  “What every joint supplies” (Ephesians 4:16) is the key to the body’s success.  More to the point, each individual part is required to work; or else, why be in the body at all?

“The church doesn’t need me,” says the inactive Christian.  Well, if you mean we’ll get on fine without you, I’m sure that’s true.  But we get on better with you.  And you with us.  So get in the water and start paddling.  You’ll catch on soon enough.


I am channeling Jude today.  The epistler famously wrote of feeling “the necessity” to write how his readers should “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).  His plan had been to write regarding their “common salvation.”  Similarly, though not by inspiration, I was feeling the urge to write regarding the strange compulsion toward selfies in our culture (a less noble topic, granted).  But amidst my angst, I think I may have found some sympathy.  And I find myself writing something quite different from what I had planned.

Read More


After spending five football seasons in the heart of SEC country, I have a few suggestions for my brethren.  I think they will give you a great deal of peace — and I guarantee they will give your brethren a great deal of peace.  And let me beat you to the punch by saying I have been accused of being “as bad as anyone,” so these points are as much for me as for you.

Read More


The problem with having a day on the calendar specifically dedicated to the giving of thanks is twofold: one, we are tempted to save our expressions of thanksgiving for “the day”; two, when that day arrives, we wind up repeating ourselves.  How can something so sacred be ignored and cliché at the same time?  And how do we avoid them both?

Read More