The Mane Event

Last week, my lovely Bride took our youngest granddaughter to a local production of Rapunzel. Apparently it was a big hit with her, because she wanted to meet all the cast members following the curtain call. Being just shy of three years old, she wouldn’t speak with them, but she did want them to speak to her. I guess that’s an early form of being star struck.

When I saw her upon her arrival at our home, I immediately said to her, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair!” She just gave me a blank stare like her Papa was losing it. Maybe the new version is different than the one I read sixty-five years ago. People have a way of messing with these Grimm things. It was apparent, however, that Rapunzel’s hair still plays an integral part in the play.

The whole Rapunzel thing got me thinking about the importance of hair in history—particularly, Biblical history. With the big to-dos we make about our own coifs these days (Rogaine and all that), I’m surprised Rapunzel hasn’t made a comeback long before now. I, myself, still have a bunch of it—albeit gray and thinning. A lot of my friends are follically challenged, so I sort of stand out in that arena (everyone should be good at something).

In Bible times (as we like to say in the trade), there were some folks whose hair was their claim to fame. Samson was probably the most famous (or infamous) one. You may remember him. When his locks were lengthy, he had enormous strength. When his gal, Delilah, gave him a clip job, he was weakened to such a point that it led to his demise. It was quite gruesome, so I won’t get into it any further. Still, we should take note of it at this juncture.

Then there was Absalom. Absalom was King David’s rebellious son. He was known for his long, thick mane of hair. He would get it all chopped off once a year simply because it got too heavy for him. Apparently, once when he was shorn, someone weighed it—five pounds. That’s quite a mane. His good hair and striking appearance were the talk of the town.

Like Samson, however, his cephalic mop did him in. Unlike Samson, though, it was because he had too much hair rather than too little. He was riding his trusty mule one day and got his do tangled in the low-hanging branches of an oak tree. As he hung there, David’s army surrounded him and made quick work of him. I’ll spare you the old “hair today, gone tomorrow” quip, but you get the picture.

When I was young and had heavy hair (not as heavy as Absalom’s mind you, but dark, thick, and wavy), I used to kiddingly tell people I couldn’t get it cut off or I’d lose all my strength. I have no excuses now. I’m old and weak despite the hair. Now it’s merely a habit.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Uncle Joe

Recently, former Vice President Joe Biden has gotten nailed with a new twist of the #MeToo movement. Women have been coming out of the woodwork to point out his wrongdoings. The new twist is that it’s no longer about sexual harassment. It’s about invading someone’s private space.

The most recent allegations are from women who are not only going out of their way to accuse him but are also going the extra mile by saying his offenses were in no way sexual. Uncle Joe, as he is fondly known by our illustrious media, did some inappropriate touching but in a very non-sexual way. Okay…

Google It

The funny thing about all this is the fact that this is not news—at least, not new news. If you do a Google search using the words, “creepy uncle Joe,” you’ll find all sorts of images of Mr. Biden doing the kinds of things for which he is now being excoriated. He has come to be known for this sort of activity over the years. Up to now, very little has been made of it (except for the occasional person who labels his actions “creepy”).

I’ve never been a fan of Uncle Joe, but I have to say I feel a tad sorry for him now. The reason I feel for him is simply that someone changed the rules while he wasn’t looking. Maybe he should have been more aware, but he wasn’t. Either that or he didn’t think the rules applied to him.

Either way, the women who felt like he did creepy, non-sexual things to them are also saying they would still vote for him. I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising considering the fact that a lot of people voted for President Trump despite knowing his reported dalliances as well. This says something about us as Americans, but I’m not exactly sure what that something happens to be.

Love Covers a Mulititude of Sins

Apparently, we put our politics above just about everything else. We seem more concerned as to whether a candidate or office holder has a D or an R in front of their name. If they’re sporting the correct letter (depending on our particular viewpoint), all is forgiven. After all, even Scripture tells us “love covers a multitude of sins.” My, how Biblical we can be if it suits us.

On a related note, I went for the annual checkup at my urologist (well, when you get to be my age, this is a thing). For those of you who might be concerned, everything went all right. Well, everything except for the way I was treated. The receptionist kept calling me “Sweetheart” and “Honey.”

At the time, I played along and assumed she was just being her sugary, southern self—good customer service and all that. Now, however, seeing what’s happening to Joe Biden, I’m not so sure I should ever go back to that office. I should probably report her to the P.C. Police. I’m pretty sure she invaded the private space in my head.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

The Impossible Whopper

We have just transversed the infamous April first. Some of you are painfully aware of the day called April Fools Day. You are so, because you were trapped in some corny version of a joke (after which, you groaned audibly). It happens to the best of us (perpetrated by the worst of us).

On April Fools Day, I saw an article which I immediately assumed was an April Fools hoax. The item highlighted that Burger King was introducing a meatless burger. I thought, “Without a doubt, this has to be a joke.” I wasn’t about to be caught unawares. Alas and alack, ‘twas not a jest. The article, itself, made it clear that this was the real deal. It’s a trial run but authentic nonetheless.

Not the King’s Fault?

This beefless wonder is called the “Impossible Whopper.” Its name is not derived from the obvious fact that it’s impossible to create a good burger without a cow. No, its moniker is a resultant of the cooperating company, Impossible Foods, which apparently provides the patties for the sandwich. I just knew it wasn’t entirely the King’s fault. He must have been tricked into it.

I had never heard of this company before, and that’s no surprise. I say this, because their claim to fame is the fact that they produce “plant-based substitutes for meat and dairy products.” That is not an arena into which I step very often. I’m not interested in putting any cows out of business (flatulence not withstanding).

I look askance at all of this. Messing with the food of my life is not something I take lightly. Whoppers are good burgers. There’s an old saying that could be applied here. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Tampering with my beef patties could be catastrophic. You may remember the old slogan, “Where’s the beef?” What Wendy’s found, Burger King is about to lose.

Upon Further Review

Upon further review, however, I’m thinking this could be a sign of the apocalypse. After all, in Genesis 9:3, God tells Noah, “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you.” Of course, the good Lord put a few restrictions on things a bit later. The Levitical dietary laws prohibit the consumption of pork and lobster (two of my faves, of course). He also told us not to “cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” But beef has never been off the table since the flood. Noah didn’t save those two bovines for nothing.

So when people start removing the ham from hamburger, something’s up. They’ve replaced Elsie with potato, coconut, wheat (yes, you gluten-free folks are out of luck), and the ever-popular soy. And just to fool you, these babies even bleed. How they do that I’ll never know. Frankly, the blood is something I could do without. Even God says, “Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it” (Leviticus 19:26). 

When public businesses start defying the word of God, the end must be near. I implore you. Bring back the beef!

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Sirs Laugh-Alot

We just returned from a trip to Florida where our two, grown, male children live. I would have said boys, but they are both in their 40s now. I felt I should give them their adult props. Now that I have done that, however, they are still our boys.

That fact is never more evident than when the three of us guys get together. When that happens, all three of us make a quick transition from men to boys (not to be confused with the boy band, Boyz II Men). We spend most of our time yucking it up together. Suddenly, everything seems funny. If something is not so humorous, we tend to turn it into a joke anyway. Consequently, our times together are always memorable—sometimes, epic.

Back in the Day

Back in the day, when my Dad was still living, he and his older brother (my uncle, obviously) would often get together. The result was much the same as happens today with my boys and me. I can remember my Mom intently listening to them laughing so hard that it appeared as though they might wet their pants. On one occasion, she said aloud to no one in particular, “Listen to them. They’re laughing like fools!” And, indeed, they were.

There’s nothing quite like a good laugh. I suppose we Zuchelli boys take it to the extreme. But, somehow, I get the feeling that we’ll live a tad longer because of it (unless, of course, we literally split a gut someday). Laughing until we cry is a common occurrence among us.

I remember, several decades ago, listening to a Christian comedian who was speaking about the Body of Christ. He said that some of us were the feet, others the eyes, and still others the ribs. He then announced that he was the laugh. He was extremely funny, so I bought it. It just fit. Sometimes I feel like there should be a portion of Scripture that says, “And God made them laugh—and it was good.”

A Cheerful Heart

There is a line in the book of Proverbs that says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22). I’m guessing that there is, at least, a loose connection between a cheerful heart and laughter. A cheerful heart would be more prone to laughing, and laughing might bring cheer to an otherwise mournful heart. Either way, laughter (in general) is probably a good thing.

In Genesis, Sarah named her son, Isaac. All you Bible scholars out there already know that Isaac means laughter. I don’t particularly like the name, Isaac, but I wouldn’t mind being named “Laughter.” There’s something uplifting about the whole idea.

I’m not going to change my name at this late stage, but maybe I can inspire someone else to find a good word (from another language, maybe) that would capture that thought. You might be doing your child a favor by laying that moniker on him or her. What could it hurt? That child might even bring joy to all those around.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Trophy Husband

I had just embarked a plane with my lovely Bride when we heard two men and a woman conversing in the row behind us. They had apparently just met. One man was explaining to the other that his wife had a great job and that he was the designated, stay-at-home partner. The other gentleman congratulated him on his unique position and remarked, “So, you’re her trophy husband!”

Since I, too, am a house husband, my spouse and I relished the conversation and smiled at each other. The “trophy husband” remark was icing on the proverbial cake. I’ve been pondering it ever since. While I don’t fancy myself to be a trophy husband by a long shot, it’s an interesting concept.

I Didn’t Get the T-Shirt

I checked the internet and discovered that being a trophy husband is a real thing. I just thought the guy on the plane had coined a new term, but no. There really are such animals. In fact, there are t-shirts. You always know it’s a real thing when there are t-shirts. I considered ordering one that said, “Denise’s Trophy Husband,” but I chickened out. I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify.

The Urban Dictionary defines trophy husband as “a man who looks amazing and sits at home all day, mooching off his wife’s money.” Well, maybe I do qualify (just kidding). None of that actually applies to me. I don’t sit at home all day, and I have my own income stream (however meager at this point). One out of three ain’t bad, however. Unfortunately, the body has gone bad in recent years, so I believe the mighty Casey has struck out.

I suppose the goal of being a trophy husband is something a few men aspire to, but most of us will never meet the stringent parameters of such a position. More importantly, most of us would be totally bored with such a deal. Trying it on for size might be fun for a while (especially the amazing body part), but living off someone else’s dime (particularly someone you love) isn’t the best way to boost your ego or maintain your self-esteem.

The Exception

After a while, you’d be miserable—at least, I know I would. The exception to this, of course, is when I lived off my Dad’s dime for a couple of decades. I felt pretty good about that until I got tired of him telling me what I could and couldn’t do. Once that arrangement was broken, there was no looking back. I guess they call that, adulthood.

The Apostle Paul once told the church in Corinth that “the husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife.” In context, he was speaking about sexual relations, but I’m pretty sure this extends to other areas as well—like not being a sponge. I don’t want to put words into the Apostles’ mouth (or pen), but he seemed to be a stickler for respecting each other. I’m not sure a trophy husband holds a lot of respect for his spouse.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Key of F

As I write this, I’m sixty-nine years old. Why have I never heard this before? I just read that American car horns are tuned to honk in the key of F. This seems to me to be a fact that every educated American should know. Did you know it?

It gets worse, however. I checked this obscure fact out on my Google machine and discovered an even deeper truth. Until the mid-1960s, American car horns were tuned to the musical notes of E flat or C. For whatever reason, most automobile manufacturers have bumped it up a tad. They now honk in F sharp and A sharp.

Musically Inclined

If you’re musically inclined, you probably realize that a single note is not necessarily in the key of anything. However, if you’re as old as I, you may remember that cars actually had two horns that blew simultaneously. Consequently, they actually could honk in the key of F.

Now, however, many cars only have one horn (a cost cutting measure, no doubt). The result is a singular beep that is, technically, in no particular key at all. If you actually have a double horned car, the good ones are tuned to a perfect fifth from each other. This causes a more pleasing sound—in tune, as it were. You may want to check it out with a guitar tuner.

I find this to be anathema to the very idea of car horns. From my perspective, they were all meant to be annoying. I can’t ever remember thinking to myself, “My, that’s a sweet-sounding horn.” That’s probably due to the fact that the guy honking at me is usually ticked off because I wandered into his lane (or something innocent like that).

Making Noise

Regardless of what key your horn might be in, it’s interesting to note (no pun intended) that horns have been around for centuries—millennia, actually. We read about them being sounded back in Biblical times. I did a little research and found that the first time the word horn is used to describe a noisemaking instrument is way back in Exodus. This is, of course, the second book in the Bible—one of the Books of Moses.

In that passage, people could only approach the mountain of God when a ram’s horn was used to sound a long blast. As a side note, anyone touching the mountain without hearing the blast was to be stoned or shot full of arrows. This was obviously the precursor of the long blasts we hear when people want us to get out of their way while driving.

Of course, we’ve changed the meaning. The Lord’s horn was sounded to alert us that we were permitted to approach. Today, we sound those long blasts for exactly the opposite reason. We want more distance between us and the other driver. With all the road rage that can exist these days, offenders are still likely to be stoned or shot with arrows (or with icy stares in the very least).

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Happy, Happy, Happy

I flipped on the TV recently just in time to hear a talking head say, “The United States has twice as many millionaires as Finland does people.” The segment was nearly over, so I never caught why he was using Finland as an example. That thought settled in my brain for a couple of days, so I jumped on my trusty Internet machine to see if I could figure out why that particular country was even mentioned.

I never did figure it out, but I learned a lot of cool stuff about Finland. For example, Finland is the eighth most expensive country in Europe. I bet you didn’t know that. Well, now you do. I also discovered that they speak Finnish (surprise, surprise), but they also recognize Swedish as a second official language. How Canadian of them. At least they HAVE an official language (unlike some other countries I could mention).

The Happiest Country

The most interesting thing I gleaned, however, is that Finland is the happiest country in the world. Apparently, there’s an organization that measures these things, although I’m not sure how. I suspect the final decision is rather subjective, but I’m happy for the Finns (or maybe I should simply say, I’m delighted for them—happy seems to be taken).

Having learned all that, I tried to tie it back to the original shared fact that the U.S. has twice as many millionaires as Finland has people. The closest guess I can make is that the talking head was referring to the pronouncement that Finland is the happiest country in the world. If that was, indeed, the subject, the moral of the story would seem to be, “Money can’t buy you happiness.” The people of Finland are short on millionaires, but their happiness abounds (at least, according to the World Happiness Report). Apparently, the happiness index is not overly influenced by wealth.

I learned this to be true when I was but a young lad. I was listening to my favorite rock musicians (the Beatles), and they taught me that money “Can’t Buy Me Love.” I was extremely exultant to hear that, because I didn’t have any—money, that is. Since love makes the world go around and is the root of all happiness, I was glad I didn’t have to buy it. If that sounds like it’s a circular argument, it probably is. Nevertheless, I’ve been rather happy for a long while—poor as I am.

Economic Bliss

That, of course, brings me to the Word of God (like everything else). The Bible, like the Beatles and the World Happiness Survey, also indicates that happiness does not lie in riches. In fact, it seems to suggest the opposite. Our wealth seems to make us happy for a while, then our economic bliss fades. Whether it’s because we get bored, greedy, or indifferent, we always end up seeking true happiness in other arenas of life.

Another Finnish tidbit: Their population has been stagnant for many years. Maybe we should all move there.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

The Blame Game

I’m sure you’re aware of the horrific shooting rampage in New Zealand that left fifty people dead. In case you were hiding in a cave somewhere (which would be understandable), allow me to briefly explain that two mosques were targeted by at least one gunman. In addition to the fifty killed, it has been reported that over twenty more were seriously injured. Ironically, all this happened in a city named Christchurch.

These incidents seem to be occurring with increasing frequency—so much so that one man calling into a radio talk show sadly proclaimed, “I don’t even feel anything anymore.” It’s almost like we expect it and have numbed ourselves to the resulting casualties.

Paranoia

The victims of such crimes, of course, are not limited to those who sustain physical injuries as a result. Most of us are affected in some way, even if it’s merely emotional. Other side effects can also impact us. These can be felt through such things as new stringent laws, losses of freedom, and out-and-out paranoia, just to name a few.

One side effect I’ve noticed as these occurrences begin to mount is that of the blame game. For some reason, people feel the need to lay the responsibility for such atrocities at the feet of almost anyone but the perpetrators. In various newsfeeds this week, I’ve seen people point a finger at President Trump and (of all people) Chelsea Clinton.

I can (sort of) understand someone attempting to lay culpability at the feet of Mr. Trump. Presidents get blamed for all sorts of things—even when they occur half a world away. But Chelsea Clinton? The poor woman was confronted at a vigil for the people killed and wounded in the terrorist attack. She was accused of “stoking” the attack because of her denunciation of the anti-Semitic language of U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar. Apparently, denouncing hate speech has now become hate speech itself. Oy vey!

Accosted

More importantly, Chelsea Clinton was accosted for something she had nothing to do with. Even if she had been spewing anti-Muslim rhetoric (which she hadn’t), there would have been no blame to lay at her feet. I’m pretty sure the culprit was the person carrying the weapon. Does anyone remember him?

If you take a real good look at Chelsea these days, you might notice that she’s pregnant with her third child. Not only were the accusers out of line, they were ganging up on a young mother with child. Real nice…

Scripture has quite a bit to say about the blame game. Jesus talked about the log in our own eyes as we try to remove the speck out of someone else’s—quite a vivid visual. The Apostle Paul told folks in his letter to the Romans that “at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself…” (Romans 2:1). The reason he gave was the fact that we are usually guilty of the very same thing of which we’re accusing someone else. He was right, of course.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

March Sadness

It is currently being estimated that businesses in the United States will lose $13 Billion in productivity during March Madness. Just in case you’re somehow oblivious to the term, March Madness, it’s related to college basketball. But even if you never paid attention to that world, the insanity has probably touched you in some way (sorry for the pun).

Since I, too, am somewhat insensible to the whole phenomenon, I pulled this description from the all-knowing Internet to help us out:

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship. The penultimate round is known as the Final Four, when (you guessed it) only four teams are left.

That’s it in a nutshell, folks. Somehow, it doesn’t sound quite so exciting when it’s laid out in simple black and white. Green, yellow, and red uniforms help enliven the entire matter, however, and people go nuts (hence, the madness).

Are You Insane?

The first such tournament was held back in 1939. That date even precedes my birth (which was quite a while ago), but I can’t remember it getting so insane until quite recently (that’s, lately, in dog years). We’ve gotten to the point, as I implied before, that it’s affecting almost everyone.

If business owners lose productivity during the days of March Madness, it’s because their employees are distracted by watching, listening to, and/or jawing about their team(s). But it’s a lot worse than that. Everyone seems to have a bracket.

I, personally, don’t have a bracket. In fact, I’ve never had a bracket. Still, every year, people ask me who I have in my bracket. I’m pretty sure you’ve all been inundated with bracket talk, so you probably know what that is.

In case you don’t, it’s literally an empty bracket in which you write (or type) your picks in order to gamble your money away. Sixty-seven games are played during this lunacy soaked mini-season. Even the most avid round-ball fan doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance. A hoops doofus like myself should not even try—that, in itself, would be madness.

Odds Are…

In case you don’t agree, I checked the odds for you. There are nine quintillion different bracket combinations—literally. That’s a nine followed by eighteen zeroes. It’s no wonder people don’t have time to work. They have to fill out (and follow) a lot of brackets in the hope that they can recoup their hard-earned dollars.

Things have gotten so bad that some politicians are contemplating making March Madness a national holiday. That sounds nice, but the tournament begins in mid-March. It extends into the second week in April. I like long vacations, but this might be a tad over the top.

I don’t know what the solution to all this could be. The Bible says that the “worker deserves his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). Still, March Madness might present us with a worthy exception to that. Maybe these workers should donate their brackets to the owners.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Marinate in the Truth

I’m frequently preaching in worship services other than the one we often attend as congregants. So when I get the opportunity to sit among the brethren, I really enjoy it.

The service we repeatedly attend as simple worshipers, gathers just down the street from where we live. It’s not only convenient, it’s a solid, Bible-teaching, local church. I relish my time there, in part, because the main pastor/teacher obviously does his due diligence in understanding Scripture before he attempts to expound upon it.

A Good Visual

One of the phrases I’ve heard him use from time to time is, “Let’s just marinate in the truth of this passage.” I like that phrase because it gives me a visual that I can understand. It also imparts with it the implication that knowing the Word of God isn’t an instantaneous thing.

Obviously, we usually associate the act of marinating with cooking meat. I’ve never done much marinating in preparation for a meal. There are two reasons for this. First of all, I don’t usually plan that far ahead. Secondly, I’m usually too impatient to wait that long. A good marinade often should be done overnight. When I see a prime piece of meat, I want to throw it on the grill—right now!

As I’m sure you know, the word, marinate, means to soak in a marinade. The pastor to which I’m referring is prompting us to soak in the truth of God’s Word. It’s a good visual for me, because I usually want to bite off a chunk of the Lord’s wisdom and move on in the hope that it will provide some nourishment on the run. Because of that, I’m quite sure I miss at least some of the flavor of what the Lord is providing.

Taste and See

There’s a passage of Scripture that says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8). It’s kind of an isolated thought because it goes on to talk about taking refuge in God. If we take refuge, we’re seeking shelter—attempting to be surrounded in safety and security. When we are in Christ, we are soaking in his salvation and taking refuge from the storm. We are, in effect, marinating.

In this fast-paced world, we flit around like butterflies moving from one thing to another. We seldom take time to marinate in God or his Word. We seldom settle in to allow his Word to soak deep into the crevices of our lives and spirits. Consequently, we tend to remain very superficial in our understanding and in the ways we follow through. We don’t tarry long enough to savor each bite, and we move along—satisfied in our shallowness.

It’s a common malady among us Christians. Instead of growing in discipleship, we live lives that tend to be a mile wide and an inch deep (as some like to say). Along with my pastor friend, I would urge us all to take time to marinate in the truth. It will make life taste a lot better.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]