I remember when I met my first Democrat the way some people might remember their first R-rated movie, or perhaps, their first tornado.
I was about nine years old. Me and some friends got shuttled once a week out of our tiny Nebraska town to the comparatively huge city of Kearney once a week, for drama class. Our drama teacher (of course) announced her political party to us with the weary nobility of Joan of Arc, and I suppose being a Democrat in a small midwestern town must have indeed seemed some sort of crucible. What had brought this conversation up escapes me now, but I remember our collective shock. “You’re a Democrat?” Micah had bellowed. It echoed all of our thoughts. Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on December 10, 2013
We can all be free.
Maybe not with words.
Maybe not with looks.
But with your mind.
When I was in high school, I spent some time in Japan—ostensibly to teach English, though I don’t recall doing much of that. The trip as a whole is a bit of a blur, but I remember one young man named Ken and I don’t expect I’ll forget him soon. We climbed Mount Fuji together, and he assaulted me with questions about America and American freedom in particular. He said the word “freedom” like a spell, the way some people talk about Camelot or Eden. We sat in the back of a rickety old van, bouncing up and down ancient roads where he told me of his plan to move to America. “I want to be free,” he said, eyes shining. “I want to be free! I want to be free!”
Whether or not Ken ever moved here, I do not know, but I would like to know what he found if he did. Americans see freedom not just as an institutional priority, but as a sacred birthright. In the Declaration of Independence (our most prized national possession, with a title we’ve heard so many times it’s easy to forget just how brazen and audacious it is), the Founding Fathers listed “liberty” as being on par with life itself. Modern times have diluted that equivocation down to “born free.” I recently saw a debate on Facebook that summed it up nicely. When one well-intentioned person suggested that the U.S. government needed to give its people more freedom, another shot back “Nobody can give you freedom.” Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on November 10, 2013
I was told once to use the French language for food, German for religion, English for money and Spanish for love. That’s a bit narrow, but it’s stuck with me.
The Germans have a word I’ve long admired: sehnsucht. There is no easy English translation, although it is generally translated “longing” or “yearning.” The German idea goes a good deal deeper into the quasi-mystical. Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on October 23, 2013
I remember the way your face looked when you found out I was “religious.” I expect I always will.
The way your shoulders tensed and your chin jutted out—just a little, but enough. You suddenly focused on your drink. Your eyes narrowed. It didn’t look like you were afraid. If anything, you were the opposite. I’d compare it to the look of a wolf defending her cubs. Or, more appropriately, a wounded soldier preparing to show that she has some fight left in her. Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on October 13, 2013
First, some thought on my repellant title.
The Church is uncomfortable with the idea of happiness. We trivialize its pursuit and, whenever a faith leader or author offers steps on being happier, our old Protestant work ethic rises up in protest. Happiness, we are told, is no noble aim. At most, you ought to be joyful. Generally, you ought to be “authentic,” which is our evangelical synonym for “grouchy.”
It’s a rotten way to live.
It’s hardly biblical. The Bible is full of lovely advice on how to be happy. And our very delight in happiness—the natural feeling of it—ought to be a sign to us that we are made for it, and ought to pursue it. There is no reason to be suspicious of those who suggest we ought to try being happier. It’s cruel and cynical to do so.
We go wrong, of course, when we tie happiness and holiness, as if right relationship with God were some guarantee of happy circumstances. Life is frequently miserable, and there are then no steps of mine that can rectify it. All I offer here are a few things that may actually make you “happier,” if not exactly always “happy.” These won’t cure your depression (trust me) and they won’t fix you.
But they won’t hurt. I can guarantee that. Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on October 8, 2013
The books don’t tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there’s plenty of time for her to mend and perhaps she will get to Aslan’s country in the end… in her own way. -C.S. Lewis
Sue stands in front of her wardrobe for a moment, summoning her courage, and then she yanks the doors open, breathlessly, and pulls out the first black dress she sees, slamming the doors shut in its wake, as the rest of her dresses rock and and forth behind the wardrobe doors. She breathes again. She pulls the dress over her head.
She tries not to be pleased when she looks at herself in the mirror, but pleased she is, running her cold fingers through her hair and liking the feel of its warmth and fineness. She likes its pale color. She feels beautiful, and she pushes this thought away, boxing it up with a thousand others.
For a final touch, she takes out her lipstick, and pauses, stopping just short of running it across her mouth in a straight line. It is very red, she thinks, attempting to evaluate its color in the mirror with scientific objectivity. Her brothers would have hardly approved. Her sister would have chided her, in her mocking way. At this, her eyes sting. Poor old Lu. She had always thought of herself as the spiritual oldest. The special one. The favorite. Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on September 29, 2013
9/11 is a day about fear.
Not for all of us, obviously. The images of firemen running into crumbling towers to rescue whoever they could are among the finest in our nation’s history, but they are not the enduring legacy of the terrorist attacks. If you’d like to know the true legacy of 9/11, you need look no further than any recent news piece on the NSA, the NRA, IED’s, the CIA, Gitmo or any other stuffily abbreviated word trending on Twitter right now. These little stretches in what we consider to be right so that we can consider ourselves safe.
9/11 made us afraid, and that fear is now part of our legacy. It’s part of the American framework. We bluster it up and make it look like power, but it’s not. Not really. Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on September 11, 2013
One tale that never grows tired of the telling is the one about Bruce Springsteen—two albums into his career and with nothing but disappointing sales to show for it—was on his label’s chopping block. In him, they thought they’d found the next Dylan, and such an assumption might be excused.
He was a wandering troubadour with a gift for turning a phrase, a romantic gaze, and an eccentric air. He came out of Jersey, but seemed to be from a little bit everywhere, with a story that suited every situation. His identity was fluid and, in that fluidity, had a True North that was, above all else, distinctly American. Everything about him screamed star. Everything except the sales. Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on August 27, 2013
It was not a pleasant scene.
I was chatting with two wonderful friends, Parker and Meg at their house when we were joined by two surprise guests—Mark and Abigail—who showed up to announce big news.
They were pregnant.
Pregnant with their first. Just had the ultrasound—healthy as a horse. And, wouldn’t you know, his employer was giving them a house so that there’d be enough room for Junior to run around, and their parents were just thrilled and oh, isn’t God good?
That question got asked a lot. Isn’t God good? It got asked until Meg politely excused herself. Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on August 1, 2013
I’ve situated my bed just by a window on the ground floor level of my apartment building, one thatched screen away from the world at large. In the morning, I wake to the croaking strains of a day trying to get off the ground, like an old pilot spinning the propeller on his plane. It’s a little creaky but, by God, it does get going. I hear birds, of course. An old tomcat who’s taken up residence under the mailboxes. Sometimes a train. Often, the beginning of my neighbor’s commute. Her name is Megan and she parks her car just outside my window. She generally leaves before I get up, and I hear her keys jingle.
I hear all this, but I can’t see it well. I have dreadful vision, and take in the world blurry and smeared until I put my glasses on.
Strange to say, but my only concrete idea of Heaven is this: a place where I won’t need my glasses. Hopefully, that is the least of its charms, but it’s one I can, at least, grasp. The idea amuses me. Everyone else in Heaven, splashing in the river of life; soaring over the celestial mountains; bounding, block by block, down streets of gold. And I’m just grateful I don’t have to squint to read any of Heaven’s street signs.
Read the full post »
Posted by tylerhuckabee on June 30, 2013