Archive for August, 2017

Wait For It….

Posted: August 21, 2017 in World On The Edge

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This is my father’s Park family, taken in the late 1870’s after my great-grandfather (the man pictured above) returned from a Union Prison camp in Ohio where over a thousand Confederate soldiers died. My father’s grandfather and his great uncle were part of  the Alabama Brigade, established on 19 January 1863, which consisted of five Alabama infantry regiments. They were commanded by Evander M. Law and part of Gen. Robert E. Lee`s Army of Northern Virginia. Assigned to the division of Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood in the First Corps under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet the Alabama Brigade participated in the Suffolk Campaign and poured out the blood of its bravest men at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Afterwards the division was, for a brief period in 1863, transferred to the Army of Tennessee where it fought in the Battle of Chickamauga and the Knoxville Campaign before being transferred back to the east in 1864. It participated in the Battle of the Wilderness and continued to serve in the Appomattox Campaign that resulted in Confederate Gen. Lee’s surrender and the conclusion of the American Civil War. Along with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia, the brigade was paroled and its surviving members returned to Alabama as civilians.  THIS IS AMERICAN HISTORY, AND MY FAMILY’S HISTORY, AS WELL.

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Above is a picture from my mother’s side–of my Kennington great-grandparents from middle Georgia, and their children. The little girl in the foreground is my grandmother who helped to raise me. She is next to my great grandfather, Frank Kennington. When Frank was twelve years old, he lost his father and three older brothers in Civil War battles at Cold Harbor, and at Chancellorsville, which was a five day battle that cost more than half the lives later lost in the entire Vietnam War. A fourth brother came home with his palate shot out from the Battle of Wilderness, VA; he never spoke again.   Because she had lost her husband and four sons, when the southern army desperately needed men, and the ruthless Confederate Guard came looking for them,  Frank Kennington’s mother, Sarah, hid him in the woods, taking him food until the soldiers left.  THIS IS HISTORY. MY FAMILY’S HISTORY.
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This is a 1924 picture of my great, great, grandmother, Phalba Story, at eighty-five years old. In 1862, her young husband, John, enlisted in Twiggs County Georgia and served three years as a private in the Confederate Army, where he was wounded. He recovered enough to fight again, and was later killed during the siege of Richmond, leaving behind Phalba and their three young children. During the time he was gone, General Sherman and his entire division marched through Georgia and stayed three days on their place, with Phalba cooking for all of them–everything  she was saving to feed her children. Then they killed her chickens and livestock and left for their march to Savannah. THIS IS HISTORY. MY FAMILY’S HISTORY.

GigiThis is a picture of my grandfather, Kenneth Shealy. His grandfather, Andrew Epting Shealy, called App,  was son of a Georgia settler. During the Civil War, App was called away from his wife, Sarah Adams, and small children to the defense of Atlanta. He had a premonition that he would not survive, but he lived long enough to witness the resulting carnage. However, compassion replaced outrage when he saw a dying Union soldier calling for water. He gave of his own canteen, but no sooner was this done than a Yankee bullet stilled his life. This event was depicted in the Cyclorama at Grant’s Park in Atlanta until 2015, when the Atlanta History Center began preparations to move the 358-foot-by-30-foot, 5 ton-plus circular painting to its new Buckhead location.  THIS IS HISTORY. MY FAMILY’S HISTORY.

Every event and every person has a history. Lessons can be learned from it. But whether it is good, or bad, history cannot be erased. Unless you are an immature child, you deal with that, and it may even make you stronger.

If we allow history to be destroyed by TEARING DOWN its memorials and reminders, then what will be next? Perhaps real flesh and blood people who don’t fit the current political mood?Graveyard

Allowing Mob violence–which is what recent demonstrations have led to–fixes nothing. And of course it and ruins everything in its fanatical, self-absorbed path.

My opinion is that humanity has gone haywire. From a “my way or the highway” attitude to the depth of self-worship, the only history some will accept is one that suits their personal agenda of–me, me, me! It’s as if the only memorial some will be satisfied with, is a statue to themselves.

Apparently, the good lessons to be learned from it mean nothing. Our nation’s history is on its way to annihilation, without a hand being raised to stop it.

So …… wait for it. There will be more.

Are You a Control Freak???

Posted: August 14, 2017 in World On The Edge

file000739321417Are you a control freak? Do you like to be in charge of processes, endings, and outcomes? Well, I do.

As young children, we don’t have much control of what happens to us. Decisions are made by our parents, and we go along, or else. Of course, we’re likely to throw tantrums–because even young children like to have their own ‘dog’ in the fight.

And when we grow up, some of us leash that dog and yank him along with us. We become control freaks.

I’ve always had the suspicion that I might be this sort of person, but until I began editing my short story collection with the wonderful Joshua Hren of Wiseblood Books, I didn’t know the extent of my malady.

I like happy endings. I like things ‘tied up with a neat little bow.’ I can handle the problems, the sufferings, the excruciating decisions of my characters, but in the end I want all of those happenings to work out—and work out happily.

So am I hopeless, or what? When I write about life, between the lines is the presence of God. And God is goodness. So, why can’t my characters not only experience that goodness, but in the end, also find it themselves? In fact, why can’t every person find their happy ending on earth. Could it be because life on earth is not our true ending at all, but only a path or journey to genuine fullness?

Even as I write, I realize I’m being a ‘Pollyanna.’ Realistically, life doesn’t always proceed like that, and since I write about life, I have to accept the fact that no one has the ability to understand the marvelous, infinite mind of God or His intricate plan for each of us. God’s plan is one that takes into consideration far more than our earthly existence here. And when I try to control every little thing, when I put a choke-hold on the worst in an attempt to keep it from happening, or line my path with glitter from a man-made can, there is something very un-genuine occurring. I’m trying to control, instead of trusting God to control.

A few years ago, there was a popular saying: Let Go and Let God. In other words, take your hands off the wheel and let God drive. What this requires is Trust. And why not trust in God? After all, no one loves us more than He does.

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Many of you know  my short story collection, Birds of a Feather, was published by Wiseblood Books. The stories are about those personal demons which never really leave us. They hover very close to the things we desire, waiting to turn us in harmful directions. So often, and in various ways–through people, or events– we are warned to beware of them, but just as often, we set the warnings aside. And we can do that, why? Because each of us has Free Will. And this is central to the books I write.

Some of you may have seen my testimonial video for Wiseblood Book’s fundraiser.

Right now, there are some potential major donors who are watching Wiseblood’s fundraiser to see how much support we can get on our own. They’re looking at (1) the amount we can raise, but equally important, (2) the sheer number of supporters we have. We’d like to demonstrate that Wiseblood has a broad support base.

So what we are looking for is not primarily CASH, but a $5 donation just to make your support visible.

Thank you so much! And please feel free to share this with your friends.

Fondly,

Kaye

….. In the past few years Kaye Park Hinckley has emerged as a major talent in what Paul Elie calls “the literature of belief.” Hinckley translates grace in a world on edge, sees a double beginning and ending in everything, literally everything, including the unspeakably awful. Like her novel A Hunger in the Heart, the stories in Birds of a Feather—several of which have won substantive awards—take us to the heart of the matter.– Publisher, Wiseblood Books.

Praise for Birds of a Feather:

The first story in this collection sits a reader bolt upright. Two stories in, you marvel at this storyteller, who sends us flying over new country, a landscape of modern parables where faith runs river-deep. Kaye Park Hinckley seems to overflow with beautiful, heartbreaking love and lessons. A world with broken wings can surely make use of such stories.

—Charles McNair, author of Pickett’s Charge and Land O’Goshen

“With masterful control and skillful writing, Kaye Park Hinckley boldly explores a wide range of wounded souls in this amazing collection of stories, ultimately finding love in the unloveable, and grace in the sufferings of a complex world.”
—Cassandra King, author of The Sunday Wife

Print Reviews:

“The short stories in Birds of a Feather are richly imagined tales full of finely drawn characters who demonstrate how people estranged from faith can bumble through life so distracted by worldly horrors and delights, so full of themselves, that they don’t even notice faint nudges of grace that stir in their souls or recognize subtle emanations of the holy that abound in the world around them.” –The Catholic World Report

Voted one of the Six Best Fiction Books from the First Half of 2014.

“Kaye Park Hinckley’s stories give a fuller picture of the Christian faith. Like a bird-watcher, the thoughtful reader can even learn to spot the flutter of redemption in these stories.” –Englewood Book Reviewer Magazine

“Hinckley’s characters are complicated. They’ve done horrible things, witnessed horrible things, been the victims of horrible things, yet they continue rising each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. They fulfill their obligations to each other while these horrible things gnaw at them from the inside out. Hinckley deftly presents the repulsiveness of her character’s actions, while also revealing her characters’ drive toward love. ..fully developed plots and well-rounded characters.”  –Lake Oconee Living Magazine, Lucy Adams

“The birds in Kaye Park Hinckley’s short story collection, Birds of a Feather, all find themselves from flocks of Catholics. Their family members, or at least a shining few, believe in forgiveness, hope and redemption. But it’s the sinners with whom we most sympathize.  How can we not?  Hinckley’s expert literary craft is matched by the drama of Judeo-Christian values confronting American relativism and egoism. “– ANGELUS, The Tidings Online, Jennifer Ann Jones

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Talk about the power of words!

He walked in Sunday morning, smelling like Friday night.

I heard those lyrics this past Sunday morning on a southern gospel radio station. I don’t remember the title of the song, or even the rest of it, but the first line struck me.

Our Friday nights are often very different from our Sunday mornings. Sunday morning, of course, we walk into church. Many of us make a good appearance. We walk in dressed in our best clothes, with our best manners, and our friendliest personalities–hiding what we don’t want others to see–our hypocrisies–the awful smell of our sins.

On Sunday mornings, we ask for forgiveness with the idea that God will wash away all we’ve done wrong doing the past week. Of course, God, our Father, can do this if He wants, but wouldn’t the father of a wayward child expect the bad behavior to stop? Wouldn’t a loving father present a criteria for the child–criteria that included reprimand if it did not stop?

Each of us is in an ongoing collaboration with God. He has presented us with a covenant. “I am your God. You are my people.” Sometimes we forget that second sentence and expect God to do all the work while we simply come into church, smelling like Friday night, for our short, weekly bath. And then return to play in the mud.

This is typical of our human nature which is sometimes very weak. Still, we are called to change ourselves. We are the ones who have to run the shower, pick up the soap, and do the work.

We cannot say it is not our fault. We are the ones who have sinned, so we are the ones responsible for washing our own spiritually dirtied clothes and cleaning up our own smelly messes.

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Recently, I have posted about making personal decisions, and who in the world we are actually in charge of. Now, I want to talk about both those things under the headline of RESPONSIBILITY.

WE are responsible for ourselves and what we do.
We cannot play the victim when we make wrong choices. We cannot walk away from them.

We are responsible for the choices we make, not the wrong choices of others.

Though we are called to forgive wrong actions by loving every person as a human being and as the child of God which he or she is, and though we are called to point out to them that sin is sin–still, we are only responsible for what we do.

There may be people we know casually, or people we are close to, who have made or are in the process of making wrong choices. Those choices are theirs, not ours. A person who willingly chooses a path for himself–one we think/know is wrong–is the only person responsible for the result of that choice.

This does not mean that his/her choice will not affect us physically or emotionally, but it will not affect us spiritually. However, it will spiritually affect the one who made the decision.

If the person is not close to us, we may not care. If he or she is close to us, we maybe heart-broken. But we are never able to get into the skin of another and act for them.

Again, responsibility for their action belongs to them, and them alone. Each of us has been given the gift of Free Will by God. If it is used well, or if it is used badly, the buck stops with the person who made the choice.  And that is the person who will ultimately pay the price.

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Newton defined the force of gravity in the following way: Every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that is directly proportional to the product of the masses of the particles and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

That pull in Nature–and in our human nature, too–did not slowly evolve. It was present from the very beginning of the universe and is surely testimony to a planned creation.

If gravity ceased for one moment, instant chaos surely would result. All heavenly objects, including the earth, moon and stars, would no longer hold together. Everything would immediately disintegrate into small fragments.   — Dr. Don DeYoung, Chair of  Science and Mathematics Department at Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana.

God and our belief in Him is the Gravity that not only holds together the world of Nature, but also our human nature. God’s plan is to hold together all of His creation. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. — Colossians 1:17

As particles of matter are attracted to other particles of matter, human beings we are physically attracted to people and things. But matter is matter and has no free will. Our human physical attractions are controlled by our free will, so we can say yes, or no, to them.

What holds each individuals together spiritually is the soul, which is filled with another attraction–our attraction to God. Again, we have the ability to choose yes, or no. But when we do harm to our physical bodies, or to the universe, things go out of balance. And when we harm ourselves spiritually by a misuse of our God-given free will, things go out of balance, as well.

Sometimes, we want too much of what we’re attracted to. When that happens, gravity works against us and the pull can be our downfall.  Twice as much isn’t twice as good. As the lyrics below say, “wanting more can send us to our knees.”

So, perhaps we can take a personal look at gravity, and see it as more than a cold, scientific theory.  The gravity within us is created and sustained by God. It is absolutely necessary for the existence of a human being on earth, and–more importantly– to his, or her, eternal life.

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No one is created perfect, and no one lives a perfect life. Each of us straddle between good and evil.

I know of a man who killed his brother out of jealousy. I know of a woman who lied knowing it would ruin another’s life. I know of a mother who chose drugs and a life on the streets over her child. I know of a father who deserted his family and left them to welfare. I know of a politician who went to jail for stealing campaign funds. I know of a nurse who killed nearly fifty patients. I know of a doctor who killed hundreds of innocent babies for money. I know of a man who kidnapped children and kept them for years as sex objects. I know of a man who entered a crowd and began shooting.

You know these people, too. You’ve heard about them on the news. Maybe you’ve encountered people like them in your own life. Maybe you’re even one of them. They are many. They are legion. And they’ve always been with us.

From a view of loftiness, we may wonder what causes these violent, selfish behaviors. How do they happen?

Don’t point too stiff a finger. Each of us has the capacity to be violent or selfish. But each of us also has the capacity to be gentle and self-giving.

I also know of a man who saved his brother’s life, of a woman who I don’t believe has ever lied in her life. I know of many mothers and fathers who daily, and with much sacrifice, love and care for their children. I know of politicians not out for power or money, but in the service of others. I know of nurses who care deeply for the dying, and conscientious doctors who save the lives of a multitude of children and adults. I know of men who believe that sex is not selfish, but a self-giving gift to be shared only with his spouse.

What causes these behaviors? They’re so opposite from the ones first listed. How do they happen? How do we get to them? One word will answer: Grace.

Then how do we get to Grace?

We have God’s grace within us already, but many of us have covered it over with everything our conscience warns us against. We take the easy way. It’s almost as if we see ourselves as stuck in concrete and either can’t, or don’t want to, get out of –dare I say it–sin. We’ve allowed ourselves to become so distracted that many of us don’t acknowledge grace, or its power, at all.

Put the word ‘grace’ in Google and see what comes up first. It’s the name of a corporation. It’s an acronym to map the earth’s gravity. It’s part of the name of a TV show.

It’s too bad that the most important–and yes, crucial–meaning of the word is ignored. Because we need it. We ought to recognize it. We ought to act with it.

The grace of God is within our reach, so reach for it. Pray for it.

Let’s get there if we can.