I have one great-niece in our family of only 10. So, we’re tighter than a bug in a rug. Tightness aside, it is my three-year-old great-niece, Tynslee, that is “the star of the Hinkle show.”
When I think about Tynslee, Psalm 127:3 comes to mind, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” The term “reward” is so appropriate for Tynslee. She is gorgeous, smart and vivacious like any energic three-year-old Miss America. She can sing like an angel, too. And did I say she is gorgeous and smart? (I think all of you grandpas and grandmas get the picture.)
My mom and step-dad, both in their mid-80s, keep Tynslee most weekdays so her mom can work to support the two of them. Tinsley hops out of the car and the fawning and effusive descriptors from mom are unleashed “come here precious … come here and let your Nana kiss those pretty little cheeks … Nana loves you sweet little girl.” Pretty much what you would expect from a “Nana” with her only great-grandchild. It is a hoot to behold.
Growing up in the South, and all that comes with that (I would argue more good than bad), can present unique challenges. For all cultures, change comes and the South is experiencing that. One of the most important changes is in the way Southerners view people of color. Interracial marriage is no longer taboo and more families are becoming multi-ethnic. Mine has. Tynslee is non-white, to use postmodern nomenclature. But to us, she is simply “our sweet Tynslee.”
One of the great gifts Tynslee has given us is the reminder that we are all one blood, made in the image of God, deserving of the dignity and respect that comes with that great truth. Tynslee has made us more aware of prejudicial blind spots, where people are hurt or offended – sometimes unintentionally.
Sometimes listening to people from other cultures than our own is difficult, but necessary if we love people like Jesus does. We too often talk too much. However, at some point the listening must lead to constructive action. That is why I wrote my column in a previous edition of The Pathway urging the Missouri General Assembly to publicly acknowledge — for the first time — that the Missouri Supreme Court was wrong in its Dred Scott ruling. But I also wanted to demonstrate my sincerity on the issue through action. That is why I testified before a House committee urging them to take this step.
I am but a sinner saved by grace and blind spots persist. For example, 21 years ago I wrote a book about the history of the battle flag that the Confederate army fought under on the battlefield (it’s different from the rectangular so-called “stars & bars” that some identify as being the Confederate flag). The book, Embattled Banner, is a documented historical examination of the origins of the battle flag.
It was while I was writing the book God called me to full-time gospel ministry. I wanted to make sure that it would not inhibit efforts to share the gospel with everyone. I asked my pastor to read the final draft to make sure it would not damage the ministry that God called me to do. His assessment in 1997 was unqualified: it would not be a stumbling block at that moment in history. So, I delivered the final draft to the publisher for printing my first week at seminary. It provided me with much needed royalties that helped pay for my theological education.
With the passage of time, I have come to realize that there are people who see any Confederate symbol as one of slavery and oppression – even in an historical, not political, context. Obviously as a minister of the gospel my heart’s desire is to make Christ known to all and that means removing any barriers that could distract from that message.
How do I feel about Embattled Banner today? To be honest, I have been so consumed with The Pathway ministry for the past 16 years, that I have not thought about it. It’s just not important to me anymore.
It went out of print 20 years ago and I have moved on with my life and with the call that God placed on it. Would I write it today? No. My life belongs to God. He has sent me to serve Missouri Southern Baptists and to make Christ crucified known to everyone.
I am planning a late summer trip. It is to my hometown of Nashville, Tenn., to see my family – and especially — Tynslee.