Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Arch Enemies He (Did Not) Create Them

It seems today that there's a lot of finger pointing between the sexes. Both genders say that the other is crazier, more sinful, more perverted, more this or more that.

However, the problem is not that one sex is more sinful than another, but it is in fact the tragedy of a gap forming between the two sexes. This is nothing new, but Satan seems to be disguising this gap in new ways.

Unfortunately, this battle of the sexes seems to be coming more and more from inside the Church. Pushed by well-intentioned youth ministers and pressuring friend-groups, this battle of the sexes is - as all messages of the Evil One are - based on a lie. The lie of course is that men and women are so different that they could never understand each other. The reason this is happening is the continual degradation of both sexes, even from within the Church.

And yet, fighting lies like this is why In the Beginning Ministries exists, so this post is going to try to begin to address the confusion. Let me be ironic in my addressing of the confusion by first splitting up the sexes and addressing the main lies I think each sex is fed. I'll then bring them back together in the end to show how the two sexes actually can work together. I encourage both sexes to read this entire post.


I think the two biggest lies men face are that they are pigs or that they need to be strong to amount to something. I've been to a lot of "Man Talks" in my day and they all sound something like this: "Now men, we all know that statistically 105% of you are already addicted to porn. You need to stop that right now. And the other 210% of you have feelings that you can't control so repress those as well. 60% of you are too emotional and whine too much to be men. Finally, the last 10% of you think you are in love with that girl at school but you are too young to possibly know what love is so go ahead and repress that too. Now that you have repressed your humanity and defeated your pornography addiction, you are a real man. Now lets do some man growls to show how manly we are."

I'm exaggerating of course, but you see my point. Now I am not here to bash your youth group or church or anything like that. I grew up in youth group and loved every second of it. Still, I can look back on that experience and realize that, while it was mostly great, they got some stuff wrong. Youth groups are not infallible. Unfortunately, this attitude towards men is something a lot of people get wrong.

The problem comes when we start to pinpoint a certain sin on either sex. This is because, whether we want to believe it or not, both sexes struggle with these sins. As my ministry partner Jacob Popcak often says, the Devil is an equal-opportunity employer. We've already detailed some of the problems that this kind of attitude towards men causes in another post, but suffice it to say, it's not a good position to take.


I think the biggest lie women face are that they are just insane. I mean think about it: 

"Women are too emotional, then they are too needy, then they are emotional again, then they want to try and voice their opinion which you know is going to be stupid, oh and did I mention they are emotional again?"

 Really it's a never ending cycle that inevitably ends with the woman crying to a sad movie, wishing her man were more like the talk dark and handsome figure on the screen, and eating cookie dough with whipped cream on top.  

Again, I exaggerate, but you see my point. This lie that women are worthless or too emotional goes very deep. This is a stereotype. Women have so much to offer the world if they are just given the chance.

So what does it mean to be a woman if not those late nights sobbing over Mr. Bingley's hair? Being a woman means you have been made in the image and likeness of God. Nobody can take your femininity away. It is something so beautiful given to you by your creator. Now there is a lot more to unpack here and I'll do just that in a future post.

For now suffice it to say that both of these lies for men and women end the same; by both being stripped of their masculinity or femininity. I encourage any woman reading this post to read our previous post on The Truth About Being A Man, and replace every time there is a masculine noun with a feminine one, because all of the info there is just as true for you.

All ya'll listen up

So why are men and women so stupid, especially to each other? Here is a saying I like to use whenever someone comes to me asking for relationship advice. Men are stupid, women are stupid, and God has put us both together on this earth because of His sense of humor to try and work something out. 

Now obviously I am being snarky, but there is some truth to this. Neither sex is perfect and we will not be until we get to heaven. Maybe we should stop trying to look for perfection and instead live by real love, which means the betterment of the other person. 

Yes guys, that means you are never going to find a perfect ten who loves sports and beer and just loves you so much and never complains. Ladies, you are never going to find prince charming who will marry you right away and you will live happily ever after in a beautiful house with lots of offspring. If you haven't noticed, I am again using guy and girl stereotypes to prove my point. I am kind of ironic that way. 

GUYS AND GIRLS ARE DIFFERENT!!! They are different, but maybe not in the way you would expect me to say. Damon Owens, the director of The Theology of the Body Institute, said it best when he said, "Men and women are not different from each other, but different for each other." Most differences between men and women aren't actual differences; we have made them up ourselves. The actual differences we do have are made in us by God so we can help each other. Men can play rough with the kids, they can open that cranky pasta jar, they can reach those high shelves in the pantry, and they can love with a masculine love. Women can breastfeed, they can nurture, they can give that warm motherly embrace, and they can love with a feminine love. 

The truth is no sex would be complete without the other. That is why God made two sexes. Men and women compliment each other perfectly and can in fact bring each other closer to God. How about we start bridging the gap between the sexes with love. Imagine the world we could live in if the battle of the sexes ended in a tie. 

I end with a quote from Pope John Paul II, "Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the "human" as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way."    

Tommy Shultz is a founder and writer for In the Beginning Ministries. You can learn more about him or contact him via his contact page at 

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Truth About Being a Man

I recently saw this promo and it blew me away. It’s intense, but it demonstrates a problem we at In the Beginning Ministries have been fighting for a long time. Take a look below (Note: this video contains some mature language and material and might be considered NSFW. Watch at your own discretion).

It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? But it’s true. The fact is, our culture – and particularly Conservative Christian culture – has wrecked the definition of masculinity. Even to say the word “manly” now brings to mind negative qualities like false strength, pride, anger, severity, and insensitivity.  

We bombard boys with phrases like, “be a man!” and “man up” and we tell them that it’s not manly to feel or care or be vulnerable. We’re so afraid of “sissyfying” our boys, or worse, making them gay, that we push them away. Fathers keep their sons at an arm’s length and I challenge you to find a youth minister who’d feel as comfortable talking to boys about maintaining self-esteem as they are with girls.

Yes, this is a real ad
One of the biggest lies that the world sells us is that masculinity is something to be achieved. Keep this in mind the next time you go on Facebook or head to the grocery store and I think you’ll see that I’m right. The magazines and the pharmaceuticals say, "Buy this and it will make you a man!” The movies say "Act this way! Girls will like you!" and the exercise machine commercial says, "Work out, work out, work out! Somebody will finally love you if you work out!" and all of them say, "This, THIS will finally make you a man".

No, GOOD men still do this. But
 he's still a man, even if he doesn't.
Even the Christians - you’re youth ministers, your pastors, you parents - often sell this lie. They say, "Act this way, treat women this way, pray this way. That'll make you a REAL man!" 

I see graphics on the internet all the time saying “Real men still do…” this and that. These kinds of posts are generally advocating some chivalrous behavior or virtue, and while they're certainly well intentioned, they unfortunately miss the mark completely.

Now look, I’m not trying to shame those that have spoken or written this way. It’s an easy trap to fall into.

But here’s the God’s honest truth. Men, are you listening? I’m going to be frank with you.

You're already a man. You can be a better man, you can be a stronger man, you can be a holier man. But no matter what you do, God made you a man. You were born a man and you are a man. You are manly. Just by possessing a man’s DNA, you are encoded with God’s spiritual and physical gifts of masculinity. Gifts like strength in weakness, vulnerability, empathy, leadership, wisdom, and all of the rest. Can you grow stronger at living out these gifts? Of course. Will you be working on bettering your ability to live out these gifts for the rest of your life? Yes, but that’s what life is all about.

The fact is, no matter how sinful you become or how badly you fail or how much you struggle, nobody can take your manliness away from you. Your masculinity is something planted deep within you, and while it can always be utilized more intensely, nothing you can do can make you lose it.
So don’t ever say “I’m not a man” or “I’m not manly”. And people, let’s stop telling each other to “man up” or to “be a man”. Whether you’re a man or a woman, God created you with either masculinity or femininity deeply encoded in who you are. Embrace what makes you you. Love it. Praise God for it. But never doubt it.

Jacob Popcak is a founder and writer for In the Beginning Ministries. You can learn more about him or contact him via his contact page at 

Monday, December 30, 2013

4 Reasons Why Our New Year's Resolutions Never Seem New

The new year of 2014 is fast approaching and with it the daunting task of figuring out a new year's resolution. I know, another blog post about new year's resolutions, but hear me out. First, let me address the white elephant in the room. Why is it that nothing ever seems new about new year's resolutions? I know I have had somewhat the same resolutions for many years and I am sure I am not alone. Why is it that no matter how hard we fight, no matter how much we work out, no matter how many 12 step programs we go through, no matter how much money we save, these things just always seem to fail? What’s the deal here? I did some research and found that according to the most popular new year's resolutions are losing weight, getting organized, and saving money. Are these things bad in themselves? Of course not, especially with beach season fast approaching and those ever present student loans. So what is the real reason that new years resolutions never seem new? I would like to suggest a list of 4 reasons why new year's resolutions, mine included, may not be working and steps we can take to change that. (Cheesy titles included)

1) If the world were outer space you would be its biggest star                    

Have you ever stopped for a second just to think about how amazing you are? Because God made you incredible. Seriously, think about this mind-blowing reality for a second. You are a human being, and that means something around here. That means God created you with an intellect and a free will. Humans are the only creatures on this planet that can reason and choose. Not only that but we were created by love for love. 

I have a brief reflection for you. Think of the moment Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane right before his passion. The bible says he sweat blood. This verse is all too easily looked over. Many biblical scholars hold that Jesus literally sweat blood. It is a phenomenon called Hematohidrosis, and it is where your blood vessels have so much pressure on them they burst and the blood comes out in sweat. Jesus had the immense pressure of all of our sins on his shoulders. Think about the weight and pressure of not only your sins but every other sin in the world on this one man. Think of the pain he must have felt. Now, from the moment Jesus created you, he knew he would bear the weight of all these sins. 

And Guess what? You were worth it. Not just all of us as a human race, but you. You sitting right there reading this blog post. You were worth it and that makes you freaking awesome. You were worth it because God loves you. All too often we set out with new year's resolutions as a way to change our horrible selves into something at least a little beautiful. Don’t get me wrong; it is good to always strive to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, but if we think of ourselves as trash until we have accomplished these resolutions then we are wrong. You are awesome because God made you that way. 

"God bless us everyone." ~Tiny Tim

"You is kind, you is smart, you is important." ~Aibileen Clark from The Help

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." ~Winnie the Pooh

Oftentimes the only thing holding us back from becoming the best people we can be is ourselves. So this year I challenge you, get over yourself. Realize your awesome and take that awesome self and get some resolutions under your belt.

2) Don’t let shame play the game

I have discovered there is a theme of what happens for most people with new year's resolutions. I know more then a few of these happen with me:  

  • We finally decide on a resolution that normally doesn’t have anything to do with how we see ourselves and everything to do with how we think others perceive us.
  • We try the resolution and ultimately fail because we fall off the path once, or get tempted, or lose faith, or whatever it may be.
  • Then comes the shame we feel because we didn’t do the thing we promised we would and so we hide and hope that we never told anyone about this resolution because we obviously aren’t keeping it,
  • And finally, we end up either eating all the chocolate in the world or all the bacon. (answers may vary)

Do these sound familiar at all? Think about it. We have a person who thinks they aren’t good enough, the person gets tempted and eventually falls, the person then is so ashamed that they start to hide what they have done, and then they turn to a counterfeit in their desperation that will not ultimately satisfy. Sounds a lot like the original fall of Adam and Eve to me. Really, the direct result of the original sin was shame. Adam and Eve became ashamed of themselves so they hid. I would suggest that this is a major road block to those new year's resolutions. 

First, don’t pick a resolution because of what others think of you; pick it because you want to better a part of yourself. Something that you want to work on. A practical example could be losing weight. If you want to workout every single day of 2014 and get super in shape and take care of your body then more power to you. I think that is great. But if you want to workout because you are ashamed of what you look like or what others might think of you, then maybe its time to rethink your motives. 

Or lets say you slip up one time on your resolution. Should you just give up and let shame win? Satan’s ultimate goal isn’t for us to rack up a bunch of sins. Jesus conquered sin on the cross. Satan loses that battle ten times out of ten because there is always mercy for those who ask. What Satan really wants is to get us to believe that the more we sin or the more we fail the less worthy we are of God’s love and certainly the less we should try. So this year I challenge you to stick it to the man if you will. Realize just how amazing you really are because of God and his mercy and don’t let that pesky shame get in the way.

3) You need desire to be inspired

Close your eyes for just a second. Now imagine you just found the cave of wonders from Aladdin and climbed the giant mushroom mountain to find a magical lamp. You rub the lamp and out pops a genie. This genie will give you three wishes, but they are not allowed to be shallow wishes, they must be things that you really truly desire. For example, we all desire love. That desire is inscribed into our very being because we were made in the image and likeness of God and God is love. So by default you are already one down.
But what are two other things you really desire? 

Keep your eyes closed and think of two. It might be that you want to mend a relationship with someone you may have hurt, it might be that you want to get all straight A’s next year in school, it might be getting closer to God and trying to go to mass more, it might be that you want to lose that pesky belly fat, or it might be the desire to finally ask that guy or girl out you have been stalking for months. It is different for everyone, that is what makes us unique, but what is it for you? 

I propose that resolutions will work better if they are things that we really truly desire. Not just shallow things that everyone does as a resolution or things maybe people want to see changed about you, but something specific to you as a person. Desire is a powerful thing and when we have a true desire to do something we are nearly unstoppable. So I challenge you to think about the things you really desire in this life, the things you really treasure, the things you want to make just a little bit better. Now open your eyes and go do them. You may start by getting the holes in your eyelids checked out if you were really able to read this entire section with your eyes closed.

And Finally….

4) Love is awesome

I tried to think of a catchy title for this, but words don’t give it justice. Many of you may know that I am kind of a romantic. I love, love. I could go on for days and days just writing about love.

Maybe at another time, but for this post all you need to know is that God is love and he created us in His image. Plain and simple. As I said above, the first desire of our hearts is for love. We all desire it whether we know it or not. That means that the amount of love you desire, is how much your neighbor desires love too. And you have the incredible opportunity of giving it to them. As I said before resolutions like losing weight or saving money are not bad, but maybe this year try to add one resolution to your list that works to better the world.

Who is that person that needs your love? Maybe it’s the person in Church you have never talked to, maybe its that kid in class who is really annoying and answers all the questions while arguing with the teacher, maybe its that guy or girl who looks like they have it all together but you have no idea what is going on underneath because you have never bothered to ask, or maybe its your best friend. Reach out with love to these people and though it may not be easy all the time, I promise it will be the most rewarding resolution of 2014. I end with the best quote of all time. "To love another person is to see the face of God." ~Les Miserables

So to recap...

Get over yourself. And I include myself in that. How about we all start realizing just how amazing we are because of God, stop letting shame influence our decisions, start realizing the true desires of our hearts, and just start loving people. Then maybe we can all join in one love and as the iconic Bob Marley said, "get together and feel alright." 

Happy Resolutioning and happy new year from all of us here at In The Beginning Ministries. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Would You Let the Holy Family Inn?

Can we really blame the Innkeeper who turned the Holy Family away? I know I can’t. It seems to me that, as much as we’ve glossed over the Nativity scene in our minds, the real thing was a sloppy, uncomfortable event, populated by people you and I most likely wouldn't want to spend time with.

The thing is, we really like to think of the Nativity in terms of the water-colored Christmas cards we send out each year. You know the ones I mean: a happy, clean, Caucasian baby Jesus surrounded by adorable little farm animals. But while there’s nothing objectively wrong with that, we can’t forget that the real beauty of the Nativity was in its messy, imperfect realness.  Mary, the Wise Men, the shepherds; they were all people the average “good Christian” wouldn't want to be seen with. Even Jesus’ extended family was – as my friend and colleague Brian Kissinger pointed out – more-or-less the original Island of Misfit Toys.

And yet, God loved these people and chose them not despite their brokenness, but in light of it. And this should be an inspiration to us, not just because it teaches us that we aren't beyond the love of God, but because it also calls us on to be kinder and more loving to exactly the kind of people who were present at the birth of Christ, those people who we might otherwise not be so kind and loving to.

The Shepherds

As central as shepherds were to ancient life, they were also considered social pariahs by Jewish law. Because they dealt with animals and muck, they were considered ceremonially unclean, and this meant they had to stay outside of the city, weren't allowed to pray with other people, and were generally considered to be the lowest rung on the social latter.

Put into a modern context, the shepherds of Jesus’ day could be compared with today’s homeless, and not the “with a heart of gold” kind you see in the movies, but more like the “we should probably cross to the other side of the sidewalk” kind you see in real life. They could also be compared to the poor, the mentally ill, the socially awkward, or anyone else who makes you uncomfortable to be around. And yet, the shepherds are the first to be told of the birth of Jesus. They are welcomed into the scene of Christ’s birth, the first citizens of the Kingdom.

The Magi

Despite tradition, the Magi weren’t “kings” or even particularly wise (by modern standards). Actually, they were fire priests of an ancient Pagan religion known as Zoroastrianism.

The Zoroastrians had a complex history with the Jews. A Persian religion, Zoroastrianism was one of the few ancient religions – including Judaism – that were monotheistic (meaning, they worshiped only one god). This similarity allowed for a surprising amount of religious dialogue between the Jews and the Zoroastrians and the two faiths ended up greatly impacting one another, with the Jews shaping the Zoroastrian concept of a single god and the Zoroastrians laying the ground-work for the Jewish understanding of the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, around the time of the prophet Daniel, the Zoroastrians started to experiment with polytheism, and by the time Christ was born, the Zoroastrians were straight-up worshiping fire.

So what’s the significance of having Zoroastrian Magi at the birth of Christ? Biblically, the Magi could represent all those who started out as followers of God – just as the Zoroastrians once were – but have since fallen away. Maybe the Magi are us in our weaker moments of faith, but I’d submit that the Magi are those friends and family members who've fallen away from the faith and who we no longer can get along with.

And yet, it is exactly this kind of person who Christ wanted at his birth. Sure, the Magi in our lives might arrive a little late to their faith, but Christ is calling them just as he called the Biblical Magi so long ago. In the mean time, it’s our job to love these people and realize that Christ makes a special place for them at his birth.


Mary was just a girl, maybe 16 (maybe 14, some say). Yes, she was engaged to be married, but she was still just a girl. As Catholics, we know that her child was the Son of God and that hers was a virgin pregnancy, but her friends and neighbors didn't know that.
In fact, part of the true significance of Mary going to visit her cousin Elizabeth is the fact that she would've looked completely normal when she left, but very, very pregnant once she arrived home, giving those she knew the opportunity to speculate and judge her.

I tear up to think of the pressure and stress young Mary must have been under, and isn't that the point? Christ made himself vulnerable through His Incarnation, but His Incarnation was made possible because Mary was so vulnerable. Now we see her as “Queen of Heaven and Earth” but once upon a time, she was just a scared, 16-year-old, pregnant Jewish girl.

Do you know somebody who, like Mary once was, is scared and vulnerable right now? Maybe it’s a young woman who really is pregnant out of wedlock. Have you reached out to her? And not just because you want her to keep the baby, but because you really care about her? Or maybe you know someone who’s just frightened and stressed and has a lot on their plate right now. Reach out to that person and be for them the comfort that the Angel of the Lord once was for Mary when he told her to “be not afraid”.


Sometimes it’s not the outcast shepherds or the fallen-away Magi or the scared virgins that are the hardest to show love to. Sometimes, it’s the Josephs of the world.

There’s not a lot that we know about Joseph’s personality, but we do know one thing: he was a righteous man (Matthew 1:19). He was a hard worker, he was learned in the sacred scriptures, he was probably a well-respected leader in his community, and – in general – he seemed to have it all together. But, as much as his tendency towards righteousness made him incredibly holy, it also caused him his share of mistakes, like when he almost divorced his wife.

Often, I think, it’s hardest to love those people who are truly holy. Perhaps we envy them, or we feel judged by them, but whatever the reason, we sometimes look at righteous people and wait for them to make a mistake so that we can feel validated in our bitterness. But it doesn't mean a person’s not righteous anymore if they make a mistake. It means they’re human.

Imagine how scared Joseph must have been with all he had to face. Imagine how hard it must have been to trust God, to trust his bride, to trust in himself when the odds seemed so against him. And yet he remained righteous, desperately trying to keep it all together for his wife and son.

When we see someone like Joseph, it can be easy to try and find something wrong with them so we can feel better about ourselves. But the loving thing to do is to see how we can help these people, especially when they’re finding it difficult to keep it all together. If St. Joseph can make a mistake, surely the righteous men and women in our lives should be allowed to.

What it all means

Am I saying these are the only lessons to be drawn from the Nativity story? Of course not. Thousands of books can and have been written on the subject. Still, it’s good to take a step back now and again so that we can really look at the characters of the Nativity, who God called and loved not despite their weaknesses and imperfections but largely because of them. It’s good news for you and I who are most certainly imperfect, but it’s also a call to action to more intentionally love those who we might forget about in the day-to-day.

From all of us at In the Beginning Ministries,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

5 Photos that Prove JPII was the World's Biggest Hipster

Here at In the Beginning Ministries, we're big fans of Pope John Paul II. An incredibly holy man, he played many roles: brilliant theologian; consummate philosopher; attentive and caring spiritual father; EPIC pope. Soon, he will be officially named as a saint.

But as if all of that wasn't enough, he was also the freaking KING of hipster-dom. Don’t believe me? Check out these 5 photos and quotes that PROVE that Pope John Paul II was the world’s greatest hipster.

1) Pope John Paul II Rockin' a Hipster Beanie, Reading Books, and Chilling with a Big Ol' Fish.

"No, I actually didn't catch this fish. It just offered itself up to me out of respect for my awesome."
Pope John Paul II was a great lover of the outdoors. His love of nature and his belief that one could find in creation a reflection of the Creator were attributes that continued to show themselves throughout his papacy. In his general audience of January 26, 2000 he said, "Nature therefore becomes a Gospel that speaks to us of God: 'For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator'".

2) Pope John Paul II Wearing Hipster Glasses

Watch out Flynn Rider. JPII pretty much invented the smolder.
If the above photo looks to you like that of an angsty indie rocker, it should. Pope John Paul II was all about the longings, yearnings, and angsts of youth, or - more specifically - that they were calls from God. At World Youth Day 2000, he said, "It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

3) Pope John Paul II Backpacking Through the Mountains

The nonchalantly unbutton shirt is the international symbol for "cool".
Pope John Paul II's love of nature was perhaps most realized in his fondness for mountain climbing. Never one to miss an opportunity to evangelize, however, the late pontiff often drew spiritual lessons from his favorite activity. In his 1986 address to the delegates of the Alpine Club, he said, "[Mountain climbing] requires rigorous virtues in those who practice it: strict discipline and self-control, prudence, a spirit of sacrifice and dedication, care and solidarity for others.Thus we can say that mountain-climbing develops character. In fact, it would not be possible to face disinterestedly the difficulties of life on the mountains if the physical and muscular strength, which is very necessary, were not sustained by a strong will and an intelligent passion for beauty." 

4) Pope John Paul II Fighting the Power (with a Textbook-Hipster Camping Trip)

They would've driven to their camping site in an energy-efficient hybrid,
but those hadn't been invented yet.
In 1949, the Communists were making it massively difficult to be a Polish Catholic (and that's putting it lightly). Police intimidation created a generally anti-religious atmosphere that forced any ministry to be done in secret. So, in his classic style, JPII (at that point he was still Karol Vojtyla) led secret ministry camping trips for couples and young people. In a 1997 letter to his friends in Krakow, JPII writes, "…catechesis led the way for the creation of such groups, like ours… We tried to find ways to meet and create communities. They were informal, but they were real.”

5) Pope John Paul II Wearing Converse

A love of converse was one of many similarities between JPII and the Doctor
Yeah, JPII wore beanies, fedoras, and converse, but that's not all. The Daily Beast writes, "Pope John Paul II had some fairly indie wardrobe inclinations. In 1999 he met with Bono of the band U2, who gifted the pontiff his signature blue-tinted sunglasses in exchange for a rosary. John Paul II was known to favor Polish-made loafers – a divergence from the traditional Italian-made red kicks. He sprung for specialty outwear in the wintertime too, wearing a ‘crimson wool cloak trimmed in old braid, at times allowing children to play hide and seek in its deep folds,’ the Washington Post reported in 2005."