Born during the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964), I was raised with the warning to never put a plastic bag over my head because I could suffocate. Subsequent generations have ignored the warning and now even encourage the practice. Yes, people are still huffing paint. But these days people in greater numbers are huffing something else, something even more deadly: fear.
The Hugsie Hugging Coat
They say there is no such thing as bad advertising. Let’s test the theory.
This morning, after taking Roxy for her morning walk (it was 17 degrees outside) and feeding her, I turned on the computer. As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across an advertisement video. They are a nuisance. When time permits, I “hide” the ads and mark them all as “irrelevant.”
This particular advertisement video caught my attention–not because it was tempting me to buy something I don’t need, but because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I took a closer look to make sure I wasn’t being duped by a Babylon Bee article. It wasn’t from the Bee. It was real. I was about to be introduced, with another attempt at panic pandemic indoctrination, to the Hugsie Hugging Coat.
You might as well feel my pain. Take a look.
Developed by a pharmacist in England, the product’s Facebook ad told me more than I wanted to know about the Hugsie Hugging Coat, including:
- “Protect Your Loved Ones especially the vulnerable and elderly
- Barrier Coat prevents direct contact
- Quick and Easy Face and Hand Covering
- Recyclable and Reusable”
Flatten the Curve with a Bag Over Your Head
So, let me get this straight. I should Saran Wrap myself and ignore my mother’s and grandmother’s advice about putting plastic bags over my head. And if I decide to go so far as to submit to society’s requisite pandemic paranoia, then I should reuse the Hugsie Hugging Coat? Reuse it?
So, if I decide to shrink-wrap myself before, say, going crosswalking, and someone who stops to talk wants a hug, I can hug them. I will be safe. And then when the next person wants a hug (for the record: it’s usually the homeless drunk guys in my town who want hugs while I’m crosswalking), I should feel safe hugging him or her, too, right?
Nevermind that the person who just hugged me is now covered in the germs from the last person who hugged me.
COME ON, PEOPLE! LET’S FLATTEN THAT CURVE! WHO’S WITH ME!
The official Hugsie Hugging Coat video was posted to YouTube in October. So, maybe we rational folk can find some solace in the fact that the YouTube page has only ten subscribers and the video only has about 1,600 views. But we can’t get away from the reality that some people are taking to wrapping themselves in plastic because they are afraid of catching a virus that kills less than 2% of the people it infects.
Friends, while I understand that I could be part of the 2% of the people who contract the virus and die, I stand a better chance of dying at the hands of a professing Christian while open-air preaching or a better chance of being arrested while reading my Bible outside an abortuary in Iowa City than I do dying of Covid. The likelihood you will die from this virus is similarly remote.
Be Thoughtful, Not Cavalier
Yes, the virus is real. Yes, people have died as a result of contracting the virus. I personally know people who have been hospitalized because of the virus. I also personally know people who have died from the virus. People I know, people I see somewhat regularly have either had it or have it now. If you have lost a friend or loved one to the virus, my heart genuinely goes out to you. My heart goes out to you the same way my heart would go out to you (no more and certainly no less) than if you lost someone to cancer, or a car accident, or suicide, or old age, or the flu.
While I do not believe we have cause to fear this virus, there is no need to be cavalier about it either, especially as it pertains to the health of others. Don’t be afraid, but be courteous. Don’t live in fear of getting sick. At the same time, don’t have an insensitive indifference to sickening others. Be reasonable, thoughtful, and fearless. Live; breathe; love others; trust God.
Look; if you’re sick (whatever the contagion) and you hand me a wrapped lollipop, I’m going to take it, thank you for it, and enjoy the gift. But if you pull the lollipop out of your mouth after telling me you’re sick and offer it to me, and then look at me funny because I won’t shove your lollipop in my mouth, I’m going to question your reasonableness and thoughtfulness. It’s not that I’m fearful. It’s that you might be insensitive and/or cavalier.
Be thoughtful. Don’t be cavalier.
With that being understood, what’s happening in the world in response to the alleged pandemic is not reasonableness, thoughtfulness, or love of neighbor. The world is being encouraged and conditioned to huff fear.
The History of Huffing
“Huffing,” also referred to as “sniffing,” “bagging,” and other names on the street. It is the obnoxious, noxious, foolish, and sinful practice of inhaling solvents and other substances for the purpose of intoxication. Here’s a brief history of huffing from The Foundation for a Drug-Free World:
The inhaling of fumes from chemicals such as incense, oils, resins, spices, and perfumes to alter consciousness, or as part of religious ceremonies, dates back to ancient times in Egypt, Babylonia (present-day Iraq), India, and China.
According to some researchers, inhaling gas vapors to alter one’s state of consciousness was practiced by priestesses at the Oracle of Delphi1 in ancient Greece.
In the early 1800s, nitrous oxide, ether, and chloroform were the anesthetics used commonly as intoxicants.
Nitrous oxide was regarded as a cheap substitute for alcohol and was popularized by the British scientist Sir Humphry Davy. He held nitrous oxide parties and coined the word “laughing gas” in 1799. Noting the anesthetic effects, Davy proposed that the gas could be used for operations, although this was not tried for another half-century.
The use of anesthetics for recreational purposes continued throughout the nineteenth century in Europe and the US.
Ether was used as a recreational drug during the 1920s Prohibition era when alcohol was made illegal in the US.
In the 1940s, the recreational use of solvents, primarily gasoline, became popular.
Abuse of inhalants in the United States increased in the 1950s and is now widespread among adolescents.
By the 1960s, the practice of solvent sniffing had spread across a wide variety of commercial products including paint and lacquer thinners, nail polish remover, shoe polish, lighter fluid, spray paint, and others.
In more recent years, glue and gas sniffing has become a widespread problem among homeless street children in South Asia, Mexico, Eastern Europe, Kenya, and other areas around the world. Street kids use these inhalants to numb the pain of hunger, cold, and desperation.
Gas and spray paint sniffing is also common in remote regions in Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand, and some Pacific Islands.
Huffing was still stupidly popular among young people in the 90s.
The Golden Tin Man
My partner and I were patrolling the west side of town late one night when we happened upon a young man standing alone under a street light. Odd considering the location and the time of night. Odder still considering his head was covered by a plastic grocery bag. Standing still, his shoulders moving back and forth as if he was slow dancing and swaying to the music in his head. He was oblivious to the world around him. At that moment, his world did not extend beyond the inside of a plastic bag.
My partner and I looked at each other, smiled, and decided to reach out and touch someone.
We stopped our car along the curb not too far away from the subject. We exited our car, walked up to the young man, and, for a few moments, stood silently on each side of him. Having waited long enough, I nodded to my partner, indicating it was time to unveil our prize.
My partner slowly reached for the plastic bag and slowly lifted it off the young man’s head. It was one of those “I thought I’ve seen everything moments.”
And what to our wondering eyes should appear, but a head of gold, from neck to well above his ears.
He looked like an updated version of the tin man from the Wizard of Oz.
He likely didn’t remember what happened next. We escorted him to the back seat of our patrol car and then gave him a ride and a free night of accommodations in the Gray Bar Hotel, at Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
From Huffing Paint to Huffing Fear
Someone, probably an equally incompetent peer, told that golden-faced, golden-haired, golden-necked, eared, foreheaded, haired lad that it was a good idea to inhale paint fumes. He believed the lie.
Likewise, we’re being told today we should wear masks, keep our distance from others, isolate, quarantine, close businesses, vaccinate, trust the government, follow the science, and allegedly “love our neighbors.” And it seems that the only way for governments, media outlets, and their surrogates to convince us to do these things, convince us to set aside common sense, reason, and even faith, is to convince us to huff fear.
So, today we have pharmacists transforming plastic garbage bags into protective ensembles deemed necessary for hugging. And people are probably buying it.
People are huffing fear.
We’re told that liquor stores and strip clubs are essential, but churches are not. And people are believing it.
People are huffing fear.
We’re told that it’s not safe to eat inside restaurants, but it’s safe to eat inside a fully-enclosed tent just outside restaurants. And people are believing it.
People are huffing fear.
Men and women are wearing masks as they enter abortuaries to kill their children.
People are huffing fear.
Christian: Take the Bag Off Your Head!
It took a couple of street cops to pull the bag off that young man’s head some 25 years ago. Was there no one in his life to warn him that filling a bag with gold paint and then putting the bag over his head was a bad idea? Maybe there was. Maybe he ignored the good counsel he had been given.
Christian: are you huffing fear today?
Then let me help you.
“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:5-8).
Come on; take the bag off your head, my brother or sister.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25-34).
Take the bag off your head, beloved of God.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:26-33).
Take the bag off your head, you who have been saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
You don’t have to be afraid, Christian. God is sovereign. He rules and reigns unhindered, unfettered, undeterred. He has not changed.
The world has gone from huffing paint to huffing fear. My beloved Christian brethren: we do not have to. Let’s keep the bags off our heads and trust the Lord as we should. As we trust the Lord, and as we walk by faith and not by sight (or fear), let’s remember to not let our courage turn to pride or become an excuse for being cavalier toward the concerns and health of others.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Something to think about.