Copeland told the story of taking his little boy to the store and having the kid ask for something, to which Copeland snapped "No, you can't have that!"
And then, he said, "The Lord asked me,'Why not?'"
It was a pretty good question for which Copeland had no answer, so instead, he bent down to his son's level and apologized to him and bought him whatever it was, because, as God said, "Why not?"
"Because I said so!" is not an answer you volley back at God. Or, really, anybody you aren't on the verge of firing.
Even then, come on, man. It's a pretty lame explanation.
Though it's only been a quarter of a century, I don't remember what point Copeland was making, but the point of the column was that kids deserve a little respect and that, most times, it wasn't the kid's idea to hit the store at rush hour at the end of a long day anyway.
As it happens, the column about Kenneth Copeland and kids in the store was only one of a couple of times I addressed what we used to refer to as "K-Mart Mommies," those people who scream at, and sometimes hit, their children in the aisles of a store, as if that were the normal way human beings interact.
The other column used as its jumping-off point the scene in "Kindergarten Cop" when Arnold Schwarzenegger punches the abusive dad.
Granted, that's not a model of How One Deals With Such Things, but it was a helluva lot more cathartic than anything in "Kramer vs. Kramer."
The message in both columns was that, if being in charge and being an ass are the same thing in your world, you need to seek out another world.
Someone posted a picture on Facebook the other day of a mother and child on the roadside, with the kid holding a sign that said, "I am a bully." She asked for opinions, and I said it was a pretty good strategy if you wanted your kids to grow up, move away and never come home for holidays.
Someone else, of course, said it was the perfect punishment.
We were both wrong. It's an asinine, despicable, rotten thing to do to a kid, a worse example of bullying than anything he could possibly have done.
Yet. Give him some time.
Because the kid probably won't learn to hate her and he probably won't move away. Just the opposite. He'll find himself trapped in an eternal, hopeless loop of seeking her approval, meanwhile dishing out the same stone-hearted abuse to his wife and kids that he got from the people in his life who were supposed to love him.
Which I will grant you is a long way from the issue of whether or not you're going to toss the last corner-crust of your sandwich to the dog.
That low-level of power tripping is more what Kenneth Copeland spoke of, the reflexive "no" that is based not on the request but on the interruption. In other words, it's the stupid "no," the one that means "I've got it all mapped out in my mind and I don't want anything to change that."
Which can be as simple as this: You're on a road trip, it's getting to be lunch time, and you know there's a Burger King about 20 minutes up the highway. But then the kids see a McDonald's and ask to stop there, and you say "No" not because you prefer Whoppers to Quarter Pounders but because you already have the image in your mind of stopping at the Burger King.
It becomes more pernicious when the question is more global, when you have, in your mind, a vision of who your kids are and it doesn't fit who they think they are.
Still, it doesn't have to be some DH Lawrence epic about coal miners who don't want their sons to be writers, or Sikh parents who don't think girls should bend it like Beckham.
Though, of course, it can be.
But the drops that wear away the stone are the little ones that are unthinkingly, repeatedly unleashed on the kid who asks for a package of Lifesavers at the store, or a dog who wants the last bite of your sandwich.
The ones where you don't have to believe in God to hear him ask "Why not?"