Paco and His Pa

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

– Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)


It started as a joke in a Hemingway short story. First appearing in the June 1936 issue of Esquire as a piece entitled “The Horns of the Bull,” and later changing to “The Capital of the World” when it was published in book form, Hemingway told the story of a rundown hotel serving revolutionaries and second rate bullfighters.

The story focused on a young waiter by the name of Paco who desperately wanted to become a bullfighter.

Hemingway begins the story by indicating Paco was a very common name in Madrid. In fact, Hemingway tells us, there was a joke about how popular the name was:


Madrid is full of boys named Paco, which is the diminutive of the name Francisco, and there is a Madrid joke about a father who came to Madrid and inserted an advertisement in the personal columns of El Liberal which said: PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY ALL IS FORGIVEN PAPA, and how a squadron of Guardia Civil had to be called out to disperse the eight hundred young men who answered the advertisement.

Ernest Hemingway, The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition (New York: Sribner, 1987), 29.


This particular anecdote has been used time and again by pastors in sermons dealing with parenthood and fatherly love.

There is a certain bond sons have with their fathers that can sometimes be hard for moms to understand. In fact, many men define themselves by their fathers, and as they age they often hold their relationships with their male parent in higher regard. It’s a given, and rarely argued today that households without fathers suffer.

Fortunately, the Bible has several guidelines for parental involvement, including the verse above. Bible Study Tools has a list of verses for Fathers Day, but really they’re good for anytime a Dad wants to know more about what God has to say on the subject of fatherhood.