I was in my favorite restaurant the other day, reading my newspaper when all of a sudden, I heard this plop on my table.
When I looked up some woman I had never seen before said in a barely audible voice, I have a cookie for you!
Then she quietly moved on to another table and did the same. She was akin to a modern-day Johnny Appleseed as she spread her affections and concerns to the world around her with a cookie.
I really shouldn’t be eating that kind of sweets but out of gratitude or maybe human courtesy I ate some of the cookie.
After a few moments my curiosity had been piqued. I chased her down and asked her why she was doing this.
She looked at me with sad eyes and softly said the world is in such a mess…I thought this would help us with it.
I asked her if she meant Ferguson…Iraq…Gaza and so on.
She said all of it…the world is such a mess.
Her fear and consternation were visibly tangible.
Then it occurred to me that she had personified what Rush Limbaugh had said on his program earlier that day.
She had perfectly articulated the liberal mindset of the world being so sad that we were just helpless pawns in a maelstrom of unfathomable times.
The conclusion then is that we can’t do anything about the situation and must simply defer to our leaders to save us from these terrible times. I told her that it has always been like this. The world has always seemed to have been a mixture of confusion, chaos and overt evil. Some times were far worse than what the world is experiencing now.
The pages of history are riven with such violent and deadly tales of plagues that killed millions, earthquakes, tornadoes, world wars, famines, pestilence and the Holocaust to name but a few.
She just shook her sad head and walked away.
I guess she had never studied any history in school.
Since I got my doctorate in history 42 years ago, my favorite subject has been virtually eliminated from college and secondary campuses. I know they say they teach it but it’s not history anymore…just left-wing agitprop.
To me history is neutral. It is not liberal nor is it conservative. It is what really happened.
In a word it is reality–the ultimate reality show.
While times change…leaders come and fade from view. The one constant that has been with us since the very beginning has been our immutable human nature.
This is just one of the many ideas that the left has gotten wrong.
They see history as the unending quest to deify man and set it on an altar of Progress.
Philosopher Emmanuel Kant recignized the existence of a fallen man when he wrote out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.
Evil, sin, despair and violence are all in the human DNA.
G. K. Chesterton seconded this idea when he wrote of original sin in the last century as the one teaching of the Catholic Church that did not have to be taught. Just pick up a newspaper!
People who think they can help the world by giving cookies don’t understand the dynamic of the human soul and its battle with the world, the flesh and the devil. These concepts have virtually vanished from education, society and the public square and are foreign to a generation of Americans. Nothing will ever change unless people realize that the fault is within our souls and not our stars.
For a poignant, literary rendition on the phenomenon of human nature, one need only consult the writings of South Carolinian author Pat Conroy. His quintessential book is The Great Santini where the abject cruelties and insensitivities of his father, Col. Donald Conroy vividly come to life.
I haven’t read the book yet but it hit a nerve with the Conroy family. Son Pat quickly became the pariah of his highly dysfunctional family.
I have seen the movie, starring Robert Duvall and Blythe Danner several times. Though tame by comparison, it did succeed in capturing the pain and suffering the senior Conroy caused his family.
The marital union of the real Conroys produced seven children, three more sons than depicted in the film for a total of seven roughly hewn and deeply disturbed children.
While at Logan Airport after a trip through New England some weeks ago, I happened upon a bookstore. My browsing brought me to a hardback edition of Conroy’s only non-fiction work about his family’s serious difficulties. Since it was published in 2013, I thought I might not be able to get it when I returned home.
So even though my carry-ons were bristling and graoning and almost impossible for me to lug around, I stuffed it in there and prayed for the best.
The book’s title is The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and his Son. The book, which sometimes reads like a novel is the most bittersweet book I have ever read. One minute I was laughing out loud and the next I was wiping tears from my face.
Even though the focal point of the book is the aforementioned Great Santini, Conroy also explored the demise and eventual death of both his parents with such warm affection and grace that I literary felt his pain bleed from his deftly crafted work.
Col. Conroy’s legalistic Catholicism stands tall and fragile throughout.
Though its presence did not seem to stick on any of the kids, the rich spirit of the Catholic Imagination permeates the subtext of the book with an inherent spiritual beauty that cannot be ignored.
The Church’s teachings are arguably responsible for the warm aura of family life, amid the ruins of a twisted timber of humanity that tortured every member of the family.
At the funeral for their youngest brother, Tom who had fallen into the absolute abyss of despair, they had mistakenly put Tim as the decedent. His brothers went on how they were glad that it was him who had died and not Tom who would be really missed.
This gallows humor, laced with a primordial sacrasm digs to the soul of their inability to free themselves from the Conroy demons.
This is reminiscent of St. Paul when he lamented in Romans for the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do.
A 1000 cookie girls will never be any match for our human nature—only God’s mercy, love and grace.
It is not everyone who can claim to have enacted two laws or truisms but I have.
The latest one is that bad ideas invariably drive out good ideas in a society.
I am referring to the idea that people who have fundamental religious, moral and ethical beliefs have been victimized by the secular idea that the new liberal Taliban is in town and they will not tolerate any idea that differs from their new orthodoxy.
I am not talking about Islam but cultural atheism or what president Obama identified as the new national religion in his speech at the Catholic university Notre Dame in 2009.
Pope emeritus Benedict often remarked that he thought it was not so much atheists who damage the Christian faith, as it is the practical atheists who do the real damage. The practical atheists are those who profess themselves Christians but who then live as if God does not exist.
At the heart of this practical atheism, which is very present in our day and also very easy to fall into, is a false relationship with God. We say one thing yet we do another and we convince ourselves that no one is the wiser. And that includes God.
Racism, multiculturalism and diversity have been adroitly employed to chase religious and moral people from the public square.
This all may have begun with the virtual elimination of the Bible from the public school system in the 1940s and 1950s.
As C.S. Lewis noted, the modern world insists that religion be a purely private affair, then shrinks the area of privacy to the vanishing point.
Total elimination has always been high on the left-wing agenda throughout history.
I need only cite the French Revolution to dramatize my point.
Racial prejudice and bigotry has become the driving wedge to open up new venues of religious elimination for years now.
The Civil Rights was essentially necessary but it lost its credibility after affirmative action was defended many years after it had become obsolete.
Good grief! Affirmative action or reverse discrimination has been the law of the land for 40 years. Enough is enough!
It is so deeply embedded in the national psyche, thanks to the Democrat Party, that to mock or criticize any black person even in private is a mortal sin that demands a symbolic public execution. Just witness the plight of Daniel Sterling.
Apply that fear to presidential elections and you see what we get!
By not recognizing the excesses of this racial intransigence traditional society has indirectly delegated or surrendered too much power and moral authority to these real purveyors of intolerance and hatred.
If they would only stop the hatin’!
I am talking about the self-empowered racialists who abuse the moral authority bestowed upon them.
While the civil right movement was legitimate in its early days, its justification now serves as an ersatz proxy moral card to auxiliary groups such as homosexuals, and even many feminists. They have used the accidents of birth to demand acceptance of a life style that had been condemned for millennia.
This is not to say that the Christian virtues of our once moral society should not temper the grave and inhumane excesses of past history but this does not translate into any legitimacy granted to their sexual practices.
The newest phrase to capture all this has been On the Wrong Side of History.
As if the liberal caliphate has a clue just what is moral and immoral! For a collective group that has rejected traditional religion and virtually all of its moral values, they are woefully unqualified to create any replacement set of values that would have universal appeal, such as the Golden and Silver Rules.
They self-righteously think they represent the right side of history.
In a recent screed in her USA Today column, sports writer, Christine Brennan pontificated about Tony Dungy’s alleged intolerance of homosexuality in the NFL.
She was directing HER intolerance to his honest and heart-felt beliefs that he made about the last man drafted in the NFL’s college draft, Michael Sam, who wantonly disturbed the relative tranquility of NFL locker-room politics with his self-admission that he was gay and proud of it.
Millions of football fans were subjective to the kiss on national TV without warning. Where is all the concern about our sensitivities?
With regard to Sam’s admission, Dungy noted I wouldn’t have taken him. It’s not going to be totally smooth…Things will happen. In other word he did not want his new football team, the Tampa Bay Bucs turned into a media circus.
The Rams were more willing to take that chance, since he was a Missourian, and that was their choice. There is only a 50-50 chance he will make the team unless the media forces the Rams to deny a better player an opportunity to play for the Rams.
Everything Dungy said is reasonable and honest. So why should we even listen to people like Ms. Brennan sound off about subjects they really don’t even understand?
And how come sports fans must be subjected to her liberal drivel? Give her an opinion page and leave the sports to someone who really cares about what goes on between the lines or on the court.
In paraphrase of Thomas Paine, these movements have made the world anew. This is all part of the hope and change that candidate Obama promised us, a hope founded on the illusions, lies and myths of a history gone bad.
Theirs is not the right side of history or even the wrong side of history. History is neither. The moral judgments its makes are wholly subjective. Only God really knows which is right or wrong. What the liberals have today is only the left side of history.
I was going to call this Honey, I Shrunk the Country, a veiled reference to the 1989 Rick Moranis movie about an inventor who accidentally shrinks his children.
I think it is a fitting metaphor for what President Obama has done to this once proud and powerful country.
He has shrunk the nation’s economy…its military and its standing on the world stage.
Way to go Mr. President!
Many military and political people have started calling him the worst president in history.
I don’t understand what took them so long. I saw that in him eight months after his first election.
I have already written about my astute granddaughter who asked me six years ago who I thought was the worst president. She was six at the time.
I made a case for Obama and she said that I was saying that only because I had voted for McCain.
Oh, if we only had college students who knew as much.
The good news is that since then she has gone from being a liberal Democrat to telling me recently that she was a neutral. By that I think she meant an independent. To me that is a great deal of progress.
When she is in college maybe she will be president of the Conservative Club if there still is such a thing.
The only thing wrong with my thesis is that it is based on my objective standards of what I think is good for the country.
My standards are precisely that–standard.
For a country to thrive it must maintain a delicate balance between personal freedoms and government power. These two entities have been in conflict since the First American Revolution.
To be successful the citizens of a nation must feel secure in their beds at night.
The level of national security has fallen greatly in the 21st century. After 9/11 our world changed. It was harder to travel and there seemed to be threats to Americans abroad.
Rightfully or wrongly President George W. Bush fought two wars so that our battles against terrorism would not come to our shores again.
While he was doing that, little was done to address our Southern borders. Millions of illegal immigrants have flooded to this country with the blessings of both parties. Republicans see them as cheap labor while Democrats see them as gullible voters in search of free stuff. To a degree maybe 35-65, both parties deserve to be held accountable.
The litany of Obama scandals from the IRS to Benghazi outperform any list from the collective administrations of the alcoholic Ulysses S. Grant, the libidinous Warren G. Harding, the shifty Richard M. Nixon and the clueless Jimmy Carter—all of whom have been labeled at one time the worst president in American history.
But what confuses the issue for most good-hearted Americans on the right and the left, is the abject fact that President Obama and I do not have the same standards. His beliefs are diametrically opposed to virtually anyone of my standards. What I see as bad and even evil are good and wholesome in our president’s mind.
I see abortion, illegal immigration, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem cell research, an increase in the minimum wage, national health care and subsidies for healthy Americans as all as attacks on the American character and deleterious to the integrity of our national institutions.
I believe in a strong national defense, secure borders, capitalism, fiscal conservativism, a strong foreign policy, not an ignorant democracy where an odious agenda is deliberately rammed down the American people’s throat.
I believe true freedom. not moral license is necessary for our prosperity and for that of the world.
Obama thinks that America is evil to the core. He believes that we are largely responsible for all the unrest and violence in the world and quite frankly the world would be better off without us.
If you want o see what that would like see author Dinesh D’Souza’s new film America
Obama promised that he would transform the nation and in doing just that he has been undermining everything the vast majority of the American people hold dear to them.
President Obama has threatened to make a mockery of the laws of the land, especially our Constitution.
He obeys only those laws that he wants and ignores those that don’t fit his agenda.
He has a vision for America that he believes will make the world a better place–especially as long as it can benefit from his deep-seated intellectual ideals.
If one wants a vision of Obama’s world look back to its progenitor the French Revolution which gave us first the guillotine, the reign of terror and later the concentration camp, the death camps and the gulags.
His megalomania is only surpassed by his inattention to detail, unconcern for the consequences of his policies and for the harm and the abject evil they engender in a world that is bordering, not on Nirvana but on the chaos of Hell.
While he mocks Christians for believing in a heavenly future in the next life, Obama promises that we can have Heaven on earth if we just listen to him.
The graveyards are riven with petty dictators and ersatz intellectuals who have made the same disingenuous promises.
Too many conservatives and patriots from Mike Huckabee to Bill O’Reilly naively see him as someone who wants the same things as they do but is just going at it in a different way. They could not be any more wrong about his sinister agenda.
Obama reminds me of Claude Lefty Williams one of the infamous Black Sox who threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds to spite their owner, Charlie Comisky and pick up some easy money. The scandal rocked baseball for years and was ultimately responsible for Pete Rose’s banishment from the game he played harder than most.
Williams was the most egregious of the eight-man cabal and wound up losing three of the five games necessary to win in 1919.
Fast forward to the 1981 World Series when pitcher George Frazier of the New York Yankees became only the second man to suffer three losses in a series.
When reminded of Williams’ chicanery, Frazier quipped Yeah but I wasn’t trying to lose them!
The other day a headline in USA-Today caught my eye. It was entitled Naked TV Taking Off. There seems to be a plethora of participants sans clothes programming under the heading of Reality TV that tapes middle age men and women in various motifs trying to act natural.
According to journalist Ann Oldenburg as Survivor, the granddaddy of all survival reality game shows, kicks off its 28th season Wednesday (8 p.m. ET/PT), a new wave of survival-TV series is rolling in. Among them: Fox plans a show that will play out over the course of a year; a second season of Discovery’s titillating Naked and Afraid arrives in March; and Syfy’s Opposite Worlds gets ready to crown a winner.
Each episode chronicles the lives of two survivalists—a man and a woman—who meet for the first time and are given the task of surviving a stay in the wilderness naked for 21 days. After they meet in the assigned locale, the partners must find and/or produce water, food, shelter, and clothing within the environment.
The events of each couple’s quest play out in a single episode. Partners strip down and meet each other. They are provided with rough cross-body satchels containing a personal diary/camera—for use when the camera crew is not there at night—and a map. They all wear identical necklaces with a center bead, which is a microphone, and some personal jewelry is allowed.
I saw a two-minute clip of this show and it was tame by anybody’s standards. Sure there are a lot of bare bottoms but any hint of genitalia is blocked by mysterious white light balloon, giving lie to the advertisement that this is a reality show.
The above article also pointed out: We’ve got The Bachelor. And we’ve got Naked and Afraid. So why not mesh the two?
VH1 has just announced it has given the green light to Naked Dating, a one-hour weekly series that will explore the art of romance free of pre-conceived notions, stereotypes — and clothes.
No jewelry, no phones and no conventions of society to get in the way.
Each episode is its own date, following a man and a woman as they each date two different suitors. At the end of the episode, the two will analyze what they’ve learned and decide on whether or not to move forward with their prospective love matches.
But of course this will all be done in an exotic locale and everyone will be naked.
I even found a website devoted to Naked Yoga.
On the surface all this appears to be innocent and relatively harmless.
I know that many will signal this as further proof that Western Civilization as we once knew it has officially ended. Nudity is everywhere–stage, art galleries,dance recitals, theater and movie theaters.
Perhaps something different is going on. During my formal history studies I learned of the Pendulum theory, which held that life and history are always changing. Both are in a constant state of flux, heading into the future.
When it comes to ideas, trends, fads and historical movements at some point it will reach its end and start coming back to the other direction.
Now this is not a perfect theory when applied to American social mores but it does offer some insight.
Our society has become so satiated in a sewer of pornography and perversion that it has suffered an overload that threatens the emotional stability of millions of Americans and their families.
Since the human body has been a battleground for many of these searches, what better place to look for the harmony of body and soul that seems to have vanished from our culture.
According to Bobby Schindler’s article on the legal murder of his sister Terry Schiavo, namely the Dehydration Death of a Nation, …we have become a nation that spends billions trying to find the perfect while ignoring the condition of our collective soul.
Perhaps the pendulum has gone as far as it can go. Just maybe this flood of naked TV programs that do not seem to appeal to the prurient interests of men and even some women will help them extricate themselves from the moral morass that has entangled their souls.
During the 16th century Western culture suffered an overload of rituals and devotions to the human soul that furthered devalued the importance of the human body.
In this ignoble attempt its leader saw fit to throw the body’s Creator out with the medieval bath water of Puritanism, Jansenism and Gnosticism—all which thought the body was an evil mechanism created in the devil’s workshop fraught with temptation, sin and eternal death.
This situation gave birth to the Enlightenment that led to Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey and the so-called sexual revolution that threw the human soul out the window.
What we are experiencing now is their thinking taken to its inevitable logical conclusions of sexual excess, and perversion.
Both these historical events appear as a complete rejection of the perfect union of man’s body and soul into one indivisible human being,
Perhaps Naked Yoga with its visible pudenda and phalli is a new attempt to bring the body back to its Edenic status and total integration.
I think this was signaled in Saint John Paul II’s work of the Theology of the Body, which sought to bring back a human way at looking at the human body.
Saint JP II urged people to treat the bodies of others as being a person and not a thing.
I have not seen a truer indictment of America’s culture of death than this basic statement.
Along similar lines there is the story of Junior Lindsey Stocker, who failed a dress code check at Beaconsfield High School in Quebec.
Stocker tried to explain: when I started explaining why I didn’t understand that rule, they didn’t really want to hear anything I had to sa… I felt very attacked …adding that many of the rules in the dress code appear to specifically target girls.
She left the classroom and printed off about 20 posters inspired by an image on Tumblr that read: Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects” and posted them around the school.
In my opinion her shorts were not immodest or suggestive.
This is the pure personalism of the late saintly pope. Her adult message to schools was that they should teach boys to respect their female classmates as persons and not sexual objects.
Perhaps Naked Yoga and the naked TV shows are secular attempts to tap into this corporal theology.
If one looks at these men and women in their natural state doing nothing more than very athletic yoga exercises, one should be thinking along with the pope and see them, not as naked objects but as beautiful creations—all made in the image and likeness of God.
According to Saint John Paul II this by no means signifies that impurity of body is identified simply with partial or total nudity. There are circumstances in which nudity is not impure. If someone uses it to treat the person as an object of pleasure – even if it is by bad thoughts – he alone is the one who commits an impure act. Impurity of body only occurs when nudity plays a negative role with respect to the value of the person. One can say that what happens then is a de-personalization….
I think the bifurcation of man’s body and soul probably happened during the days of St. Augustine. He had been a subscriber to the Manichean heresy in the 5th century that saw the human body as detestable and a vehicle for temptation, sin and eternal punishment.
Many of the hang-ups good Catholics suffered from and still may suffer from can date back to this time.
Of course this does not mean that we should deny sin and that we are free to express our sexuality in any way that we wish.
Sin flourishes when we treat others as things!
The truth of these words was echoed in an interview of Glenn Beck on Fox recently where the social commentator said, religion teaches us to love people and use things. Today’s society teaches us to love things and use people.
If a woman saw a man as an individual, she would not flaunt her sexuality in his face but dress with a modesty that flatters her entire body without emphasized her erotic zones.
What we need today is a healthy attitude toward the human body. If humans, especially the sexually high-wired American male can ever learn to substitute love and appreciation for women and their bodies the world would be a nicer place and we would all be that much closer to Eden.
Innocence in mind and heart has become a lost virtue in our increasingly godless society.
While parents often tried to protect their children from learning the harsh and often cruel realities of the world until at least they reached puberty, today purveyors and despoilers of this youthful innocence have entered into the playroom with early sex education, vulgarities of all sorts and adult fads in dress and speech.
Peer pressure through the social media among those who have already gone over to the other side makes childhood even more difficult.
The term baby doll has long represented a sexually active young woman with child like characteristics or even sometimes a pre-teen who has been thrown into the adult mix of sexual trafficking the drug culture.
She seems to be the avatar of the future for young women.
This is all a sad and serious commentary on the state of America’s fallen society.
Kids grow up physically much faster today as so many diets seemed laced with all kinds of synthetic hormones that reduce the puberty age to near-kindergarten age.
This has made it even more imperative that those untainted by the world, the flesh and the devil maintain a spirit of childlike innocence and wonder that can ward against these influences.
This does not mean that one should be immature or a Peter Pan in mid-flight who just refuses to grow up.
To the contrary it means that adults make a conscious endeavor to look, not at the sordid side of the block that society is selling but on the sunny side where faith, morality and all the personal virtues of self-giving and sacrifice can preserve that sense of purity in one’s heart and soul.
While the body grows, the soul develops natural antidotes of faith, hope and charity to combat the external forces that would tear it apart.
The old Brooklyn Dodger, catcher Roy Campanella used to say that to play baseball there has to be a lot of the little boy in you.
I have always quipped that I was only 12 years old emotionally and that I was terrified of the eventual onset of puberty with its attendant pimples and girls and the like.
There may be some truth to that in that since I have noticed a pattern in my life with my own, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren that they all seemed to outgrow me at and about their thirteenth year.
They were all cool with me before then. They usually laughed at my corny jokes and I could down and dirty with them on the floor as we rough-housed, played all sorts of athletics games–indoors and were generally a menace to anything breakable.
But when the clock struck thirteen, Dad, Uncle Bill or Daddy B wasn’t quite as cool or as fun to be with. When they laughed at my jokes I often felt they were laughing at me.
I think this is the reason that I have begged all of the above to skip the years as Pat Boone wrote one time Twix twelve and twenty.
I think I knew that society would take that innocence away from them and they could no longer share my simple joy of living and experiencing what I call the sense of Wow in everyday things.
I have seen that 1000 yard stare as they used to call the look of soldiers who had seen too much and done too much that could be shared with the people back home.
I see a similar look–the stare of the teenager. It is a cold and hard stare that looks through you. It means to me that they have gotten themselves involved sexually way before their time and they feel themselves like a rudderless ship just spinning around in a vortex of despair and guilt.
Fortunately most survive.
When they turned 20 they usually revive a little more interest in me. But it is a different kind of relationship and little like it was before. The natural teacher in me took the baton from my child within. We now talk of what it is like to face a world full of wonder, surprises and grave consequences.
Through all these changes that little child of wonder is still alive and well and living in the nursery of my soul.
Every time I spy a little child in a stroller or seated in a high chair at some restaurant—especially the little girls–I see the face of God. I see it in their smiles, their laughter and occasionally in their tears. It is this simple joy that lifts my soul and finds sunshine where often there is darkness and even evil.
I remember John Wayne saying as his character Davy Crockett in the epic film, The Alamo when seeing a little dirty-faced girl leave with the civilians during the last hours of the Mexican siege, it a shame they have to grow up.
His unspoken words were …and see all this death, destruction and cruelty of war.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us that unless we change and become like little children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Perhaps that’s what the epitaph of addict and poet Francis Thompson’s tombstone means: when you get to heaven look for me in God’s nursery.
I hope that counts for me and my 12-year old emotions, although I do plan to first make a stop at that special beach I have written about in a prior two-part post.
13) In the spring of 1972 I received my doctorate from St. Louis University. While it never materialized into a real career it gave me the necessary tools to handle a lot of different things. While my teaching jobs were never fulltime that freedom allowed me to write and most importantly spend 28 years behind a radio microphone discussing the issues of the day. It was WGNU radio that provided me with a forum to learn more about human nature and truly find out just what I believe and why I believed it. It was better than a Ph.D. I was also the station’s general trivia champion twice.
14) In 1974 I had my first professional article published in St. Louis Fan Magazine. I called it The Greening of a Cardinal Rookie. The Cardinals gave me my first press pass so I could interview third baseman, Ken Reitz who had broken in the September before. He gave me six quotes in the locker room and I wrote 3500. Even then I knew how to expand and embellish.
15) On May 9, 1974 I appeared on the NBC Today with Gene Shalit for three and half minutes. I was there to talk about my baseball history course at Maryville College. I argued that it was probably the first accredited course of that nature in the Midwest.
16) Hall of Fame sportswriter Bob Broeg started calling me the Baseball Professor. I parlayed that into my own TV show on local cable that ran for 17 months. I wrote, produced and starred in this baseball variety show, named The Baseball Professor, I did it all except film it. No notes just my memory and fast-speed voice tempo. I think all of 11 people saw at least one episode of this unique show.
17) It was after the visit to Cooperstown that I had an epiphany at the Albany airport. I decided to start a historical society for the old St. Louis Browns. One of their former players, Rick Ferrell had been inducted along with Pee Wee and I was saddened by the fact that no team would retire his number like all the other inductees. (I don’t think he ever had a number with the Browns I later learned.) We are celebrating our 30th anniversary which is eight more than the number of living members of that defunct St. Louis team. (22)
18) Having grandchildren is sometimes a lot better than having children. I will never forget the first one. Unlike her daddy I saw her just minutes after her birth. From such a tiny red little human being she has grown into the fine figure of a young woman, now preparing leaving home for college this coming fall.
19) Her brother could not have been a better athlete. He has excelled at every sport he has ever tried and were it not for his penchant for concussions—one each in football, basketball and lacrosse–who knows how far he might have gone. He has now taken up tennis, his dad’s game. And after a slow start he won his last his last five varsity matches before Districts. For years we really bonded while playing Madden Football. I must have a little of his aggressive spirit because I got tired of losing 60-0. Once I learned how to play I would beat him at least 40% of the time. He just hated that. And when I beat him in three of four chess games–look out!
20) Their baby sister was born with a small hole in her heart. She had open-heart surgery at 18 months and now can run a mile in 7:18. I never could run one that fast. She has the same aggressive spirit as a dad and brother. And she is a whiz with the books and a fantastic volleyball player, slated to follow in her sister’s footsteps.
21) My daughter’s only child is our intellect. With a verbal IQ of 153 she we have been talking politics for years. She’s almost 12. Six years ago she informed me she was a liberal Democrat because she loves their principles. She reads more books than I do, acts, sings and even ran for Student Council. For her poster she chose the Most Interesting Man in the World, the Mexican beer guy, who happens to be my new hero.
22) The best vacation my wife and I ever went on was the trip to Southern France where we spent a week on a French yacht the Le Poniard that we boarded in Nice. While traveling all up and down the Amalfi Coast, one evening after a sumptuous dinner we stopped to see Stromboli belch fiery lava while we listened to Pavarotti on the top deck of the boat. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
23) One of the greatest nights of my public life occurred at the Birthright dinner in 1996. I was given their prestigious Monsignor James Hartnett Award for service to the organization. It was more than an honor because I had known Monsignor for many years. He not only baptized my third child but introduced me to Stan Musial. What made it even more special was that the dinner occurred on my 56th birthday with 700 hundred of my closest friends in attendance. But if that was not enough for some reason I had hoped that Bob Costas would be there. Why I don’t know. I just prayed for it. To my knowledge he had never attended one of these dinners. Whom should I see leaning against a wall as I enter the reception area but BC himself. In talking to him I discern that he is totally unaware who the birthday boy is and I don’t tell him. When my acceptance speech was over he rushed up to my tables and got down on one knee to apologise. I thought I had died and gone to heaven right then and there.
24) Massage therapy has been the elixir that has giver new joy to my older life. While she is relatively new to my experience I had the good fortune of getting a series of massages from a young therapist in Florida quite by accident. (Does the name Wally Pipp mean anything?) She had a kind and gentle aura that warmed the cockles of this old man’s heart. She is the kind of woman who should be ministering to old people because she had patience, understanding and a kind heart that made me feel very special in her presence. It is fitting that I saved my regular MT for last! Her magic hands have not only provided me with a boatload of inspiration–three articles, one play and a short story–but have been a foretouch of the world yet to come that has made everything else pale by comparison.
I am thankful for all these many memories!!!!
I have long been a fan of Jack Bauer or his alter ego actor Kiefer Sutherland who has passionately portrayed the hero over several years of his acting career.
While this post has nothing to do with 24’s recent reprise, I wanted to borrow its format to capture the 24 best moments of my life to date.
Some of which follows were single events while many were more symbolic of a much larger body of special memories that have comprised my life since my 1943 birth.
1) I once told a writer that my first conscious memory was the evening of the 1948 presidential election when my father was so upset late at night, listening to the results of Harry S Truman’s upset victory over Republican Thomas Dewey I remember vividly my was standing in my parents’ bedroom. The lights were out but I could still see the light of the little white table radio that reflected my father’s dissatisfied face. Six years later my dad took me to my first ball game on May 29, 1954. Pee Wee Reese, my favorite player hit a home run at the Polo Grounds in the top of the ninth that won the game 4-2. Willie Mays and Gil Hodges also hit long balls.
2) I spent many summers with my maiden aunt, Marie-Louise, whom I had christened “Mal.” I especially remember teaching her about the Brooklyn Dodgers and Roy Campanella their black catcher who quickly became her favorite player. We also watched a lot of wrestling. We both loved Antonio Rocca, allegedly from Argentina. What a great athlete he was.
3) My favorite memory of my mom, which I shared at her funeral Mass 13 years ago, concerned my strict orders for her not to open any mail from the College of the Holy Cross, the school I so want to attend in 1961. I remember coming home from Xavier HS and seeing her standing in the doorway, nervously shaking an envelope at me. I dropped my school bag and raced to her. She promised she never opened it! With my mother offering nervous encouragement that she was sure I was accepted, I frantically tore the envelope apart. To my great pleasure mom was right. I was now a member of the great Class of 1965. Why was she so encouraging? She had steamed it open in order to be prepared to comfort me if I had not made it. What a mom!
4) On my 18th birthday I took a crazy redhead–I found out that all redheads are essentially little nuts—to see Camelot on Broadway. It starred Richard Burton, Robert Goulet and some unknown, Julie Andrews as Guinevere. All on the same stage! At her door Mary honored me with a present–a lovely tie.
5) At Holy Cross I had a wonderful roommate for three years, whom I miss dearly. He died of a massive stroke 12 years ago. During a fall prom weekend I had inadvertently run into the corner of a wall and split my head open. I had to go to the emergency room. Meanwhile Peter had moved all my clothes to our dates’ rooms so I could change there. I did make it through the weekend thanks to him though my head swelled up to twice its size on one side and it hurt every time I moved my head.
6) The next year I stayed up at school so I could attend the Boston College football game on our campus. Our team was terrible and B.C. had enjoyed an outstanding season. The game was held just eight days after President Kennedy’s assassination. We beat them 9-0. I also wound up with three dinners that day. I had a lot to be thankful for.
7) One of those dinners was at the home of probably my best lady friend during my college days. I saw a good deal of her those last two and a half years. But best of all I loved talking to her. She was bright, intelligent and witty. We spent 45 minutes on the phone the day after the Kennedy assassination just talking about it. I also saw her on the stage in one her college plays, Medea. During her title role performance, she had to refer to her breasts. I think I turned crimson. How times have changes. I have heard my only daughter drop a few F-bombs during her many stage performances in St. Louis and New York.
8) After college I went into the Catholic Lay Extension Volunteers. They sent me to Charleston, Missouri to teach history and coach basketball at St. Henry’s HS. This is where I met my future wife. I remember vividly the first time I saw her–it was at her grandfather’s memorial mass. She had a little Boo-Peep hat on. We were married 11 months later. I have countless memorable moments with my wife. Unfortunately many of them are not suitable for a family audience. So to keep my PG rating let me say that the best thing about my wife is her happy aura–that special way she can fill an entire room with her Irish warmth and vitality. These are qualities that I cannot quantify, bottle or consume.
9) We had three children. With #1 son, I remember seeing him all cleaned-up a few hours his birth in July of 1967. It was just a few hours after his birth as her doctor told me to go to class where I was studying for a Master’s degree. I remember his hands–big like two catcher’s mitts. I took him to his first baseball game when he was four. It was with the Mets and the Cardinals. To keep him happy all I had to do was feed him. In the top of the 9th he yelled out Mets go home! And so did we.
10) My daughter was born in St. Louis, unlike her NY brother. I remember feeding her early in the morning. She had colic and so I would fix her medicine, warm the bottle, put her in the little Pumpkin seat we had and read the newspaper while trying to find her eager little mouth. I think I invented multi-tasking.
11) #2 son was a bicentennial baby. Like the popular Shell Oil commercials of that time, the doctor did a moment in recognition of our 200th anniversary while delivering him. He was 23 inches long and prevented his mother from enjoying any meals the last three months of gestation. When He was 13 I took him out of school so we could see Super Bowl XXIII. In the last two minutes Joe Montana led the drive that resulted in the winning touchdown right in front of us. In fact I was on one of the highlight films that year.
12) In 1972 I drove to Louisville, Kentucky to interview Pee Wee Reese. I spent the day waiting for him at a friend’s house. I interviewed him in the same room where Roger Kahn interviewed Pee Wee for his legendary book, The Boys of Summer (1972). Twelve years later I took #2 son to his induction in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.
When I attended my 50th high school reunion at Xavier H.S. in New York City, three years ago, I was reminded of the story of Jim Harmon’s bold request to me before the start of the second of my three varsity football games.
He had forgotten to bring with him the most important piece of equipment next to his helmet and that was the small plastic cup that would protect his manhood from any harm during the game with Cardinal Hayes High School, a known refuge for tough kids who would thing nothing of punching our starting center between his beefy legs during a play.
Reluctantly I agreed to do it. I was a team player and he was a starter. How could I refuse? I am not sure where we made the exchange which left me with little more than the anxiety of feeling vulnerable. I prayed that I would not get to play which was a pretty good bet since I did not play in our first game, nor would I ever play in a real game for Xavier.
Jim went on to distinguish himself, first at West Point and later on the bloody battlefields of Vietnam where he was awarded the Silver Star for valor, the nation’s second highest honor. You usually have to die to get the first one.
I doubt if he would remember my one little tiny act of valor, near the battlefields of Randall’s Island where he had played while I meekly watched the loss to Hayes.
Before my high school days I always felt uncomfortable when much more knowledgeable boys would make crude references to the anatomical difference of our female classmates in the schoolyard.
I was even more uncomfortable when they made similar references to our own bodies. Such crude terms for our genitals or other private areas roiled my sensibilities and usually left me in pure disgust.
A man’s body parts–the one’s I would have sacrificed for my football comrade—are part of the political lexicon. While the number of crude and vulgar references for that part of a man’s body are legion, the one that has made it to the ranks of America’s political debates is balls.
Technically this is a misnomer since their shape is closer to that of almonds. But that has no ring to it.
The schoolyard has now moved to the political arenas of the boardroom and the electoral campaign.
Today a man’s balls have become a household metaphor for power, authority, courage and all the aggressive tendencies that men have been publicly displaying since the Greeks held the first Olympics where all the athletes were nude.
What inspired me to write this essay on balls was an article that an e-pal sent me a few weeks ago. She is a very astute and modest person. If she felt no compunction in addressing this issue then it must have become perfectly mainstream.
Here’s the gist of the article’s content with the heading simply BALLS
It could easily be titled: Balls and the Games Men Play
1. The sport of choice for the urban poor is BASKETBALL.
2. The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BOWLING.
3. The sport of choice for front-line workers is FOOTBALL.
4. The sport of choice for supervisors is BASEBALL.
5. The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS And…
6. The sport of choice for corporate executives and officers is GOLF.
THE AMAZING CONCLUSION:
The higher you go in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become. There must be a boat-load of people in Washington playing marbles.
And this has nothing to do with drugs. Just ask Barry Bonds.
The e-pal asked me what kind of sport the USCCB played.
To the uninformed that is the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.
My response tried hard to convey both my respect for her and my personal discomfort with this subject. I told her that they played chess, a sport without any balls because they were according to their celibate vows, spiritual eunuchs.
I raise the question as to why and how a man’s balls or lack of have filtered into the political equation?
I might offer a few ideas in an attempt to explain my understanding of this rhetorical invasion of the body parts by looking to Sigmund Freud.
It was Dr. Freud who tried to explain women over a 100 years ago and their so-called Electra Complex, in wanting to kill their mothers and marry or at least have incestuous sex with their fathers.
He said that women suffered from Penis envy. I have run that term by several people and no one seemed to have ever heard of it.
For the record penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a girl during her psychosexual development to the realization that she does not have a penis. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in the development of gender and sexual identity for women
While Freud was wrong about girls he might have accidentally nailed it with boys and men. According to Freud the parallel reaction in boys to the realization that women do not have a penis is castration anxiety.
So if Logic may have a moment it is not the penis that women envy but the battery pack below it that energizes him to climb mountains, sustain all kinds of physical deprivation, fight wars, race down fields and knock opponents senseless and within an inch of their lives.
Properly he should have called it Ball Envy.
I believe this is the kind of envy that prompted radical feminism and abortion on demand.
Like slavery the abortion issue was primarily an economic issue.
I remember the 1964 movie with Polly Bergen and Fred McMurry, Kisses for My President. The United States elects its first female President in the form of Leslie McCloud. She and her first gentleman, Thad, move into the White House with their daughter Gloria and son Peter.
Complications with her rule lead her to become pregnant and resign her office so she can spend more time with the family. This is how Hollywood wrote it but the understated truth is that being pregnant many times necessitates a woman leaving the workforce and staying home with her children.
This has become the worst of all possible worlds for feminists today.
The only way women can become equal with men is to neuter their sexual role in reproduction. As a result 50 million have died so that a woman can be economically competitive with men.
Hardly a war on women!
Phyllis Schlafly quotes a frustrated young man who left his wife because he did not want to be married to another man. Had his former wife grown a real pair?
This is refers to the term used by California mayor, Cameron Hamilton who made his declaration to victims of bullying while on the dais of the Porterville City Council in May.
Or had she just internalized the aggressive spirit so that everything they did became a competition?
I have seen this in my own life. I have met many women who would enjoy being called ballsy. They seem to think little about sacrificing their feminine spirit and integrity or what made them special if they could beat a man beating a man in the courtroom, boardroom or maybe some day on the football field.
What has this attitude done to traditional marriage?
Gay couples argue that it is heterosexuals who have destroyed the institution of marriage. They do have a valid point.
Most men don’t want to marry a woman who acts like a man. They have to fight it out everyday on the battlefields of work and life with men. They don’t want to continue the battle at home as well.
I think this explains why so many marriages fail and our society is in such shambles.
We have come a long way from the schoolyard that used to embarrass me. I now see and hear references to my manhood each and every day. Movies today are filled with men and women jesting about breaking the other’s balls.
Like it or not balls has transcended the schoolyard and now has become an established member of the political lexicon
All this makes me wonder what my life would have been if I had actually gotten into that game 54 years ago. Hopefully Mayor Hamilton was right and one can grow a pair.
We live in a society that denigrates and denies conspiracy theories. Sure many theories are unmitigated balderdash, such as Kennedy’s Secret Service Driver actually fired the fatal shot but in truth history is ladedened with conspiracies.
Communism is a conspiracy and is probably the most long-lasting and successful conspiracy in history.
Even more sinister is the fact that the Russian KGB has had an influential role in the prominence of LT as a global movement. According to former Romanian communist operative Ion Pacepa since ancient times the Russians have used religion to manipulate people.
Like the tsars before them the KGB used the churches to instill dreams about world revolution and heaven on earth to keep the masses at bay.
Because of their imperial vision they used the KGB to work through the church to help the Kremlin expand its influence into Latin America and beyond.
Creating a secret intelligence army of religious servants and using it to promote the Kremlin’s interests abroad was an important task of the KGB. Since priests were not allowed to become KGB officers, they often assumed the position of a cooptee or deep cover officer. Thousands of uncooperative religious, like those in 18th century France, perished in the wake.
The KGB’s effort to use religion to expand the Kremlin’s influence abroad began with Nikita Khrushchev in 1959. His “secret weapon” was Cuba, which was to serve as a springboard to launch a KGB-devised religion into Latin America.”
It was Khrushchev, who called the new KGB-contrived religion Liberation Theology.
His appetite for “liberation” has had many KGB derivatives, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, the National Liberation Army of Columbia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army of Bolivia.
He also wanted to send a few priests who were cooptees as deep cover officers to Latin America, to expand Liberation Theology South of our border.
To affect this the KGB also built a new international religious organization in Prague called the Christian Peace Conference (CPC) to spread Liberation Theology within Latin America.
As a doctrine Liberation Theology urges the poor and downtrodden to revolt against their established governments as well as capitalism and form a Communist government, not in the name of Marx or Lenin, but in the name of Jesu Christi, a revolutionary who opposed economic and social discrimination.
Since then Liberation Theology has been a breeding ground for revolutionary ideas and violence against the wealthy class.
In 1968, the KGB’s Christian Peace Conference maneuvered the leftist South American bishops into holding a Conference of Latin American Bishops at Medellin, Colombia.
At that conference, the attending bishops proposed to combine the teachings of Jesus Christ with those of Karl Marx as a way of justifying violent revolution to overthrow capitalism.
This movement encouraged the poor to rebel against the institutionalized violence of poverty, and to recommend it to the World Council of Churches for official approval. The Medellin Conference did both.
FYI: Romanian writer and former operative Ion Pacepa and historian Ronald RICH-lak Rychlak have written a comprehensive analysis of the KGB’s nefarious role in this conspiracy in their book Disinformation.
All new religions need a Bible. Their seminal text is A Theology of Liberation, written in 1971, by Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian priest and theologian, also known as the father of liberation theology.
While Marx stood Hegel on his head in directing the focus of life from ideal pursuits to materialistic endeavors, Gutierrez wedded the two thinkers in an ontological union that has created a new social engine for all of Latin America, if not the entire world.
This new theology has man at its core making it more like anthropology than theology, which is ostensibly about God. It does not limit itself to morality or even ethics but involves economic and political agendas as well.
Its major points are that Christ came into this world to liberate man from oppression, not to open the gates of Heaven. The real goal of Christianity was to struggle for the full liberation of man.
To the liberationisti every socio-economic system that is not socialist is essentially a system of exploitation and oppression.
Prior to liberation theology, Catholicism was unambiguously hostile to socialism and communism, which it saw as “godless.”
Gutierrez’s book was swiftly acknowledged as a pioneering and prophetic approach to theology, which famously made a preferential option for the poor, at the top of its agenda.
Gutierrez’s theology is founded on two contradictory beliefs: (1) God loves all persons equally and gratuitously; (2) God loves the poor preferentially.
Sounds like: All men are equal—only some are more equal!
A student of the French Revolution, Gutierrez proposes a end to capitalism and its replacement by a social democracy that will give all the world’s poor a sense of hope in the transformation of the human soul in its relationship to a self-communicating God.
HOPE AND TRANSFORMATIOM—HMMMMM!!!
Liberation Theology teaches that the church must stand on the side of the impoverished and the downtrodden, and that it must, if necessary, support the overthrow of social systems that contribute to their oppression…like ours.
Its main sacrament is victimhood.
In recent decades, Latin America’s Liberation Theology movement has been oriented towards the image of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer and Liberator.
This type of thinking is prevalent in several newly published books on Jesus.
Jesus is portrayed as a revolutionary dressed in guerrilla fatigues and carrying a rifle.
A primary critique of liberation theology is its tendency towards violence. Gutierrez, its greatest exponent, has said, The theology of liberation is rooted in a revolutionary militancy. This is not what the Church meant by the Church militant!
Liberation Theology is a radical departure from the essential message of the Gospel. Thanks to Father Gutiérrez the poor now had their own ideology—one rooted in Marxist praxis.
In 1984, Pope John Paul II charged the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, to prepare an analysis of Liberation Theology. His devastating study exposed Liberation Theology as a heinous combination of class struggle and violent revolution.
According to these revolutionaries, true Christians must commit themselves to the Marxist Revolution as a religious duty. Violence, stealing and lying can be employed for the greater good of mankind. This is the language and praxis, not of Jesus Christ but more of Karl Marx, Josef Stalin and Saul Alinsky.
Any time you see the word oppression treat it as another warning because it is a Marxist term that somehow has invaded our translations of the Bible used in Mass.
While the historical and religious roots of liberation theology may be found in the prophetic tradition of evangelists and missionaries from the earliest colonial days in Latin America – its praxis and methodology had more traditional communist forebears
In the first year of his papacy, Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) devoted an encyclical to condemning socialism. QUOD APOSTOLICI MUNERIS
Liberation Theology has a much broader tapestry than its Marxist threads.
Virtually every social movement that has anything to do with religion, race, sexual preference or the environment has emanated from this philosophy.
Liberation Theology is certainly not on the right side of history…whatever that empty term means but it is definitely in the wave of a chaotic global future. This raises the question: will the United States be able to withstand its powere surge or will it be swept away in its powerful vortex?
Earlier this year I called Pope Francis the Russian Pope. I am well aware that our new pope’s name is Francis and not Vladimir but his many statements—some out of context—remind me of a man who either shoots from the lip or is reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s comment about Russia being a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
This viewpoint is more evident in reading his November papal exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium—the Joy of the Gospels.
In it he condemns libertarian capitalism and the dictatorship of a global economic system and a free market that according to him, perpetuates inequality and devours what is fragile, including human beings and the environment.
Pope Francis believes that capitalism, which defends the right to a free market system, is to be discarded, while the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise control over the economic status of the people, is laudable. Lenin would not be disappointed in these views.
I am very upset by Conservative Catholics, religious leaders and others who wage a vendetta on capitalism.
They say little or nothing about the government’s role in poverty. From the earliest centuries of the Christian era, a long line of orthodox theologians had consistently rejected collective ownership, embraced private property, and affirmed business economies.
Also alarming is the fact that the current Prefect for Doctrine and the Faith, Cardinal-elect Gerhard Ludwig Müller thinks that LT must be included among the most important currents in 20th century Catholic theology.
Müller never hid his friendship with Gustavo Gutiérrez, whom he met in Lima in 1988, during a study seminar. Müller says the merits of Liberation Theology go beyond the Latin American Catholic. He stressed that a Latin America’s Liberation Theology movement has been oriented towards the image of Jesus Christ the Redeemer and liberator, of the poor.
This year he published his book —Poor for Poor: The Mission of the Church to clarify his controversial views. It is a collection of his writings on Liberation Theology and contains an introduction by Pope Francis.
Müller affirmed, poverty in Latin America oppresses children, the elderly and the sick, to such an extent that many are driven to contemplate death as the only way out. He sees the body of Christ in the poor, as Pope Francis does.
In his defense the Cardinal cited a secret document prepared for President Reagan in 1980—4 years before the Vatican’s first Instruction on the Liberation Theology movement—requesting that the U.S. government take aggressive action against the movement, which was accused of transforming the Catholic Church into a political weapon against private property and productive capitalism by infiltrating the religious community with ideas that are less Christian than communist.’
So the pope condemns materialism, money, capitalism and all the accruements of wealth. But without wealth where would the church be? Who would give to the poor? Who would take the risks of starting millions of new businesses to employ out-of-work people who will join the ranks of the poor?
What has big government ever done to really enhance anyone’s lives? Deliver our mail…give us health care… Waste, corruption, inefficiency and flagrant spending have become the hallmarks of Social Democracy. Our lives are devalued and our national future imperiled!
I believe the redistribution of wealth, irresponsible spending and waste is a form of stealing. I hope the 7th Commandment of the Catholic Church is still valid in the 21st century and taught in our Catholic schools.
Is the pope a closet liberationisti?
In September 2013, he held a meeting with Fr. Gutiérrez. This prompted Michael Lee, associate professor of theology at Fordham University in New York, to say that with the pope’s Latin American heritage…what only makes sense is, then, a reopening of the door to this theology that emerged from that context.
In practice Big Government with its enlightened philosophy is doing the devil’s work and liberation theology has been one of his most effective tools in undermining the principles of our civilization that have fed and clothed the faith and millions of its faithful for centuries.
Personally I think that the pope’s love of the poor and his seeming inability to sift through political rhetoric bodes well for the future of LT.
In researching a past Mindszenty Report I tried to find some expression of his belief on this subject. All I could muster was that its penchant for violence had kept him from fully embracing it.
If the pope fully adopts LT as a teaching principle of the church it could mark the end of Western Civilization. We have to continue to preach the evils of this ideology because that becomes a reality!