The first man…Adam has always enjoyed a high regard and importance in Biblical discussion.
While it may not have happened exactly like Moses wrote it, people can rest assured that every aspect of it is the divinely inspired word of God and absolutely true in its essential meaning.
Man was created in a primordial state of bliss… the first paradise.
But with all the wonders of God and nature before him he was still very much alone.
It was something akin to looking at the natural majesty of the Grand Canyon.
After a minute or two…one needs to move on…especially since there was no one for Adam to share it with.
So God created Eve from Adam’s rib and the rest as they say is Biblical history.
Then first newlyweds were tempted by pride.
Mankind fell hard and sin entered the world.
Just look around you. Read a newspaper. Sin’s existence should not be so hard to believe.
Man was now eternally barred from the joys, blessings and unfathomable pleasures of heaven.
Enter Jesus Christ…the New Adam to suffer and die on the cross and open heaven’s gates.
This is what 100s of millions of Christians have believed for millenia.
John Paul II has written and lectured widely on the Garden of Eden as the origins of marriage as the Western world has basically known and respected it for 2000 years.
He developed a highly abstract rendition of Genesis, the Sermon on the Mount, the Song of Songs, and several of Paul’s epistles to show the state of marriage before and after the fall.
His topics delve into sexual intimacy, nudity, celibacy, contraception and many other ideas that relate to a sex-obsessed country in a mature Christian manner.
Different cultures have allowed for polygamous societies where a man could have more than one wife…sometimes numbering in the 1000s.
Islam in the 7th century limited that number to just four though a man could service several concubines and mistresses.
It was Christianity and Christianity alone that raised the status of women unlike anything the world had seen.
And as most men have learned, though women might not have always had equal legal status outside of the home.
Behind the closed doors of her home she can get anything she wants from her man through her feminine wiles.
The lot of women was even more protected when the Church raised marriage to the level of a holy sacrament.
Marriage with its emphasis on natural law could only be between a man and a woman.
If one believes in God, one has to accept that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
Otherwise why would God have created both men and women with specific reproductive roles and the bodies to carry out his plan?
The late Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote a book that put Christian marriage in its proper perspective.
It was called Three to Get Married.
No, I don’t think he meant the husband wife and mother-in-law.
Sheen emphasized how God was necessary for any human marriage to be successful and fruitful.
No where is there ever any mention of a Steve or a Tom, Dick or Harry to replace Eve.
The idea of gay marriage would be a risible oxymoron if it were not so serious and so potentially damaging to the already shattered edifice of Western Civilization.
Marriage is the ultimate and most important building block of a stable society.
Anything that threatens its foundation is anti-cultural and a threat to traditional society.
I am talking about the obvious–adultery, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, criminal behavior, immaturity and just laziness.
All of these behaviors undermine the pillars of fidelity, honesty and chastity that any marriage needs to thrive.
Gays say they want marriage equality.
How about marriage integrity?
Just what does that mean?
They can marry anyone they want within the proper limits of the definition of a marriage…just like anyone else.
Heterosexual people have limitations as well. They cannot marry their children, first cousins, another women or man without a civil divorce.
They cannot marry their loving pets.
Men and women are not fungible. They cannot be replaced or substituted for one another because of their gender differences.
What gives a small group…about 2% of the population the right to change a traditional cultural institution after 1000s of years of history and tradition?
Nobody is saying they cannot get married…but within the confines of marriage’s definition.
While children don’t seem to be the standard for today’s couples, the basic fact is that any same-sex marriage is founded on a lie.
There is no natural complementation.
Marriage is not a nominalist invention that can be lightly changed without affecting and dismantling its essential meaning.
Their natural parts just don’t fit.
And emotionally their only hope is of an artificial unity that is based on the arrested development of one of the parties.
There may be some strong emotional bondage but it will never be a true marriage.
Homosexual couples may enjoy something that is of mutual value to the parties but it is nothing that would be of any value to the longevity of a society, let alone a civilization.
Of course married men and women within the context of the sexual revolution have all but destroyed marital integrity but this would be the coup de gras.
Heterosexual marriage is redundant and gay marriage is a contradiction in terms.
Same sex marriage is just the latest and maybe the most pernicious threat because it radically changes the definition of what a marriage is.
Rush Limbaugh, who is intellectually correct, far more than he is mistaken says that the battle was lost for conservatives when they allowed modifiers to the concept of marriage.
The sad irony of this whole bitter debate is that millions of heterosexual couples seem to be renouncing marriage as a social good and a moral necessity while homosexuals are eager to walk down the isle…mainly for social approval.
Without marriage as a solid building block the bell will be tolling for Western Civilization, sadly as it toll for you and for me.
This is just another chapter in the culture war.
Look for a future essay on the marriage wars.
OK the title is more of a teaser.
I never did have a bone fide relationship with Jackie Roosevelt Robinson.
But I did meet him once when I was 11 years old and I got his autograph to boot.
I remember the Dodgers were playing the Reds and Johnny Podres was pitching. He won the game 4-0, a harbinger of what he would do in the October Classic.
But that one brief moment did produce an array of great personal stories that I would like to share, partly in anticipation of seeing the new movie 42 about his reintroducing black players into the major leagues.
The film opens on April 12th and stars Harrison Ford, as the sometimes sanctimonious Branch Rickey, who could also be penurious at times and a line-up as obscure as the 2013 New York Mets’ array of nobodies.
I say reintroduce blacks into baseball because in truth he was not the first black baseball player.
NBC Today host, Gene Shalit picked up on that immediately when I was his guest on the early morning show, May 9, 1974 concerning my accredited baseball history at Maryville College.
I believe that honor of the first black player belongs to the Walker brothers, Moses and later Welday.
He then played in the minor leagues until 1889 after professional baseball erected a color barrier that stood for nearly 60 years.
After leaving baseball, Walker became a businessman and unsurprisingly an advocate of Black nationalism.
Walker made his Major League first appearance was on May 1 against the Louisville Eclipse.
In his debut, he went hitless and had four errors. In 42 games, (an omen) Walker had a batting average of .263.
His brother, Welday Walker, later joined him on the team, playing in six games.
Moses Walker was not much of a hitter but was known for having a rocket for an arm.
Oddly enough my guest speaker for that first course in February 1973 was James Cool Papa Bell, a future Hall of Famer, who was relatively obscure when he came to my class for $50 and cab fare.
Bell would be enshrined in Cooperstown the year after appearing at my class.
I can still seem him standing there in front of 17 female students and two male walk-ons, one of whom became and still is my plumber and the other a life-long friend and my discount broker at the bank.
Bell was so neatly dressed… like a banker or even a lawyer, in a blue-striped suit I could not resist saying to him, Mr Bell you look so ‘cool!’
He told the class that he had scouted Jackie when he was a member of the Kansas City Monarch of the Negro League and found him wanting as a shortstop.
Oh he could play baseball, but defensively his range was modest and his arm too weak for shortstop.
I think Bell recommended against signing him, an honest assessment, given Jackie’s success at every position the infield…except shortstop.
When Robinson came to the Dodgers in 1947 they had to play him at first base, a position he was very unfamiliar with.
His footwork was terrible and it nearly got him seriously injured.
This led to rumors, some of which may have been true, that players were deliberately trying to spike him, especially on his Achilles tendon, which could have been career-ending.
Joe Garagiola, the personality-plus catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals had several run ins with Robinson.
From what I read about these incidents they stemmed from the strong competitiveness of both players and not any deep-seated racial prejudice.
Joe had suffered his own brand of ethnic prejudice and accepted it as part of a baptism under fire that virtually every rookie went through.
I don’t believe Robinson totally understood that or Joe Garagiola for that matter.
Joe told me that himself during an afternoon interview session I did with him in 1974 for an article that never got published.
My father had simply called the NBC studios in New York and arranged the interview for me.
I spent the afternoon with him as he taped five episodes of TV game show that was in its beginning stages.
One of the engineers quipped that Joe had shot down more pilots than the Luftwaffe– the Nazi airforce in WW II.
During the intermissions, I not only got to watch him change his pants four times but listen to him as he talked about Yogi, his St. Louis youth, baseball humor and of course Jackie.
During our chat he told me a story about Jackie and how Joe had nearly ruined his career trying to protect Robinson at first base.
Contrary to rumors that he was out to get Robinson, Joe tried to avoid stepping on his vulnerable ankle.
In doing so he tripped over the base and dislocated his shoulder.
He missed about half of the season, playing just 77 games. His once high .350 average sank to .257 at season’s end.
I saw the scars to prove his point.
This brings me neatly back to my relationship with jackie Robinson.
My dad had taken me to a game with the Reds in June of 1955 and when we got to our box seats on the first base side just past the Brooklyn dugout, who would be standing directly in front of us, leaning against the fence but Jackie with his back to the crowd.
I waited my turn and when it arrived as he signed I told him with all the courage I could muster, I hope you do today what you did last night, Jackie!
He simply shrugged his broad shoulders and responded: I hope I don’t have to do it like that again!.
I was clueless as to what he could have meant.
Let me explain what I had witnessed on TV the prior evening.
Picture this a little Puerto Rican lefty for the St. Louis Cardinals, named Luis Arroyo had pitched his team into the bottom of the 9th inning with a 4-3 lead.
The voice of the Dodgers, then and 58 years later still at it, Vince Scully informed us that no lefty had won a complete game in Ebbets Field in..I forget how long he said…but a considerable span of time.
The date was June 6th, a rare Monday night game.
Well with one out and the tying run on, Jackie digs in at the plate.
With two strikes, he sends a shot over the left field wall, maybe 375 feet away and wins the game for Brooklyn in the most dramatic fashion.
I am happy, the fans are jubilant and he doesn’t want to do that again?
My research discovered years later that this had all revolved around baseball politics.
I knew there was no crying in baseball but politics?
As #42 will dramatize Rickey was the one who signed Jackie and gave him a chance at fame and fortune that had been denied to members of race since Chicago White Stocking great Cap Anson told baseball in 1884 he would not play with those….
By 1955 Rickey had left Brooklyn. Walter O’Malley owned the team and his new manager was Walter Alston.
The Rickey people had never gotten along with the O’Malley clan.
In the aforementioned incident of Jackie’s heroics, manager Alston had ordered Robinson to bunt.
I didn’t remember any of that so intense was the game at that point.
Robinson balked at having to do that.
He wanted end it there and now.
After two haphazard attempts to bunt, Jackie won the game.
Alston fined him $50.
I was not surprised that Jackie did what he did, even if it cost him money.
He had what I have called the black fire in my short monograph, entitled, A Fan’s Memoir: The Brooklyn Dodgers, 1953-57.
It was his inner rage that made him the ball players he became.
I still have a boatload of copies if anyone is interested. Just write me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have seen that kind of determination in only one other athlete and that was Bob Gibson.
The white bigots did everything they could to taunt, humiliate him and make him quit.
He almost suffered a nervous breakdown so great was the pressure.
Rickey had put even more pressure on Robinson when he answered his question about fighting back with the sardonic remark:
No, Jackie I want someone strong enough…NOT to fight back!
His fellow teammates both helped and hindered his historical path.
Some Southerners just could not go against their culture or their bigotry.
Rickey quietly cleaned them out.
Dodger Captain, Pee Wee Reese from the border state of Kentucky, was instrumental in getting Jackie through some of his ordeal.
He tried to keep the rookie loose.
When his life was threatened before a spring training game in Alabama, Reese suggested everyone wear #42 to confuse the assassin.
Now all major leaguers wear #42 on a given day each year.
All teams have or will have retired #42 when Mario Rivera finally retired in the Fall.
When Reese entered the HOF in 1984, they put a reference to his efforts on his plaque.
Jackie Robinson hit an impressive .297 with a dozen home runs. He was elected Major League Baseball’s first Rookie of the Year Award, which is now named after him.
The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown inducted him 1961.
Two years later he was the National League’s Most Valuable Player.
There is so much more I can write about Me and Jackie but I will let the movie provide the physical form for my many words.