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Archive for the ‘F & L in the News’ Category

[205] Trump & the NFL

My son, from New York, came to Las Vegas a few weeks ago.

Ambivalent about Trump, he did remark about the President’s savvy, making an interesting point along the way. He noted that whenever The Donald is knee-deep in major issues—speaking to the UN, the crisis in North Korea, the devastation of national disasters, inability to get a health bill or tax reform passed, along with other challenges—he seems to start a Tweet-driven brushfire out on the perimeter, one that gets huge media reaction on a matter of little long-range consequence, but one that sends attention flares everywhere. While the real matters of substance—the ones on which elections hinge–leave him open to criticism and attack, these are pushed to the sideline, with debates about National Anthem protocol, charges of fake news, and other pre-emptive verbal strikes taking the main stage and devouring myriad hours of punditry. These secondary, though media-obsessed matters often become, in Shakespeare’s words, “much ado about nothing” for the nation, but they serve a diversionary purpose for our President. DC

[204] Hugh Hefner

So Hugh Hefner is finally gone.

If one reads all the post mortems on the horse-faced man, often clad in the pajamas or wearing a silly naval captain’s hat, one would think she were reading about two different people. Many secularists regaled Hefner for his philanthropy and kindness to various and sundry individuals and causes. Others saw him as a dark figure, one whose endeavors contributed to more STDs, abortions, pornographic addictions, and violence against women (as sex objects).

Let me add one more thought. Hefner, amid his lifetime of myriad bedmates, lamented that he had never met “his soul mate.” His lifestyle has been glorified by the Epicureans of our time–those who mock the advocates of sexual restraint as people who do not “get it,” and hence are missing out on the full life, one filled with pleasure. Hefner, however, amid his all-out devotion to blond hair, huge mammary glands, and multitudinous copulation partners a fraction of his chronological age, found no soul, and no real mate. Perhaps it was Hefner who really missed out. DC

[202] Escape

I watch sports to escape the byzantine realities of daily living. Among the last things I want is to have my escape experience used as a platform to hash out current issues. But it happens all the time. On TV, I will have to hear Bob Costas engage in a bit of social critique as it relates to a player, a team, a league, or a sport. Costas is not a competent social scientist. He announces sports. Let him be happy with that.

He can get away with it, because Costas is careful to stay safely inside the politically correct foul lines. Curt Schilling, however, was jettisoned by ESPN over a Tweet or two—nothing on the air, just Tweets that hit a third rail of political incorrectness. I am rankled by this as a Christian, as this politicization of sport is generally a subtle way of spraying the listener, viewer, or reader with liberal values. Please understand, this is not a closet attempt to render a conservative counter. It is a plea for even-handedness, or better yet, nothing at all.

And then there is politically incorrect language or opinions coming from the mouths of athletes. These athletes are hardly towering intellects. Permit them their First Amendment rights and leave them alone.

Even in the case of the sensitive matter of domestic abuse. Why do you think universities and professional teams bring the steel shoes down on sports figures even alleged to have cuffed around a domestic partner? Because they are on the side of righteousness? Were that the case there would be myriad other misdeeds for which athletes would be punished. It is simply because domestic abuse is currently among the most highlighted and condemned of wrongdoing in the culture at large, and the sporting establishment cannot afford not to be on the politically correct line of scrimmage on that one. It is about politics not ethics.

When I go on the ESPN website there are features galore that are poorly thought hybrids of sports and current social issues glued together in a story about an athlete, team, or coach. Exhibit A: “The Undefeated,” a largely polemical site dedicated to African-American people and race issues in sport.

Enough already. All I really want to know is who is ahead in this game–the one I am wishing I could be watching on my personal and private “Gilligan’s Island.”

DC

[201] Down

Early in 2017, Pew research reported that evangelicals were the only religious group in the US that did not enjoy a better reception than it did in 2014. More important perhaps, Americans were increasingly less likely to know an evangelical personally than anyone from another religious background.

Pew applied a “feeling thermometer” to determine the warmth level of feelings toward the religious groups. While evangelicals held steady at 61% in being warmly regarded, Muslims went up 8% to 48, while atheists jumped up 9% to 50%.

Two thoughts on this: First, atheism has now gained mainstream acceptance. This does not mean there are more atheists than in the past, but it does mean they are now able to come above ground and engender little resistance. There is a price for people of faith to pay here, and that is encountering more open atheistic opposition to matters of faith.

Second, and perhaps more disturbing is that Americans are less likely to know an evangelical than a member of any other religious group. It is good the Apostle Paul is not around to see this. He would gag. How can this be? Evangelicals are definitely not the smallest in number of the religious groups. It is because of the fortress mentality that has long typified them. And it is not working. This shouts out the need for evangelicals to get outside of their religious ghetto and interact with the rest of the world. It is time to preach to someone other than the members of the choir.

Little surprise that there is such naivete among evangelicals with respect to the subtle invasion of our national culture by secular-progressives. They may be too busy painting the lines in the church parking lot to see how their relevance continues to dwindle as those hostile to the faith reshape the nation. DC

[200] Fake News

“Fake news” has now entered the mainstream vocabulary. There is plenty of fake news.  We are in a new era of “journalism.”  Remember All the President’s Men?  Ben Bradlee directed Woodward and Bernstein to get multiple sources on anything Watergate that went to press.  Now a “story” with no on-the-record sources will do.  You need only “sources close to…” to launch it on the 24-hour cable channels and the blizzard of online sources.

There are a number of reasons for this.  Here are two principal ones.  We no longer have three major news networks, and a nation of newspapers going to press once or twice day.  Now we have myriad television and internet sources all enmeshed in byzantine competition for viewers and clicks.  To get that flow, you need to get there first.  Second, everything is now 24 hours, not two printings a day and an evening news hour.  So there is much time to fill and not much hard news with which to fill it.  Hence, opinion and discussion are passed off as information.

Here is one more.  You better talk loud to be heard over all the cable shows, bloggers, podcasts, and on and on.  Better to do that with explosive innuendo and a few lies than the sterile nature of fact.

The gospel is about truth.  Truth shows up in the Ten Commandments.  In John 8:32, Christ says the truth sets us free.  What does fake news do?  DC

[199] Subtle Politics

Much of the ruckus over Colin Kaepernick’s not being on an NFL roster is not about football.  First, a fact needs to be stated.  There are roughly 100 quarterbacks on NFL teams.  Kaepernick, a Super Bowl quarterback but a few years back, is easily better than half of them.  Hence, the logic is that he is not in the league because owners do not want the baggage of a player who very publically refused to stand for the National Anthem last season.

No matter that Kaepernick has stated he will not persist in this practice.  He is damaged goods in the economy of the NFL.  No team has signed him in a league with many teams in need of insurance at the critically important quarterback position.

Note well that the public clamor over this omission of Kaepernick is not, however, focused on some football injustice, or some attempt by owners to protect their brand against a potentially objecting fandom—the millions who did not approve of Kaepernick’s symbolic protest.  It is focused on race.  And it is more than a scattered group of activists who point to racism as the underlying motive of the owners.  It is an organized attempt by the political left—those who embrace identity politics—to make this about race.  They are “racializing” the matter to advance the identity politics cause.

In the larger scheme of things, the plight of an unsigned multi-millionaire quarterback is not of much consequence in the context of North Korea, Charlottesville, and a health care crisis.  And that is why that narrower matter—football–is not the subject of this blog.  The point here is that those who are committed to identity politics will use very subtle means to make their case.  If they can shift the paradigm from simple alleged unfairness to racism they can turn Kaepernick’s circumstance into one of racism—the unfair treatment of one who identifies as an African-American—a headline grabber, given the unhappy history of race relations in the US.  And that shifts the goal of politics from one of advancing the national welfare to one that promotes the interests of individual subgroups, as they vie with other groups for power.

It is hard to make a case for identity politics from a faith-and-learning perspective, because it is an offshoot of postmodernism—the notion that there is no truth, just personal and cultural perspectives of subjective reality.  More important perhaps, is the need for vigilance; to “see” the subtle workings of ideologies as they visit everything, even football.  DC

[198] Jessica Mendoza

What is Jessica Mendoza doing analyzing major league baseball games? She has no business in the booth. She has never played baseball. She has never coached baseball. She has never managed a baseball team, and she has never been an administrator in baseball.

Jessica Mendoza is a softball player—a very good one—but she has no meaningful background in baseball.

What Ms. Mendoza is, however, is very attractive, classy, charming, Hispanic, and female. And like so many of the foxy newscasters that populate virtually every channel, that seems to be quite sufficient to be passed off as an expert.

If MLB wants a female, it might want to look at the front offices. Commissioner Selig’s daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, was in charge of the Brewers. There must be other women with some valuable front office experience out there.

If this is read as an attempt to denigrate Ms. Mendoza, I am not making myself clear. The offender here is ESPN and MLB, in their desire to serve up the viewer with a plateful of identity politics and diversity rather than incisive baseball analysis.  In an oh-so-subtle fashion, matters like these remind us that the secular culture continues to pour itself into a politically correct mold, one that all but silences any contrary voices.  In the big scheme of things, baseball is rather innocuous, but as we regularly discuss here it is but an ornament on a much larger cultural tree.

DC

[197] Open Borders

Scarcely a week goes by before we hear of another terrorist event somewhere in the world. For many, it begs the question of why there is so much political energy in support of open borders. Almost none of Trump’s policies provoke more rage and resistance than his pronouncements involving keeping certain people (illegals, those from terrorist-compromised countries, etc.) out of the US.

Why?

Because such policies collide head-on with identity politics. The latter sees the nation, not through the lens of shared common values, but as a collection of interest groups—gender, nationality, income, legal/illegal, etc., all of whose worldviews are to be equally respected. To slam the door in the face of any of these interest groups is viewed as a form of disrespect for the rights and wellbeing of that group, and hence, all the other groups.

Identity politics is dangerous, as it has a postmodern streak to it, one that rejects uniformly accepted values and laws. It removes the adhesive that binds a nation together, particularly one as diverse as ours. In many instances the goals of one group openly conflict with that of another. Therefore there needs to be legal context in which interactions take place, and those laws have to be respected, not because they are divinely inspired or emanate from Moses, but because without them there is no nation at all. DC

[196] Narcissism

I was expecting more from Hillary Clinton than narcissism. But that is what we are getting. Whether in an interview, a commencement speech, or virtually any other venue, Hillary continues to talk about how the election was taken from her—by James Comey to the Trump-colluding Russians and everything in between.

Clinton regularly professes she entered politics for the public good. The key word in that sentence is public. Her sour grapes spitting rhetoric does not align with that profession of intent. It suggests a self-centered, I-can’t-believe-I-lost mindset. Worse, she seems constitutionally unable to see her defeat in the context of her own failings. I am not going to recite those. The right wingers never tire of doing that. But what is of concern is that she seems to be engaging in narcissistic self-protection rather than sober introspection. As Fox’s Greg Gutfeld stated, she and Bill have become the acid reflux of the Democratic Party. It is time for both to go away—at least for awhile. It may be healthy for them to do so. It will certainly be in the public good for now. DC

[195] DC Shooting

See if I have this straight. The now late James Hodgkinson decided to shoot Rep. Steve Scalise because he did not agree with the Republican agenda.

No. Because he found the Republican agenda evil. Immoral.

And therein lies the problem.

When people make a political agenda into what amounts to the equivalent of a catechism, a setting out of the basic truths and ethics of the universe, no one is safe. That is not to say that there are not religious worldviews that inform people’s assessment of a political party’s stance. There are profound, religiously-driven differences over matters like abortion, capital punishment, and similar issues. It is to say that making a political agenda—and labeling all those well-meaning people who support it–as essentially evil, turns a civil nation into a vigilante culture.

And that is what we in the nation now. Trump is not someone with whom many disagree. He is regarded by millions as an evil man, worthy of being beheaded. It is not much better on the other side. I suspect there are more than a few on the right who harbor homicidal thoughts about Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi. Not because they do not agree with these people, but because they see them as essential immoral—evil.

We are in dangerous times, especially when so few respect a catechism with two Great Commandments, given by the Prince of Peace. DC

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