Vocation Day

This blog has, for a number of years, been engaged in a crusade to co-opt the secular Labor Day and to get it on the church calendar as a holiday that celebrates the Christian doctrine of vocation.   I think it is working.   I’ve been hearing people making the connection.  (Did you hear that on Sunday?)

Remember that vocation does NOT just mean your job, which is important for the over 9% of Americans who do not have one.   Our calling from God also and even more importantly has to do with our positions in our families (as son or daughter; husband or wife; father or mother), the church (pastor or “hearer”), and the state (ruler or citizen).  All of these are estates to which God stations us to live out our faith in love and service to the neighbors that each office brings into our lives.  “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Corinthians 7:17).

The reason we celebrate Vocation Day by NOT working, even though we are honoring economic labor, is to give recognition also to our other vocations:  our families (by spending time with them) and our country (to share in a national holiday doing cultural-specific activities such as grilling out and thinking about sports).

We will honor Vocation Day on this blog by not posting about our horrible problems.  We’ll go back to that tomorrow.  In the meantime, today is about celebrating all of your different callings.

 

Pleasure in toil as God’s gift to man

Your theme for Labor Day, I mean, Vocation Day:

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (Ecclesiastes 3:9-12)

Defensive plays

Charles Krauthammer, taking a break from bemoaning the state of the world, devoted a column to baseball, specifically to the defensive plays made by a few members of the otherwise hapless but improving Washington Nationals.  I love his descriptions:

When you live in a town with a team that is passing rapidly through mediocrity on its way to contention — the Nats have an amazing crop of upcoming young players — you go for the moments.

I go to see Ryan Zimmerman charge a slowly hit grounder down the third-base line. This happens roughly once a game. Zim comes flying in, picks up the ball barehanded and throws it across his body to first base, perpendicular to the direction he’s running.

Except that this cannot be done. You could never get enough (velocity) on the throw to get the out at first. So Zimmerman dives forward, leaving his feet and hovering there for an instant, his body parallel to the ground in order to get more arm extension and thus more on the throw, which by now is nearly underhanded, his fingers almost scraping the ground. Batter out.

Try this yourself. Aim for a barn door. You will miss. And also dislocate your shoulder.

Another attraction is rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa. He has what in baseball parlance is known as range. A hard shot is hit to the hole between first and second, and Espy ranges to his left to snag it. Three weeks ago, one shot was hit so hard and so deep that he had to dive onto the outfield grass to reach it, sliding on his side in the general direction of the right-field foul pole.

Nice grab, but unless you can get the ball to first, it’s just for show. Espy starts to get up. But there is no time for standing. So, from his knees, while still sliding on the grass out toward the stands, he forces himself into a counterclockwise 180-degree spin to throw back toward first base — except that he actually begins his throw mid-turn, while facing the outfield, thereby gaining velocity from the centrifugal force (and probably the rotation of the Earth, although this remains unverified). It’s like throwing on your knees from a spinning merry-go-round that is itself moving laterally in a landslide. Try that.

Batter out.

The piece de resistance, however, is what center fielder Rick Ankiel pulled off last Sunday. It’s the bottom of the ninth, one out. The Reds have just tied the game with a solo homer. They need one more run to win. Batter crushes the ball to right-center field. If it clears the wall, game over.

But it doesn’t. It bounces off the wall, eluding our right fielder. Ankiel, who had dashed over from center, charges after the ball, picks it up barehanded and, in full running stride, fires it to third, to which the batter is headed and from which he is very likely to later score and win the game (there being only one out).

Now, when mortals throw a ball, they give it arc to gain distance. That’s how artillery works. Ankiel is better than artillery. He releases the ball at the top of his throwing motion, the ball rocketing out as if tracing a clothesline. It bounces five feet from third base, perfectly on line, arriving a millisecond before the batter and maybe 20 inches above the bag.

Quick tag. Batter out. Game saved. (Blown five innings later. But remember, it’s the Nats.) Said Nats broadcaster and former major leaguer F.P. Santangelo: “That might be the best throw I’ve ever seen.”

via The best show in town – The Washington Post.

If you don’t believe that first example, here is a picture of Ryan Zimmerman throwing:

Walk on

Here is a feel-good sports story:

Dominique Whaley’s photo is nowhere to be found in Oklahoma’s media guide. Before enrolling at OU, Whaley was an NAIA benchwarmer.

Some replacement for DeMarco Murray. Some replacement indeed.

Rising out of complete obscurity, Whaley rushed right into OU history Saturday night as the top-ranked Sooners crushed Tulsa 47-14 to open the season. Consider what Whaley accomplished against the Golden Hurricane:

• The most rushing touchdowns by an OU walk-on in a single game.

• The first 100-yard game by an OU walk-on in 36 years.

• Became the second Sooner to run for four touchdowns in his debut, with Murray being the other.

Whaley ran for 131 yards and four touchdowns on a game-high 18 carries, the final score coming on a gorgeous 32-yard scamper through Tulsa’s defense. . . .

At Lawton MacArthur High School, Whaley was beaten out by OU safety Javon Harris for the starting job at running back. Eventually, he was moved out of position to slot receiver.

Only two schools recruited him out of high school, including NAIA Langston College. Whaley didn’t start there, either.

“Maybe he should have,” said Stoops, who handed Whaley the first game ball Saturday.

But even after leaving Langston, Whaley never lost faith in his ability. Somehow, he never doubted he could start for a school like Oklahoma, where four- and five-star running backs are the norm.

Instead Whaley wrote down goals and stuck to achieving them, no matter how far-fetched they seemed.

“I didn’t come here just to make the team,” he said. “I didn’t come here just to play special teams. I came here to start. That was my goal.

“My next goal is to be the best in the country. You have to continue to make goals.”

Stoops first noticed Whaley a couple of years ago. As a scout-team back, he gashed OU’s first-team defense during a scrimmage. Whaley got so winded from the long runs that trainers had to carry him off the practice field and administer IV fluids, Stoops said.

Whaley tore OU’s defense up again this past spring game. . . .

Asked to grade his performance, Whaley gave himself a “C,” maybe worse. A what?

“I had a busted blocking assignment that could’ve killed our quarterback,” he said. “I’m still thinking about it.”

Please forgive him. After all, he’s only a walk-on. Who just might be OU’s unlikely answer at running back.

via SoonerNation: Whaley has breakout night in Sooners’ win – ESPN.

The coming Obama landslide

Now that President Obama’s poll numbers are at record lows is a good time to make my prediction:  He will win re-election.  Easily.  Maybe in a landslide.

That the economy is a mess and that he has botched so many of his jobs will make no difference.  Yes, polls show any generic Republican can beat him.  But we have no generic Republicans running against him.  They are each highly particular.   And they all either turn off or scare to death the general public.

It isn’t that they are necessarily too conservative.  A conservative could have a good chance today.  But not an angry conservative.

To be sure, when Americans want their leaders to “do something” to fix the economy, that is not the best time to sell an ideology of limited government.  So actual conservative policies–as opposed to just conservative rhetoric–will be a hard sell.  But what Americans want most of all is someone to bring them out of the national funk.

The model, again, is Ronald Reagan, the cheerful and optimistic conservative, who brought us out of the malaise of Jimmy Carter.  That’s what would win today.  But there is no Ronald Reagan on the horizon, as far as I can see.

In the meantime, even though they don’t think very highly of him, Americans will go along with Obama again.  The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.  No need to change horses in midstream, all of those maxims.  He comes across as more likeable than his opponents, and I believe that–not economics–trumps everything else.

Please understand, I am not saying that the current crop of Republican candidates might not all make good presidents and better than what we have now.  I am just saying that none of them, in my opinion, is electable.

As I have said, most people hope they are right.  I find myself more often hoping that I’m wrong.

If you can shoot down my analysis, I’ll be much obliged.

Zero job growth

Economists expected SOME job growth in August, but the numbers came in worse than expected:  ZERO job growth in non-farm occupations.

WebMonk alerted me to this, urged me to post it while the information is hot off the wires, and was helpful enough to link to the actual Department of Labor report.  It’s fascinating, though depressing, to read the details.  A sample, but you can read more with the link below.

Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged (0) in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Employment in most major industries changed little over the month. Healthcare continued to add jobs, and a decline in information employment reflected a strike. Government employment continued to trend down, despite the return of workers from a partial government shutdown in Minnesota.

via Employment Situation Summary.

To relate this to the above topic of conversation, this might be evidence that the economy will be so bad that the public will vote for a new president.  But do you think the vast numbers of the unemployed are more likely to vote for a “limited government” message or for a “spend even more to get the economy moving again” message?


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