Midwestern virtues vs. Hollywood star power

Sportswriter Thomas Boswell sees two worlds colliding in the National League playoff between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers:

When the Dodgers meet the Cardinals on Friday with the Gateway Arch framed in center field to start the National League Championship Series, we’ll see a clash of baseball worldviews and a collision of regional cultures, too.

The Cards have always hugged Midwest virtues while the Dodgers loved movie stars in the box seats and star power on the field. But this year both teams are such extreme versions of their traditional selves it’s just delicious. [Read more…]

Duty and Vocation

Reflecting on the beards of the Red Sox made me think about the Victorians and a concept that was a major preoccupation of that era but that is hardly talked about anymore today:  Duty.   This is not the same as virtue or morality.  Rather, it is the obligation associated with a particular vocation.

The duty of a husband is to be faithful to his wife, support her, and protect her.  The duty of a soldier is to obey orders, remain at his post, and hazard his life for his country.  The duty of a worker is to do a good job, etc., etc.

Significantly, the place in Luther’s Small Catechism that teaches about vocation, giving the Biblical teachings about “the various holy orders”–such as pastors and laity, rulers and citizens, husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and workers–is called the Table of Duties. 

After the jump is William Wordsworth’s “Ode to Duty,” in which the pioneering Romantic poet writes about how he is sick of living just for himself and how he craves “the spirit of self sacrifice.”  Maybe our culture will get to that point. [Read more…]

Get offended

The management of this blog is taking no position on the controversy over the use of Native American references as names of sports teams.  This post simply draws your attention to the recent “Style Invitational,” a regular feature in the Washington Post that sets up humorous challenges and asks readers to send in entries.  Last Sunday published the results of a contest “in which we asked you to be offended by a name that most people haven’t thought to be offended by yet.”  Some of the funnier entries:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Condoning piracy — the scourge of our intellectual-property rights — gives the wrong message. A good name should celebrate creativity: I suggest the Tampa Bay Digital Rights Management. (Martin Bancroft, Issaquah, Wash.) [Read more…]

Don’t make eye contact

“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” we might say when trying to get through to a child we are trying to discipline.  “He looked me straight in the eye,” we might say of someone trying to sell us something.  “Keep eye contact,” we might remind ourselves in a job interview.  According to the latest research, though, eye contact can actually make it harder to win someone over. [Read more…]

Clergy Appreciation Month

October is “Clergy Appreciation Month.”  After the jump, some thoughts on the matter from Ray Hartwig.  Let’s use the comments to honor the occasion. What do you appreciate about your pastor?  What has he done for you?  Why are you grateful for him? [Read more…]

The beards of the Red Sox

I now like the Red Sox.  How can you not pull for a team whose players have grown such serious beards?  These aren’t soul patches or little goatees.  These are long, bushy, Duck Dynasty kinds of beards.  This is no “chicks dig ’em” kind of fashion–I suspect women aren’t wild about them (correct me if I’m wrong)–but a true man’s kind of statement.  Watching the Red Sox is like seeing Alfred, Lord Tennyson at the plate with Stonewall Jackson on deck.

These are, in fact, a revival of 19th century type beards.  Maybe this will herald a new movement:  neo-Victorianism, complete with a new vogue for Victorian values such as  duty, honor, and sexual propriety. [Read more…]