Weekly Meanderings, 8 October 2016

Syler Thomas, is this THE year or not?

And baseball is funny. People don’t want to admit it, but there’s a fair amount of luck in baseball. It truly is a game of inches, and sometimes inches separate success from failure.

Which brings us back to this year. Once again, the refrain is thrown about. “This is our year! We have the best team so it’s gonna happen!” Well here’s the deal, folks. You know how we’ll know it’s our year? When we’ve recorded the final out in the final inning of the final game of the World Series, and our team is on the field celebrating. Then and only then will we know.

And it’s way better for the emotional health of every Cubs fan to assume that this is in fact not The Year. Isn’t this the way we best enjoy gifts? The ones we don’t expect, that we don’t feel entitled to…those are the ones we appreciate the most. Sure we have a great chance to win it all, a better chance than the rest of the teams, but it’s not even close to guaranteed.

So Cubs fans, join me in basking in the glow of a historically great regular season. Wait expectantly, full of hope, for a World Series, because I believe with all of my heart that it will happen. But it may not be this year.

This is not the year. Until it is.

Love it, by Sarah Larimer:

In 2015, Norma Bauerschmidt sat in a doctor’s office.

Her husband, Leo, had recently died. And Bauerschmidt, of Michigan, was now facing a medical issue of her own; doctors had discovered a large mass, according to a Facebook post. Her daughter-in-law, Ramie Liddle, said in a phone interview that the diagnosis was uterine cancer.

But as Bauerschmidt sat in the office, ostensibly to go over the possible course of treatment — surgery, chemotherapy, those kinds of procedures — she told the doctor that she would have none of it.

“They wanted to operate and everything right away,” she later told CBS News. “I said, no! We’ll just leave it be.”

Instead of seeking medical intervention, or choosing to spend her remaining days in a care facility, Bauerschmidt decided to travel with her son, Tim Bauerschmidt, and her daughter-in-law, Ramie Liddle (and their dog), crisscrossing the country in an RV. Their journey together has been chronicled on the Facebook page Driving Miss Norma, which has more than 453,000 likes.

HT: LNMM

Archbishop Cranmer:

They shoot horses, don’t they? Much better to put them out of their misery than suffer a broken leg. If it’s compassionate to kill horses to end their pain, why not humans in the womb who are destined for a life of bitterness and squalid misery? After all, some lives just aren’t worth living. If the thing in your womb won’t be able to dance a marathon, why bother bringing it into the world at all, especially if it’s going to have a funny face, as well? That’s just not the sort of life a reasonable, loving parent would want for their child, is it?

You don’t often get TV programmes which deal with the ethics of abortion and the logical end-game of the pro-choice lobby, which is basically eugenics: screening out the deficient, deformed, brown-eyed,female or gay. Sally Phillips’ ‘A World Without Down’s Syndrome?‘ focused on the love and laughter in her relationship with Olly, her 12-year-old son, who happens to have Down’s, which is, she kept on saying, “a type of person”.

And therein lies the debate we must have: the nature of human identity and the meaning of personhood; what makes a foetus in the womb a baby? What makes that baby a person? It isn’t simply an icy matter of scientific medical ethics: it is about warm feelings, smiley faces and play-paint splattered all over. Sally Phillips discovered her son had Down’s soon after his birth. That’s too late. We don’t shoot them, but the age of after-birth (‘fourth trimester’) abortion is fast approaching. “Why does everybody behave like it’s a catastrophe?” she asks, telling the world that her life with Olly is far more comedy than tragedy. The reason, of course, is that we abort perfectly healthy babies foetuses up to 24 weeks of gestation, and the disabled can be aborted right up until the day of their natural birth. And Down’s babiesfoetuses are classified as having a ‘severe handicap’, so they can be summarily sliced up, have their brains sucked out and be vacuumed from the womb without a second question. If society permits abortion for a cleft palate or the lack of a Y chromosome, why not the presence of a third copy of chromosome 21?

HT: KM

A wonderful new program opportunity:

Americans might be able to bring a refugee to the U.S. on their own dime if talks between the Obama administration and the nation’s leading refugee advocacy group come to fruition.

The State Department is considering a pilot program that would let citizens sponsor a refugee from their country of choice by paying for airfare, housing, clothing, food and other resettlement costs. Conversations began in July and are expected to continue in the coming year, said Naomi Steinberg, director of the Refugee Council USA.

The program, modeled after a similar one in Canada, is designed to crack open new sources of funding as growing anti-refugee sentiment in Congress threatens to cut resettlement programs.

“It puts Americans in the driver’s seat,” said Matthew La Corte, policy analyst at the Niskanen Center, a Washington-based libertarian think tank that was an early supporter of the program. “It allows them to say ‘I have a spare bedroom. I was thinking of buying a new car but I’ll instead take that $10,000 and put it toward bringing a Syrian refugee over.”‘

Such a program would mark one of the biggest structural changes to U.S. refugee policy in three decades, and would allow Barack Obama or future presidents to skirt opposition by shifting financial responsibility to everyday Americans. Civil war in Syria, conflict in Africa and more open European borders have combined to displace more than 65 million people worldwide, the deepest refugee crisis since World War II.

Love it, too: Jack about Arnie:

“He was the king of our sport, and he always will be,” Nicklaus said. “Like the great (broadcaster) Vin Scully, when he called his last game Sunday night for the Dodgers: ‘Don’t be sad because it’s over. Smile because it happened.’ Today I hurt, just like you hurt. You don’t lose a friend of over 60 years and not feel an enormous loss. But like my wife always says, ‘The memories are the cushions of life.’ ”

Parents divorcing the faith of their children, by Julie Zauzmer:

Two widely recognized trends in American society might have something to do with each other.

Divorce rates climbed to the highest levels ever in the 1980s, when about half of all marriages ended in divorce.

And in the present day, Americans are rapidly becoming less religious. Since 1972, the share of Americans who say they do not adhere to any particular religion has increased from 5 percent of the population to 25 percent.

Could those two trends be related? A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute says yes. The children of divorced parents have grown up to be adults of no religion.

People whose parents divorced when they were children are significantly more likely to grow up not to be religious as adults, the study found. Thirty-five percent of the children of divorced parents told pollsters they are now nonreligious, compared with 23 percent of people whose parents were married when they were children.

Other studies on the rise of the “nones” — those who say they have no religion — have focused on millennials’ changing preferences. This study found that 29 percent of adults who were raised religious and left their faith say they left because of their religion’s negative teachings about gay and lesbian people. Nineteen percent say they left because of clergy sexual-abuse scandals. Sixty percent say they simply do not believe what the religion teaches.

“A lot of the narrative around the rise of the nones, or the rise of the non-affiliated, has focused on how there’s changing cultural preferences, that people are choosing to move away from religion,” said Daniel Cox, one of the researchers on the new study. “I think there’s also a structural part of the story that has not gotten as much attention. We wanted to focus on the way millennials were raised, which is different from any previous generation. And part of that is they’re more likely to have grown up with parents who are divorced.”

Cox said his team found that even children of divorced parents who are religious are less religious than their peers. Thirty-one percent of them go to services every week, compared with 43 percent of religious people whose parents were married when they were growing up.

HT: KKNM

Bill Clinton on Obamacare:

Speaking Monday at a Democratic rally in Flint, Michigan, the former president ripped into the Affordable Care Act for flooding the health care insurance market and causing premiums to rise for middle-class Americans who do not qualify for subsidies.
“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world,” Clinton said.
Clinton, whose efforts with his wife to overhaul health care in the 1990s were stymied by a recalcitrant Congress and the insurance lobby, told the crowd the insurance model “doesn’t make sense” and “doesn’t work here.”
[Exactly! And who benefits?]

Matt Tebbe’s thoughtful analogy of the banyan and banana tree — kinds of leadership:

We face a leadership crisis today in American Christianity. Banyan leadership is the norm: we celebrate and train leaders to be experts who can command large organization and engineer ministry outcomes. We love banyan leaders.

We celebrate “greatness.” The primary way we train leaders for pastoral ministry is through a program by which we confer on people the title “Master of Divinity.”

We can be leaders now because we have mastered divinity. We figured God out and now we can use this information to manage churches to produce outcomes.

You are not to be like that

We are enamored with banyan leaders, but Jesus calls us to be banana leaders. We are enamored with masters, but Jesus calls us to be servants. We dream of being in charge, but Jesus invites us submit.

“The greatest among you must become like the youngest.”

The youngest in Jesus’ day had no power. No rights, no privileges, no way to “pursue happiness.” And they were uneducated. The greatest were the powerful, the bosses, the kings, the experts.

This statement would have seemed like nonsense to the disciples. How can the greatest become like the youngest?

Erika Beras, and the slave origins of Southern food:

Michael Twitty wants you to know where Southern food really comes from. And he wants the enslaved African-Americans who were part of its creation to get credit. That’s why Twitty goes to places like Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s grand estate in Charlottesville, Va. — to cook meals that slaves would have eaten and put their stories back into American history.

On a recent September morning, Twitty is standing behind a wooden table at Monticello’s Mulberry Row, which was once a sort of main street just below the plantation. It’s where hundreds of Jefferson’s slaves once lived and worked. Dozens of people watch as Twitty prepares to grill a rabbit over an open fire.

“Look – it’s better than chicken,” he tells the audience.

Twitty is a big guy. He loves to eat, he loves history and he loves to talk. He’s moving back and forth between the table and iron skillets over an open fire. His cooking instructions aren’t complicated.

“The technique is, I season it, I cook it and it’s done,” he tells the audience, eliciting laughter. “There you go.”

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