Weekly Meanderings, 5 November 2016

It starts here for this first weekend after the World Series, with Tom Verducci’s little anecdote about Joe Maddon’s father’s hat and Jason Heyward’s character:

As Maddon prepared to return to the dugout, he stepped out from behind his desk in the visiting manager’s office, the one with two open packages of dark chocolate bars—“For brain stimulation”—and an 8×10 picture of Hall of Fame Orioles manager Earl Weaver that he carried with him as both inspiration and totem throughout the World Series. Then he grabbed a faded periwinkle blue Angels cap—the outdated one with a wings logo—and stuffed it into the back of his waistband and underneath his hoodie.

The hat belonged to his father, Joe, or as they knew him around Hazelton, Pa., Joe the Plumber. Joseph Anthony Maddon worked 60 years at C. Maddon & Sons Plumbing and Heating, a family business begun in the 1950s by Carmen Maddon, an immigrant from Italy. Five sons followed. Much of the pipes in Hazelton were serviced by the Maddon boys. Three of them, including Joe, who often would be found with a Phillies Cheroot between his teeth, raised families in the apartments above the shop on 11th Street.

Joe the Plumber died in April 2002, when Joe was bench coach for the Anaheim Angels. Six months later, the Angels won the World Series. During the clinching Game 7, Joe would sneak back to the clubhouse and rub his dad’s hat for luck. In the ninth inning, he brought the hat to the dugout with him. He placed it on a shelf and under his scouting report binder, facing the field “so he could see the last out of winning the World Series.”

Said Joe, “I carry it with me everywhere I go. It’s always with me.”

Fourteen years later, with the hat stuffed into his waistband, Maddon returned to the dugout for the finale of another Game 7.

“It’s incredible how this all plays out sometimes,” he said. “You have to believe in order to see things, and I do believe. But it was great to have my dad there for two World Series victories.”…

Maybe to be a Cub meant something entirely new this year. How fitting that it was Heyward, a bust as far as the production he returned on the franchise’s investment in him, who pulled the team together in its moment of crisis.

“Jason doesn’t say much,” Bryant said, “so when he does, it gets everybody’s attention.”

Said Epstein, when informed it was Heyward who called the meeting, “That’s amazing—that he stayed not only connected to this team but, in the middle of everything and despite his offensive struggles, he stepped up. It speaks to his character and professionalism.”

Said Heyward, “I’m fortunate to come from great parents and a great family. No matter how tough it was for me at times this year, I think I gave something to this team with my character, and I think this team gave something to me.”…

Cub-dom, as Maddon would call this nation of the yearning, is transformed. All it took was 108 years and one of the greatest baseball games ever played.

And with Wright Thompson:

I didn’t know exactly what to do while waiting on the final game of the World Series, so I woke up early on Wednesday and went to church. The priest at the cavernous, ornate Holy Name Cathedral didn’t mention the Cubs during the homily, but his talk about suffering and faith resonated with those who came to celebrate All Souls’ Day. Yes, Game 7 was played on the same day as the annual Catholic holiday to remember and celebrate the dead, and pray for their safe passage from purgatory into heaven. You can’t make this stuff up.

The hyper-focus of camera lenses will make the last 24 hours in Chicago seem like one big explosion of joy, but that’s not really true. The whole exercise has produced its own extremes. On one hand, people have been going wild, with Eddie Vedder and Bill Murray closing down one of those 5 a.m. dive bars on Division Street — closing it down together — and fans lighting off cherry bombs near Wrigley. Yet there’s also this palpable sadness. Nobody could really be sure how’d they’d feel when it all ended, whether they’d be full of joy, or grief, or both.

A splendid opening by Howard Snyder on a Christian politics, and here are few of his lines:

The Bible doesn’t teach or endorse any political or economic ideology. It does reveal truth that should be reflected in our politics and economics. Those who use the Bible to unequivocally support a political or economic system run the danger of idolatry.

The Bible neither endorses nor condemns capitalism, socialism, or any other political-economic system of ideology. A range of options is possible so long as people’s rights are protected and the general wellbeing advanced. The ideals of both capitalism and socialism embody Christian values, but due to human sinfulness and selfishness, in practice these are often betrayed and people exploited.

People should take personal responsibility for themselves as far as they are able. The Bible teaches each person is responsible for him- or herself, yet we are also all responsible for each other. This is an aspect of being created in the image of the Triune God and of course has political implications. [HT: JS]

Wesley Hill takes on Nicholas Wolterstorff’s new statement on same-sex marriage; here is but the first paragraph from Wes Hill’s piece:

Nicholas Wolterstorff’s recent case for same-sex marriage, delivered as a lecture at Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids in mid-October, bears many of the virtues we’ve come to count on from the Yale professor emeritus of philosophical theology: lucidity, an intuitive and easy-to-follow structure, a winsome recourse to down-to-earth illustrations, a light touch, and an obvious personal concern for real, suffering Christians. But one virtue it does not possess is interpretive charity. Indeed, I’m trying to remember when I last encountered an argument for changing the church’s historic view of marriage that engaged so flippantly and superficially with the Christian tradition. If, as Donald Davidson has taught us, hermeneutical charity is the effort to maximize the sense of views we oppose and to search for all possible areas of agreement whenever we engage a view whose truthfulness and coherence we doubt, then I feel bound to conclude—alas—that Wolterstorff’s lecture lacks such charity almost entirely.

Being too impressed with the impressive in the church, by Stephen MacAlpine:

When it states in Romans 12, “Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly”, it says that as a command not a suggestion.  Why? Because our tendency still, even as regenerate people of God, is to associate with the impressive.  As if somehow the outward impressiveness of a person reveals an inner impressiveness, when it can in fact be a mask for what is less than impressive.  As if somehow the stardust will rub off on us.

We’re suckers for the impressive and the outward appearance. That showiness and grandeur seduces us.  A great CV or a great figure or a great set of financial figures still makes us go weak at the knees.

But not the Lord’s knees.

Jesus himself says to those who were impressed by impressiveness in his day: You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

See that?  What Jesus says goes even deeper.  We are not simply impressed by the impressiveness of others.  We are impressed by our own impressiveness!  We set a bar of impressiveness, then we jump it and are impressed by our ability to do so!  How deceived we are!  So deceived that we would  even crucify the King of Glory.

This should make us pause.  Make us cautious.  This should make us be very careful about what we think is going to change things for a struggling church, or a struggling church culture. This should make us careful in what we believe will arrest our declining influence in the culture.

Christian movements and church planting networks should, paradoxically, value what the world hates and despises. We should view those despised things as the tools through which God will transform his world. Rather than simply aping the procedures, processes and programs of a world in thrall to the impressive, we should embrace what the world rejects. [HT: JS]

Huma Abedin doesn’t know how that stuff got on her husband’s computer. Not knowing how it got there may be as bad as it being there! This spin is dizzying, and perhaps that’s the point of spins.

Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has told people she doesn’t know how her emails ended up on her estranged husband’s computer, according to The Washington Post.

Abedin says she did not regularly use the computer, the newspaper reported, citing a person familiar with the investigation.

David Mastio, tongue in cheek but only a little, is right:

Hillary Clinton can’t stand the thought of having to decide whether Winston Churchill’s bust should go back on the mantel of the Oval Office, so when the FBI exonerated her in the investigation into her secret email server cover-up, she doubled down on the lies, telling Fox News’ Chris Wallace,  “Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people.”

Not one of those words was true. I forget whether she compared herself to a “short-circuited” robot as a preview of the bold move to bolster the Trump campaign or as an excuse afterward.

Every day it’s a race to prove who wants to be president the least.

I got an email from HillaryClinton.com in September asking for money. The subject line began, “If I am being honest …” When I saw it, I thought, “Oh for God’s sake, why start now?” If Clinton had started being honest five years ago or even one year ago, the American people would be carrying her to Washington on a flag-draped litter to install her in the White House while they sing old Methodist hymns.

But she didn’t. She won’t or can’t. The only reasonable explanation left is that she will do anything, absolutely anything, to make Donald Trump president. The question is what she and Vladimir Putin have to gain.

David Mastio is the Deputy Editorial Page Editor of USA TODAY. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMastio

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.