To Be Frank, Part 3, “What the Blazes, Blaise?!”

I’m a baseball fan. I love the game! I never really played it that well as a kid, but my oldest son is pretty good. He didn’t play ball on an official team until he was seven years old, but I started pitching Wiffle Balls to him when he was three or four.

I played softball in the Marines a bit, but my son’s ability, along with normal “dad” tendencies, led to a love affair with this game that has become a big part of my life. Our whole family bleeds Dodger Blue! And having been taught to hit the ball by a grizzled “old salt” of a Marine Master Sergeant (in Cairo, Egypt of all places), and having taught my son to switch-hit, I am of the mind that I can hit the ball pretty well.

In my previous post, I introduced you to my buddy Blaise Pascal. Blaise never got the opportunity to play baseball because, heck, it’s an American game, and he was dead long before it was developed. But he knew how to play tennis, and I believe this because he said so right there in Pensée (Thought) #22.

Let no one say that I have said nothing new; the arrangement of the subject is new. When we play tennis, we both play with the same ball, but one of us places it better.

I know that he loved sports in general because of Pensée (Thought) #141. Lookee, here ladies!

Men spend their time in following a ball or a hare; it is the pleasure even of kings.

And he said that way before radio or television came around! Did I mention I like this guy?! But wow, I was completely unprepared for the 100 mph fastballs of “thought” that Blaise could hurl when he was alive. Like this zinger from last week’s post:

How I hate these follies of not believing in the Eucharist, etc.! If the Gospel be true, if Jesus Christ be God, what difficulty is there?

What the WHAP! (ball hits the catcher mitt) WHIFF! (me swinging like a seventh-grader) was that?! Strike One.

We haven’t even talked about Pascal’s Wager, which prompts a person with no belief in God to consider the possibility that “reason alone” isn’t enough to disprove God’s existence. I’m not going to waste time on the Wager on these grounds: a) I was already a baptized Christian when I first read it, and I believe in God, so what’s to argue? and b) Blaise can throw a whole series of 100-mph thoughts so accurately that even a determined skeptic would never have a chance to get a hit. Blaise is a lot like Nolan Ryan in that regard.

If you need to check out the Wager, a full explanation of it is here.

From Thought 184 through Thought 241, you will find 57 pitches that will leave you swinging for the fences—and coming up empty every time—if you are in the God “is not” camp. In the game of baseball, throwing 57 straight strikes would be phenomenal. Maybe Blaise couldn’t throw a complete nine-inning game, but if he pitched that many strikes in a game and did it regularly, he would be a household name. And I know he would make one heck of a closer.

The next section of Pensees is entitled “Of the Means of Belief.” It starts with a thorough skewering of those who worship the god or goddess of Nature. Blaise flatly states that “seeing” all that is created is “not believing.” One doesn’t find God in every little created thing that surrounds us:

It is not after this manner that Scripture speaks, which has a better knowledge of the things that are of God. It says, on the contrary, that God is a hidden God, and that, since the corruption of nature, He has left men in a darkness from which they can only escape through Jesus Christ, without whom all communion with God is cut off. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)

This is what Scripture points out to us, when it says in so many places that those who seek God find Him. It is not of that light, “like the noonday sun” that this is said. We do not say that those who seek the noonday sun, or water in the sea, shall find them; and hence the evidence of God must not be of this nature. So it tells us elsewhere: “Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself.” (Isaiah 45:15)

So let me get this straight.Using knowledge of scripture, which everyone knows Catholic Christians are ignorant of, Blaise starts sawing off another leg of the stool I sat on until Easter 2008, when I became a Catholic, a stool I had been sitting on for 30+ years—the stool of my “superior” knowledge of the Bible.

Ever become friends with somebody who laid you low first? You know: They punched you in the mouth or knocked you on your keister when you crossed them with your alleged superiority—and then became your friend? Taking my swings against Blaise Pascal was a lot like that.

Semper Fidelis

Next time: Blaise shows me the way to the second most published book on the planet (after the Bible).

  • Webster Bull

    Good pitching, Frank! I've got to admit: I was always intimidated by traditional Western philosophy, from Plato to whatever wise guy is stringing together empty proofs nowadays. I couldn't wrap my brain around it. So when you told me you converted to Catholicism in part because of reading Pascal's Pensees . . . ? My reaction was, as you put it, "[WHAP!] What the [WHIFF!] . . . ?!

  • Mary P.

    I'd never heard of this work, Frank, but it sounds great. But I guess in order to get the [WHAP] and the [WHIFF] I guess you have to feel like you know 'something' in the first place! From where I'm standing (naivety), I guess I can skip the knuckle sandwich, anyway. That sounds good to me! Maybe after my Orthodoxy gets here (oh yeah, and read)! Pascal will be on my list.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Mary: Fair Warning…Pascals Pensee's (Thoughts) are the next YIM Catholic Book Club selection. Don't sweat it. Blaise will start us out with wiffle balls too.

  • Mary P.

    Wiffle balls! That sounds perfect for me!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14664864341946607447 Terry Fenwick

    This is so well put together from the first line to the end. One of the best I have read and using Baseball and Wiffle balls at that! I knew by the third paragraph I needed to settle in – and I did and I liked it all. I know this – you have been a great PR man for Blaise at the Bat.


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