Tag Archives: Miami Herald

What Year?

Dave Barry’s end of year review is part of our annual ritual for changing over the calendars. For those unfamiliar with Barry’s work, he was a columnist with the Miami Herald and is the author of numerous humor books. Known for his light touch, as well as his friendship with Stephen King, Barry has a way of finding the fun in what are often trying times. It should be no news that Barry’s work was quite easy this past year. 2017 was so bizarre that few humorous garnishes were required to make it look ridiculous. Even as Barry embellished the facts just a little bit, 45 was starting off 2018 in an even more unbelievably surreal mode. Congressional Republicans, of course, noses permanently stained brown, lock step with him.

I have to wonder when world leaders became so unaware. Perhaps because of the ad hoc declaration of fake news people like Trump think they can rewrite history. History, however, takes a long view. There’s no doubt whatsoever that the Trump administration will be remembered (if there are any of us left here to do so) as one of the strangest and most foolish periods of American history. Even Rome, of course, had its Caligulas. The thing was the evangelical would’ve despised the antics of such an emperor. If Trump had an ass he’d make it a senator. And the GOP would quickly confirm it. Rumor has it that he’s already attempted this.

Those who ignore history, to paraphrase George Santayana, are condemned to live through it again. And Trump, it is clear, doesn’t know history. As the Roman emperors grew more and more decadent, the Visigoths quietly awaited the implosion. When we see the beast and the false prophet squabbling we know that the end of time is near. A cold snap hits the east coast and the pretender-in-chief says we could use some global warming. Global warming, of course, is what triggers such erratic weather. The problem is you have to read to find out such things. And you have to read what you, as emperor, have decreed to be fake news. Historian Barbara Tuchman once stated that you need about fifty years to pass before writing history about an event. Right now we have a White House trying to rewrite history of last January, as if anyone alive then is incapable of remembering what happened a paltry year ago. And what a paltry year it was. Read Dave Barry’s take and find out for yourself.

Without Precedent

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a national treasure. So many of his Op-Eds make such unwavering good sense that it is difficult to believe he’s not a household name. His recent piece in the Miami Herald concerning Jimmy Carter’s announcement that he has cancer is a case in point. Many reporters would be quick to point to the tragedy since, although the Carter administration is generally undervalued, nobody would ever say that Carter is less than a true gentleman. Pitts, however, takes us deeper. He looks at this understated announcement in terms of faith. Faith, as he points out, in a world where it has taken on an unsavory, if not downright evil, flavor. We do indeed hear about faith that moves mountains, but it is with the power of fully fueled passenger jets. We hear about the faith that builds mega-churches while the homeless and hungry sleep in the city streets. Pitts is quite right, our faith requires a shot in the arm.

JimmyCarterPortrait2

I sometimes wonder how we have come so far down what seems to be obviously the wrong road. Our religion has become a charade and it is used for people to get what they really want rather than to make the world a better place. I always thought true religion was putting others before yourself. Nothing like working in Manhattan to show you how totally off-base such sentiments might be. Jesus can sell books, but his teaching is definitely passé. Yesterday. Old-school (but not in the good way). We have faith in money because immortality, or at least the antidote for mortality, is readily for sale. There’s one born every second. This, we are told, is what gives life meaning.

Of the presidents who’ve retired, we generally hear very little. They sequester themselves and write their memoirs to gain even more money for themselves. Carter has been known to be out there building houses for the poor, living what presidents all say they believe when they ask us to cast our votes in their direction. I’ve always been proud that the first president I ever voted for was Carter. Of course, it was in the beginning of those recent Dark Ages known as the Reagan Administration, and I had voted for the underdog. My faith in the political system has been severely challenged since then. I have seen stolen elections treated as legitimate by those who can’t possibly do too much for themselves. And I remembered my first lowly vote given for a man who, perhaps more than any other, showed Americans their misplaced faith after he had been denied a second term in office. Although Pitts doesn’t say it, I can see it in his pen: the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Sports Religion

I’ve never been a fan of organized sports. Call it sour grapes, but having been born with an inner ear affliction that makes sudden turns debilitating, I’ve never been effective at much beyond running. Maybe also the occasional flirtation with free weights. So when my wife showed me a story about Tim Tebow, I had no idea who he was. It turns out that he is the quarterback for the Denver Broncos. He was in the news not because of his apparently lackluster performance, but because of his religion. The Miami Herald story by Dan Le Batard insightfully points out that football fans participate in what amounts to a religion in their devotion to the game. Add an evangelical Christianity to that “sports religion” (Le Batard’s term) and a “holy war” (again, Le Batard) breaks out. Religious fans praise Tebow because of his character, sports fans castigate his allegedly mediocre ability. The controversy over Tebow, however, goes deeper.

Hallowed be thy game (but not thy Photoshop)

Home schooled in Florida, his family took advantages of laws that allowed home schoolers to play on actual schools’ sports teams. Even going as far as to rent an apartment and move out of their home with her son, his mother placed her son in advantageous school districts while teaching him at home. The problems with home schooling are legion, but clearly among the most troubling are the frequent use of religious indoctrination and the lack of critical thinking skills. Those who are truly educated are aware of just how little they know. Those who presume they can teach their children everything they’ll need often seem impressed by their own knowledge. But I digress. While in college Tebow’s penchant for painting Bible verses in his eye black led to the “Tebow Rule” that forbade messages in the paint. Interestingly, the Bible verses he scrawled on his game face received high numbers of Google hits during the games.

No doubt for many sports are a form of religious release. Le Batard suggests that football religion and traditional religion rest uneasily together. In a world where I might mention a particularly important Bible passage for students to read and most won’t bother, the flash of Proverbs 3:5-6 on a starry-eyed quarterback’s face will send fans page-thumbing the good book. Perhaps religions have been focusing their energies in the wrong places. If the various religions of the world formed football franchises and joined the ranks of the NFL, the benches, or pews, would be filled every Sunday. And it might also solve another perplexing problem: which religion is the correct one? They could be determined once and for all on Super Sunday.