Vin Scully and My Take on Baseball and Life

Vin Scully

If you’re not a baseball fan, or if you’re not familiar with Vin Scully, just think about the impact of nostalgia on your life and the importance of relationships in it. I wrote about legendary Dodger baseball announcer Vin Scully in my latest Federalist piece, not because I know much about baseball.  I don’t really. But he is now in his 65th year announcing for the Dodgers, and I believe his story says something big about how our lives intersect with so many others.  If you read my essay “Vin Scully and the Soul of the Crowd,”  you may well connect with what Scully says he felt as a child listening to “the roar of the crowd” on the radio:

His fascination with the “roar of the crowd” represents something I think we all want and which is unattainable on earth: the chance to converse with all of humanity at the same time. It represents a desire to be in community—or in communion—with others. It’s like being in a grand conversation in which no one can predict what will happen next. A community like that is held together through mutual respect and the anticipation of joy.

This is a feeling that I think reflects in part what C.S. Lewis meant in his essay “The Weight of Glory,” a universal human longing to “bathe” in a glory we can hardly put into words. Lewis notes that we often mistake this for a sense of “nostalgia,” but it’s so much more than that.

Nostalgia can overwhelm us with a sense of wistfulness.  When that feeling takes hold, we find ourselves looking back with longing, hoping to find something “close to home,” something permanent to hold on to.  Nostalgia is triggered by any one of our senses. The sight of a memento, the sound of a voice, the touch of a fabric, a frangrance, a taste.  It comes to us as a  reminder that we feel lost in time and we ache for a sense of connection in relationships with others through all of space and time.

The sound of Scully’s voice brings back memories of my father listening to his beloved Dodger games.  It brings back echoes of my childhood  — as it does for so many baseball fans who grew up hearing Scully call the plays while telling us stories. The idea of his career ending brings us sorrow.  We’ll miss him.  And the feeling is mutual.  In his words, “It’s the relationships I’ll miss most.”

 

It’s a Shame we Would Ask: “Do Fathers Matter?”

 

    A recent article in Real Clear Policy asks:  “Have Fathers Become Irrelevant?”   The author, Robert VerBruggen, explores the literature and the “science” for answers. The article is basically a review of a book entitled Do Fathers Matter? What Science is Telling us about the Parent we’ve Overlooked by  Paul Raeburn.

Overlooked.  Wow.  I wonder if the researchers have asked children if they’ve “overlooked” their fathers?

Anyway, Raeburn makes the case that fathers do indeed matter. And of course that’s a very good thing.  But what I find amazing in all of this is that anyone would have to make such a case so strenuously.  Considering the misery and sorrow that so many children go through in the absence of a father, it’s stupefying that anyone would even dare challenge the right of a child to a relationship with their father. But Raeburn enters the debate providing all manner of scientific data to try to prove the point — to which he adds the role of genes and hormones and so forth.

What I want to know is why do we tolerate — much less feel we have to jump through a thousand hoops — the challenge of such a question as “Do fathers matter?”  VerBruggen’s review of Raeburn’s book — and the premise of the book itself — are most illuminating to me because they provide insights into how little researchers and scholars seem to care about the father-child relationship.  All of this focus on “outcomes,” such as graduation rates, employment statistics, etc. is BOGUS.  It has nothing to do with the value of the relationship.  A good child-father relationship has a value beyond measure.  Not just for the happiness of the child, but for everyone as the child broadcasts that sense of stability into society and other relationships.

VerBruggen begins with the dismal statistics:

The two-parent family has been deteriorating for decades: Since 1960, the percentage of American children born out of wedlock has risen from 5 to 41. Though unmarried parents often live togetherwhen the child is born, they are far more likely than married parents to break up — and fathers who don’t live with their kids are much less involved when it comes to parenting.

Does this hurt anyone? [this should be an obvious YES] There is a fairly broad consensus that it does, for the simple reason that children raised by two parents tend to have better outcomes, even after researchers do their best to account for complicating factors like class and race. But there are nagging doubts in some quarters.

“Does this hurt anyone?”  Again, the fact that we can even ask such a question indicates the depths to which we have all sunk as a society.  I’m sure VerBruggen is simply being rhetorical and responding to our current social norms.  But the mere existence of that question, the fact that it can rear its head so casually among us, should give us great pause.  I would think in the eyes of a hurting child, this would stand out as a very callous question indeed.  And we ought to get into the habit of looking at the world through the eyes of a child – rather than through the myopia of social scientists — when it comes to regarding the happiness and well being of children.  Instead of bending over backwards to answer the propaganda, we should find a way to point out that the question itself is nothing but propaganda and innuendo.

Are we Headed to a Future Claiming “All your Children Belong to Us?”

Where are we headed?   Looks like a pretty dystopian future, which should be obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention.   For a preview, remember when MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry told us us we “have to get over our notion that children belong to their parents or their families.” We need a more “collective” idea, she asserted.  Watch here:

Last year I wrote an article about this: “The War on the Family Enters a New Stage,” which you can read by clicking here. 

But moving “forward” Glenn Cook of the Las Vegas Review-Journal offers a fascinating report: “All your children Belong to Us.”  Cook notes what’s going on in Scotland, a push to assign each family an official state guardian.  It’s chilling:

The Scottish government for years has pursued what amounts to state-sponsored surveillance of families. By August 2016 — unless a court or public pressure can stop it — the country will appoint an official state guardian for every child in Scotland. The jobs will be filled by teachers, social workers, health care professionals and the like. The feel-good part of the plan makes every guardian a personal resource to families, available to answer questions. The sinister part of the plan gives those guardians access to a family’s records, and requires them to monitor and report every child’s development and welfare and recommend household changes. Thus, legislation to expand free school meals and subsidized child care becomes the means to create the Family Stasi.

What happens when a family doesn’t return a guardian’s call to check in? What happens when a parent rejects an, ahem, friendly suggestion from said guardian using a few choice curse words? A knock on the door from police and social workers, that’s what.

We all know that destruction of family autonomy has been a top priority of so-called progressives for many years,  centuries, even.  Yet it’s hard to fathom that such an agenda could ever really prevail.

I think we’ve gotten this far on the road to hell for four basic reasons.  First, we can’t fathom that anyone would let it happen, and can’t fathom that anyone would even want it to happen, so many of us simply tune out those agendas as mad ravings. Second, the ground has been softened through the breakdown of families, particularly the absence of fathers, as more people buy into the bait offered by the so-called progressives.  Third,  the side pushing to control our relationships has been unrelenting and very organized. Fourth, all of the above results in a resistance that is weak and disorganized.

The only way around this — and it’s daunting — is to actually build a resistance.  How?  I’m not sure, but I know how it has to start.  It has to start with individuals talking one-on-one to others, as friends — not as adversaries — and expressing what they feel about this.  We can’t allow this sort of group think to sink in.  By openly sharing our concerns about these things to others, we open them up to sensing and see a resistance that they can be a part of.  That’s where it has to begin.  It would also help to have leaders who are real leaders, not peacocks obsessed with their turf.  It requires a lot of adaptability, strength of character, wits, and dedication.

The Transgender Movement Redefines the Humanity of Us All

Have you thought about what will happen if we erase all gender distinctions in the law?  That question is the basis of my recent Federalist article linked here:  “How the Trans-Agenda Seeks to Redefine Everyone.”

I hope you’ll think it through too.  Gender Identity is a term that is not meant to apply simply to a minority demographic.  It is a term foisted upon everyone universally. Take a look at the following definition of gender identity, from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:

The term ‘gender identity’ means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.

It’s a new framing of what it means to be human, and it’s about you whether you like it or not.  Your sex is merely “designated” at birth, according to this legal definition.  The erasure of gender distinctions is also meant to apply to reproductive rights, which means we are not supposed to assume that only women get pregnant.  To understand how such language will change the relationships of the individual to the state, read on.   The implications for state meddling in family and other relationships are vast.  A brief excerpt here:

If we agree to change language to suit the transgender lobby, we ultimately agree to destroy in law the entire basis (sex distinctions) for the only union that can result in autonomously formed families. The implications for privacy and personal relationships are vast, and we need to understand that.

If you think you’ll be able to cultivate and preserve strong personal relationships in this new matrix, you are mistaken. That can’t easily happen in a system in which your familial relationships are not acknowledged or respected by the State. This gender-neutral scheme obliterates the template for the family as a unit. And if the family is no longer accepted as a union that originates through the union of male and female, there is no real basis for the State to recognize any family as an autonomous unit. Without any such obligation, children become more easily classified as state property and our personal relationships are more easily controlled by the state. If that sounds totalitarian, that’s because it is.

 

 

 

 

 

Good Fathers Never Die. They Love Beyond the Grave.

Father’s Day might be behind us for this year, but the impact of fatherhood is always huge, and it runs very deep.  In my latest Federalist essay, I examine the power of the father-child relationship:   “You are Twelve Men:” A Story of Fatherhood.  It’s an account of Francis Bok’s Escape from Slavery.

Imagine — if you can — what it must be like to be a seven-year-old boy who witnesses a massacre, and then is captured by one of the killers to serve as a slave:  In addition to enduring beatings, hunger, and degradation, you are completely isolated from anyone with whom you can talk.  The loneliness enshrouds you.  It goes on this way, with beatings and degradation, for ten solid years.  You are finally able to making a harrowing escape.

In Sudan, from 1986 until 1996, Francis Bok survived this unfathomable assault on his dignity and his childhood. How?  What sustained him and essentially saved him?  Answer: Calling on the memory of his loving parents, especially his father who instilled Francis with strength and trust in God.  Francis’ father would tell him: “You are twelve men!”  In the words of Francis:

“I told myself that I must stay strong. My father would want me to be strong. . . they could not touch my thoughts and dreams. In my mind I was free, and it was there in that freedom that I planned my escape.

‘God is always with you,’ my parents had told me. ‘Even when you are alone, He is with you. . . . When you ask God for what you need, He will help you . . .’ Alone at night sitting in my hut, I remembered that. My father once said to me, ‘Even when you are one, you are two. If you are two, you are three.’

I was really muycharko . . . I began to believe that my father had been right: I was really ‘twelve men.’”

The question we must ask is this:  If a father can have such an impact from the grave on a child so alone and oppressed, how dare anyone devalue fatherhood? 

In fact, this question is not rhetorical, because the answer is real.  It’s in Francis’s own words above:  His father’s love empowered him.   It made him free.  Unfortunately, those who seek to control us see this as a problem, and a threat to their sense of power. So these forces are always trying to separate us from those who truly love us.  How dare they?  We need to stay aware of — and fight —  these constant and insane assaults on our relationships.

 

 

 

Maya Angelou: “Why I Kept My Baby”

What a beautiful story, which was retrieved and posted by Feminists for Life in memory of Maya Angelou who died this past Wednesday, May 28.  It is reprinted from a Family Circle Magazine piece that ran on October 8, 2001.  Please click on this link: “Why I Kept My Baby” and you’ll also find an extraordinarily joyful picture of Maya Angelou with her adult son, Guy.  This is a story more people should hear.

In short, she said:

I’m telling you that the best decision I ever made was keeping that baby! Yes, absolutely. Guy was a delight from the start — so good, so bright, and I can’t imagine my life without him. . . Years later, when I was married, I wanted to have more children, but I couldn’t conceive. Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16? Praise God!”

It’s no wonder that when mothers are encouraged to develop deep bonds with their children — particularly when the children come as surprises — that societies function better.  When mothers are discouraged from doing so through abortion, societies get sick. This causes sorrow and bitterness and loneliness to grow and envelop the culture, as we see happening in around us today. But a love that welcomes every child is contagious and healing to all.  That’s the real wealth we need to “spread around.”

How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State

Have you noticed a recent push to keep single people single?  It’s out there.  Click here for my latest essay at The Federalist:  “How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State.”  It  examines advice given across the board to all single working class mothers:  “Don’t get married.”  Specifically, a recent article at Slate, co-authored by two feminist legal scholars, states that single mothers should “Just say no” to marriage.

So what’s with that?  Of course marriage is a choice and it’s impossible to discern whether or not the choice is a good one without knowing all of the  details and circumstances in any given case.  But the Slate piece comes down almost as a manifesto claiming that these moms ( never mind their children) are better off going it alone.

But if we step back, we can see a bigger picture emerging.  It’s as though individuals in our society are being nudged today towards isolation, away from human companionship that is autonomous and real — and pushed into a sterile form of “community” in which the state calls all of the shots in our lives.  Perhaps that’s why it seems those pushing big government agendas seem unfriendly — and even hostile — towards strong personal relationships.

Here’s an excerpt from the Federalist piece:

Strong relationships are about teamwork:  real communication, real cooperation, real trust, and real fellowship.  How might individuals seek to cultivate these things?  They can, you know, if government gets out of the way.  And teamwork is about self-sacrifice, which is a dirty word these days.  Yes, strong relationships may be difficult to produce.  But that’s what makes them strong.  The blacksmith analogy is apt:  the tempering of the iron in the fire – as with a relationship through trials — will give it shape and strength.

But the really dirty little secret statists would rather you not know is this:  strong relationships of mutual self-sacrifice yield the greatest prosperity of every kind – spiritual, emotional, and material – for everyone.

The hunger for strong family relationships will persist.  Social engineers can only offer weak “communitarian” relationships as cheap imitations for the real thing, which, in the end, is real, human love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bait and Switch: How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy

“Relationships, Power, and Freedom” is the central theme of this blog.  I really hope you’ll read my article published today in The Federalist because in it I attempt to get right into the intersection of each of these three qualities in our lives.  Click here for the link to my article, “Bait and Switch:  How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy.”

Preserving civil marriage is key, because without it the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state. Abolishing it would have huge implications for the survival of freedom of association and all of our personal relationships.

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The Softer Side of Show Trials, brought to you by your Friends at Mozilla

When Hollywood folks think of show trials, they automatically relive the McCarthy hearings of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee back in the 1950s.  When a student of Russian history hears the term, she’s apt to think about Stalin’s Show Trials of the 1930’s.  But let’s not go there, right?  Those were nasty affairs that usually ended with executions after perfunctory trials that declared the defendants “enemies of the people.”

There’s a more “civilized and softer” side to the idea of show trials, which was brought to us this week by Mozilla.  It means that when someone carries a belief in his heart that doesn’t meet the approval of the preachers of political correctness, he’s merely forced to resign from his job.  In this case, the person supported the idea — shocking! — that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  It doesn’t matter that he kept quiet about his beliefs, the thought reformers made a point of “outing” him for his thought crimes. That’s what happened to Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla.  We know he contributed towards Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure that defined marriage traditionally.  But we don’t technically know how Eich voted on it because we all still technically have the right to a secret ballot.  Or are you beginning to wonder?

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Nationalizing the Family

Mark Steyn makes some excellent points in this four-minute excerpt from his speech on “The Nationalization of the Family.”

http://www.steynonline.com/6203/the-nationalization-of-the-family

He notes that the takeover of the family was by far the most consequential act of state ownership of the late 20th century.   No question about it.  A faceless bureaucracy is being substituted for the only bonds that can create a healthy society:  family bonds.  Steyn also recognizes that we should grieve far more over the waste of lives than the waste of money by this bureaucratic state.  Amen to that.

But I’d like to elaborate a little here.   The organic family unit — father, mother, child — is really the template for all healthy human relationships.  We all know this in our gut.  Without the security of the human bonding in a family, something great is lost to any human being who’s been deprived of it.  Children end up more isolated and alienated, and they take all of that baggage into adulthood.   People become more detached from others if their sole source of “care giving” is a faceless bureaucracy. In a very real sense, the state can then mediate and dictate all human relationships.  For example, a poor single mother is less likely to get married if she knows she’ll lose state entitlements.  It’s disturbing as we come to realize that nationalizing the family goes hand in hand with abolishing it.

Also, let’s note how the cliques ruling the bureaucracies can’t recognize human potential, creativity, and innovation. Even if they could, they’re hostile to it all.  They squander lives and talent. And they’re in the business of squashing love.

Our only choice, in the end, is for each of us to compete with this machine.  It sounds daunting, but we must find a way to build a culture that reaches out in human love and understanding to anyone at risk of falling victim to the machine, and even those who already are.  I hope to explore in future posts how we might try to do this.