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Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous

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April 2014

Sterling, Silver and the NBA: The “Brave” Pursuit of Justice

Yesterday, the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life from the NBA for racist comments that he made in the privacy of his home that happened to be recorded by his now estranged mistress. I have followed the NBA for years and know that for business reasons Donald Sterling was considered to be a bad owner. The Clippers, until recently, have never been known as a model franchise with a culture of winning and playing the right way.

I have no doubt that for many reasons the punitive actions taking against Mr. Sterling were the right thing to do and that Adam Silver would not have had made the decision he had made if the other NBA owners had not seen this as the right thing to do for the NBA brand and for the NBA players. But after three days of non-stop talk on various sports channels about this issue, I can tell you Adam Silver’s decision was not a lone brave act. Bravery is too often overused and misused by the media. I would considering as doing the right thing despite some type of opposition. There was no voice of opposition in the media and in the NBA to not punish Donald Sterling in some way. Let’s face Donald Sterling made himself an easy mark by coming across as a greedy, immoral, racist rich, old white man whose bad habits finally caught up with him. You did not have to have a strong sense of right and wrong, but only ride the wave general and widespread condemnation to conclude that something needed to be done.

In all of the talk over the last few days, there were a few voices that stood out. One was Mark Cuban’s comments about condemning someone for something they said in the privacy of their own home when they were unwittingly being recorded by someone who had an ax to grind and who by many would be considered a gold-digger. Someone not necessarily seeking social justice, but seeking a greedy agenda of her own. While Mr. Sterling’s comments were racist and he had a history of being racist therefore easier to justify his vilification, but do we really want to get in the habit punish speech made in the privacy of own homes, especially when that speech is being recorded by someone with unscrupulous motives.

And this has always been a concern of mine is that in the pursuit of social justice are we trying to build up society or are we just to destroy and tear down people. Only once did a I hear any voice any concern about Donald Sterling and that was Charles Barkley. There really is no justice without mercy and no mercy without justice and we do not do a good with social policy in general at balancing these two concepts. We are a society that for the most part operates in denial that our acts and our thoughts have consequences, we are very disconnected from this concept when it comes to our own behavior and only recognizes it when someone who does not hold the same values as us does something egregious. Secondly, I think too often especially in the media every jumps on the bandwagon of condemnation and nobody dares to offer up any mercy. The real danger in this is having our pursuit of justice become hateful and destructive, does our pursuit of justice only operate on win-lose, zero sum strategy or do we have the moral capacity to devise a win-win strategy wear we can build up all parties involved and minimize collateral damage to other people and virtues. As George Albert Smith once said:

“The Spirit of the Lord is kindness, charity, love and forbearance and there are none of us who do not need all of these virtues.”

Science is Awesome, Science is Great, But Science Is Not the Whole Human Experience

formula

It would be foolish for anyone to deny the power of science and it’s discoveries about the laws of nature over the last 400 years. But it is equally foolish to deny the Power behind those discoveries since these laws predate and have existed before a scientific “discovery” ever took place. If anything scientific discoveries should draw one closer to God not push us away since many of these laws have such incredible precision and an inherent purpose and function in sustaining our short lives here on Earth. Likewise, we should not fear science because it may at times challenge our slumbering faiths. Science and Faith are not antagonistic to each other. And while neither science nor our faith will ever answer all our questions in this lifetime that should not make us cynics or self-destructive or become warring spirits. It is not for us to know or have a full understanding of everything in this lifetime, but it is not in vain to make an effort to learn as much as we can. At any point in our life most of us will find ourselves “twixt van and rear” in respect to our own knowledge as our days creep slowly in this strange dream of ours.

Despite many people’s claims— some honest in intent others less honest— that science is the only way to know anything about anything, we know there are some areas where science fails and these are often in areas of social policy , the humanities and in matters of the heart.

In Leon Wiseltier’s article Crimes Against Humanities in the New Republic states:

“The question of the place of science in knowledge, and in society, and in life, is not a scientific question. Science confers no special authority, it confers no authority at all, for the attempt to answer a scientific question….The credibility of physicists and biologists and economists on the meaning of life…cannot be owed to their work in physics and biology and economics, however, distinguished it is. The extrapolation of larger ideas about life from the procedures and the conclusions of various sciences is quite common, but it is not in itself justified; and its justification cannot be made on internally scientific grounds, at least if the intellectual situation is not to be rigged. Science does not come with a worldview….thought, action, experience and art exceed the confines of scientific understanding, fills them with profound anxiety.”

well-water-sierra-leone-689240-print

When science is interjected into areas of larger meaning we get a confused postmodernity and “suffocating political correctness” for the bien pensant. Science as a philosophy is very susceptible to venal corruption, oftentimes becoming junk science for the intellectual decadent seeking support for their Draconian ideologies, leading us useful innocents down the road to Gehenna to hang out with the champion of all miserable aristocrats, our dear Lord Harry.

Science fails in matters of the heart because at its base it requires and searches for uniformity and translated into social policy this mean equality in everything. To be human requires freedom of conscience, freedom to make mistakes, freedom to discover, freedom to act. Science while part of the human experience is not the human experience. Sciences’ realm is the natural world which makes up part our human experience. Science has made no successful inroads into understanding the individual, unconquerable soul and the values that shape it. Science cannot and will not ever be able to map the human soul. When science does make attempts to understand the soul it becomes uncharacteristically ridiculous and absurd and dips in banal mediocrity and soul crushing failures when applied to social policy. It seems that theories come and go, but when it comes to the social policy it is only the bad ones that illogically stay defying all scientific logic. “Science” induced policy more often than not do not like to give free play to Freedom’s wings.

boy-jumping-leaves-931467-print

As John F. Crosby points out in his article titled Against Scientism:

“The signature of the human person is found in our freedom and self-determination. But if we look at human beings from the outside, as we do in the sciences, we find no freedom, we find only behavior that can be plausibly explained or predicted in terms of natural laws”.

While unity of purpose is a necessity in any successful venture, unity has to be reached voluntarily and can only be achieved by people striving to learn not only the physical world around them, but by a people pursuing something larger than themselves.

Master Crow: Fast and Slow

Thoughtful crowI dedicate this to my children who think I may have lost a step or two on the basketball court:

The old crow is getting slow.
The young crow is not.
Of what the young crow does not know
The old crow knows a lot.

At knowing things the old crow
Is still the young crow’s master.
What does the slow old crow not know?
-How to go faster.

The young crow flies above, below,
And rings around the slow old crow.
What does the fast young crow not know?
-Where to go.

Fast and Slow, by John Ciardi

Lord, Make A Regular Man Out of Me

This I would like to be–braver and bolder,
Just a bit wiser because I am older,
Just a bit kinder to those I may meet,
Just a bit manlier taking defeat…

goldfish jumping out of the water

This I would like to be–just a bit finer
More of a smiler and less of a whiner,
Just a bit quicker to stretch out my hand
Helping another who’s struggling to stand…

This I would like to be–just a bit fairer,
Just a bit better and just a bit squarer,
Not quite so ready to censure and blame,
Quicker to help every man in the game,
Not quite so eager’s men’s failing to see…

This I would like to be–just a bit truer,
Less of the wisher and more of the doer,
Broader and bigger, more willing to give,
Living and helping my neighbor to live!
This for the New Year my prayer and my plea–
Lord, make a regular man out of me.

Edgar A. Guest

Red Geraniums

scenic view santorini

Life did not bring me silken gowns
Nor jewels for my hair,
Nor signs of gabled foreign towns
In distant countries fair,
But I can glimpse, beyond my pane, a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

The brambled cares of everyday,
The tiny humdrum things,
May bind my feet when they would stray,
But still my heart has wings
While red geraniums are bloomed against my window glass,
And low above my green sweet hill the gypsy wind-clouds pass.

And if my dreaming ne’er come true,
The brightest and the best,
But leave me lone my journey through,
I’ll set my heart at rest,
And thank God for my home-sweet things, a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

Martha Haskell Clark

Where Are You Going Greatheart?

Where are you going, Greatheart,
With your eager face and fiery grace?
Where are you going Greatheart?

“To fight a fight with all my might,feet-beach-sand-heart-892724-print
For Truth and Justice, God and Right,
To grace all Life with His fair Light.”
Then God go with you, Greatheart!

Where are you going Greatheart?
“To beard the Devil in his den;
To smite him with the strength of ten;
To set at large the souls of men.”
Then God go with you, Greatheart!

Where are you going Greatheart?
“To cleanse the earth of noisome things;
To draw from life its poison stings;
To give free play to Freedom wings.”
Then God go with you, Greatheart!

Where are you going Greatheart?
To lift Today about the Past;
To make Tomorrow sure and fast;
To nail God’s colors to the mast.”
Then God go with you, Greatheart!

Where are you going Greatheart?
“To break down old dividing lines;
To carry out my Lord’s designs;
To build again His broken shrines.”
Then God go with you, Greatheart!

Where are you going Greatheart?
“To set all burdened people free;
To win for all God’s liberty;
To ‘stablish His sweet sovereignty.”
God goeth with you, Greatheart!

A Prelude to Easter: Christ Past, Present, and Future

There is a reason that Jesus Christ, for bad or good, is still relevant in our modern world. An active belief in Christ is fundamental to all Christians and likewise an active disbelief in Christ is the foundation of many modern-day philosophies. But what is it that 2000 years after his death makes Jesus Christ so enduring?

Howard W. Hunter summed this up in his speech An Apostle’s Witness of the Resurrection when he contrasted Alexander the Great’s short life with that of Jesus Christ:

Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, pupil of Aristotle, conqueror of most of the known world in his time, was one of the world’s great young leaders. After years of exercising military pomp and prowess and after extending his kingdom from Macedonia to Egypt and from Cyprus to India, he wept when there seemed to be no more world to conquer. Then as evidence of just how ephemeral power is, Alexander caught a fever and died at thirty-three years of age. The vast kingdom he had gained virtually died with him.

Quite a different young leader [Christ] also died at what seems such an untimely age of thirty-three. He likewise was a king, a pupil, and a conqueror. Yet he received no honors of man, achieved no territorial conquests, rose to no political station. So far as we know, he never held a sword nor wore a single piece of armor…His power was not of this world.”

christus-lds-454706-print

If you were to ask who has had more influence on our culture over the last 2000 years, it would be Christ hands down. Alexander, while a fascinating historical figure, his accomplishments and their influence on our lives is barely felt, if at all, 2000 years later. As with most historical figures, like a Genghis Khan, like a Charlemagne, like a Napoleon, or like a Winston Churchill and so on their influence does not transcend time for very long. It might be felt for generation or two after their death but it wanes and their influence weakens over much time. But Christ’s influence is still felt keenly after 2000 years and influences lives of millions of people directly on a daily basis.

This is because when Christ’s life ended all of our lives took on a different meaning because it spoke to our immortal souls the possibility of eternity. It gave us hope in a what would have otherwise been a mean and meaningless Plutonian existence of bewitching, yet flittering pleasure and enduring misery, or what some would call an atheist’s paradise. It tells us we are more than just trousered apes and each of us has the divine spark that will to overcome. The Resurrection gives an eternal perspective to kindness, honesty, patience, friends, family, freedom, love, etc., freeing them from utilitarian shallowness. And it is the Resurrection that gives meaning to the injustice, pain, suffering, illness, ageing and we experience here on earth.

It is through Christ’s Resurrection that the stone walls and iron bars of Death were broken and Death is no longer our end nor our destiny, but our transcendent beginning. The Resurrection confirms and gives logic to what we all feel at the time of death of our loved ones that those warm and true bonds established here on earth extend eternally.

In Mark 16:6, Christ’s resurrection is simply described by the following words, “He is risen, he is not here.” As is often the case, it is those things expressed simply that have the most profound effect on us and nothing is more profound than the deep meaning of the resurrection on our lives. And the Resurrection’s profundity is a mystery and a truth worth pursuing in this lifetime.

ManBearPig’s Search For Happiness

Pig on whiteHappiness is like a crystal,
Fair and exquisite and clear,
Broken in a million pieces,
Shattered, scattered far and near.
Now and then along life’s pathway,
Lo! some shining fragments fall;
But, there are so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.

You may find a bit of beauty,
Or an honest share of wealth,
While another just beside you
Gathers honor, love or health.
Vain to choose or grasp unduly
Broken is the perfect ball;
And there are so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.

Yet the wise as on they journey
Treasure every fragment clear,
Fit them as they may together,
Imaging the shattered sphere
Learning ever to be thankful,
Through their share of it is small;
For it has so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.

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