We haven't done this in awhile, so it seems like a good time to take a quick look around at things that have captured our interest:
At SI.com, John Rolfe talks about how fan-unfriendly professional sports have become. Cheating stock-car racers, drug scandals, police reports, free-agency, escalating ticket prices. Rolfe sums up our feelings exactly:
Colleges are still hotbeds of actual fan passion, but I imagine that as wages stagnate or shrink while player contracts rise, major pro sports will continue to become more exclusive, catering to an increasingly narrow base of well-heeled fans, the majority of them hailing from the business community. Working stiffs will be left with local horseshoes tournaments. That's fine if it means we won't have to digest the bitter news that even that humble game is awash in human growth hormone and rigged shoes, or that its biggest stars have been busted after a vicious bar fight with a pair of autograph-seeking Carmelite nuns and the National Guard.
Having said that, spring training is underway, and opening day is right around the corner. If you haven't let Barry Bonds completely turn you off from baseball, here's a cool site - Clem's Baseball. Diagrams and fascinating facts about every ball park ever used in the major leagues. For the sports junkie - especially one who keeps talking about the "good old days," you'll find a lot to like here.
From the Washington Examiner, Jim Geraghty taps into one of our favorite recent topics: the senseless anger that seems to consume so many people, and asks what good it does:
We have to live amid it and its effects, from road rage, to athletes storming into the stands to confront jeering fans, to rap music that celebrates violent or even deadly responses to any perceived slights, to those who turn a political disagreement into an opportunity to loudly denounce our views as evidence of our moral and intellectual decadence.
Geraghty points out what we've been saying all along: "While they may find this self-segregation and constant reinforcement emotionally satisfying, it ensures their distance from the non-angry and an inability to connect with those who aren’t in that same Republic of New Anger. The satisfaction of the angry comes at the high cost of their chance at persuasion."
There once was a time when a nagging sense of unworthiness was considered a good thing. This was before 1969, when Nathaniel Branden published The Psychology of Self-Esteem, which sanctioned narcissism and pronounced self-esteem as the cornerstone of success. As the cult of self-esteem swelled, the art of self-deprecation — even in jest — became a character flaw, indicative of an interior smoldering heap of insecurity and self-loathing. Humility displaced pride as the seventh deadly sin.
You have to wonder how many of the people Geraghty writes about come from this same mold, the constant emphasis on individualism and self-worth. Graham reminds us of one of our favorite aspects of Lent: "Creaky old relic that it is, the Church persists in thinking that human beings are imperfect creatures that benefit from the occasional sober contemplations of their flaws. . . For dust you are, and to dust you will return. As self-esteem goes, you can’t go any lower than this."
The sidebar at 2 Blowhards led us to our newest favorite site, Architecture and Morality. (You have to love a combination like that!) Relievedebtor, the resident non-architect on the site, gives us all a good reminder of the virtues of anonymity:
As it turns out, the Christian take on all this is that anonymity is not necessarily such a bad thing. In fact, it’s practically a virtue. Over and over Jesus instructs his followers that becoming the least is our path to exaltation, and denying ourselves is preferred to worshiping ourselves. (Ayn Rand obviously has a different take, advocating man worship in no uncertain terms.) Other secularists would claim that this is the way religion controls people, by convincing them to become nothing so that someone else may control them. While this is undoubtedly true for many cults and dangerous sects of all religions, I don’t think this is at the heart of Christianity. From the Christian viewpoint, growing into anonymity simply puts us where we need to be: as creations of God worshiping our creator.
Finally, again from NRO, Peter Robinson gives us one of those "did you know" moments that seriously makes us pause: John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States, was born when George Washington was president. His grandson - not great-grandson, mind you - Harrison Tyler, now 79, still inhabits Sherwood Forest Plantation, the Tyler family home. Think about that for a moment. Imagine being able to say, "My grandpa was alive when Washington was president." Talk about a link to history. As Peter says, it reminds us that our country isn't so old after all.
Our summaries don't do them justice - read all the pieces we've linked to, and check out the sites often.