Russell and Duenes

Archive for October 2010

What Do Del Unser and Cody Ross Have in Common?

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“Unser” is a name we tend to affiliate with NASCAR, but Del Unser was a Phillies hero in the 1980 postseason. Talk about a journeyman, Unser played for seven different teams during his major league career, and calling him mediocre would be a compliment. I bring him up because I remember watching the 1980 World Series as a lad of 11 years old, and I also distinctly remember that there was an unsung Phillies player who put the screws to the Kansas City Royals in that Series. Yet I couldn’t even remember his name. I had to go back and look through the game stats of the ’80 Series just to find out who the scrub was who turned all-world in the playoffs. What did Unser do? According to Jon Caroulis in Baseball Digest,

In the deciding NLCS game against Houston, the Phillies entered the 8th inning trailing 5-2, facing Nolan Ryan. The team started an improbable comeback, and with the score 5-4 had runners on first and third and one out with Mike Schmidt coming to the plate. The future Hall of Famer took a called third strike from Ken Forsch, and dejectedly walked back to the dugout. Unser, however, followed with a single to tie the score. Unser said Forsch had a good sinker that broke away from left-handers, and he was at the plate looking for an outside part of the plate, when the right-hander came in on him. But Unser managed to get enough of the pitch to hit a line drive to right center for a single to tie the game. In the 10th inning, Unser faced Frank Lacorte. The Astros had reliever Dave Smith warming up “and I couldn’t hit him with a canoe paddle.” But Houston stayed with Lacorte and Unser ripped a double down the first base line. He later scored the winning run that gave the Phillies their first pennant in 30 years.

Unser followed that up by getting the key hit off all-star reliever, Dan Quisenberry, in the Phillies Game 2 win over Kansas City. The Phils were down 4-2 in the 8th, but came screaming back on Unser’s game-tying double. The Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the Series, but Kansas City won the next two, and they were leading 3-2 heading into the ninth inning of Game 5. Phils star, Mike Schmidt singled and and Unser hit a double down the right field line to score him all the way from first. The Phillies eventually won the game and the Series in six games.

As I’ve watched Cody Ross in these playoffs, I couldn’t help but think back to 1980. Granted, the comparison between Unser and Ross is limited, as Ross has been a better hitter over the course of his brief career. In fact, back in 2009, Ross had 24 homers and 90 RBI’s for the Marlins, but only had 14 HR’s total this year. Not exactly Babe Ruth or Reggie Jackson. Yet those are men he’s resembled in these playoffs. No one dares throw him a pitch on the inside half of the plate. We haven’t seen such care in pitching to a guy since Barry Bonds back in 2002. In a seven year career, Ross is already with his 5th team, but the Giants would be sunk without him.

Unser and Ross are what make October baseball worth watching. It’s easy to see on paper who will do well, but every so often guys like these (or Gene Tenace and Mickey Hatcher, for that matter) decide to become a Hall-of-Famers for a few games, and we get to reminisce about it with joy – or chagrin – for generations.

-D


Written by Michael Duenes

October 31, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Duenes, Sports

The Courage our Future Men Need

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I wise man once told me that there are two indispensable virtues needed for true manhood: courage and humility. And few, if any, movie scenes portray the true power and need of courage more than that of Boromir’s death in The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s worth watching again and again. Knowing that Boromir had betrayed his own promise to protect Frodo and the ring, his final courage here, even to his own death, is all the more inspiring. May we men have such courage in the cause of Christ.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

October 31, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Duenes, Movies

Rangers Just Glad to Be There?

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As the Texas Rangers’ bullpen was failing to throw a strike for about a half-hour in the 8th inning of Game 2 , the FOX cameras captured a shot of Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, and it told the whole story. He looked like a little leaguer who is looking for his mommie in the stands because he’s about to cry. Players that look like that are not usually on teams playing in the World Series, and if they happen to find themselves in the Series, they are on their way to getting swept. Perhaps that is the Rangers’ fate.  Much has been made of the fact that 11 out of 51 teams down 2-0 in a World Series have gone on to win it. That doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the team that’s down, and I’m staying with my pre-Series pick of the Giants. I considered the Ranger’s plight and did some figuring in my mind.

I figured things were made worse for the Rangers by the fact that they lost both games on the road, meaning that they will have to win at least one game in San Francisco if they’re going to take the series. I figured that if a team’s going to go down 2-0, it’s better if they lose both games at home, as the ’85 Royals, ’86 Mets, and ’96 Yanks did (The ’21 Giants don’t count because all seven games were played at the Polo Grounds, the Giant’s home field). That way, if they can get to a game 6 or 7, they get to play it back at home. But my figuring was wrong. As you can see, only three of the eleven teams have won this way. Seven of the eleven did what the Rangers have done, losing the first 2 games on the road and then winning the Series, also on the road: the ’55 Dodgers, ’56 Yankees, ’58 Yanks, ’65 Dodgers, ’71 Pirates, ’78 Yanks, ’81 Dodgers. In face, five of these seven winners had to win a Game 7 on the road. No small feat.

Obviously if the Rangers lose game 3, none of this matters. Being the Giants-hater that I am, I hope the Rangers shake themselves and start playing like they did against Tampa and New York. Four game sweeps are terrible.

If nothing else, writing this little piece took me back a bit to my childhood, when I used to devour facts about baseball history from the backs of my baseball cards. My hunch about there being more teams in World Series history down 2-0 by losing the first two at home was wrong. Now I know. Best of all, now I can explain it to my son when asks me about it, that is if neither of us is utterly cynical about major league baseball by the time he’s old enough to ask.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

October 29, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Posted in Duenes, Sports

Kitzmiller v. Dover and Orwellian Educational Doctrines

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I sometimes ask myself why I keep writing about the biblical obligation that Christians for giving their children an explicitly Christian education. It’s not a “sexy” topic, and I have many good Christian friends who have their kids in public schools. My intention is not to offend or turn off any of you (should you be reading this). Further, I don’t have many readers, and even if I did, I wonder how many would be convinced. I wonder what the public schools would have to do before Bible-believing Christians would actually abandon them. Apparently banning the name of our Lord Jesus and enforcing Orwellian doctrines about what “scientific” teachings students can be exposed to isn’t enough. But I’m for taking the long view of things (as I believe Jesus was), and I recognize that many Christians are not in a financial position to pay for private education. But we could be if this issue was addressed by churches and not just individuals. Please hear my heart, which is not to give offense, but to encourage biblical faithfulness in educating our children, recognizing that the goal of education is the glory of God, as it is with every human endeavor.

I couldn’t help thinking of this topic again as I read through the now-famous U.S. District Court opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. You know the one where the Dover, Pennsylvania school board was told that any reference to “Intelligent Design,” or any impugning of neo-Darwinian, materialist evolution amounts an official endorsement of religion, and is therefore unconstitutional. It’s hard to know where to begin with a case like this, but reading it certainly makes a strong argument for Christians to once again re-think their allegiance to the public schools. Let’s see if we can get at some of what Judge John E. Jones III was saying in his ruling.

First, he smears “fundamentalism” and makes it sound obscurantist and, frankly, dishonest. Fundamentalists, in his view, are simply people who want to get “creationism” into the schools, but by another name. Perhaps so, but I’ve got a better idea. How about we leave the government schools to teach their religion of philosophical naturalism, and we educate our Christian kids in schools where we can teach unapologetically that “the heavens are telling the glory of God.” How about we even – and I know this is really crazy – take our money and put it towards establishing such Christian schools. But I digress.

Judge Jones quotes approvingly of a previous Supreme Court decision, stating that, School sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherents ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’ I would hate for anyone to feel that they were an ‘outsider,’ oh, except for religious people, that is. It’s no problem if they are outsiders. It’s the non-adherents that we need to make sure feel good about how all this education stuff goes down. The fact is, somebody is going to feel like an outsider, and this is the way it has to be, no matter what any court says, because – let’s say it together class – there’s no such thing as religious neutrality. If “religious messages are impermissible,” as the Court says, then what message does that send to believing children? Do you think the believing children understand this message? If they don’t, do you think Christian parents should keep exposing them to it for years and years?

More from the Court on educational “neutrality”: The endorsement test recognizes that when government transgresses the limits of neutrality and acts in ways that show religious favoritism or sponsorship, it violates the Establishment Clause. This is where the battle must be fought. We need to keep saying and teaching our children that there is nothing neutral in this universe, particularly in the educational sphere. God says that “from him and through him and to him are all things.” Educational “neutrality” contradicts this, and thus it is most assuredly not neutral. The public schools favor, if not atheism, at least a bland agnosticism. Is agnosticism neutral? Does it not entail believing certain things to be true or false about God, up to and including his supposed nonexistence?

Judge Jones writes, The court concluded that creation science “is simply not science” because it depends upon “supernatural intervention,” which cannot be explained by natural causes, or be proven through empirical investigation, and is therefore neither testable nor falsifiable. Right, and so what counts as science is that which can be “proven through empirical investigation” and which is “testable and falsifiable.” I agree. So, can someone tell me if we’ve seen empirical, tested evidence that all mankind has come into being through purely natural processes, from nonbiological material, descended from a common ancestor? I think not. Indeed, such a theory is non-testable and non-falsifiable. It cannot be falsified because materialistic naturalism is the only thing that can be considered “science.” All other explanations are excluded as “non-science.” The Court says so. If it cannot be explained by “natural causes” then it amounts to an establishment of religion. Is this the kind of environment in which I want my children to be educated? Do you you think your average 9th grader knows that this is what is happening to him?

Jones goes on: A significant aspect of the IDM [Intelligent Design Movement] is that despite Defendants’ protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. Dr. Barbara Forrest, one of Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, is the author of the book Creationism’s Trojan Horse. She has thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings for her testimony in this case. Her testimony, and the exhibits which were admitted with it, provide a wealth of statements by ID leaders that reveal ID’s religious, philosophical, and cultural content. And what, pray tell, is materialist neo-Darwinian’s “religious, philosophical, and cultural content?” Oh that’s right, it doesn’t have any because it is “neutral science.” No, no…prominent “goo-to-you” evolutionists like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, P.Z. Myers, William Provine, Jerry Coyne, Michael Ruse, Stephen Jay Gould, Steven Pinker, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, et al are just neutral scientists. We can’t have any talk about “purposeful arrangement of parts” in our science classes because that would amount to an endorsement of religion.

The Court continues, ID aspires to change the ground rules of science to make room for religion, specifically, beliefs consonant with a particular version of Christianity. And just who gets to set the “ground rules of science?” Upon what are they based? Can these “ground rules” be established by science, or are they determined philosophically and metaphysically? Do our high school students know to ask these kinds of questions of their teachers?

Finally (though I could go on and on), the Court punctuates all this by stating that materialist evolution simply must be taught in schools because our children are so young and impressionable. We wouldn’t want them to ask any impertinent questions. Judge Jones says, Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that the classroom will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family. Students in such institutions are impressionable and their attendance is involuntary. So excluding Jesus from all curriculum doesn’t “advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family.” I see. But what if, like me, you believe that Jesus is Lord of all, that he “upholds all things by the word of His power?” What if you believe that in Jesus “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?” The government schools say, “Sorry, we’ve got to stay neutral.”

Of course, there are some questions that students in the public schools are not allowed to ask. Dissent from the religion of materialist, naturalistic philosophy will not be allowed in public schools. Just keep it in your “good news clubs” or some such. How our civilization would crumble if our students think that neo-Darwinian theory is on shaky ground. We simply cannot trust our students to weigh evidence. What we’re really talking about here is Orwellian thought-control, which is something we don’t have in Christian schools, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. My students are allowed, in fact, welcomed, to ask any and every question they could possibly have about any subject. Doesn’t mean we can answer them all satisfactorily, but nothing is out of bounds. At least it shouldn’t be.

What’s needed is for us Christians to see the lie that is “neutrality,” the fact that Jesus’ lordship over all things is not an embarrassing liability, and ultimately to stop giving our money to schools where Jesus is officially excluded from anything called “knowledge.” We need to affirm what science can actually teach us and what it can’t. This can be done in Christian education. It will not be done in government schools. I beg you to consider these things and think about how we, as God’s people together, can move forward in this arena.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

October 27, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Blood Money Now for Sale

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I mentioned this movie some months ago when it was not yet available for purchase. But you can now get a copy of it here. This movie looks to be very helpful in that it explores the abortion issue not primarily in terms of what abortion does to the baby, but what it does to the mother. The truth is starting to come out that, lo and behold, aborting one’s child is not a victory for women in any way, shape, or form.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

October 27, 2010 at 7:32 pm