Russell and Duenes

Archive for October 2014

Whitey Herzog, Not Earl Weaver

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From 1976 to 1985, two teams dominated the American League. The Kansas City Royals got to the American League playoffs in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1985. The New York Yankees won the American League East in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1981. In ’76 through ’78, the Yankees bested the Royals each time. Of course, as a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, I loathed the Yankees for beating the Dodgers in the World Series in ’77 and ’78, but as a huge George Brett fan, I also liked the Royals and hated to see them lose to the Yankees. I still have this image in my mind of Royals starter, Dennis Leonard, sitting in the Royals dugout, looking shell-shocked, watching the Yankees clinch at their expense yet again. Thus, my hatred of the Yankees only grew.

Whitey Herzog, the Royals manager in those late 70’s years, was establishing the brand of baseball he would eventually perfect as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980’s, namely, build your team around speed, pitching and defense, particularly in light of the fact that your team plays on astro-turf, where, as Thomas Boswell once suggested, Herzog’s speedy players could pound the ball into the turf, beat it out, steal second, score on a seeing-eye single, and win the game, 2-1. Herzog didn’t have the bullpens with the Royals that he had with the Cardinals, but then in the 70’s, set-up men and “closers,” were largely unheard of. Herzog is the one who perfected the whole “turn it over to the bullpen in the 7th” strategy.

Earl Weaver also managed some pretty good teams in Baltimore in the 1970’s, but under a different managerial philosophy than Herzog. While both Weaver and Herzog had some pretty good starting pitching and solid defenses, Weaver famously relied on the “three run homer” from Frank Robinson or Boog Powell, rather than small ball and speed, like Herzog. For my taste, Herzog has always had the preferable style, if only for aesthetic reasons.

Which is why I love this Royals team. It’s like I’m transported back to the 70’s and 80’s. First of all, they’re playing the Giants, a team I hate just as much as the Yankees, if not more so now. But most of all, they have that same combination of speed, pitching and defense that Herzog’s teams traditionally had. I’ve always loved teams that have “lights out” bullpens. Though I’m no Cincinnati Reds fan, I had a certain affinity for “The Nasty Boys” of Pinella’s 1990 championship team (and I don’t mind liking them, since the Dodgers got theirs in 1988). The Dodgers’ Tommy Lasorda, much like Weaver, relied more on starting pitching and power than defense and a strong bullpen (Mike Marshall was before Lasorda’s time.), so I actually enjoyed it when the Dodgers had Eric Gagne. When it gets to the 7th inning, if the Royals have a lead, they’re usually a lock.

So this is a great Series, bringing up great memories of the baseball of my youth.



Written by Michael Duenes

October 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Though Every Man Be a Liar!

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St. Paul asks a rhetorical question in his letter to the Romans: “What if some did not believe? Their unfaithfulness will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” Paul’s response: “Certainly not! But let God be true, but every man a liar.” Paul further remarks that whatever God’s law says, “it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become accountable to God.”

God’s truth and His righteous orders to His people have never been subject to popular whim or approval. We do not determine our stance toward them based on whatever this or that “serious scholar” might happen to say. God’s word stands as it is, even if every man and woman stands against it with his or her own opinions or judgments. Not only this, but we should not be surprised when the “serious scholars” and the “important” people in the “evangelical” movement abandon God’s beautiful truth, for God Himself tells us that “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God,” and it is “with difficulty that the righteous is saved.” I imagine the important people in Israel were also leading the way to the shrines of Baal.

So when some “scholar,” who supposedly has “gravitas” (or whatever other misnomer our evangelical gatekeepers want to place upon him or her), decides he’s abandoning God’s teaching on sexuality and marriage whilst heaping scorn on God’s Word and God’s faithful people, we need not join the apostasy. His mouth will one day be closed. His lies cannot detract one iota from God’s unstoppable and unchanging truth. We ought to remember that God Himself endures. (Psalm 102:24-27). Even the heavens will “wear out like a garment,” but God is the same, and His Word abides forever, as the only Word by which we may be saved.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 25, 2014 at 4:37 am

Posted in Duenes, Ethics

So That You Will Be Altogether Joyful

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Celebrate . . . rejoice before the Lord your God . . . you shall rejoice in your feast . . . so that you will be altogether joyful.” ~ Deut. 16

God here reminds His people of the feasts they are to celebrate each year: The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths. These are to be a celebration, a remembrance of God’s deliverance and goodness to His people.

As God’s New Covenant people, we don’t have prescribed feasts that we are to observe, as Israel did. However, we do share the Lord’s table and remember what Jesus has done for us in the offering of Himself for our sins. And we certainly have cause for celebration as God’s chosen people. In Israel, the people were to celebrate before the Lord with what they had, “according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.” They offered up their produce and rejoiced in their feasts.

I wonder what we have to offer up, and what manner of celebration we might engage in as Christians today. I wonder if there are any traditions of celebration from our 2,000 years of church history which we might borrow from today. The church has indeed engaged in regular feasts throughout her history. We don’t seem to have much imagination for it. I know I don’t spend any real time thinking about it. Yet wouldn’t a celebratory people be more tightly bound together? More bound to each other in our common life of trusting God? And wouldn’t we identify ourselves more clearly as the “peculiar people” that we are? And might not our neighbors see us as a people worth joining, as “the stranger” did amongst the Israelites, as people who have cause for celebration in a broken world?

Dallas Willard says that “[w]e engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness.” So he would prescribe feasting, dancing, singing, and oration as that which “makes our deprivations and sorrows seem small, and we find in it great strength to do the will of our God because his goodness becomes so real to us.” (Spirit of the Disciplines). Perhaps we could try to think of what part we might play in our local churches in bringing some form of celebration that does not now exist.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 25, 2014 at 4:08 am

Posted in Deuteronomy, Duenes

What Did You Learn About Benito Mussolini?

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mussoliniI’ve been listening to Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Facism in my car, and these questions keep coming up in my mind as I listen: Why wasn’t I actually taught history at my award-winning, nationally recognized public school? Surely my high school had to rank up there with the elite public high schools across the country. So why did I not learn that Benito Mussolini was something other than just an overweight, bumbling, two-bit facist dictator? Why did I not learn the true origin and nature of the “Palmer raids?” Why did I not learn the real facts of Woodrow Wilson’s “progressivism,” which was far more oppressive, dictatorial and truly “facist” than anything McCarthy cooked up? Of the fact that the forebears of modern liberals, not conservatives, were eugenicists? That war was advocated by many leading liberals because it enabled a greater Statism in our nation? Why was I not taught to make connections between the history of ideas and movements – particularly “progressivism” – and the fruit they actually bear in our current lives? Why was it all so one-sided – particularly when it came to men like Wilson, TR, FDR and their supporters – thin and brushed over?

Not enough time in the school year? The bell rang? The teachers didn’t know this stuff themselves? The public school curriculum at the time forced teachers to jam more than 200 years of history into less than 200 hours of instruction? Maybe these things were taught and I just didn’t care and wasn’t paying attention? Surely that’s true to some extent, and I deserve the lion’s share of the blame for not caring enough about my own early education to pursue it with any vigor.

One thing I do know, however; my U.S. History teacher was showing us “North and South” with Patrick Swayze and Kirstey Alley for our unit on the Civil War. That tells you quite a bit. And I seem to recall that my U.S. Government and Economic classes didn’t do much better. It’s unfortunate, but my guess is, quite common.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

Posted in Duenes, Education

No Unifying Principle, No Definite Aim

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homeschoolCharlotte Mason said of modern education: “[W]e have no unifying principle, no definite aim; in fact, no philosophy of education. As a stream can rise no higher than its source, so it is probable that no educational effort can rise above the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth; and perhaps this is the reason of all the fallings from us, vanishings, failures, and disappointments which mark our educational records.”

The public/ government school project in America – having jettison the One, True biblical God from the very start back in the 1800s – by necessity also jettisoned any “unifying principle,” for non-biblical civil religion, leading ultimately to secularism, has no such principle. It is based on nothing objective, permanent and transcendent.

However, I do believe that when one considers the history and trajectory of our public schools, one finds they have a “definite aim” and “philosophy.” That aim is not to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ. Rather, it has always been, even if most public school teachers don’t know this consciously, to wrest Jesus from His place as Lord, and supplant Him with the almighty State. Public school advocates have also sought to supplant the authority of parents and the home with the authority of teachers and “educators,” but ultimately, again, the State. This is why an increasing number of parents may no longer “opt out” of pro-homosexual teaching and sex education/ condom training.

In the public school vision of America, there can be no free, autonomous space between the State and the individual, namely, a space occupied by the pre-political, sovereign family. The political must invade that space and rule it. This has always been the goal, because the sovereign father and mother are all too likely to retain traditional beliefs and practices, centered around Christianity and a very limited government, a la, that of the Founders.

Again, it matters not if my friends who teach in public schools disavow this purpose. They have no choice in the matter. The aim and purpose for public schools was chosen and institutionally set in place long before they ever entered the classroom as teachers; and this purpose cannot be undone by whatever individual motives they might have in their minds. If I work in a factory that aims to make, and does in fact make, car doors, it does me no good to say that this is not what I am aiming at when I work there.

Jesus and limited central government must be diminished and ultimately replaced by technocratic, administrative, elite “experts,” who “know better” than the unwashed parents. These bureaucrats are the only ones who can be trusted to properly socialize children into good, American citizens, making them the “new” men and women of the “knows best for you” State. Protestations not withstanding, this is the “big prize” which undergirds the Common Core. Enforcing a national, centralized curriculum is not a benign proposition, enacted merely to have everyone “on the same page” and increase educational efficiency. Preparing students to “get jobs” is also a rather secondary aim. One must certainly ask what kinds of jobs our public schools aim to prepare students for in a society run from the top down by the administrative State.

Doubtless, public schools in the 1800s also aimed to counter what its practitioners took to be the onrushing Catholic juggernaut, but this has long since ceased to be a motivating factor.

So Charlotte Mason is right, public education lacks any unifying principle, because it lacks Jesus as its center and sum. Yet it cannot plausibly be denied that there is an aim and philosophy to government schools. They are not neutral, and they are not morally relative. Rather, they promulgate an alternate morality, one which has no place for Jesus, indeed is opposed to Jesus, and they seek to impose it for the so-called “common good,” as defined in secular terms. The public schools cannot be redeemed; they must be exited and replaced.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 17, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Duenes, Education