Friday, January 29, 2010


I'm nauseous. And I'm sure I'm about to get controversial here.

But I'm tired of it all.

And that's because there are those in this world that for some reason believe that religion and sports go together. They go together about as much as government and religion do. They don't. As much I as I love and respect the heck out of Kurt Warner, this statement today makes me sick:

"I've been humbled every day that I woke up the last 12 years and amazed that God would choose to use me to do what he's given me the opportunity to do."

God chose you for what exactly? You believe God chose you to throw a leather ball across a gridiron in a game that is being proven to do a little less than mash players' brains into an early grave. You believe this is God's work? That with all the things going on on this planet, the unimaginable suffering in Haiti, the undenialable cruelty in Sudan, North Korea and other corners of the world, that God chose you to throw a football and make millions because why? Because you might give some of it to charity? Because you might distract people for awhile with your talents? So you're saying you're God's circus performer, a jester if you will for his masses?

I understand being grateful for your gifts. And being humbled, certainly. But I'm sorry -- if our God is actually sitting up in his universe appointing people to be great pigskin tossers, than I've got a huge problem, and it doesn't just involve rewriting the prayer book.

The egotism and arrogance involved in assuming that your career, your gifts, were pre-ordained by God in some sort of grand plan as it seems implied by not only Warner's constant reference to God after sporting events, is just one of the many ways religion is being misused in my mind.

God has nothing to do with it Kurt. Sure, you have a gift you were born with, and perhaps God made you a football player. But he didn't choose anything for you. He gave you a great arm to do with what you would. He gave you terrific hand-eye coordination to use at your disposal. And you chose football and sports as a way to best access and use those gifts. But don't go patting yourself on the back that God is eyeing you and your family as pre-ordained special folks because you can take a lick and keep on ticking. Hey, so can a Timex.

Every time I hear an athlete give thanks to God for allowing him/her to succeed I nearly lose my mind. Call me dubious enough as it is about an omniscient presence because of the thousand questions or so it brings up about free will, but don't tell me that God is concerned about how the Arizona Cardinal organization does. Most humans have choices, to do or not do what they want with their talents. They can choose to use them at the expense of someone else, or at their behest. They can step on people on the way to their personal goals, or elevate those around them as they rise. I'd like to think God smiles on those who use the latter of both those statements, but I know he doesn't punish those who use the former. At least not in this lifetime. Cause it makes me wonder if Steve McNair said the same thing before he found himself at the end of crazy young woman's gun muzzle? Certainly, God's chosen profession for him had a lot to do with his untimely end then.

As far as I'm concerned, instead of thanking God after you perform well on the field, why don't you pro athletes donate your salary to something positive after that great game? After all, men are humbled before God, and thus, money isn't the real goal here, is it? Donate your salary, and do it anonymously (the greatest way to give charity according to Maimonides) so as to defer the spotlight of credit.

Then, if you want to get up and thank God for 'choosing' you to hit this home run or score that touchdown, I'll be a heck of a lot more apt to listen.

On Author J.D. Salinger

photo courtesy of CNN website

As we sit in this day of right leaning politics, as sad as it is, it seems only fitting that author J.D. Salinger's passing remind us of a few things.

First of all, what it is to be liberal. Salinger, author of perhaps the conservative right's rallying call to censor books, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, authored only one novel in his entire life. But oh what a work it was and is. It is a reminder that liberalism, or thinking OPEN-MINDEDLY and not falling in line so easily is important. It's how great ideas are conceived and achieved.

He chose to remain private, not seeking to cash in on every interview or talk show, but rather to let the work remain unscathed by the lifelong triflings of the author. Naturally, Salinger realized that nothing he could yell at the top of his lungs would supersede the rebellious work he'd written about a teenager in a very difficult time of his life.

His book has been discussed to this very day as being smut and deviant by the same phonies that Holden Caulfield, his main character, railed on and on about. In a day where speeches are listened to with about as empirical an ear as one listens to a mammal at the zoo, and the ability to read and understand satire and sarcasm and irony has been lost to the kind of comprehension people can obtain while watching Sesame street, the fact that this novel is still discussed as one of the classic American works speaks volumes. It's especially telling when you consider that few novels these days make it to the bestseller list unless they're made into a movie or Oprah endorses them.

Salinger is a reminder that war is hell. He was part of the D-Day Invasion and fought in the last Great War, only to suffer a nervous breakdown. He is a reminder of what our troops are going to deal with today, and a call for compassion for those whose mental states are delicate; that behind those we might label "crazy" are sometimes geniuses that just weren't built for the difficulties that witnessing such human cruelty creates.

In writing that, I find it ironic how many of us want to see death up close, so much so we are glued to the news during shootouts and car chases that local station managers lather at the mouth when they get a chance to show them.

He is also a reminder that privacy is a cherished thing, that unlike the world of the blowhard television and magazine gossip, people actually find you more interesting the less they know of you. And for some reason, the less they know, the more eager they are to prove there's something wrong with you.

If you haven't read THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, read it. Perhaps a new revolution of young people who want to speak directly about the false prophets we follow because of fame, fortune or both will develop. I know I'll be giving it reread soon.

Goodbye JD Salinger. Your book affected me and many others. I couldn't care less that I didn't know you as a person. I knew your work, and your work spoke volumes.