Thursday, November 25, 2004

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Today is Thanksgiving Day.

In our rush to secularize the holiday, children are often told that today is "turkey day," as if their parents do not have the freedom to roast or fry a turkey on some other day of the year. The intent of this uniquely American holiday is for people to give thanks to God for their blessings over the past year. It is America's great national harvest festival.

Despite its Puritan roots, Thanksgiving is appropriate for people of all religious faiths. Because of when it falls, it is particularly appropriate for those of us who profess the Holy Catholic faith, since it is always on the fourth Thursday in November. On the Liturgical Calendar that means that Thanksgiving falls on the Thursday after the Feast of Christ the King, on the third day from the end of the Church year. A new Church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, almost always the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That means that for Catholics, it is a celebration of the year just past, and the new year about to begin. It is the perfect time to stop and reflect on the blessings of the previous year, and to spend the day eating a meal with the family or friends we love. It is also a way God can again show us his ultimate love by giving us one more gift: The gift of living in a country where we have a day set aside to remind us of His blessings year after year.

Pray for those who must work out of necessity today, and for those who will spend today without a friend. Pray especially for those who have no one to pray for them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Mayflower Compact

I'll be travelling today for the holiday tomorrow, as so many others will be, so I won't have a lengthy entry today. Rather, I thought I'd take everyone back in time to remember why it is we will eat a huge overflowing meal tomorrow:

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&.
Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

What's the frequency Kenneth?

I have to report that I find a great deal of sadness in the news that Dan Rather is stepping aside in March as anchor of the CBS Evening News. In recent years, we've known Rather to spout off some pretty biased reporting, not the least of which was his 1988 interview with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, in which he all but heckled the Veep in his questioning. Most recently, Rather anchored a 60 Minutes piece questioning President Bush's National Guard record using what later turned out to be forged documents.

Rather wasn't always so rediculous, however. His folksy charm made Election Night fun. Rather is from Texas, if I am not mistaken, and he had a way with words when interpreting a result. "Gore is sweeping through New England like a bad Noreaster," or "Bush is rolling through the South like a wagon wheel in a cotton field" were common phrases on the night of an election. He once said about an Ohio Senate election that the race was "hotter than a hickory fire." I always felt his political reporting was some of the most fair in the business.

It is quite a shame that the bad 60 Minutes bit has permanently soured Dan Rather's reputation. He is perhaps most famous, however, for his account of a street attack in which he was allegedly tackled while walking down the street. According to Rather, the man who attacked him forced him to the ground and then asked: "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" It became a rather famous rock song.

Latest on the Palmetto State field brawl

Well, punishment has officially been doled out in that game-ending brawl involving the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Both schools have voluntarily agreed that they will not accept bids to a post season bowl game.

While some may think the punishment a bit too harsh, I think it is a wonderful idea. Players who engage in such unsportsman-like behavior need to be reminded that their are consequences of the actions they take. Suspension is not a hefty enough penalty, all that means is that the players in question may be lazy for a week or a few. Taking a bowl game away from players removes the one thing many of them most look forward to. During a bowl trip, players often get to visit tourist sites, go to theme parks, even meet women in some cases. If the bowl game, the opportunity the players often look to all year, is removed from them as punishment for bad sportsmanship or even rotten play, perhaps they will learn the hard way that if you "do the crime" you will "do the time."

Good for Clemson and SC...I can only wish other schools whose players so embarrass them would consider taking similar actions.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Major sports becoming haven for thuggery

The NBA has once again given proof as to why many of us in the more civilized sports world consider it a haven for overpaid gang-bangers. Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest has been suspended for the season after leading a charge into the stands Friday night near the end of a game in Detroit, fighting with a Detroit Pistons fan who threw a beverage at him. Artest led an onslaught which involved Pacers guards Stephen Jackson and Anthony Johnson, Pacers forward Jermaine O’Neal, and Pistons center Ben Wallace. Several other players, including Reggie Miller, were suspended for leaving the bench during an altercation.

To be fair, there is plenty of blame to go around. The fan in question should not have thrown a beverage at any player from either team, and were I in charge, I would not only have removed that fan from the arena, but would have seen to it (inasmuch as it is possible to do so) that any fan who exhibits such behavior would be banned for life from attending any NBA contest. I would also institute the same rule in all sports, at all levels of competition.

A side issue that no one seems to be talking about in all of this is the issue of ticket prices, and how exorbitant cost to attend major sporting events contribute to a destructive fan mentality. “I paid $300 for my courtside seats, so I can behave how I please!” Perhaps if prices were more affordable for more people, the notion that attending any sporting event is a privilege, not a right, can be re-enforced. Civility shouldn’t be overcome by the size of someone’s checkbook.

Inexcusable fan behavior does not also excuse the players involved. Being a professional athlete is also a privilege, and not a right. Part of professionalism in any field is the ability to exhibit grace under pressure, and ignore derision and bad behavior by third parties who do not affect the outcome of the work being done. This translates to the sports world in this manner: When fans taunt, boo, and throw beer, you ignore it, unless the fans interfere with game play, then you ask for an appropriate penalty. The classic example of the right way to behave is Jackie Robinson, who, being the first African-American player in the majors, endured years of taunts, racial slurs, boos, and even thrown objects from hate-filled and angry fans. Robinson made an agreement with the Dodgers’ organization, however, that he would not retaliate, and he didn’t do so. (It is worth noting that, after his first year, Robinson didn’t tolerate hate from fellow team members, opposing players, or umpires, however, nor should he have done so.) Jackie Robinson’s example is one for all athletes to follow, whatever their ethnic background.

It seems the violence carried over to Saturday’s football contest between Clemson and South Carolina. It is a shame that such an old and venerable Southern rivalry had to be tarnished by a street brawl that even WWE would find timid. Perhaps most sadly, however, is that the gang-fight tarnished the final game of a great coach and a great man, Lou Holtz. Heat of the moment or not, these young men need to be taught that civility is not to be left at the stadium gates.

Are you ready for some football..sort of?

Over the weekend, I broke down and got something I had wanted to get for years, a new Playstation 2. I have held off getting one up to this point because, I believed, it was an unnecessary expense. Had I spent regular money to get the new gaming machine, it still could probably have been classified as such. It so happened that while cleaning my apartment over the weekend, I discovered a large stash of Christmas money from last Christmas. As a result, I was able to get a reconditioned set for about thirty dollars less than a new one would cost.

One of the great features of Playstation 2 is the fact that in addition to being a gaming console, it also has the capability to play DVDs. As a result, getting the machine has actually saved a little money. I don't have to use any Christmas gift money (or any of my own cash) to purchase a new DVD player, something I was seriously considering up to now.

My favorite Playstation game has always been NCAA Football 2004 from EA Sports. Thus, when I got the new set, a copy of that game was my first game purchase. Here's a tip for new gamers that veterans already know: Stores like EB Games sell used games for extremely low prices, and they play just as well as brand new games. If you don't want to spend 50 bucks on new games, you can visit an outlet that sells used ones and pay $5-15 instead and build up a nice collection. Call this today's Tip of the Day.

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