Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998.An article in The New York Times magazine over the weekend provides an up-close look at the stories of two men impacted by the burgeoning problem of steroid use in baseball. In “Absolutely, Power Corrupts,” Michael Lewis writes,
Unable to parse the statistics and separate natural power from steroid power, the people who evaluate baseball players for a living have no choice but to ignore the distinction. They’ve come to view the increase in the number of young players without power who become older players with power as a new eternal truth about the game. ”Good hitters become power hitters, power hitters don’t become good hitters” has become a kind of cliche for baseball’s more statistically minded general managers. Power is now understood as less an innate gift than a gettable skill — more like speaking French than being 6-foot-3. Which is to say that steroids may have changed not only the way the game is played but also the way the game is understood. They have given birth to a big, beefy idea from whose side-effects no player is immune.
Now there’s no doubt that steroid abuse has had a deleterious effect on the game of baseball, whether or not the owners and players can see it. Lewis refers to “the public outrage over steroid use during the off-season,” and it is just such outrage that will be the ultimate arbiter of whether baseball becomes (relatively) steroid-free, or whether it becomes increasingly freakish.
And this is despite the attempts of the federal government to inject itself into the discussion. Today, the NFL commissioner testified before the Government Reform Committee about steroids in football, and this follows testimony from baseball players and officials last month.
Current reports are that the committee will be “working with Sen. John McCain to draw up law establishing standard steroid policies for U.S. professional sports.”
Does it strike anyone as incredible that it is the House Government Reform Committee that is worried so much about steroids in sports when the federal budget is the largest it has ever been? Visit WorldMag blogger Bunnie Diehl for more on “The Ridiculous Government Reform Committee.”
Via The Christian Post:
Annual giving to churches rose by 11 percent, but after factoring in inflation, churches are getting about two percent more than contributed in 1999.
Another trend was the practice of donating 10 percent of the annual income to church. Tithing is practiced by very few Americans at only four percent, according to Barna, though good stewardship remains an important priority for Christians.
Ultimately, Barna explained, “Americans are willing to give more generously than they typically do, but it takes a purposeful and well-executed approach to facilitate that generosity,” Barna concludes.
Read the full report at The Barna Group.
This week is Global Action Week for Education, and the Global Campaign for Education has given the United States an “F” grade. Anthony Bradley writes that this judgment is short-sighted, and that “support for education…should not be isolated from the promotion of peace and stability.”
All of us here at Acton were saddened to hear the news that Laura Ingraham, radio talk show host and a friend of the Institute, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. From her website:
On Friday afternoon, I learned that I have joined the ever-growing group of American women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. As so many breast cancer patients will tell you, it all came as a total shock. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who love me–my family, a wonderful fiance (if he thinks he’s going to get out of marrying me because of this little blib, he’s sadly mistaken!), my friends, and my church. I am absolutely blown away by how helpful and kind everyone has been–including total strangers who have experienced the same rollercoaster of emotions. The sisterhood of breast cancer survivors is inspiring. I am truly blessed. On Tuesday I will have an operation and within a few days will know more about the future. I am hopeful for a bright future and a “normal” life (well, scratch the “normal” part). Anyway, people have gone through much worse, and I know I’ll obliterate this. I am thanking you in advance for your prayers. You are my family. And remember, I’ll be back sooner than you think.
We look forward to her return. In the meantime, Laura will remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Update: According to LauraIngraham.com, surgery went well:
Laura’s breast cancer surgery yesterday “couldn’t have gone better,” in the words of her surgeon Dr. Katherine Alley. Initial sentinel node testing done during surgery showed no signs of cancer involvement in the lymph nodes, and we all hope that this good news is confirmed by more in-depth tissue testing done over the next 48 hours
Having trouble understanding the Bible? Can’t seem to reconcile what you just “know” to be true with the plain meaning of Scripture?
Why not take Episcopalian Bishop Spong’s hermeneutical approach? According to a column in the Detroit News, Bishop Spong, author of The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love, says you can feel free to downplay or ignore difficult passages.
“Much as I wanted to think otherwise,” he says, “…sometimes (the Bible’s) texts are terrible. It was not a comfortable insight, but it grew into a crusade to lift the Bible above its own destructiveness and to force the Christian church to face its own terrifying history that so often has been justified by quotations from ‘the Scriptures.'”
Also, Bishop Spong thinks the apostle Paul was a “deeply repressed, self-loathing” man.
It’s funny how this hermeneutical approach tends to reduce the Bible to just three words, “God is love.” And with no context to determine the interpretation of that verse fragment, the reader is free to define what “love” is for himself. Thinking that you need to go on “a crusade to life the Bible above its own destructiveness” might just be the most arrogant thing I have ever heard.
Yesterday, people all over the world marked the 90th anniversary of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks, a commemoration that has taken on added political frieght with Turkey’s candidacy for accession to the European Union. Given the refusal of Turkey to even acknowledge the genocide — which also targeted hundreds of thousands of Pontic Greeks and Syrians — the EU question should be put permanently on hold until the Turks face their past with honesty. But the prospects of that happening are, for now, almost nil as the genocide charges provoke a domestic backlash in Turkey and fuel a virulent anti-Americanism. The recent election of Pope Benedict XVI, who has expressed his doubts about the wisdom of Turkey joining the EU, predictably provoked an outrage in the Turkish press.
Turkey’s refusal to own up to the Armenian genocide — often referred to as the first of the 20th century — is no mere correction of a now-distant historical record. It speaks directly to what is happening in that nation today. The latest State Department report on religious freedom notes that the hard-pressed Greek and Armenian Christian communities have had numerous church properties confiscated by Turkish authorities. Here’s the trick: Properties are threatened with expropriation when the population of a religious community drops below a certain level. The government then determines a property has fallen into disuse, and assumes its management.
For Orthodox Christians, the Armenian genocide stirs up terrible memories — millions of believers perished in the 20th century at the hands of the Turks, the Communists, the Nazis. These tragic events are, for many, a living memory. For the departed, we ask, in the words of an Orthodox prayer, that the Lord “keep them in everlasting remembrance.”