A Teacher's Writes

One teacher's thoughts on life, literature, and learning

Category: Uncategorized

Miles believed in the Cubs

I believe in the Cubs. I love the people who hate the Cubs. It makes my team feel that much more special to me. I love having faith in my team and watching every game, the good and bad all the way through. I believe in the Cubs because it’s what my grandpa believed in.

from “I believe in the Cubs

In 2010 Miles Toledo, a student of mine, wrote this piece about the Cubs and his grandpa for sophomore English. It made me cry, and I kept it, wanting to publish it in our school newspaper, the Pine Needle. Miles moved the next year–I heard back to the Chicago area, but it was at least second hand information–so I never ran it. I thought in light of last night’s amazing ball game, the time had come to publish his work. So please, take a brief moment to read an essay that captures why last night was such an amazing night for baseball and families and American traditions.

Michael Gerson sums up the politics of the middle finger

The political philosophy of the middle finger — captured by Trump in all its vulgar, taunting, divisive glory — requires an ethical leap. It assumes that practices we know are wrong in our private lives — contempt, mockery, cruelty, prejudice — are somehow justified in our political lives. It requires us to embrace views and tactics that we would never teach our children — but do, in fact, teach them through an ethically degraded politics. Imagine your teenage son (or daughter, for that matter) calling a woman a “fat pig,” “dog ” or “disgusting. ” Imagine your child labeling someone he or she knows as a “loser,” “moron” or “dummy.”
This is the evidence of poor character, in any context. For Christians, the price of entry to the Trump movement is to abandon their commitments to kindness and love of neighbor. Which would mean that their faith has no public consequence at all.

Michael Gerson at The Washington Post

Nicholas Krisof speaks with temperance about free speech and community

This is sensitivity but also intolerance, and it is disproportionately an instinct on the left.

I’m a pro-choice liberal who has been invited to infect evangelical Christian universities with progressive thoughts, and to address Catholic universities where I’ve praised condoms and birth control programs. I’m sure I discomfited many students on these conservative campuses, but it’s a tribute to them that they were willing to be challenged. In the same spirit, liberal universities should seek out pro-life social conservatives to speak.

More broadly, academia — especially the social sciences — undermines itself by a tilt to the left. We should cherish all kinds of diversity, including the presence of conservatives to infuriate us liberals and make us uncomfortable. Education is about stretching muscles, and that’s painful in the gym and in the lecture hall.

Nicholas Kristof, for the New York Times, speaking tempered words about an important subject. Talk like Kristoff’s is the kind we’d use around the dinner table to discuss these issues; too often what we read and hear are comments and angles no one would utter around a congenial table over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Amen to David Stanley’s case against bicycle racing chivalry

It is time for ‘racing chivalry” to become a relic of the past. As with every sport, there is a professional code amongst bike racers. Part of that code is that you do not attack race leaders when they suffer mechanical issues; flats or bike problems. That code needs to go away.
a. Once upon a time, there were no support vehicles. In the years leading up to the 1930s, the Tour was contested by individuals. In those early years, pre-derailleur shifting, the riders had two gears. One cog was on each side of the wheel and at the base of the climbs, the riders would stop en masse and flip their wheels to their climbing gear. For many years, riders carried spare tires wrapped figure eight style over their shoulders. No spare wheels were provided by Mavic neutral support or your team cars. Neutral support didn’t begin in 1973. In those days, the idea of “All for one, and one for all” made perfect sense. With no help forthcoming, riders crossing the high-alpine goat paths that passed for roads in the post-WWII era needed the support of each other.
In 2015, rider support has become more sophisticated.
b. Once upon a time, equipment was unreliable. In the years leading up to the Merckx era, equipment was not to be trusted. Rims were wood. Tires flatted frequently. Post-war derailleur mechanisms were sketchy, and often went out of adjustment. Chains broke. When Mavic popularized the aluminum rim, early glues often came unglued from the heat generated during braking. As a consequence, the tires would peel off at speed, and riders would crash. With all of these issues, the idea that one should profit from a competitor’s mechanical issue seemed both un-sporting and unwise. Unwise, because he who would profit at another’s expense would surely be the next to suffer a mechanical.
c. Once upon a time, there was no money in cycling. Riders were called “les forçats de la route,” the convicts of the road, for a reason. They were poor. The sport made money for a few sponsors, but little was left for the racers. Today’s world-class racer is the monetary equivalent of many sporting heroes. Today’s teams are multi-million dollar investments for sponsors. The sponsors are now Fortune 500 companies. They invest in the teams because the teams generate return on investment. French business magazines estimate the value of the Tour at between 1 and 1.5 billion dollars.
With this much money at stake, let’s envision a meeting between a team and a sponsor who has not yet decided to renew a 10 million euro contract.
Oleg (the sponsor): Well, the Tour didn’t go as well as we’d hoped. We were promised a top stage finish. Our guy Vincenzo was right there. He looked great. When he attacked, I knew he’d win the stage. Talk about a great return. He’d be on the cover of L’Equipe wearing my company’s jersey! Why’d he sit up?

Sean (the team’s sporting director): Well, his big rival Chris had some problems with his chain.
Oleg: So? Sounds perfect to me.
Sean: Well, cyclists don’t like to take advantage when something like that happens.
Oleg: So, let me get this straight. I write checks for about 10 million bucks. I write a check to Vinnie for about an extra million five. And you’re telling me that because this Chris guy breaks a fifty dollar chain, we have to wait for him to fix everything up before we can race again? Are you nuts? That chain is this Chris guy’s problem. Not ours. Your problem is winning races. Oh, and you gotta another problem-finding a new sponsor. This is crazy. I’m out.
It is crazy. When Sebastian Vettel has an engine problem, does Lewis Hamilton slow down and wait? No. Formula One is a big business, a freaking huge business, and the teams hire the very best people to run their programs. 

In 2015, professional bike racing is also a freaking huge business, and it is time to start acting like one.

From David Stanley

Leon Morris describes a few of the details of Roman crucifixion

Very simply Luke tells of the crucifixion of Jesus, the supreme sacrifice for the salvation of sinners. In this form of execution a person was fastened by ropes or nails to a cross (which might be shaped like our conventional cross or like a T, an X, a Y, or even an I). Jesus’ hands were nailed (Jn. 20:25), and probably his feet also (cf. 24:39), though none of the Evangelists says so in set terms. There was a horn-like projection which the crucified straddled, which took most of the weight and stopped the flesh from tearing from the nails. The discovery of the bones of a man crucified at about the same time as Jesus raises the possibility that the legs may have been bent and twisted, then fastened to the cross by a single nail through the heels. Such a contortion of the body would have added to the agony. Crucifixion was a slow and painful death, but it is noteworthy that none of the Evangelists dwells on the torment Jesus endured. The New Testament concentrates on the significance of Jesus’ death, not on harrowing our feelings.

Morris, Leon. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Luke. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. Print.

Evangelical Christians need to study their history to grapple with the present

As a growing number of latter-day southern white evangelicals begin pursuing racial justice, recognition that a substantial percentage of their forebears opposed the civil rights movement on religious grounds becomes ever more imperative. A hermeneutic of segregation helped produce today’s society. Achieving racial justice, then, will require evangelicals to grapple with this historical truth and counteract its historical residue. If a hermeneutic of segregation justified white flight, its historical residue makes it possible to view evidence of deeply entrenched residential segregation with an untroubled conscience. If a hermeneutic of segregation justified a retreat to segregated private schools, its historical residue has allowed the resegregation of public schools to proceed unabated. And if a hermeneutic of segregation justified maintaining segregated sanctuaries, its historical residue is profoundly felt in surveys reporting that, while 11:00 Sunday morning continues to be the most segregated hour of the week, most white Christians are just fine with that.

J. Russell Hawkins on the history of how evangelical Christians responded to the Civil Rights movement. Within this paragraph there’s a lot to justify not only a vastly different approach to race in the church, but the importance of diligently studying history.

Justification for sports, straight from the pages of The Odyssey

It’s fit and proper for you to know your sports.
What greater glory attends a man , while he’s alive
than what he wins with racing feet and striving hands?
Come and compete then, and throw your cares to the wind!

Why don’t we have passages like this one, from The Odyssey, painted on the weight room’s wall?