Went Where

 

In 1946 George Orwell wrote the essay Politics and the English Language in which he warns about the power of words and how their use influences our thinking. Perhaps we have come to the place of which he warns us. The internet has given folks with less understanding of English than a sportscaster access to readers who will copy misuse out of ignorance or convenience. That is how, I believe, the verb quote has evolved into being a noun and hopefully has become an adverb.  So be it: After all, language changes. For instance, examine the words gay and faggot. As I used to tell my students, the purpose of language is to communicate. Yet, I also reminded them that communication should be a roadmap to what the speaker or writer is thinking, not an incoherent or ambiguous garble.. Having grown up reading such columnists as Kays Gary, Jim Bishop, Sydney J. Harris, George Will,  and James Kilpatrick; and the King James Version of the Bible, a certain grammar of communication, regardless of my political or personal belief, became entrenched in me.

Recently I heard an NPR report concerning missing indigenous women. Now that is a serious situation, no matter if the missing person is a tribal member, adult, male or female, or a child. To have a loved person just disappear is a pain I cannot imagine.

However, in the report the hostess for NPR repeated the phrase, went/go/gone missing, as in, “A large number of indigenous women in the Seattle area have gone missing.” As a concerned listener, I understood the message of the hostess. She had communicated with me, her listener. So what is the issue?

Just as gravity does, rules keep us grounded and not floating all about. The popular misuse of the past tense of go, such as the three mentioned above, is wrong. When we say that “Harold went missing”, for example, what we mean is not what we say. What we say is that Harold went to a place, missing, that does not exist. Now, there is a fine word that can be used: “Harold disappeared.” Not only is this use shorter and more to the point, it is accurate. Yes, some readers will accuse me of charging windmills, and I accept that. I have reluctantly recognized  went as a transitive verb, quote as a noun, and all the other  changes of convenience to our language. However, Orwell is, for me, the grammarian as is Will and others. If we continue changing out of laziness, we will soon not have any force to keep us grounded. As mentioned, the internet is now what too many use as a reliable source of information—look at Facebook.

We have become so lazy or uninformed or both that we even fail to properly understand the relationship between an independent clause and dependent clause, allowing politicians and others to convince us that we can do nothing to stop our children from being shot at their schools.

Mind and Will

 

May 6, 1954 three university students toed the line at Iffley Road Track. Two of the runners, Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher,  were to pace their teammate who was running to be the first runner to race a mile in under four minutes. Roger Bannister did by running a 3:59.4 mile on the cinder track. Another history by man was made that day in Oxford, England.

Tomorrow, May 28, 2019 another history may be made by man on the streets of London, England in the London Marathon. Eliud Kipchoge, who set a new marathon record last fall in Berlin, Germany with his dazzling time of 2:01:39, may go, like Bannister, where no man has even been. Kipchoge may well time under 2 hours for a 26.2-mile race. And he may not be alone because at least two competitors will race the streets of London with him: Mo Farah and Shura Kitata plan to match the strides of Kipchoge and either could beat him in the 2-hour quest.

The arena has had many performances and records: Beamon’s long jump in Mexico City; Gable’s un-scored on six matches in Munich; Ripken’s streak; and others. The run against the two-hour barrier has been relentless, and if Kipcoge or Farah or Kitata do not break it tomorrow, it will be shattered before long. However, what does it mean in the terms of ordinary time to race a marathon in under 2 hours?

Imagine an ordinary high school track where four laps of the 440-yard track equals a mile. The math here is simple, even for me: If I run four laps under 60 seconds each, I run the mile under four minutes, a feat like Bannister’s. Although the men’s mile record is far below that now, every serious runner would like to accomplish that. Now, what Kipcoge did last fall in Berlin was to average 69.19 seconds for each 440-yard lap of his race of 26.2 miles for the record of 2:01:39 or 13.1 miles per hour or 4:38.4 minutes per mile average.

Every race outcome depends on the runner and his/her training and mental attitude. It also is subject to, like Bannister, other runners and weather. Like Bannister, Kipcoge will have plenty of competition, and I image Farah and Kitata will share, along with some others, the work of being a front-runner. However, somewhere in the last miles, one runner will “break” the others with a surge well below the 4:34 mile average needed to break the 2-hour wall.

A friend once described the marathon as a 20-mile warm-up before a 10 km race (the last 6.2 miles). The “wall” at or around twenty miles is well-known by any racer of the marathon. If the wall is encountered, the last 10km is a long misery. If I were able, I would like to be with Kipcoge and the others at the North Dock and West India Quay area of London. There, if able, I would run with them at around a 4:30 pace for the mile between 19 and 20 of the race. Then, as the turn is made for the final 6.2 miles along the straight run to the finish, runners would either go with the leaders or sink into a top-ten place. Someone along that stretch will, like Salazar in New York, throw in a surge of speed well below the average of 69 seconds per lap, and win, perhaps breaking the 2-hour barrier.

Every event in sports requires mental and emotional strength and faith. Kipchoge is well known for his belief in the power of the mind and how it controls him as he races for such a distance at such a speed. Perhaps just past the West India Quay, his strong mind will take over for his body, and he will surge past 13.1 miles per hour and enter a place reserved for ones like Bannister.

 

 

A Still Life of Real Life

The Observer headline uses appeared to lower gun  to describe the action of Danquirs Franklin just before he is killed by CMPD.

However, I see a crouched man with the left side of his body turned toward the officer,  his right foot planted. Mr. Franklin’s entire body language screams sudden movement, perhaps a pivot towards the officer as he rises to a threatening position.

Anyone is entitled to interpret  a stilled scene., but you be that officer, when everything is moving, and decide what you would do. However,  before you decide, take lots of  time  to evaluate Mr. Franklin’s body language in the photograph on the front page of the Observer. Time the CMPD officer did  not have.

    A Fifth Green Blazer, an Exemption, and Number 52 Straight

 

Not that long ago, many folks wrote Mr. Woods off as a contender. Today, after much work and many great shots, he proved that he, nor any serious athlete, should ever be written off. Five wins in Augusta is quite remarkable, and something I do not fully understand, but fully appreciate. However, tomorrow is the running of the 123rd Boston Marathon, an event that I am more familiar with since I have raced it and many other marathons as a runner and as a hand cyclist.

For whatever reason, many outlets have written about NASCAR driver, Jimmie Johnson, running in tomorrow’s race, his first marathon. Five years ago he ran a 1 hour 28 minutes and 16 second half-marathon. From what I gathered in the article of my local newspaper; he sees this time as an indicator for a sub-three hour run. What the heck, since it was a half, just double the time, right?? Well, no, because as an athlete he should know that the second half is more difficult than the first half, for obvious reasons. What galls me most, however, is that Johnson has not qualified for the race, he was given an exemption by Gatorade, a long-time personal sponsor. He says that he desired to qualify the old-fashioned way, but his NASCAR racing prevented him from running a qualified time. Over 7,000 runners who ran qualifying races were turned away by the BAA because of safety concerns, especially at the start. However, the privileged boy of Gatorade lines up in Wave 2, wearing 4848 because an elite runner, Jonathan Mott, is wearing number 48. Poor Johnson. For many factors, I predict that Johnson will falter: his training, his inexperience at the distance, the course (first ten miles are downhill, giving a false sense of pace), and the Boston weather.

Ben Beach of Bethesda, Maryland will line up for his 52-straight run at Boston. Way back in 1968, as a high school senior, he ran his first Boston. His time in that race was 3:04, a time Johnson would like to run tomorrow. Beach’s best at Boston, Now in his late 60’s, he is happy to be on the course and is pushing to pass Johnny Kelly’s number of runs for Boston. Tomorrow a time around five hours would satisfy, double his best time.

Woods fought hard and came back, at least for this Masters. Beach, dystonia and all, continues to run each third Monday of April in Boston. Johnson is given an exemption. Let’s hope he makes the most of it.

“Come and See”

 

Philip spoke the above three words to answer a question by Nathanael who when told of the presence of  Jesus of Nazareth  asks, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  This is, on the surface, a fair question since the poor village of Nazareth was known for the  Roman garrison, the despised rulers of the Jews, that was stationed there. Is Nathanael prejudice or realistic?

In Latin any foreign person was labelled barbarus, and the Greek word for any person who did not speak the cultured language was barbarous. Nathanael, a learned Jew, expressed the prejudice of his culture: Nazareth was a crude and barbaric village.

Later in the Gospel of John, we are told of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The hate between the Jews and Samaritans was palatable. But we are given this story and the parable of the Good Samaritan.  More prejudice.

Recently, in Chicago, a well-known comedian and actor attempted to use our prejudices against President Trump supporters, blacks, and homosexuals to gain some kind of pathetic support for him and his floundering career.

A few days ago the main building of the historic (civil rights)  Highlander School in Tennessee was burned. A “white power” symbol was painted in the parking lot of the destroyed building.

In the just published April 1 Washington Post Magazine, is an article about the 1975 disappearance of the Lyon sisters from a Wheaton, Md. shopping center. In the article the writer Mark Bowden describes members of the Welch family, who were involved in the horrific rape and murder of the sisters as, “the clan”; coming from “mountain-hollow ways”; as having a “suspicion of outsiders”,  “an unruly contempt for authority of any kind”, “a knee-jerk resort to violence;” and “Most shocking were its [Welch family] sexual practices. Incest was notorious in the families of the hollers of Appalachia,…”

One last example. . A recent film is being touted as a “must see” for people who support abortion. All and well. However, way back in 1975-’76, the surgeon Richard Selzer wrote the essay “What I Saw at the Abortion: The doctor observed, the man saw.”  A simple internet search will bring up the essay. Read it but pay attention to its sub-title before you do.

In none of the above examples of prejudice, except the first, is the invitation to “Come and see” what you are speaking against. Those three words carry power. They place the cure for prejudice on the pre-judging person. What would happen if the pre-judger sat with the woman at the well and heard her story? Can the hating burners of the Highland School not learn from its historical involvement in the civil rights movement? A talk with supporters of President Trump probably will reveal that they,  too, have their humanity and its inherent struggles. Let people who see themselves burdened with an unwanted pregnancy read what the man Richard Selzer saw while watching his first abortion.

“Come and see,” Philip says as he invites a fellow seeker to examine his own mis-conceptions. Prejudice is  real and comes in many colors and forms. But all is an evil that need not exist, if we all “Come and see.”

 

 

Prejudice

Like many residents living in the Washington, DC area in 1975, I read about the disappearance of the Lyon sisters in Wheaton, Maryland. Since then I have moved, but on occasion read other reports about the unsolved crime. Today, April 2, 20019, I read an on-line article from The Wheaton Md. Patch discussing the crime and a new book telling how the murder of the two young sisters was solved after forty years. Alessia Grunberger posted her article at 4:15 PM ET on 4-2-19. I quote from that post:
“In 2014, detectives began investigating Welch’s family.
The clan had two branches, one in Hyattsville, Md., and the other five hours southwest, on a secluded hilltop in Thaxton, Va., a place the locals called Taylors’s Mountain, ” the Post wrote. “Here the family’s Appalachian roots were extant, even though some members had gradually moved into more modern communities in and around Bedford, the nearest town. While its environs were markedly different, the branch in Maryland clearly belonged to the same tree.
The family’s mountain-hollow ways—suspicion of outsiders, and unruly contempt for authority of any kind, stubborn poverty, a knee-jerk resort to violence—set it perpetually at odds with mainstream suburbia. Most shocking were its sexual practices. Incest was notorious in the families of the hollers of Appalachia, where isolation and privation eroded social taboos. The practice came north with the family to Hyattsville….”
At 6:14 PM ET, her post was updated to the following:
“In 2014, detectives began investigating Welch’s family, which had branches in Hyattsville, Md. and in the rural area of Thaxton, Va., a place the locals called Taylor’s Mountain.”
I am glad that someone saw the slurs in the first post and removed them. By the way “Grunberger writes her first post, she seems to be quoting an article in the Washington Post. However, her quoted words may be hers: I am not sure. But I am certain of the prejudice and malice expressed in them. Such words and phrases as “clan.” “locals,” “mountain-hollow ways,” and “Incest was notorious in the families of the hollers of Appalachia, ….” show contempt for a class of people.
We view prejudice as a black/white issue. But here in an article from the Washington, DC news media, it rears its ugly and evil head. I hope the Post or Patch or both will do better in the next posting.

Skandalon

 

Some of the “news” this week is not that new. I refer to the American grandmother who gave birth to her grandchild. A quick internet search showed that this same thing happened in 2011, or maybe even earlier. One grandmother in Wales carried her grandchild because her daughter had no womb.  However, I suspect that what made this American grandmother’s pregnancy so newsworthy is the fact that she carried a grandchild for her son and his male mate by using her son’s sperm and an egg of the other man’s sister.  Quite a scientific accomplishment which satisfied a desire of a homosexual couple to have a child.

What was done for the homosexual couple was not, in today’s world,  that unusual for science.  We have twin granddaughters who speak of their  biological father as “the donor”, a well-researched sperm donor who may or may not ever meet his children. A nephew and his male partner have three children under the age of one year. The older child was born using my nephew’s sperm and a surrogate. Within a year, twins were born using his partner’s sperm and the egg of a surrogate.

I share these two stories to let you know that, while not an expert, I have a personal history with some of our new ways of having children. It is a far way from the world I grew up in when a young man had to buy “protection” against an unwanted pregnancy from a machine in a gas station rest room, and the “protection” also helped prevent the little known STDs of that era. An unwanted pregnancy in those days, the 1960s, was viewed as an embarrassment and the woman was treated only a bit better than the sexual sinners of Hawthorne.  Unplanned pregnancies in by-gone days resulted in the child being “given up” for adoption. Today, many biological parents are young, so young that their situation is referred to as “babies having babies.” Yet, mores change, and television, that great reflector of culture, now shows homosexual and mixed-race couples. They touch. Kiss. Show all the emotions of Adam and Eve.  However, what concerns me most as a Christian is not these  new images of our culture. While I may or  may not agree with them, I am more concerned with other issues that are not all that new.

 Things change. For example, I graduated high school in 1964—all white graduates. At my church, no blacks ever walked through its door. Yes, “mixing” between blacks and whites took place, such as in the case of Senator Strom Thurmond. But those were hushed. In my high school there was one know homosexual male, and two older man  always hovered. These things were with us, but not publicly acknowledged or accepted as now.  Mixed couples are, at least on the surface, accepted.  However, the homosexuals are hotly discussed by Christians.

So often in our church, I hear the phrase, “We are all sinners,” or “We are born into sin.” If that is true, and I believe so, then the ministers, deacons, mixed-race couples, and homosexuals are sinners. But it seems to me we stumble over the sin of homosexuality.

For instance: A divorced man, I teach an adult  Sunday School class. Jesus clearly states that I am a sinner for that and my adultery.  If I were homosexual, would I be allowed to teach a  Sunday School class?

I suggest that Christians understand the sins of the Commandments because they have broken one or more of them.  I understand the sad consequence of adultery because I have lived it, and that makes it easier for me to accept and love a fellow sinner because he or she has acted like me. The sin of homosexuality is foreign to me, but the sinner of it is not.

Let us concentrate on curing cancers such as gossip, hunger, inadequate housing and clothing,  and all the others. Not stumbling over the fellow sinner, homosexual or other, will make us all stronger and better.