The Him Line

bill-cunningham-citra-embedFashion is not my forte, and I’m certainly not the model image of a fashion model from GQ.  I do, however, know enough about fashion to know that Bill Cunningham, the legendary photojournalist for The New York Times, died on Saturday.

Cintra Wilson paid tribute to Cunningham in a timely article in GQ when she described the white-haired octogenarian on a Schwinn bike as a man who, “seemed to have a kind of quantum-mechanical ability to suddenly be at any location in New York City where an act of fashion was being committed, and to witness it at any point in the space-time continuum. His camera was the all-seeing eye of New York City fashion; his documenting of the infinite variations of city fashion were as close to something like omniscience as a mortal with a camera can get.”bill-cunningham-citra-embed-2

Cunningham’s sharp eye captured the rise and fall of fashion’s hem line for nearly 40 years, and he’ll be remembered in part for the him- line that was his life motto: “If beauty is what you seek, you will find it every day.

The essence of Cunningham was captured by Jacob Bernstein: “He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, not be observed.”

Even though He might be out of fashion with some, I still see immense beauty in the Him-Lines of another person; I see it, in these words of Jesus:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ~Matthew 5

A Parade of Champions

kcrIf you know anything about sports, you know that the Kansas City Royals just won a hard fought and entertaining battle on the baseball fields of Kansas City and New York; and, they have been crowned World Series Champions.

With child-like enthusiasm, baseball fans from near and far are descending on Kansas City today to celebrate with the Royals.  They will savor the sweet taste of victory and delight as their team winds its way through the streets of Royals Town USA.

The language of sports has been spoken for thousands of years.  Paul used the competition of the Isthmian Games as means to share spiritual truth.  He also spoke of a parade of champions that features Jesus as the parade Marshall:  “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him (2 Corinthians 2:14).”

The parade route in Kansas City with be lined with thousands of spectators, and it will be a great time for adoring fans to shout out to their favorite players.  The procession that Paul spoke of is one of triumph that calls you to more than a mere spectator.  You are to be a participator and speak up for Jesus.

You are the means through which God spreads the sweet fragrance of His love and mercy.  Wave your banner, and give thanks for the victory you have in Him.

The Quotable and Notable Game of Baseball

two_boys_bat_largerWhen I was a kid, many of my Summer days were spent at makeshift ball diamonds at Graham Park, Skelly School or the water tower by Tom’s house.  The evening hours would find most of us at the ball diamonds by McDonald’s Stadium—as in Jim McDonald, not the golden arches.

I have a pretty good understanding about the ins and outs of baseball, but one thing has troubled me for many years:  Why does everybody stand up and sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” when we’re already there?  

This is what I do at 4 AM of a morning:  I give a lot of profound thought to the perplexing mysteries of the universe.  I also try to search and discover the true meaning and purpose of life.

I may have found some answers to secrets of life in the quotes below.  Read these and study the stats on today’s sports page, and you might stay busy until game time:

  • There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens. ~Tommy Lasorda
  • Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn’t score any runs. ~ Tim McCarver
  • Ninety percent of this game is half mental. ~ Yogi Berra
  • There are two theories on hitting the knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither one of them works. ~Charlie Lau
  • The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then to pick it up. ~ Bob Uecker
  • I watch a lot of baseball on radio. ~ President Gerald Ford
  • I can remember a sports writer asking me for a quote and I didn’t know what a quote was.  I thought it was some kind of soft drink.                ~Joe DiMaggio

Here’s one final quote to illustrate the lack of sophistication in those who don’t love the game:  “The baseball mania has run its course. It has no future as a professional endeavor (Cincinnati Gazette editorial, 1879).”

The Courage to Say: I Need Help

Bronx, New York 9/25/15 CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees reacts on the mound after Melky Cabrera #53 of the Chicago White Sox scores on Alexei Ramirez RBI double during the second inning in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on September 25, 2015 (Paul J. Bereswill)

When you combine his 6’7” dominating physique with his left arm that chucks a baseball with the heat and intensity of a flamethrower, CC Sabathia can be an intimidating presence.  This fierce competitor with the heart of a champion made a public statement yesterday admitting he’s  been beaten.

Sabathia will not be going on the injured reserve list, he will be going into a treatment program for alcohol rehabilitation.  Sabathia said:

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series . . . It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.”

Kudos to Sabathia for being honest with himself, so he can be truthful with others.  He’s not alone in this battle.  As many as 1 in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or an alcohol related problem.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to the one that CC Sabathia is facing, I encourage you to take three immediate steps:

  • Resolve to make the necessary changes.
  • Assess your peer group: Are they good friends who have your best interests at heart or are they just drinking buddies?
  • It is highly unlikely that you can whip this on your own, so seek professional help.

For those who are on the outside looking in, I remind you of the words of Paul:  “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).”  When your friend or family member asks for help, be willing to listen and to encourage him and he takes the first steps towards sobriety.

Wise Words and the Letter “Y”

y-300Your letter for today is the letter “Y.”  You may ask why “Y?” I’ve selected “Y” because there are three “Y” words that can be wise words.

Some people think it is wise to start the day with a cup of Yogurt.  Others think it is a good idea to begin the day with some exercise and Yoga movements. Both of these are probably good for the body, but I prefer a third “Y.”

The “Y” that intrigues me the most is known as a Yogism.  I have always like the wit and wisdom of Yogi Berra.   Yogi played 19 years in the Yankees organization, and he appeared in 14 World Series—10 of the 14 series ended in championship wins.

One of the better known statements of Yogi is. “This is like déjà vu all over again.”  There are several others as well:

  • A nickle ain’t worth a dime anymore.
  • When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
  • Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.
  • You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.

Yogi also said, “I never said most of the things I said.”  This reminds me of something that Solomon said about the things you might say:  “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb: they drip sweet food for life and bring health to the body (Proverbs 16:24).”

When you speak to people today, make sure you are engaging in a healthy conversation.

He Said What?!

good_friday_1000004582-120613intI was surprised yesterday when I heard what the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to Heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in Heaven. It’s not even close.”

I’ll have to admit that I’m no fan of Mr. Bloomberg’s and much of his activist political agenda, and I really disagree with several parts of his statement above:

• “if there is a God”—For such a small word, “if” casts a long shadow. If Mr. Bloomberg isn’t sure about the existence of God, how can he be sure there is a heaven or know anything about how to gain entrance?

• “I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I’m heading straight in.” Perhaps the former Mayor should check his narcissism before he tries to enter the Pearly Gates. Jesus may have a different opinion: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me (Mt 7:21-23).”

• “I’ve earned my place in Heaven. It’s not even close.” Well Michael, the angel not the Mayor, you might need to blow your trumpet or send a text message or something, but Mr. Bloomberg needs to hear the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Mr. Bloomberg, do you understand the significance of tomorrow? It is Good Friday, and instead beating your own drum and tooting your own horn, maybe, just maybe, you should consider what Jesus did for you: “ God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).”

The far reaching truth is this: Jesus died for each and every one of us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”

Orphans, Widows, and Pure Religion

If you have ever flown into New York City, you most likely landed at La Guardia airport.   What you may not know is that this airport is named after Mayor  Fiorello La Guardia who served the people of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and throughout all of WWII.

La Guardia was a small man in stature standing just 5’4.”  The mayor was called the Little Flower because he always wore a carnation in his lapel.  He was an interesting man who would take an entire orphanage to a baseball game; ride on a fire truck to the scene of a fire; and, he would accompany the police when they raided the speakeasies.

On the night of January 1935, La Guardia went to a court that served the poorest ward of the city.  In a typical expression of his sometimes eccentric behavior, the mayor had dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.

Shortly after the night court session had begun, an elderly woman stood before him.  She had been charged with the crime of stealing a loaf of bread. In an explanation of her actions, she told LaGuardia that her daughter’s husband had deserted her; her daughter was sick; and, her two grandchildren were starving.

The man from whom she had stolen the bread was also present, but he, refused to drop the charges, saying: It’s a real bad neighborhood, your Honor. She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.  

LaGuardia looked at the woman, sighed, and said:  I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions–ten dollars or ten days in jail. The mayor then reached into his pocket and said:  Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so her grandchildren can eat.

When the elderly woman left the courtroom, she had $47.50 inn her pocket.

The actions of La Guardia, are a wonderful explanation of James 1:27:  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Instead of just seeing the guilt of the woman, La Guardia saw her need.  He used his power not to condemn, but to minister grace.