My Father, my Friend


My dad, Robert Hallquist. This picture, taken in the early 60's was taken at his workplace, Bethlehem Steel in Sparrows Point, Baltimore, MD when I was just a kid. He turned in his shipyard duds for a pastor's suit and has been in the ministry for nearly 60 years. Good move.

Today is Father’s Day, the day we think about and honor our fathers. I think about my father often, not requiring any holiday to remind me of what he means to me.  And, he means a great deal. Although I enjoy my relationship with him, our journey hasn’t always been the smoothest. We’ve had a few bumps. I think most people could say the same. Nevertheless, I rather think about the joys we’ve had on our journey together. The ruts, bumps, and detours in the road have merely made us stronger.

As a young boy growing up in Glen Burnie, Maryland, a town just south of Baltimore, I knew my father as a hard-working and passionate man. I also feared him. With that, he presented for me the first recognizable paradox in my life. How could I, on the one hand feel free and comfortable with him, while on the other hand, feel the great sense of fear toward him? Like most children, they would want to feel completely safe and care-free with their parents at all times. I didn’t have that. It wasn’t that my dad was abusive; he just didn’t spare the rod as much as I wish he had. I thought he was too tough on me.

My first recollection of my father’s vocation was that he was a steelworker. I was kind of proud of that and in awe of what he did and where he worked. He was employed by Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point in Baltimore. At the time, Bethlehem Steel was the largest producer of steel in the world. (see I remember that he took me to the plant one time (maybe more) and I was in awe of its size and extent. It seemed that somehow, my father’s stature was linked in some measure to the size of the place he worked, and it was huge.

One of the benefits of living near Baltimore was that my dad would take me to see the Baltimore Orioles play at Memorial Stadium. What a thrill. All my heroes were there. Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Jerry Adair, Stu Miller and a host of others. There was, and is nothing better than going to a big league ballgame with your dad. I was very fortunate to be with him on such occasions and still relish those experiences to this day. But baseball games were not the only things I got to do with my dad. We went fishing, visited museums, went on cool vacations, and a host of other things that made my childhood blessed. My father did a lot for us beyond providing a roof and all the essentials.

Like a lot of boys, I thought my old man was pretty smart. He seemed to be able to give an answer for everything and I didn’t think there was anything that was beyond his knowledge. He also seemed to be up on what was going on in the world and I was always under the impression back then that he was some kind of financial wizard. He would, from time to time, mention how some stock price was doing on the New York Stock Exchange. But he really confused me with all that finance talk, especially when he would mention the price of certain shares. I was only confused because I thought he was saying, “chairs”. You can imagine the confusion. I couldn’t understand how millions of chairs were being traded someplace in New York almost every day of the week. Why would people be trading chairs? Fortunately, that issue cleared up before I asked anyone how this could be.

Other than working at the steel plant, my dad had started a church in Glen Burnie and it became a large part of our lives.Church is still a critical link in our relationship. It is something I cherish deeply. As you can imagine, having a father who is a minister is a unique situation. I was keenly aware that my behavior was to be held at a higher standard than most of my friends and other kids. I’m not so sure I did so well. God is my judge.

As the years went by and I began to hold to and voice my opinions about the world I was living in. It was apparent that my dad and I were not so much in agreement about a lot of things. Nothing exemplified this difference more than the Vietnam War, politics, and the 60’s and 70’s culture. We definitely had a generation gap between us. It was during that time that our differences became more distinct and what we had in common was under pressure. My dad was beginning to appear more adversarial (as I was) and in my view, hypocritical. He was a minster of the Gospel, but I felt he had become a minister to others and left me out. Why wouldn’t he give me the same respect he would give to a total stranger? It was during my high school days that I just wanted to get out and prove him wrong. I could do better.

Fast Forward….By 1983, I had been to college, married and had two children, had a few jobs including a pastorate of my own, and was now in the US Navy, attached to a nuclear submarine. It was during that time that my relationship with my dad was really in the pits. We could find almost anything to argue about and frequently did. People did not enjoy being around us when we were together. Now mind you, I still loved my dad, but I could barely stand to be around him. Then one day while I listened to a guy talk about bitterness, it hit me. Although I was an eternal optimist, I was becoming bitter about my dad and I felt that something had to be done about. I’ve met a bunch of bitter people in my life and they’re not fun to be with. I’d rather eat lint than to be with a bitter, cynical, and sarcastic person. They can cause a total eclipse on a sunny day. I knew one thing. I was moving in that direction and something had to be done. Now, the dilemma.   Who was going to make this thing right? Surely, my old man should apologize for all his wrongs and stupidity and then things would be better. Somehow, even though it seemed like the thing I wished would happen, I knew the odds weren’t good. But that really isn’t the point here. I needed to take some responsibility for this relationship. I needed to do something. I knew it would take a paradigm shift in my thinking to move beyond anger and bitterness. I needed to have some self-respect and do the right thing. It didn’t take long before I did something.

On a weekend just after I had been assigned to the USS Shark (SSN-591), I and my family took a trip to New Milford, CT to visit my folks for the weekend. When we got there, the folks weren’t anywhere to be found. They were out shopping. So during that time, until they arrived home, I stacked a cord of wood and cleaned up around my parent’s garage which was an ongoing project. When my folks got home, the tension began building. You could cut the tension with a knife. First my mother came into the house and like all grandmother’s quickly embraced my kids and gave me a quick kiss. Then, in what seemed an eternity, my father walked in. He looked at me, paused, and then asked, “did you stack that cord of wood?” “Yes,” I replied. The tension thickened and I noticed that everyone in the room got quiet and almost froze. Then my dad asked about the garage too. I figured that he was going to let me know that I did something wrong. Then after these questions he made a comment that I could have jumped all over in rebuke. His words, “It’s about time” where the kind of words that I could have thrown right back at him, with relish. Nevertheless, I wanted a change in our relationship and I knew that this was the moment of truth. The truth is that we are all responsible for our own actions and character. We have choices in the matter. There will always be those who point to circumstance as a reason t deflect responsibility in these situations, but I have found that  those who live under the circumstance will always be living “under” something and never finding any peace or success in life.

So, what happened ? How did I respond? Well, I did what Solomon said. Agree quickly with your adversary. I looked my dad square in the eye and said without hesitation, “You’re right!”  The silence was deafening. It seemed as if I could have read “War and Peace” in the time he took to respond. At first, I expected he would continue to provide commentary on my response, but he did something totally unexpected.  He changed the subject.  When he did respond, he asked me if I would look at some plans he had been working on (I can’t remember what they were. I was in such shock).  After that moment, things changed for my dad and me.  We started to respect each other and have become very good friends, not merely a father and son.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about my dad. He’s bared his soul and told me things I wish I had known 35 years ago. I realized that my dad, like me, has been disappointed, scared, and scarred. He’s human, not Superman. That has made him stronger and bigger in my eyes than any pretense of invincibility or bravado could ever do. The knowledge of his weakness, disappointments and fears has put him and me on the same level. I see that, like me, he’s been working out his life like we all do. As fallen humanity. That’s important for all of us to remember. We all deserve a little grace and mercy and we should try to give some, too. In fact, you’ll find that in this regard, it is better to give than receive. See:

Today is Father’s Day and I thank God that He’s given me the dad I’ve had. No regrets. Even the bumps in our road have taught me the value of having a good suspension system. The road doesn’t much change, but your ability to absorb the imperfections in the path helps you last longer and arrive at your destination intact. These days, when I look in the mirror every morning, I see more of my dad in me. Thank God. Being able to see him, gives me hope and a peace for the day.

Thanks Dad for everything!

Bob and NBA Trophy

Dad, holding the NBA Championship trophy won by the Boston Celtics in 2008. Taken in Martha's Vineyard.

What Makes A Dad

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it … Dad

Focus on the Family Needs to go Back to the Future

Just prior to the recent presidential election, Focus on the Family Action, the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family, an organization founded by evangelical Christian Dr. James Dobson posted an imaginative letter entitled, “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.”  In this hyperbolic letter, the fictional writer lays out a “possible” scenario of what the United States would look like if Senator Barak Obama was elected President of the United States and both houses of Congress were to be run by the Democrats.  Here are some of the proposed scenarios according to Christianity Today:

-The Supreme Court would lean liberal
-Churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriages would lose their tax-exempt status
-“under God” in the Pledge would be declared unconstitutional
-Doctors and nurses who won’t perform abortions will no longer be able to deliver babies
-Pornography would be openly displayed on newsstands
-Inner-city crime increases when gun ownership is restricted
-Homeschooling would become restricted, so thousands of homeschooling parents emigrate to other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
– “Since 2009, terrorist bombs have exploded in two large and two small U.S. cities, killing
hundreds, and the entire country is fearful, for no place seems safe.”
-Euthanasia is becoming more and more common.
-New carbon emission standards drive many coal-powered electric plants out of business. “The country has less total electric power available than in 2008, and periodic blackouts to conserve energy occur on a regular schedule throughout the nation.”

“After many of these decisions, especially those that restricted religious speech in public places, President Obama publicly expressed strong personal disapproval of the decision and said that the Supreme Court had gone far beyond what he ever expected,” the letter reads.

It suggests that younger evangelicals were the tipping point for Obama’s pretend victory.

“Many Christians voted for Obama – younger evangelicals actually provided him with the needed margin to defeat John McCain – but they didn’t think he would really follow through on the far-Left policies that had marked his career. They were wrong,” the letter says.

The author also proposes that every conservative talk show would have to be followed by an instant rebuttal to the program by a liberal “watchdog” group and eventually shut down by 2010. Another hypothetical scenario is that because no Christian is willing to write books critical of homosexuality, many Christian publishers go out of business.

The author suggests that Bush administration officials who had involvement with the Iraq war would be put in jail.

The author writes, “Many brave Christian men and women tried to resist these laws, and some Christian legal agencies tried to defend them, but they couldn’t resist the power of a 6-3 liberal majority on the Supreme Court. It seems many of the bravest ones went to jail or were driven to bankruptcy. And many of their reputations have been destroyed by a relentless press and the endless repetition of false accusations.”

Upon reading this apocalyptic, I thought it might be good to consider another scenario, based in the same factitious quality and tone.  Using another time machine, I chose to take us back to the year 2000,  specifically on November 6th, the day before the election that saw Texas governor George Bush running against Vice-President Al Gore.  Keeping with the spirit of the recent Focus on the Family letter, just imagine if someone, possibly one of those Democratic operatives, were to have written another pretend letter called, “Letter from 2008 in Bush’s America.”  How would those supporting George Bush have reacted?

Perhaps, the 2000 letter would suggest some crazy scenarios like the following.  Just imagine.

If Republian George W. Bush is elected, America will begin a dramatic decline toward chaos not seen since the Great Depression and an obvious manifestation of God withdrawing His hand of protection and favor from this country.  During the next eight years, if George Bush is elected and reelected, the following conditions will occur:

Within a year of his election, the United States will experience the greatest attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor.  This terrorist attack will be against the symbols of US economic and military might, in New York and in Washington, DC.    In response to these attacks, President Bush will launch a massive propaganda campaign that will propel the nation into two wars resulting in the deaths of over 4,500 troops and over 30,000 wounded service personnel.  Aside from these physical casualties to our men and women in uniform, the US taxpayer will foot the bill to the tune of about $600 Billion directly and by extension, about $3 Trillion. This war will become the longest in US history and least supported since the Vietnam War.

In an attempt to keep their eye on terrorists, the Bush administration will move to allow domestic espionage, opening all kinds of opportunities for spying on citizens, some for their religious affiliations.  This action will allow the National Security Agency and others to conduct secret and illegal wiretapping and spying operation against the people of the United States all in the name of national security.

On the economic front, the Bush administration will pass a tax cut that will favor the wealthiest taxpayers and at the same time increase spending at an alarming rate.  The surplus he inherited from President Bill Clinton will turn into the biggest deficit in national history and as a result, the national debt will rise dramatically.  During George W. Bush’s presidency, the national debt will grow by more than $4 trillion. It will be the biggest increase under any president in U.S history.  On the day President Bush takes office, the national debt will stand at $5.727 trillion. By his last year in office, the national debt will stand at more than $9.849 trillion. That’s a 71.9 percent increase on Mr. Bush’s watch.

Toward the end of his second term, with two wars still being fought, the US housing and mortgage industry will suffer a huge deflation leading to millions of foreclosures, bankruptcies, and the collapse of many large institutional banks and brokerages.  This will require the US Congress to bailout the lending industry, adding about another trillion dollars of debt to the US Taxpayer. Other world economies will suffer equally. Also, during that time, even though George Bush is an oilman, his expertise will not prevent the cost of gasoline and other oil products from more than doubling in his final year.  George Bush’s friends in the petroleum industry will see record-setting profits, while hundreds of business fail due to the high price of energy.  His slogan, “Compassionate Conservatism” will sound quite hollow.

In the midst of Bush’s terms, natural disasters will occur, but due to the weakness of his government, many will suffer for lack of critical government services.  George Bush will be seen as a reactive president, not prepared for the future.

By the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, he will have garnered the highest disapproval rating in modern history.  Due to that in part, a Democratic candidate will win the 2008 election and will be joined by a large majority of Democrats in the Congress and Senate.  States that are normally seen as safe Republican bets will reject the Republican Party, some for the first time in decades.

Although these predictions are only possible scenarios and may seem far-fetched to the rational mind, there is always the possibility, given the character of George Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney that such things could, in fact, occur on George Bush’s watch.  Therefore, be prayerful about your vote.

The sad thing is that there are those who would readily consider and actually believe the 2012 Focus letter, but if they were back in 2000 reading the letter above, would call it a hateful, liberal diatribe, or more directly, an absolute, groundless lie.  To them I would say, “Don’t drink the Koolaid.”

I know I shouldn’t have to say anything, but there are those folks who won’t see the obvious.  So let me clean it up.  In the 2012 letter, Focus on the Family Active is predicting some very dire circumstance to an Obama presidency.  All this without the benefit of God’s stamp of approval.  No one is saying, “Thus saith the Lord.”  Therefore, the predictions should be seen as merely the creation of a fearful mind, not one that relies on the scripture that declares that, “All things work together for good, to them who love God and are called to His purpose.”  Christian should fear not, but be courageous.  The 2012 letter on the other hand is a profession of fear, discord, and faithlessness.  Not one of a sound mind, unity, and faith in the living God.

It has become very clear to me that the actions of Focus on the Family Action is evidence of a para-church organization that is set adrift from the Living Word of God.  Winning the culture wars seem to be tactically, an anything-goes methodology instead of being tethered to the moral code of Christ’s example.  I think the 2012 letter is reprehensible and Focus on the Family should repent for its dissemination.

As for my personal prediction for 2012, I see more Christians relying less on the leadership of the likes of James Dobson, and more on the power of real prayer and love for enemies, real and perceived.

Related Articles”

James Dobson, you owe America an apology – Jim Wallis

A Biblical View of Political Responsibility

georgewashingtonprayingIn my last post, Revisting the Formula for Healing the Nation, I provided the road map outlined in scripture that gives Christians directions to bringing the nation to God.  In the following video, featuring Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendant of the Assemblies, Dr. Wood gives five points of biblical direction for Christians relative to their engagement in politics and public life.  I think it is right on and critical to moving the Church away from relying on the carnal weapons of the world system and toward an authentic Christian lifestyle that gives light to the world’s darkeness.

Revisting the Formula for Healing the Nation

While growing up in suburban Baltimore, my mom, in her attempts to instill a sense of God’s ways in me, would often note that God does things in His own time and in His own ways.  The underlying message was that we can trust God to act on our behalf, but don ‘t expect Him to do it in the way we want Him to do it.  That’s a hard lesson to learn because we, in our human, linear reasoning, feel that we know the best way for doing things.  The problem, among others we have, is that we don’t have God’s perspective, and frankly we’re not that patient. Some time later, after reading scripture and listening to hundreds of anecdotes and testimonies by other believers, it became clear that the God who would use a prostitute in Jericho, Balaam’s ass, a terrorist named Paul, and a slew of other less-than-stellar personalities to affect His will, has a way of doing things that we humans, believers included, would never subscribe to.  Fortunately, God is not bound by our reasoning and strict “moral” guidelines.  As the scripture says,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways,” declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In that scripture there lies a maxim that most people just don’t get.  Tragically, most Christians haven’t integrated into their lives either, and for that reason, the nation is seriously, at risk. When, according to the biblical account detailing the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, God provided a clear, unambiguous, instruction to follow if the land, crops, and people came under a curse from straying from His ways.  It seems pretty clear that God tied the righteous standing of His people to the earthly conditions of the nation.  He further provided an opportunity for redemption, if only His people would return to Him.  The scripture that exhibits this prescription is found in II Chronicles 7:13-15.  Most Christians are familiar with it, but most of those who use it to advance a political agenda rarely get the simplicity and potency of the message.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”

Unfortunately, although many politically active and interested Christians quote this scripture to promote the way the nation can return to God, there are so many that quickly start pointing to those outside the faith as the focus of this scripture.  In other words, they have shifted the blame and responsibility for national moral decline on unbelievers, while the scripture plainly points to the spiritual condition of the Church.  Instead of directing attention toward the condition of the Church, issues like abortion, gay marriage, and socialism become the primary issues on the scale.  Some will argue the point, but all one has to do is look at the letters to the Churches of Asia Minor found in the Book of Revelation.  God wasn’t warning some nation about their moral condition, but instead, focused squarely on those who called themselves by His name.  But even before the birth of the Church, Jesus spoke to his disciples about how important the integrity and holiness of his followers were to the overall condition and survivability of the nation.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16

So here’s the deal.  There are plenty of texts in scripture that describes the condition of the world. Generally, the world is full of sin, death, injustice, hate, and rottenness.  People are self-centered, liars, and desperately wicked.  Of course there’s more, but I think you’ve got the picture.  Now Jesus spoke these words to a bunch of uneducated, nontheologians who had been under his tutelage and would eventually turn the world upside-down.  In this passage, Jesus made it clear that his follow’s spiritual condition was critical to the preservation of the world and to reflecting His glory in the world.  Consider this commentary:

There are two broad approaches to seeking to shape values in society. At times the Christian community may feel it needs to confront a particular value, decision or priority adopted by the community.  But the Christian community is also able to influence values day in, day out through bringing a distinctively Christian approach to the people we come across as we go about our daily lives. This is what we mean by being “salt and light” in the world (Mt 5:13,14), where by living distinctively Christian lifestyles we seek to influence those around us, and through this the values, decisions and priorities adopted by our communities.

Jesus challenges us to be salt and light – to influence the world, and to be seen to be doing so.  You might like to spend some time reflecting on this passage :
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Mt 5:13-16

1. You are the salt of the earth. ·By beginning with You, Jesus emphasises to the disciples that they have both the calling and the responsibility to be influencers in the world.   Salt is a number of effects :
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)as a seasoning agent, it improves the taste of the food that it comes into contact with, and so as we come into contact with society our Christian values should improve the nature of that society.
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)salt makes people thirsty – and as Christians we seek to create a thirst in people’s lives that can only be satisfied by Jesus, who said : “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me  me and drink” (Jn 7:37)
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)Salt is used to thaw ice on roads : so it can have the effect of warming hearts that have hardened against the gospel – over time the saltiness of Christians can bring people to know Jesus Christ.
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)as a preservative, salt gives food an improved length of life. Ultimately, with enough salt, those who do know Jesus, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour will have eternal life.

2. Salt which loses its saltiness is useless. · Jesus’ teaching is challenging.  There is little room for those who are Christians, but who have lost their saltiness, or their “edge”.  Without the testimony of lives lived out with integrity and consistency with the principles that Christians claim to follow, the testimony of our lips is useless.  But be clear : this does not require us to be perfect : knowing our sinfulness, and knowing our need to confess it and be cleansed of it is a vital part of the Christian gospel. Then, as v16 says, “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

3. You are like light for the world. · Light shines on dark things and exposes what is there. This is a call to the church to challenge evil within our society, however uncomfortable this may be. Having humility and servanthood within our character does not make us toothless and wishy-washy. The light that we bring, is not our own light – it is not who we are in ourselves, but rather the light of God shining through our lives as the Holy Spirit works through them. This doesn’t mean that we have to refer to God in every other sentence, but when the opportunity arises, we can share with another person the light that God has given us.

4. Don’t hide your light. · We hide our light when we stay silent in the face of discussion which is contrary to that which we believe. We hide our light when we fail to accept and conform with behaviours that are not in line with Jesus’ teaching. We hide our light when we don’t care for the needs of others, and walk by on the other side : since we have missed an opportunity to let the light of Jesus’ compassion shine out in acts of kindness.  If we let the light of the Holy Spirit at work in us shine through, then we bring glory to God, and there can be no greater joy than being able to give glory to the Father as we go through our daily lives.

Sermon on the Mount

Now, as I pointed out in the first paragraph, God’s ways of doing things usually doesn’t jive with man’s way, that includes those in the Church.  It’s ironic that so many of those who claim a relationship with Christ, easily reject the “foolishness” of God and continue to think in a fashion no differently than the world who doesn’t even know Him.  Romans 12:1-2 informs us that things are to be different when we are “in Christ.”

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Here we see the caveat that warns Christians not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be changed in our way of thinking.  This text brings us full-circle to the place where in our hunger and desire to be like Christ, we start by having the “mind of Christ.”  To do so, involves renouncing the thinking of the world.  According to Phillipians 2:1-11, we see the contrast to worldly thinking.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:   Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What we see here is plain language that yokes the act of glorifying God with humbling oneself and having a servant’s heart.  This is consistent with the call to “humble oneself” before God. Without humility, God cannot exalt His Church in the eyes of the world.  When the Church is seen as arrogant, (as it often appears in the political marketplace)  not only does the world reject that contemptuousness and arrogance, but God does not support it as well.  The mechanics of worldy politics promote contention, factionalism, and a partisan spirit.  This is the polar-opposite of holiness, the opposite of God’s nature.  Christians need to remember the warning the apostle Paul gave regarding such attitudes.  In Galations 5:19-21 it says:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

What most people see in this scripture is the sins of sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, and drunkenness.  They seem like they’re in bold print.  Sadly, what is hardly noticed, and often ignored during the political seasons are those other sins, like – hatred, discord, factions, dissensions, and the like.  The scripture is pretty clear, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Did you hear that?  They who hate their political opponents, create dissensions and factions along political lines are not living a life reflecting the nature of Christ.  I can’t believe how often I’ve seen believers, including pastors, come out of church and within a short time, are saying some of the most outrageous and slanderous things about those on the opposite side of their political views.  Name calling, something we tell our children not to do, is often a sport among Christians.  I wonder if they would do the same if Jesus, who gave his life for those they were slandering, would be sitting in the room with them?  Most Christians would probably hold their tongues.  I sometimes wonder how many children growing up in Christian homes hear their parents slandering political and cultural rivals,have their faith undermined by parents who promote the Christian tenet of loving one’s enemy, yet see something totally different in practice.  It’s no wonder so many children of professed believers leave the faith.  It’s no mystery.  They don’t see anything that reflects the nature of Christ, only talk.  While ministering and teaching children in a Christian high school, this dichotomy was often raised as a problem that truly undermined the integrity of  “Christian education.”

Fortunately, God always gives us a way to return to Him.  He wants us to come back to Him.  Like the father waiting for his prodigal son, God is waiting for us to return, with the heart of a servant. Try reading II Chronicles 7:14 again.  The words, “IF” and “THEN” are matters of cause and effect.  God promises that if we do one thing, He will do another relative to it.  If we don’t, He won’t.  It doesn’t matter who is president, congressman, or judge.  God’s rule trumps man’s devices.  As the scripture says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.”  This is a blueprint that has to start in the House of God.  No nation will ever be righteous if the Church is corrupted by being conformed to the world.

So where do we begin?  How do we change our thinking and take on the nature of a servant?  Well once again, the Word of God is not silent.  In 1 Timothy 2:1-6 we read these words which reflect the formula for praoctively changing ourselves and the world.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.  For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

Consider what Matthew Henry said regarding this passage:

2:1-7 The disciples of Christ must be praying people; all, without distinction of nation, sect, rank, or party. Our duty as Christians, is summed up in two words; godliness, that is, the right worshipping of God; and honesty, that is, good conduct toward all men. These must go together: we are not truly honest, if we are not godly, and do not render to God his due; and we are not truly godly, if not honest. What is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, we should abound in. There is one Mediator, and that Mediator gave himself a ransom for all. And this appointment has been made for the benefit of the Jews and the Gentiles of every nation; that all who are willing may come in this way, to the mercy-seat of a pardoning God, to seek reconciliation with him. Sin had made a quarrel between us and God; Jesus Christ is the Mediator who makes peace. He is a ransom that was to be known in due time. In the Old Testament times, his sufferings, and the glory that should follow, were spoken of as things to be revealed in the last times. Those who are saved must come to the knowledge of the truth, for that is God’s appointed way to save sinners: if we do not know the truth, we cannot be ruled by it.

What is important to see in all of this is that God’s heart is toward reconciliation and the ministry he has given to his children is the same.  Being involved in political conflict puts one in peril of falling into the trap of being ungracious and imitating the “Accuser” instead of the “Advocate.”  If one follows the charge of I Timothy 2:1-6, they will find themselves conforming to the mark of a true Christian, loving one’s enemies.

On election day in America, many Christians see those who they voted against win the election.  For many, it is a moment of despair and anxiety.  Some ironically see it as a judgment on the nation.  Perhaps that’s true, but if it is, and the Bible gives us any direction, it is time for Christians to understand that in God’s economy, “judgment begins in the House of God.”  The fact is, the condition of the nation is a reflection of the condition of the church.  If we want to see a change in the world, we need to see a change in us.

Back in 1996, I decided to proactively act upon 1 Timothy 2:1-6.  I began to pray earnestly for Bill Clinton and other politicians I voted against.  In a short time, God began to flood my heart with love for these people, their families, and their staffs.  Even though it opened wonderful opportunities to minister directly to a few of these folks, what was amazing is what happened to me.  For one thing, I began to understand in a deeper way, how much God loves me.  I started to understand grace in a totally dynamic way.  As I continued to engage those who I could call, “enemies” with hospitality and grace, I began to see other areas where I could demonstrate God’s grace toward those Christ died for.  I started to see people in the light of the knowledge that Jesus had placed great value on them and had paid for them with His life.  How could I treat or consider anyone with less consideration that God has given them.

On November 5th, the people of the United States will have chosen a number of people to represent them in local posts, state offices, national positions, and the highest place of government, the presidency.  For many believers there will be joy and hope.  For others, there will be despair, concern, and even fear.  Nevertheless, no matter how we “feel” about whoever won or lost, we as ambassadors of Christ are to follow after the tenets of 1 Timothy 2:1-6.  God’s promise is “that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity for this is good and pleases God our Savior,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”  It may not make sense to obey this biblical mandate, but that should be a clue.  It’s God’s way, not man’s.

Related Articles:

Salt and Light – P.G.Mathew

Works of the Flesh

Christians and Politics – Greg Boyd

On Facebook, join the group, No Strings Attached

Jim Bunning still knows a doctored pitch and Henry Paulson just threw one.

Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Bunning

Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Bunning

Back when I was a kid living outside of Baltimore, my dad, from time-to-time, would take me to see the Orioles play at the old Memorial Stadium.  One night game I remember very well.  That night the Orioles were playing the Detroit Tigers and the starting pitcher was Jim Bunning.  Bunning would later be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  At any rate, during the game, while Bunning was pitching, Oriole manager Billy Hitchcock came out of the dugout and ran toward the homeplate umpire.  After a brief conversation, the umpire, Detroit manager Bob Scheffing, and the Tiger catcher walked toward the pitching mound where Jim Bunning was standing.  As the tree men approached the mound, the umpire reached his hand out toward Bunning in a gesture that revealed he was asking for the baseball Bunning was holding.  After a momentary hesitation by Bunning the ball was given to umpire.  Then, after only a couple of seconds, the umpire motioned that Bunning was being thrown out of the game.  For the thousands fo fans in the stadium, they had no clue what was going on, but later the news got around that Bunning was “doctoring the baseball” by cutting it with his belt buckle.  That is against the rules and that’s why Bunning was thrown out of the game.  Nevertheless, when I finally learned what happened, I began to quiz my dad on how and why pitchers would do such a thing.  He said pitchers were always looking for ways to sneak a bad ball into a situation that gave them an advantage without the batter knowing it.  Plain-and-simple it was cheating.

So, today while watching the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearings on the proposed $700 Billion bailout of Wall Street and the credit markets, it was no surprise to me to see Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky taking to task the architect of the plan, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.  You see,

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

Bunning can not only throw a doctored baseball, but he also knows when one has been thrown at the American people.  Today he, along with others in Congress (see the Forbes article) who have great reservations about the details of Paulson’s plan leveled a flury of attacks aimed at demanding that individual American taxpayers don’t get holding the bag.  As economist  Willaim Greider stated in a Nation Magazine article, “If Wall Street gets away with this, it will represent an historic swindle of the American public–all sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims.”  Bunning called the plan “financial socialism” and “unAmerican.”  Although I agree with both of these men, I do not necessarily agree with Bunning’s last characterization.  The fact is, greed, corruption, and stealing from the poor to give to the rich is hardly “unAmerican.”  It is, all to often, the American way.

Related Articles:

Sen. Jim Bunning’s Statement

Paulson Plan a Historic Swindle – William Greider

Administration Seeking $700 Billion for Wall Street – New York Times

What We Need to Know About the Bailout Plan – Forbes

Congress Tries to Fix What it Broke – Investor’s Business Daily

Dirty Secret of the Bailout – Huffington Post

How We Became the United States of France – TIME

A Tribute to Nathan Hale – Teacher, Soldier, Hero

Anyone rambling through the eastern parts of Connecticut will probably notice a number of landmarks, parks, schools and the like named after Nathan Hale, the American Revolutionary War patriot who was hung by the British in New York for spying.  It’s no wonder because Nathan Hale is Connecticut’s official “state hero” and deservedly so.  Here in my hometown of New London, we not only have a school named after him, but also have the school in which Hale taught before enlisting in George Washington’s army after the Battle of Lexington and Concord.  Fortunately, here in New London we have a considerable number of connections to the great American who reportedly said at the moment of his death sentence, “I only regret that I have but one life to give my country.”  On this day, September 22, 1776 he was hanged.

Nathan was born in Coventry in 1755. He was the sixth child in a family of twelve children. In April 1767, when Nathan was twelve years old, he lost his mother.

Nathan came from an educated family and so it was natural that he was sent to Yale for his higher education. He entered Yale College at New Haven in 1769. At the time the college was a town academy, consisting of just three buildings. One of these buildings, still standing at Yale, was “Connecticut Hall,” which served as a dormitory. Hale roomed in its south entry during one or more of his four years at the college. He had two roommates, one of which was his brother Enoch. His class, the class of 1773, had thirty-six graduates. Among the tutors were such famous men as John Trumbull, the painter, and Timothy Dwight (later the President of Yale).

Hale did well at Yale, proving to be one of the better scholars and also one of the most popular men of his class. He became good friends with Benjamin Tallmadge, who was later involved in the secret service under Washington.

Like many young graduates, Hale took a position teaching school – first in East Haddam and later in New London, Connecticut. In rural East Haddam, however, Hale appears to have been lonely, missing the lively company of his college friends. New London was definitely more to his liking – it even had a newspaper, liberal in character, published by Timothy Green, a proprietor of the Union School. His classes consisted of about thirty young men who were taught Latin, writing, mathematics, and the classics. In 1774, he also conducted a summer school for young ladies from 5 to 7 AM. That the young ladies of New London were willing to attend a 5 AM class in the classics was perhaps more a tribute to the schoolmaster’s good looks than any attraction to the subject at hand. Although he never appears to have been serious about marriage, during 1774 he was teased by two former classmates about an infatuation with his landlord’s niece, Elizabeth Adams. Although Elizabeth married in 1775, in 1837 she wrote a stunningly beautiful remembrance of her friend, Nathan Hale, then dead for sixty-one years.

Nathan enjoyed teaching and his mild manner of imparting knowledge was greatly appreciated by both students and parents alike. Consequently, in late 1774 he was offered a permanent teaching position as the master of the Union School and it appears that he intended to make teaching his profession. During this same year, he also joined a local militia and was elected first sergeant. While his amiability made him many delightful acquaintances among the town’s best families, nineteen-year old Nathan Hale also continued several close friendships with his former Yale classmates. Their surviving letters tell of the joys, frustrations, romances, and boredom experienced by young people on the threshold of life and painfully impatient for it all to unfold. By the spring of 1775 therefore, civic-minded Nathan Hale had many interesting friends, a great job that he enjoyed, perhaps a girl friend (or more), and an enjoyable life in a bustling cosmopolitan seaport city. Everything was going his way.

When war broke out in April, many chapters of Connecticut militia rushed to Massachusetts to help their neighbors during the Siege of Boston. Hale’s militia marched immediately but he remained behind – perhaps because of his current teaching contract which did not expire until July, 1775. Or perhaps he was unsure. Contemporary letters tell of the conflict that went on in his friends’ minds – doubtless mirrored in his own – whether to join the new army and fight in Boston or to keep quiet and wait. This was not the clear decision we all see today and these young professionals had a lot to lose. The new master of a prestigious private school does not without considerable risk take on the label of rebel and traitor.

In July 1775, Nathan received a heartfelt letter from classmate and friend, Benjamin Tallmadge. Always the pragmatist, Tallmadge had gone to see the Siege of Boston for himself. Upon his return, Ben poured out his heart in a letter to Nathan dated July 4, 1775 – the last year that date would be just another day. After analyzing the pros and cons of joining up, Tallmadge finally told Nathan that, in spite of his friend’s engagement in a noble public service (teaching school), “Was I in your condition … I think the more extensive Service would be my choice. Our holy Religion, the honour of our God, a glorious country, & a happy constitution is what we have to defend.” The day after receiving Tallmadge’s letter, Nathan Hale accepted a commission as first lieutenant in the 7th Connecticut Regiment under Colonel Charles Webb of Stamford.

Stationed at Winter Hill, Hale enjoyed military life and threw himself wholeheartedly into the duties of a company commander, trying to be a good officer, yet yielding to and clearly enjoying the new, macho experiences of camp life. Like most young soldiers, he complained about his superiors and worried about his subordinates – on one occasion offering his own salary to his men if they would stay in the army another month. Still – he told his friends – he was enthusiastic, happy to be there, and wouldn’t accept leave even if he could get one.

When Washington reorganized the army, Nathan received a captain’s commission in the new 19th Connecticut Regiment and – to his credit – several men asked to be placed under his command. In the spring of 1776, the army moved to Manhattan to prevent the British from taking New York City. Nathan spent six months at Bayard’s Mount building fortifications and preparing for the inevitable battle. When the British invaded Long Island in August, 1776, Hale had still not seen combat and his regiment also missed fighting in the Battle of Long Island. After almost a year in the army, he had kept records, drawn supplies, written receipts, and supervised guard duty. These were not the daring exploits young men dreamed of when they went to war.

At the beginning of September 1776, with the British in command of Western Long Island and the rebel army trying to defend Manhattan, Washington formed The New England Rangers, an elite, green beret-type unit under Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton. Hale was invited to command one the four companies assigned to forward reconnaissance around the Westchester and Manhattan shorelines. Meanwhile, Washington desperately needed to know the site of the upcoming British invasion of Manhattan Island. The best way to obtain this pivotal information was to send a spy behind enemy lines but in honor-conscious eighteenth century minds, spying was considered to be a demeaning, dishonest, and indecent activity – unworthy of a gentleman.

Nevertheless, Knowlton persuaded Nathan Hale to volunteer for this spy duty behind enemy lines. Before leaving, Nathan asked his fellow officer and friend, Captain William Hull, for advice. Hull tried hard to dissuade him from the dangerous and controversial mission but in the end Nathan justified it by saying that any task necessary for the public good became honorable by being necessary. This was finally his chance to do something valuable to the patriot cause.

Accompanied by his sergeant, Steven Hempstead, Hale left Harlem Village in early September and headed north along the East River. Although armed with an order allowing him to commandeer any armed American vessel, Hale was prevented from crossing to Long Island by numerous British ships on patrol. He finally found passage at Norwalk, Connecticut and crossed the Long Island Sound in a rebel longboat. Leaving his uniform, commission, silver shoe buckles and other personal possessions with Hempstead, Nathan Hale slipped into the darkness at Huntington Bay, Long Island and dropped out of sight – both to his friends and to history.

He doubtless spent several days behind enemy lines in his contrived disguise as an schoolmaster looking for work. Before he could return with any useful information, however, the British invaded Manhattan at Kip’s Bay (East River at 34th Street), taking most of the island on September 15th and 16th. His mission negated, Hale may have crossed into British-occupied New York City presumably to gain whatever intelligence he could for Washington, who was now entrenched behind the bluffs at Harlem Heights. On September 20th, New York City was set on fire, causing confusion, rioting, and a heightened alert for rebel sympathizers. By this time, Hale is thought to have returned to Long Island for a planned rendezvous with the longboat. On the evening of September 21, 1776, he was somehow stopped, perhaps near Flushing Bay, Long Island, by the Queen’s Rangers, a new company of Loyalists led by Lt. Col. Robert Rogers (of Northwest Passage fame).

The circumstances of his capture have never come to light although many theories have been proposed. Almost immediately after Hale’s death, rumors flew that he had actually been recognized while undercover by his first cousin, Samuel Hale, a dedicated Loyalist then working for the British in New York. Samuel denied these allegations and what part, if any, he had in his cousin’s fate has never been substantiated.

Nathan Hale was immediately brought for questioning before the British commander, General William Howe, who had just moved into the Beekman Mansion (51st Street and 1st Avenue). Intelligence information was found on his person and since this was not in code or invisible ink, he was irrevocably compromised. Hale identified himself, his rank, and the purpose of his mission, perhaps to regain a semblance of an honest soldier (rather than a spy). Although Howe was moved by the young man’s demeanor and patriotism, he was out of uniform behind enemy lines. The customs of war were clear and Nathan was sentenced to hang the next day.

A tradition says that Hale spent the night confined in a greenhouse on the Beekman estate and that he was denied a minister or even a bible by the provost marshal, an unsavory character named William Cunningham. The next morning, Sunday, September 22, 1776 at 11:00 AM, Nathan Hale was marched north, about a mile up the Post Road to the Park of Artillery. It was located next to a public house called the Dove Tavern (66th Street and 3rd Avenue), about 5 1/2 miles from the city limits. After making a “sensible and spirited speech” to those few in attendance, the former schoolteacher and Yale graduate was executed by hanging – an extremely ignominious and horrible fate to one of his time and class.

Whether Hale said that he only regretted having one life to lose for his country has been debated. The quote comes from a British engineer, John Montresor, who kindly sheltered Nathan in his marquee while they were making preparations for the hanging. Hale entered and appeared calm, asking Montresor for writing materials. He then wrote two letters – one to his favorite brother and classmate, Enoch Hale, and the other to his military commander (these letters have never been found and were probably destroyed by the provost marshal).

Captain Montresor witnessed the hanging and was touched by the event, the patriot’s composure, and his last words. As fate would have it, Montresor was ordered to deliver a message from General Howe to Washington (under a white flag) that very afternoon. While at American headquarters, he told Alexander Hamilton, then a captain of artillery, about Hale’s fate. Captain Hull found out and went with the delegation returning Washington’s answer to Howe whereupon he managed to speak with Montresor. The British engineer told Hull that Nathan had impressed everyone with his sense of gentle dignity and his consciousness of rectitude and high intentions. Montresor quoted Nathan’s words on the gallows as: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

This elegant statement, doubtless paraphrased from Addison’s popular play, Cato, is the quotation best remembered from the execution of Nathan Hale. He must have been telling the British that his cause still had great merit and that someone like himself – intelligent, educated, and decent – was willing to die for it without regret. It should be put in prospective that the cause was in bad shape in September 1776. The much-defeated and demoralized rebel army had been chased into upper Manhattan, ripe for total destruction by the vastly superior British forces. Its soldiers were deserting in droves now – sometimes whole companies at once – and the end seemed only a matter of time. But Hale told the British straight – standing on the gallows – that his country was still worthwhile and worth dying for.

William Hull later told the world about his friend’s patriotism, bravery, and sacrifice; however, since Hull’s account is not that of an eyewitness, many historians have denied his story as a unsubstantiated folk legend. If this is true, it means that either Montresor or Hull lied about Hale’s last words, which seems like a strange thing for either of them to do. From a practical standpoint, it is hard to believe that Hale would have been so well remembered had he not distinguished himself in some outstanding manner at his execution. He was a junior officer of no significance and even his brief spy mission had failed.

Another credible statement purporting to be from Nathan Hale’s execution is found in the diary of Lt. Robert MacKensie, a British officer in New York at the time. The diary entry was made on the very day of Hale’s execution, September 22, 1776: “He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.” This indicates that Hale wanted to be remembered as a soldier under orders and not a spy.

In conclusion, an insignificant schoolteacher who never wrote anything important, never owned any property, never had a permanent job, never married or had children, never fought in a battle and who failed in his final mission – made history in the last few seconds of this life. He is to be admired because of his courage in accepting a difficult mission (both dishonorable and dangerous) that he did not have to do. Then he had the cool and presence of mind to set the British straight about American patriotism, literally in the shadow of the gallows. We don’t know what exactly he said, but it must have been impressive and Hale deserves to be remembered for his genuine dedication, his courage, and his willingness to pay the price with honor and dignity.

Nathan Hale’s body was left hanging for several days near the site of his execution and later was buried in an unmarked grave. He was 21 years old. – Mary J. Ortner

Related Articles:

Nathan Hale’s Mission – CIA

The Last Days and Valiant Death of Nathan Hale – American Heritage

Biographical Sketch of Stephen Hempstead – Battle of Groton Heights

Life of Captain Nathan Hale (Biographic Sketch of Stephen Hempstead of New London)

Farewell to Yankee Stadium

Seventy years ago today much of Long Island and New England suffered the most devastating hurricane to hit that area in modern-day history.  When the storm, dubbed the Long Island Express was over, it left over 600 fatalities and the damage assessed at almost $40 billion in today’s dollars.  Although for many New Yorkers and New Englanders, the date September 21st is a day to remember that fateful storm, in today’s sports world – this night will be remembered by more people as the day Yankee Stadium,  will see it’s last New York Yankees home game.  After 85 years of hosting America’s most successful sports team and a host of other events, the stadium is closing and will be torn down. Next season, the Yankees will be playing in the New Yankee Stadium just across the way from the current park.  Coincidentally, tonight’s game is against the Baltimore Orioles, the team that moved from Baltimore in 1903 to New York, first becoming the New York Highlanders and then in 1913 becoming the Yankees.

Like many baseball fans and in particular, Yankee fans, this night will beckon a host of memories.  Some of the most memorable moments in sports history have been witnessed in the old stadium and for anyone who has been to the stadium to watch a game, just being there is an experience that has an indelible quality to it. For me, I have some memories too and they are forever etched in my mind and heart.  Although I have seen my share of games in “the House that Ruth Built,” there are but a few that I hold dear to my memory.

Back in the 1988 season, I was able to take my son Aaron, then eleven years old, to see a game at the stadium.  When we got to the stadium, I was really looking forward to how my son would react to being at such a huge venue where are favorite team was playing.  I remembered what it was like when I was growing up and going with my father to Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium to see the Orioles play.  Like my son, who could recite the names and stats of every member of the Yankees, I was totally into the moment. (See my post on Bobby Murcer)  Although we ended up sitting in the upper deck, on the first-base side, it really didn’tmatter.  We were at Yankee Stadium watching the Yankees – live and in color and with thousands of other excting fans. As luck would have it, about a dozen biker-types were sitting a couple of rows behind us and they were enjoying the game with the aid of a considerable amount of beer.  As the game moved into later innings our biker friends began to get a little more boisterous and crass.  With the Yankees losing the game, the crowd starting calling for Yankee third baseman, Mike Pagliarulo to be put into the game.  Pags, as he was called hadn’t started the game and the fans wanted him on the field.  At that, one of the burly biker guys sitting behind us started yelling, demanding that “Pag-lee-a-ru-lo” be put into the game.  I noted the phonetics of Pag’s name for the purpose of noting that in fact, the “g” in his name is pronounced like a “y.”  When my son heard this mistaken pronounciation, he turned around toward this burly, tattoo-covered biker dude as shouted above the roaring crowd, “It’s PAH-lee-AH-ROO-low, Stupid!”  At that moment, I felt ice pour through my veins.  I began to image myself being chained to a Harley, being dragged to the street of New York by a biker named, Assassin!  As I awaited my fate, I felt what I thought was a baseball bat pressed on my right shoulder.  I hestantly turned to see what was weighing my shoulder down.  Much to my surprise, yet not relieved, it was the forefinger belonging to the guy who’s pronunciation my son had unceremoniously corrected.  Trying to muster up more courage than a schoolgirl and trying not to look directly at the “Assassin’s” eyes (or eye!) I turned toward the next, and possible last chapter of my life.  When finally the tattooed and leather-adorned creature came into focus, he grunted and with a typical, stereotypical biker voice grunted, “You’ve got a hell of a little shit there, don’t ya?”  I wasn’t going to argue with him, so I said proudly, “You betcha!”  Then the biker dude tapped me a couple of times on the back as we returned to our previous positions.  All that remanded at that moment was the smell of Budweiser in the air which permeated from every pore and the breath of my new-found biker friend.  As the game moved on (and Pags did play) the Yanks came from behind to win the game.  At the end of the game, we just sat there listening to Frank Sinatra singing, “New York, New York” and savoring the moment.  Aaron was in heaven.  I, on the other hand was stll wondering if the “Assassin” would make my “little shit” an orphan.

From time to time through the years,  Aaron and I, family and friends would visit the stadium.  Day games, night games, sunny days and rainy ones too, we just loved to be there where our “boys of summer” played the game which is our national pastime. We’ve been so fortunate to have the Yankee Stadium experience as part of our own life’s history.  Hopefully next year, my son and I can make a trip to the New Yankee Stadium to see the Yanks play in thier new digs.  Hopefully, I won’t have to fear for my life this time.

Related Articles:

Giving Up the Ghosts at Yankee Stadium – FOX Sports

Thoughts on the Closing of Yankee Stadium – Sporting News

Facts & Figures on Yankee Stadium

Monument Park at Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium Virtual Tour