February 28, 2001. A lovely Sunday, and a great day for a Daytona 500. That is, until we lost Dale Earnhardt (Sr). The racing legend began his dominance at the precise time that television and advertising was beginning to make NASCAR—-the pre-eminent stock car racing series here in the US—-visible to a mainstream audience. Earnhardt won 7 season championships in NASCAR’s top series, between 1980 and 1994, and was most likely its most beloved driver by fans. (His son, Dale, Jr., was far and away NASCAR’s most popular driver his entire career.)
Rafael Nadal has now won the French Open—-one of tennis’s major championships—-a mind-boggling 14 times. No other man has won an individual major more than 9 times. In this era of the “Big Three” —- Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic —- the trio have captured an absurd 62 major championships. Recall that there are 4 major championship tournaments in a calendar year. Nadal is now two majors clear of both rivals for the most career majors among men.
My first challenge in such a piece as this is to try to say what I intend to say as simply as I can, without bogging us down in too much philosophical jargon. On the other hand, one of the problems that Christians have faced is trying to describe their positions, or to combat harmful ideas contrary to them, whilst lacking the philosophical framework that makes various errors easier to see.
I suppose we are much more aware of the lives of celebrities and of strangers, on account of the Internet. But doesn’t it seem like a lot of suicides are happening?
Over the next few months and years, I will have the opportunity to write about faith and disability, and how those experiences connect with my personal story. I want to say that it is against my nature to embrace too heartily any set of ideas that magnifies differences and distinctions for political gain. I don’t even really want to make anyone feel guilty, at least unnecessarily, so the stories I tell are my own. If a particular feeling or experience of mine doesn’t seem fair as a criticism, you’re free to let it go, and to pay it no heed.
The St. Louis Cardinals have a defensive dynamo at third base, the perennial Gold Glove winner, who also provides middle of the order punch to the offense, and makes them a yearly threat to be world champions. His name is Scott Rolen.
We forget this all the time. Perhaps as we get older, we’re a little less oblivious and proud about it, but I don’t think we truly understand the fragility of our existence. Most people who start off essays like this have some sort of axe to grind; I don’t, at least not about this, but I was reminded by something I read.
There are special days and months that we celebrate in the secular society. Holidays for the birthdays of presidents, recognition of ethnic minorities, and days set aside to raise awareness for rare diseases and conditions. Most of this passes without notice, and much of it is unobjectionable. But I have noticed that some of it is, and that it forms a competing liturgy with the Christian one.
I don’t know what sort of regime of shame existed in American culture before I was here. In some people’s telling, everyone thought sex itself was dirty and shameful, and untold secrets were kept. I don’t want to take us back to the good old days that never actually existed, but I think sexual intercourse between unmarried people is still wrong. That’s what “fornication” refers to, if you didn’t know.
I got your attention, didn’t I? This is not to say that I am its master; I am well aware of my lack. Nevertheless, the secret is plain in front of us. The secret of a good life is thankfulness.