Earlier last month, I was struck by a brazen act of cheating by Mets 3rd baseman Todd Frazier. Look at it here. I know that baseball has a long history of condoning cheating to a point (see spitballs, emery boards, pine tar, etc) but this act seemed to cross the line and Frazier’s explanation (“It’s Hollywood”) seemed like a terrible example to follow. But is it that unusual?
After all, I’m not sure LeBron James has ever agreed with a foul called on him. Have you been to a high school gym? Parents scream at refs, coaches seem to take turns losing their minds, and everyone signals the direction of an out of bounds ball toward their favor. Whatever happened to sportsmanship? Instead we have gamesmanship where everyone subscribes to the belief that screaming at refs, faking injuries, and flopping are part of the game and necessary to win. The end justifies the means.
Is that really so unusual? After all, we have plenty of Americans who support politicians who will get them what they want (e.g. a pro-life court or tax cuts) despite flaws and indiscretions. And the same philosophy seems to have infected the Church. As a former nuncio attacks the pope, many Catholics (including prelates) insist on supporting or attacking him. When a bishop’s synod begins, many Catholics (including prelates) insist on supporting or attacking it. As if we need to line up for or against everything. And we can vilify our opponents and ignore everything but our most important objective. Again, as if the ends justifies the means.
In the midst of this, Cardinal Cupich offered this intervention (i.e. a reflection) to the Bishop’s Synod on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Especially apropos because the synod’s preparatory documents called for a renewed encounter with Jesus and the Word of God, Cupich presents the metaphor of the church as the fallen man in the ditch and Jesus as the Good Samaritan guiding it to redemption. We need the Good Samaritan in our Church, in our politics, and on our playing fields. And we need to follow the example to create a better world.
In today’s newsletter I tackle poor sportsmanship and the Good Samaritan. What? Trust me, it works in my head. Read Cardinal Cupich’s reflection first. I had a really tough time narrowing the articles down to the best five so I encourage you to meander through the newsletter and find something else interesting.
- The two articles at the end of the American Catholic News section on the history of the Catholic Church (“What Happened to the Catholic Church?”) part 1 and part 2 are worth the effort.
- The first link in the Leadership section is entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Making Smart Decisions” and is fantastic. The Farnam Street blog discusses mental models, processes, and presents a bibliography on decision-making. It’s a great resource.
- Another blogger who I regularly read is A.J. Juliani. At the beginning of the Teaching & Learning section, he writes “How to Win Friends and Influence Students” based on Dale Carnegie. We could all use a reminder about how to build up goodwill at this time of year!
- The next article is entitled “Six Things Teachers Say with Good Intentions…But Shouldn’t” is a great reflection on what kinds of language works to promote learning and what doesn’t.
- At the end of the Miscellany section are two great articles on Fake News and a long video that is very well-done. You’ve probably heard too much about fake news and perhaps you don’t care. But I think it’s important to stay informed and these are also great resources to share with students. “How Private Information Helps Fake News Hoodwink the Public” and “Why Fake News Campaigns Are So Effective” are both from the University of Pennsylvania and are fascinating. The longer video “Deepfake Videos are Getting Real and That’s a Problem” has serious implications for the future.
Have a great week! I’ll be spending most of it in Jacksonville enjoying my colleagues and learning about best practices in Catholic education.
This week, I’ll be releasing a great podcast with interviews with Brittany Wilmes of NCR and host of the “In Conversation” podcast; Antonio Felix of Loyola Marymount’s PLACE Corps and former inner-city Catholic school principal; and author, professor, and school choice advocate Ashley Berner. I’ll also be interviewing new Catholic school superintendents, veteran superintendents, and perhaps even a local principal on a tour of local schools. Here is the link to the podcast. Here are videos showing you how to download and subscribe to a podcast on iTunes and how to download and subscribe a podcast on Android.