by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

While all the headlines about criminal pro players blazed, my sister and I went to see the ultimate football movie, When the Game Stands Tall the other night. The main reasons were that Jim Caviezel stars, and it’s not a chick flick since I hate chick flicks.

Most of the movie takes place on the field. Mind you, I’m a graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens (where alumni buy condos with a view of the football field), and my sister’s son and her husband both are avid Miami Dolphins fans (and proud owners of season tickets), but neither one of us is keenly interested in sports.

The movie was fascinating.

Unlike most sports movies, it’s not about an underdog (Rocky, The Champ), charming losers (Tin Cup), or fantasy settings (Field of Dreams), and the hero doesn’t die of a tragic illness (Bang the Drum Slowly, The Pride of the Yankees).

It’s based on the true-life story of high school football coach Bob Ladouceur, who, as the movie blurb says,

took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.

Ladouceur coached the Spartans to consistently “give a perfect effort from snap to whistle” indeed. The winning streak was an extraordinary accomplishment for any coach, by any standard, but that is not the reason why this film is a must-see.

The reason why this story is so compelling is that Ladouceur leads his team members to live by an ethic that transcends sports:

I have often heard it said that football builds character. I disagree; I believe it reveals character. There are many different people, events, and experiences that contribute to character formation. Every single person at this gathering has a special talent. Mine I think happens to be coaching – many times I wish that I had certain talents my students possess but that’s what God gave me. This point could not be better illustrated that in Jesus parable of the Three Servants in Matthews gospel. In it, a wealthy landowner gave three of his servants a certain sum of money to see what each would do with it. The first two returned the money with profit. They used their courage and ingenuity to parlay their sum into something more. The third hid the money and just returned what he originally received. The landowner didn’t expect much – he just wanted the servants to have the courage to use what talent they had and do something. The key point to the story is and I quote, “The land owner gave to each servant according to his ability.” The assumption here, is that each of us has some sort of ability: talent. Now it’s our responsibility to discover what that is and what’s more, have the courage to use it.

Ladouceur believes in integrity and Christian values as a way of life for each member of his team. As Erik Daniel points out,

Where most high school football movies are about sex, pride, drinking, and disobeying your parents, When The Game Stands Tall stresses the importance of purity, humility, and family.

The film shows the entire team reciting the Lord’s Prayer in unison, with reverence, which, as of itself, will probably bring out an atheist hissy fit or two. (That may be why 78% of the audience liked it but only 17% of the critics did at Rotten Tomatoes.)

While the poster tag line reads “It’s not how hard you fall, it’s how you get up”, I also find in When the Game Stands Tall an especially American theme: It’s not just about how you play the game, it’s how you win.

Add to all this a great team of perfectly-cast engaging young actors, and you have a winner.

Go see it.

Rated PG. Suitable for the whole family, but leave the preschoolers home since there’s a shooting, and realistic, rather violent, scenes during the games may frighten some of the youngest viewers.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by baldilocks

In the wake of the thirteenth anniversary of the Islamic attacks of 9/11, I found myself revisiting the stand at the Gates of Vienna. I had already known about the Battle of Vienna, but, in the Baldilocks minipast, I had glossed over the specifics—the pertinent dates of the stand, September 11-12, 1683, and the leadership role that the King of Poland, Jan Sobieski, played.

The battle was won by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the latter being represented only by the forces of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland (the march of the Lithuanian army was delayed; as a result they arrived in Vienna after it was relieved). The Viennese garrison was led by Ernst Rüdiger Graf von Starhemberg, an Austrian subject of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. The overall command was held by the commander of the Polish forces, the King of Poland, Jan III Sobieski.

As it happens, I am reading—or, rather listening to–Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, which, highlights the attempt of the two to rid Europe of the Poles. Of course, we know that the Poles were not unique in this respect, but the attempt to exterminate the Poles is particularly ironic in light of the role that the 17th century Polish monarch played in protecting Europe from Islam.

All of the European tribes/nation-states were long-standing enemies to each other, and, in fact, resumed their wars following the successful pushback of the Muslims. Indeed, after the death of Jan Sobieski’s successor, Poland fell into civil war, and a century later, Austria, Prussia and Russia partitioned Poland–which only came back into existence in 1918 at the end of World War I.  As I’ve already alluded to, the 20th century incarnations of the latter three nations would do again on September 1, 1939.

But, the point is that the European kingdoms/national entities united to defeat a common foe: Islam. And, they united under a common banner: Christianity. (Sobieski had been asked by Pope Innocent XI to lead the coalition.)

A couple of days ago, I pointed to the role that Islam played—and is still playing–in the fragmentation of the African continent. Islamic slave raiders have been committing a primitive form of genocide against the hundreds of tribes of Africa for 1400 years and many observers have noted how Africans have failed to develop over these same centuries.

But, if we put all of the information together, we can easily see what a difference unity makes.

One set of tribes united against invaders and their continent flourished, in spite of continual internecine wars. Another set of tribes failed to unite against the same invaders and, as a result, the continent became mired in chaos, slavery and death. The other result: the continent was softened up for colonization by any power seeking to do so.

There’s another difference between the two continents in relation to Islamic incursion and it’s a spiritual one.

[To be continued]

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: novel, Internet, blog fees, and COFFEE

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—–>>>>

 

by baldilocks

This post originally appeared at my old blog in 2010–a response to a person who called me “dumb” and implied that IBaldilocks mini was a “traitor to my race” for opposing the building of the Ground Zero Mosque. That may seem ridiculous on its face, but it points to a deeper deception: that Islam is a “black religion” because of its widespread presence on the African continent.

We have seen the actions of groups like Boko Haram and ISIS as they conquer non-Muslims: they murder/castrate the men and boys and sell the women and girls into sex slavery. What fewer people know is that this is a 1400-year pattern for Islamic conquerors. They are merely following their leader.

And what a minority of black Americans know is that, for nearly that entire time period–well before the European slavers and colonialists noticed the continent–black Africa was continually subject to this Islamic onslaught, with the usual choice offered.  

One might call Islam “Africa’s death,” regardless of the choice each individual black African has made.

In 2008, I posted the following video via YouTube. It had been part of a series which exposed the truth about the Islamic Civilization with special emphasis on the horrors of the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade.  My intent was to counter the exhortations of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and the like-minded who continue to excoriate America and the rest of Western Civilization for past sins against black African Slaves and Americans of African descent.

Continue reading “The Other Black Genocide”

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

According to many Obama supporters, pretty much all criticism of Obama is racist; you can add the New York Times, that arm of the VRWC (Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) to the racist list: Today they have Bruce Ackerman in the op-ed page,
Obama’s Betrayal of the Constitution

PRESIDENT OBAMA’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

That was the opening salvo; Ackerman ends with,

He is acting on the proposition that the president, in his capacity as commander in chief, has unilateral authority to declare war.

In taking this step, Mr. Obama is not only betraying the electoral majorities who twice voted him into office on his promise to end Bush-era abuses of executive authority. He is also betraying the Constitution he swore to uphold.

You could argue, as some of the NYT commenters, that Obama has not declared that the U.S. is going to war against a nation, just that “We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”

Whatever that means.

For now, Obama’s sending only “an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq,” but “these American forces will not have a combat mssion” to fight “terrorists [who] are unique in their brutality.”

John Kerry assures us it’s not war, “it is a major counter-terrorism operation.” David Corn calls it a “nuanced war”.

I guess that explains why the Turks, the Germans, and the Brits are not joining in Obama’s broad coalition of partners. Germany will provide support to the Kurds, but Germany and the UK won’t be providing airpower for American airstrikes. They are not nuanced enough.

Then there’s Obama’s line, delivered with a distinct lack of affect, about

This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

Yemen and Somalia, two failed, strategically marginal, states, with active untamed insurgencies, while, as Dr. Krauthammer points out,

The Islamic State controls a vast territory in the heart of oil-rich Mesopotamia, threatening everything of importance in the Middle East.

How will this glaring mismatch of ends and means all turn out? As Pete put it,

This is by design because no matter what President Obama and the Democrats say, the only way to beat ISIS is boots on the ground and they know it. However they are determined to avoid that responsibility.

Richard Fernandez is gloomy, “My own view on the matter can be summarized in a word: Libya. Libya on a gigantic scale.”

Clearly, the Islamic State is Islamic. What is not clear is whether the Commander in Chief realizes that the Constitution does not grant him unilateral authority to declare war . . . because, nuanced or not, war is war.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s blog.

by baldilocks

If your mother tells you that she loves you, get a second source.baldilocks
–Anonymous
The Ray Rice abuse video is being cast in many ways: his fault, her fault, the NFL’s fault, male abusers, female abusers, disparity in punishment between male and female aggressors, blah, blah, blah. Assuming that the Rices get the earthly penalties they deserve and the mental help they need, these opinions are less important than a long-term malaise demonstrated by the reaction to the Rices’ mini-drama.

Let’s roll the “tape.”

The very first incident in the video is committed by Ray Rice. He spits on his then-fiancee. The woman responds by slapping Rice on the face. Then, in the elevator, he spits on her again, enraging her. She begins to hit him again, and, in response, Rice cold-cocks her.

We don’t know what happened before, and, really, who cares? The court of public opinion goes by what it sees and hears…or, sometimes, what it fails to discern. And, this court is as faulty as more formal courts. This isn’t a surprise nor it should it be. All human endeavor is bound to have faults. (Thanks, Adam.)
The more alarming thing about the Rice situation is this: how effectively a group opinion can be formed without that opinion being based on the entirety of objective evidence. No matter how many times this happens, I am amazed by it each and every time.
In this case, many are asserting that Mrs. Rice was the aggressor due to the fact that the initial spit from Mr. Rice was missed. (Full disclosure: I missed it also, until someone pointed it out.) But, here’s the point: many are ignoring the truth of what the video reveals, in spite of the evidence.
As a Christian, I’m mindful of the fact that the Enemy roams the earth as a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour via his favorite tactic: deception. I’ve been fooled before and it will probably happen again. That’s the value of prayer, however, and thinking situations through.
Pride, anger, outrage–or even the erroneous assertions of trusted friends–can distort reality. Whether it’s about some sick relationship between a professional athlete and his spouse or about the larger troubles plaguing our country, the truth should be the most important factor.
This little soap opera is a test-case from the Father of Lies.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014.  Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

With apologies to Carter G. Woodson. This essay was originally posted as a Facebook note on June 24, 2010. SinceBaldilocks mini it’s getting some recent attention over there, I figured that it could use some attention here.

by baldilocks

Reading as a pair of acquaintances had a back-and-forth about American and Russian literature got me to thinking about how we Americans—especially those of us who attended urban inner-city public schools–have been short-changed with respect to our formal primary and secondary education. From that train of thought, I began to muse on how many of us black Protestant Christians have been cheated in the same manner. Continue reading “The Mis-Education of the American Christian Negro”

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

For his Labor Day speech, President Obama floated the concept of “immigration rights“:

Cynicism is a bad choice. Hope is the better choice. Hope is what gives us courage. Hope is what gave soldiers courage to storm a beach. Hope is what gives young people the strength to march for women’s rights, and worker’s rights, and civil rights, and voting rights, and gay rights, and immigration rights.

Let’s go back fifty years or so, to the days when union activist Cesar Chavez was advocating farmworkers’ rights:

Mr. Chavez, perhaps the best-known Mexican-American activist, fought for better wages and conditions for workers but held complex and evolving views on the status of unauthorized immigrants, some of which would be at odds with the changes many Hispanics and others are seeking today.

What the NYT reporter euphemistically calls “complex and evolving views” was decades-long opposition,

These days, Chávez is revered among Mexican-American activists and others as a civil rights figure. Yet that’s not who he was. Chavez was primarily a labor leader, and so one of his main concerns was keeping illegal immigrants from competing with and undercutting union members either by accepting lower wages or crossing picket lines. When he pulled workers out of the field during a strike, the last thing he wanted was a crew of illegal immigrant workers showing up to do those jobs and take away his leverage.

So Chavez decided to do something about it. According to numerous historical accounts, Chavez ordered union members to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service and report illegal immigrants who were working in the fields so that they could be deported. Some UFW officials were also known to picket INS offices to demand a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Exactly what does Obama mean by immigration rights? asks John Hinderaker

Legally, of course, no one has a right to violate our immigration laws, whether the Obama administration enforces them or not. So what does the president have in mind here? It seems clear that Obama isn’t suggesting that immigrants are somehow being denied their actual rights under American law. Certainly he made no such explicit claim. Rather, his point appears to be that some people–not everyone in the world presumably, but some unspecified group of people–have a “right” to enter the United States, or stay here, even though it is illegal to do so under U.S. law, as long as Barack Obama opposes the law in question.

“Immigration rights”, for whom? It doesn’t matter, as long as Obama’s talking points are repeated.

For a Labor Day speech, however, it’s worth remembering that Chavez recognized that flooding the labor market with low-wage, low-skill laborers worked against his unionized farmworkers.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American news, politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

13900908195843375_PhotoLby baldilocks

Peter has been documenting the mind-boggling Rotherham scandal and its very existence is merely a single death rattle for the United Kingdom as we knew it. There are many other signs of rigor mortis, however. They might as well say the Shahada in Parliament.

There’s this:

There are now more than twice as many British Muslims fighting for Islamic State than there are serving in the British armed forces, according to a British Member of Parliament (MP).

Khalid Mahmood, the MP for Perry Barr in Birmingham, estimates that at least 1,500 young British Muslims have been recruited by extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria in the last three years.

Mahmood told Newsweek that this figure had been building since the start of the Syrian conflict: “If you look across the whole of the country, and the various communities involved, 500 going over each year would be a conservative estimate.”

According to the Ministry of Defence, there are only around 600 British Muslims currently serving in the Armed Forces, making up approximately around 0.4% of total personnel. 4.3% of the British population are Muslim.

There’s this:

Protesters filmed themselves blocking a London road with dozens of parked cars as they called for Israel to relinquish its grip on Gaza amid concerns the community is becoming ‘radicalised’

Drivers parked their cars, honked their horns and shouted ‘free free Palestine’, bringing the major commuter route in east London to a standstill. […]

The demonstration took place on July 20 in the Blackwall tunnel which connects Greenwich in south London with Tower Hamlets, an east London borough with a large Muslim population, police confirmed.

The footage of parked cars covered in Palestinian flags and the word ‘Gaza’ emerged on YouTube early this week and has been shared on Facebook more than 6,000 times.

It is unclear how long the tunnel remained blocked during the incident.

It came just days before Tower Hamlets’s Muslim mayor sparked outrage by raising the Palestinian flag outside the town hall.

And this, regarding Rotherham; it is the most telling sign–and the most disgusting one–that it’s over, over there.

The dads had attempted to remove their daughters from houses where abuse was taking place, but they were the ones who were then arrested by police.

Prof Jay’s inquiry said police often treated victims with ‘contempt’, frequently arresting them while taking no action against those committing offences.

Her report said: “In two of the cases, fathers tracked down their daughters and tried to remove them from houses where they were being abused, only to be arrested themselves when police were called to the scene.

“In a small number of cases, the victims themselves were arrested for offences such as breach of the peace or being drunk and disorderly, with no action taken against the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault.

Why haven’t such things happened here? You know why. But the zone is being flooded and our leadership is being tested…and found wanting. But I have more faith in the American people.

Rest in Peace, UK…and James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!baldilocks

by baldilocks

Report: ISIS eyeing Mexican border to infiltrate America and execute terrorist attacks

Islamist militants tweet gruesome images of dead American soldiers and vow to blow up embassies

Saudi King warns that the west jihadis’ next target

dandelions (1)

The weeds of fear are the favored crop of any terrorist.

Two years after that bit of unpleasantness in New York City, in Washington, DC, and in the Pennsylvania countryside, I wrote this:

Terrorists commit their acts not for the benefit of the dead, but for those who remain alive. “Look at what we’ll do to you and yours,” they say, “if you don’t do what we want you to do.” They revel in our horror. They rejoice in the sorrow of the families who will never bury the atomized [or beheaded] bodies of their loved ones. They say, “yeah, we did it and we’ll do it to you unless you….submit.”

Does anyone remember the story of Emmett Till? Several years before I was born, Till, fourteen-years-old, was the victim of another set of terrorists. This young black man, not knowing or not caring about the ways of the South of that period, was murdered for allegedly making an indecent remark to a white woman. He disappeared and, days later, his body, beaten and shot, was found in a river. The men who were tried for his murder were acquitted. Emmett’s murder wasn’t an isolated case of a man supposedly defending the honor of his wife. As we know, all over the South, black men were being murdered for “stepping out of their place,” whether they actually had stepped out of their “place” or not.

Those who committed these crimes did so not only for “revenge” on the dead, but to send a message to and strike fear in the living. That’s what made it terrorism. Sound familiar?

In 2001 (and 1968 and 1979 and 1983 and 1988 and 1993 and 1998 and 2003 [added: and in 2014] and every year in between), the players are different from that of 1955, but the message is the same: do what we want or this will happen to you or to those whom you love. In this case, it is “worship in the way we worship; bow five times a day to Mecca or else.”

I mention the Till case not to compare the two sets of terrorists, per se, but to compare the dissimilar reactions of the victims’ loved ones. Mamie Till, Emmett’s mother, had an open-casket funeral for her son. […]

[Till’s] head–monstrous from the beating, the bullet and the decomposition–contrasted against the normalcy of the casket and the suit that Mrs. Till had picked out for the body. It gave the picture that much more ugliness: your worst nightmare in banal black and white.

But Mamie Till’s steely words about the open-casket decision were electrifying: “I want the world to see what they did to my son.”

Well, the “world” did see and, though there was much more sorrow to be had–as it is with any major upheaval of a society–things changed. Some of us even think that things have changed for the better…such home-grown types of terrorists still exist, but when caught, they usually sit on death row rather sit at home having beers with their friends. We can send our message as well.

Keep sowing, jihadis. Most of us are good at pulling up weeds–and at cleaning metal.Baldilocks mini

All die once. But the feaful die twice.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game,
was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, 
Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

The book of Ecclesiastes is a fascinating piece of literature albeit “Sacred Literature” from the ancient world.

The book of Ecclesiastes along with the books of Proverbs and the Song of Songs represent the trilogy of books authored by Solomon.

Old Testament scholars believe that Solomon – who was the son of David the first great King of Israel – wrote the magnificent “Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) when he was a young man enraptured in love (as an aside, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.. let us leave this subject for another discussion….).

Solomon composed the book of Proverbs during his mature years or during the time that his great Wisdom and Mental faculties were on display when men and women from the ancient world traveled days and months to imbibe the sage advice that flowed from his mind and heart.

Ecclesiastes was written during the latter stages of his life when it appears that he had become somewhat cynical and perhaps even somewhat melancholic as he reflected upon his life.

Solomon was one of the richest men who ever lived; he literally was able to do almost anything that his heart and ambition desired to do.

Yet, in the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon repeats over and over again that “all is vanity” and that “there is nothing new under the sun.

In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon exclaims that:

What does the worker gain from his toil?

I have seen the burden God laid on men.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

He has also set eternity in the hearts” of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3.9-13 NIV).

 How would one even begin to exegete these verses?

The first verse in this stanza would remind the observant reader of “the book of beginnings” or the book of Genesis.  Adam was told that “by the sweat of his brow he would eat his food” (Genesis 3.19).

Solomon appears to be echoing this thought.

With regards to his statement that “he has seen the burden God laid on men” one might ask, “Is true work a burden or a joy?”  The answer to this question may greatly depend upon the job that an individual may have to do at a given moment.

Solomon continues and avers that “God has set eternity into the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Centuries later Sir Francis Bacon would concur with King Solomon when he wrote a commentary on one of Solomon’s proverbs (25:2):

“For he [Solomon] sayeth expressly, the Glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the Glory of a King is to find it out [Proverbs xxv, 2]:

 as if according to that innocent and affectionate play of Children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide his works, to the end to have them found out; and as if Kings could not obtain greater Honour, than to be God’s play-fellows in that game;

specially considering the great command they have of wits and means, whereby the investigation of all things may be perfected.”  

— Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (1605), Book I.

Yet, while Solomon extolled the glory and joy of work, investigation, and inquiry, he also would warned the readers of the book of Ecclesiastes that –

“…of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12.12).

There comes a time when we must take a time out to rest from our labors and lay our burdens down.

Perhaps we might begin to think of the Labor Day Holiday weekend as a time to –

  • …cease from making many books, articles, study, and the work that so often wearies the body.
  • …think creatively and meditate upon the things that matter most in life.

Perhaps “Labor Day” is a time for a reassessment to see if a life course change is in order and if we are in need of priorities realignment?

If indeed Our Creator has placed “eternity into our hearts” as affirmed by King Solomon, then just perhaps “Labor Day” is a time for us to cherish our families, our loved ones, and to be thankful for the freedoms that we have in this great land of ours.

Happy Labor Day!