Determined To Be The Best

One of my favorite all-time baseball players is Joe DiMaggio. In the history of baseball, there have been other players who were better, but there have been few, if any, who so excelled in every facet of the game.

DiMaggio put up impressive numbers. He was a three-time MVP. He led the league in home runs and batting average twice. In 1941, he got a hit in 56 consecutive games—widely considered the most unbreakable record in professional sports.

And he was a winner. In his 13 seasons with the Yankees, they won 10 Pennants and 9 World Series.

When it came to baseball, Joe DiMaggio was it. He was the peak; the pinnacle; as good as it got. And he knew it.

Pride and vanity can certainly be negative traits, and they were traits that DiMaggio possessed in abundance, but in his case, they spurred him to greatness. He liked the legend he had created for himself, and he was absolutely determined to live up to it.

He did so by playing incredibly hard, while still making it look like everything he did on the field was effortless. The graceful way he played earned him the nickname, “The Yankee Clipper.”

DiMaggio always battled injuries, and late in his career, it got harder and harder for him to stay in the lineup and put up the impressive numbers that everyone was used to.

Finally, in 1951 at a relatively young 36 years of age, DiMaggio walked away from the game, not content to just be an average player. As teammate Lefty Gomez put it, he retired because “he couldn’t be Joe DiMaggio anymore.”

There’s a lot to be said for setting high expectations for yourself and not settling for anything less, and in a time when our heroes seem to let us down all too often, it’s comforting to think about a guy like Joltin’ Joe, the hero who never did.

Once, late in a season when the Yankees had already clinched the American League Pennant and were just finishing out the rest of the season, one of Joe’s teammates asked him, “Why do you play so hard in a game that means nothing for your team?”

He replied, “Because there’s at least one person in the stands that has never seen Joe DiMaggio play before.”

I love that quote, and the idea it represents.


Office Oddities: Weird Mail

So I’ve gone four posts without receiving any comments, which, for a temperamental blogger like myself, is hard to swallow.

Maybe my infrequent summer posting is beginning to take a toll on my readership, or perhaps my recent posts just haven’t been very good. Or maybe they’ve been so good that you haven’t even been able to comment, and instead just sit back in stunned silence.

Or it may just be that you, like me, have been quite busy, and reading blogs (even blogs as interesting and important as The Doc File) has taken a backseat to other activities.

Whatever the reason, I will soldier on and (shockingly) continue a series that I began some time ago.

One of the interesting things about working at a church building is that the daily mail occasionally contains delightfully bizarre pieces of correspondence.

I guess the reason for this is that, when it comes to religion, people have some especially unusual viewpoints, and they’re always interested in sharing those viewpoints with local churches.

Today, we received such a letter. Well, it wasn’t exactly a letter—it was a hand-addressed envelope (no return address) containing a handwritten card which proclaimed in block letters:


In case you, like me, don’t happen to know Matthew 12.40 by heart, here is what it says:

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
At this point, I have to confess that I have absolutely no idea what message the author of our card was trying to convey. I get that the “heart of the earth” comes from the passage, and I get that in the passage, Jesus was comparing the time following His death and preceding His resurrection to the time Jonah spent inside the big fish, but I have no clue what point our mysterious mailer was trying to make.

Any suggestions?


Equal Opportunity Ridicule

Ever since George W. Bush first came onto the national scene during his first presidential campaign, I’ve always been able to enjoy a good Bushism. I think it’s important that we not take ourselves (or others) so seriously that we can’t laugh when they accidentally say something funny (and in that spirit, here’s a list of some of Bush’s best.).

That being said, I don’t like how people often judge Bush to be a complete moron solely on the basis of his misstatements. My opinion on that is basically that anyone who speaks on record as often as the President of the United States does is going to mess up a bunch and say a lot of stupid things (I know that I would).

And Barack Obama, who during the primary some pundits claimed was so intelligent, so cerebral that he wouldn’t be able to connect to voters, has been doing his best over the last few days to prove my point, repeatedly making dunce-like statements.

Although he likely won’t get lampooned in the national media like Bush would if he had made similar statements, consider the following gems:

  • “…Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran.” That statement makes since, until you realize that Obama isn’t even a member of the Banking Committee, so it’s not exactly “his.”
  • Tuesday, while speaking in Jordan, Obama said (emphasis mine), “You know, it’s always a bad practice to say ‘always’ or ‘never.’”
  • In another speech on his tour of the Middle East, Obama proclaimed that “Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s.” In the context of the speech, it was clear that he meant that America is a strong friend of Israel’s, but seriously, if Bush had said this, there would be no end to the ridicule he would receive.
So I think the moral of the story is that by all means, let’s be good-natured enough to laugh at our national leaders (and ourselves for that matter) when they accidentally say foolish and stupid things.

Let’s just not assume that they are foolish or stupid for saying them.


The Dark Knight: Worth The Wait

I really liked The Dark Knight.

In general, I’m a fan of the superhero genre, but I thought The Dark Knight freed itself of that classification—it was a really good movie that just happened to be about a superhero.

I thought Heath Ledger was outstanding, and that he gave an original interpretation of the Joker which was truly frightening. I know that some people are criticizing the suggestion that he deserves an Oscar nod as being overly sentimental, but I doubt you’ll see many performances that are better, and the fact that it was in a movie that is sensationally popular (a characteristic that is often looked down upon by award voters) shouldn’t be held against him.

As the title implies, the Dark Knight is a very dark movie, darker maybe than a lot of people are comfortable with, but I think that’s its great strength. Against a backdrop of larger than life characters, fantastic car chases, vicious fight scenes, and devastating personal tragedy, it delivers a dark and startling message that should make us all think.

There is a constant struggle between Good and Evil, and that struggle is complicated by the fact that Good can’t resort to the same methods to win that Evil can. If it does, it loses its goodness, and ultimately, the cause it was fighting for in the first place.

It’s a lesson that Batman learns, and at a high price.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do. I’m actually considering going a second time myself…


Not Far From Us

For me, one of the highlights of my vacation was visiting Chichen Itza, which I had studied about in college but had never had the opportunity to see before.

Chichen Itza was a pre-Columbian Mayan cultural center and is located on the Northern Yucat√°n peninsula, a dry area with no rivers above ground.

Despite this, Chichen Itza was able to thrive as a major Mayan city because of two cenotes located there. A cenote is a sinkhole which contains groundwater, and the two cenotes of Chichen Itza were substantial in size and would likely have contained adequate water year round for the people the city.

However, of the two cenotes, only one was used for drinking water, because Cenote Sagrado (pictured above) was believed to be the home of the Mayan rain god, Chaac.

In order to keep Chaac happy and the rain plentiful, the Mayan people would offer human sacrifices. These sacrifices, often children, would be weighted down with gold and silver jewelry and then tossed into Cenote Sagrado. Their remains, as well as the treasure that dragged them to their deaths, were found hundreds of years later when the area was excavated in the early 1900s.

I thought the history of Cenote Sagrado was fascinating when I heard it, but aside from that, my chief reaction is one of sadness—how sad it is that so many children had to be killed in order for the people of Chichen Itza to appease a god they didn’t understand, and whose will they had to guess at.

Paul describes a different God in Acts 17.27 who “is not far from each one of us.”

How fortunate we are to have a God who revealed Himself to us through the life of His Son, and whose will and desires for us we can know by reading His Word!


Flickr Album

It has taken me a while, but I now have pictures from the cruise (and lots of other pictures besides) up on Flickr.

They’re still not all that organized, and I haven’t tagged them yet or anything, but you can see my photos here.

The photo above is one of my favorites from the cruise, and was actually taken by my wife.


Strange Dream

So last night I dreamed that I was at an Arkansas Razorback football game when I looked over and saw Chuck Norris in the stands.

Interestingly enough, Chuck saw me too, seemed to recognize me, and then, after we were introduced through a mutual friend, we went to eat at Pizza Hut.

At Pizza Hut, Chuck ordered steak and potatoes (which he got—who in their right mind is going to tell Chuck Norris that he can’t have steak and potatoes?), and while there, we also had the following conversational exchange:

Chuck: “You don’t smell so fresh buddy.”
Me: “Yeah I know. I’ve been at the beach all day.”

Yeah. Strange.



I got back from vacation late Thursday night, but I've actually been fairly busy since then and haven't had time to post.

We had a great time on our cruise. Overall, I thought it was a little overrated, but it was definitely relaxing, which is what I was hoping for. For me, the best part was probably getting to visit Chichen Itza:

Me desperately wishing that climbing El Castillo was still permitted.

I'll be out of town again beginning Thursday, this time for our summer youth group trip. I'll try to catch up with blogging next week.

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