Step one: complete.
Chicago Cubs fans like me are hoping for an end to a 108-year drought in World Series championships this year. I have rambled around for 60 of those years, and it is one of the great longings of my lifetime to see my team become world champs at least once.
And what shall I say of my sainted grandfather? He was born the year the Cubs played in their first World Series, 1906, losing to the “Hitless Wonders,” the crosstown White Sox. They then won consecutive championships in 1907 and 1908 over the Detroit Tigers. So he was too young to enjoy those, and he never saw it happen again.
I used to sit with him in his recliner when I was a small boy, watching the Cubs on WGN TV, mostly grumbling when they lost, but enjoying every moment with him. The picture on the right shows me at as a toddler with my Grandpa Mercer and my cousin. I’m the one wearing the Cubs hat. This is my life, folks.
Well, I’m happy to say that the Cubs completed the first step toward a World Series title this year by winning the National League’s Central Division on Thursday night.
There is a lot more to be done, and October baseball is never a sure thing, always full of surprises. There are no guarantees; the games must be played. But this is the best chance the Cubs have had for a long time, and I can’t wait to see how it works out.
Go Cubs Go!
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WHAT IS AMERICAN RELIGION WORTH?
Brian Grim, associate scholar at Georgetown University’s Religious Liberty Project, recently presented a new study on the worth of religion to American society. Grim tabulated that religion is worth a whopping $1.2 trillion to our economy.
To put a value on the work of the nation’s 344,000 religious congregations — representing all faiths — Grim looked at the schools they run, the soup kitchens, the addiction recovery programs and their impact on local economies. Churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship mostly spend locally — employing hundreds of thousands of people and buying everything from flowers to computers to snow removal services.
Grim came up with three estimates and settled on the middle one — the $1.2 trillion — as what he called a “conservative” appraisal of the work of religious organizations in American society annually.
The following chart, presented in another article on the study in CT, shows the breakdown of various religious organizations and what they contribute.
Religion, as it turns out, is good for the economy.
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NON-DENOM SEMINARY NOW OFFERING SEX ABUSE AWARENESS TRAINING
In the wake of the Catholic Church’s clergy sexual abuse crisis, many Catholic as well as Protestant seminaries began offering training on abuse prevention as part of ministry ethics, pastoral care or personal formation classes. And seminaries work with denominations on this kind of clergy training.
Now, Dallas Theological Seminary, a non-denominational evangelical seminary, has made it a graduation requirement that students intending to become ministers must take a short training class in sexual abuse awareness. This is unique among evangelical schools.
The one-hour “Ministry Safe” class is described as “entry-level certificate training” by the seminary. In the spring semester, the school plans to offer a fuller course on the subject, with more than 40 hours of instruction on abuse prevention in ministry settings.
Good for them.
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COMING OF AGE — AT AGE 113!
CBS News reports that the world’s oldest man, 113-year-old Yisrael Kristal, will finally get the chance to have his bar mitzvah.
Kristal was born in 1903 in Poland, but World War I got in the way of his original bar mitzvah.
During World War II, he spent time in the Auschwitz concentration camp, and survived the Holocaust.
Kristal lost his family in the Holocaust and moved to Israel where, this week, a hundred relatives are gathering to celebrate his 113th birthday and to hold that overdue bar mitzvah.
“We will bless him. We will dance with him. We will be happy,” his daughter said.
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QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
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PIX OF THE WEEK: STREETS OF BLOOD SACRIFICE
In case you’ve ever wondered what a culture of animal sacrifice looks like, the Times of India has posted a graphic story and pictures from Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh.
Large-scale animal sacrifices marking the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha combined with heavy rains have turned the streets of Bangladesh’s capital into rivers of blood.
Muslims traditionally mark Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, by slaughtering livestock. Usually a goat, sheep or a cow is killed to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith.
The meat of the sacrificed animals is shared among family and friends and poor people who cannot afford to sacrifice animals as a gesture of generosity to promote social harmony. Dhaka residents used parking lots, garages and alleys to kill the animals and the blood flowed into the flooded streets, turning them into rivers of blood.
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THE POLAR BEARS STRIKE BACK
About a dozen polar bears have besieged a weather station located on the remote Troynoy island in the southern part of the Kara Sea, the station’s head told TASS on Monday.
“A female bear has been sleeping under the station’s windows since Saturday night. It’s dangerous to go out as we have run short of any means to scare off the predators,” Vadim Plotnikov explained. “We had to stop some of the meteorological observations.”
He said some ten adult bears, including four female bears with cubs, were spotted around the the weather station.
“On August 31, the bear killed one of our two dogs and has not left the station since then,” he added.
Plotnikov said he had informed the Arkhangelsk-based Northern Meteorological Department of the bear dilemma but was advised to act independently.
The Mikhail Somov expedition vessel delivering cargo to Arctic weather stations will reach the island only in a month, while the station’s five staff members need flares to scare off the polar bears.
Apart from that possible solution, the crew are hoping that by the end of October, or in the beginning of November the near-shore waters will freeze and the bears will leave the island in search for food.
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Oh yeah, an alert reader sent me a link to this…this…well, whatever it is.
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Internet privacy is, apparently, not something that humans alone worry about.
In August 2015, Google Street View captured images along the banks of the River Cam, in Cambridge, England. As the cameras snapped their way through a meadow called Coe Fen, a cow crossed the road.
Google apparently decided it would behoove it to add an identity-protecting blur.
When an editor at The Guardian found the blurred face this week, he took a screenshot and shared it on Twitter, much to the Internet’s delight.
THIS WEEK IN MUSIC
The late, great singer-songwriter Steve Goodman (“City of New Orleans”) was a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. After every Cubs home win, his anthem, “Go Cubs Go” is played at Wrigley Field and the fans revel in joining in.
In honor of their National League Central championship in 2016, here’s Steve singing his heart out for them. Wish you were here to see it, friend.