Bulls Praised in Herald-Sun Commentary

On Saturday, April 30, 2005,the following article appeared in the Herald-Sun. Tom Ehrich penned this piece, entitled “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, which ran in the Religion section of the Durham newspaper.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame
By Tom Ehrich

Reprinted with permission of Religion News Service

Enough of politicians, preachers and their seductive tango of moralistic rage. It’s time to watch our Triple-A Durham Bulls usher in the promise of summer.

Long lines at ticket windows suggest that my son and I aren’t alone in savoring the familiar thwack of bat hitting baseball and fielders dancing their elegant ballet.

First assignment for this early-season outing: figure out who has the good food this year. Last year’s favorite barbecue stand has cut portion size. A new Mexican dessert holds promise. The burritos look tasty.

Second assignment: figure out where the between-innings promotions will be least annoying. Loudspeakers have made Section 211 deafening. Next time, we’ll aim for Section 201, where one can still hear the mournful train whistling past the former Lucky Strike factory out back.

Beyond sight is the game itself. It’s out there, no doubt, beyond happy Cub Scouts poking each other and exuberant scout leaders conducting a raffle, beyond parents buying cotton candy for kids, beyond an Asian scout, African-American scout and a dozen Caucasian scouts popping up and down.

The game’s being beyond sight isn’t a problem. This evening is a family outing for all of us: for twin girls running the bases in a between-innings race with the Bulls’ mascot, for birthday parties next door in Section 213, for a Latino dad and his two sons, for young lovers in all configurations, for office workers saying farewell to two colleagues, for twosomes, threesomes, foursomes and blended families.

These are “family values” in action. While conservative politicians and their religious allies venture into demagogic code language, scapegoating gays and “liberals” for all that is wrong with America 2005, actual “family values” mean spending time with children, sponsoring scout troops, savoring human diversity, sharing space, explaining the game, discussing life and standing with all sorts and conditions to enjoy a tuba quartet’s rendition of the National Anthem and then, seven innings later, to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

No matter what ethics cleansers say, I am pleased to live in an area where races mix, immigrants are welcomed, families come in many shapes and sizes, men and women merge lives in numerous configurations, scouts are silly and no one shouts them down, and tolerance — blessed tolerance, kindness, mercy, acceptance — is the accepted order.

These are “family values,” not some relativistic betrayal of “biblical truth.” These are what we should be teaching our children: tolerance, not intolerance; kindness, not haughty moralizing; mercy, not blaming; and truth-telling, not political campaigning cleverly disguised as Sunday worship.

This baseball outing works because of basic human decency, not because of some narrow moral code. When the announcer bids us stand and remove our caps for the National Anthem, everyone stands — from the newly arrived Latino trio to the quiet old-timer seated next to me. Everyone shows respect, not just those whom religious ideologues have deemed worthy. This land belongs to all, not the self-righteous few.

When the umpires make calls unfavorable to the home team, we holler our dismay, and then we move on, without any threats of violence against those charged with administering justice. Every batter has three strikes; the favored few don’t get extra swings. The game is decided on the field, not in private suites funded by lobbyists.

Yes, baseball is just a game. But the values on display here are worth standing up for.

(Tom Ehrich is a writer, consultant and leader of workshops. His forthcoming book, “Just Wondering, Jesus: 100 Questions People Want to Ask,” will be published by Morehouse Publishing. An Episcopal priest, he lives in Durham, N.C. His Web site is www.onajourney.org.) 

Copyright 2005 Religion News Service.  All rights reserved.  No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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