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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

August 2021   Issue 1

 

CHANGE: The second half of the Atlantic League baseball season begins August 3, 2021.  That may not be big news for most people, but what’s about to happen there will ultimately have the attention of baseball fans everywhere.  The Atlantic League is affiliated with Major League Baseball but it’s an independent minor league.  Most notably, it’s a proving ground for future rule changes and it’s looking at a big one starting on Tuesday: the pitchers will start throwing one foot further away from home plate.  This experiment will monitor how the game is affected by pitchers standing 61 feet - 6 inches away from batters rather than the normal 60 feet – 6 inches, which was established in 1893.  The average fastball in MLB is now approaching 95 mph with strikeouts nearing one-fourth of all at-bats.  This change would cause a fastball to appear almost 2 mph slower and result in reversing a 15-year trend of increasing strikeout rates.  Baseball fans are anxious to see what happens in the Atlantic League laboratory, and hopefully it will inspire all of us to pray about potential personal changes that we’ve not considered in a long, long time. USA Today, 4/15/21, p.3C

CONTENTMENT: In 1919, Putnam’s Investment Handbook stated, “The great trouble with talking about saving is that people don’t like to be denied.  They dislike to be repressed.  Is it not unfortunate that we have the word ‘saving’ at all, with its ‘kill-joy’ implication?  Would it not be better if we spoke of ‘delayed spending’ rather than saving?”  Not much has changed since the previous pandemic hit a century ago. AARP, June/July 2021, p.23

ENCOURAGEMENT: In Minnesota, kids wearing a helmet while scootering, biking, or skating can get pulled over and cited for…following the rules.  A statewide initiative funded by AAA provides participating police & sheriff’s departments with certificates that state, “I Got Caught.”  The positive citation can be redeemed at Dairy Queen for a free small ice cream cone.  The initiative is designed to promote safety and foster trust with local law enforcement personnel.  Sauk Rapids Police Chief Perry Beise said, “If you can catch people when they’re doing things right, and you can reinforce that behavior, they’ll continue to carry on that positive behavior.”  Encouragement is truly “catching” people doing good things, and we should all do that a lot more often. USA Today, 6/24/21, p.5D

EVANGELISM:Carl F. Henry (1913-2003) was an American evangelical theologian, seminary dean & professor, prolific author, and founding editor of Christianity Today.  He was heady and brilliant, yet lost when a young evangelist shared the Gospel with him while they drove around Long Island.  In retelling the story of his conversion in a 1966 New York Times interview, Dr. Henry explained: “I knelt in the back of that car and dedicated myself to Jesus Christ.  Life has not been the same since.”  It’s no wonder that he famously and repeatedly said, “The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.” HenryInstitute.org

FOCUS: While the world was focused on a global pandemic, Minwook Paeng was focused on something entirely different.  The Innovation Design Engineering student at London’s Royal College of Art invented the Third Eye in 2021.  It attaches to the forehead and monitors activity ahead while users focus on their phone.  A buzzer sounds to warn of obstacles in the path ahead.  Paeng says it’s a satirical project to help people realize we are turning into what he calls “phono sapiens.”  Rather than becoming a legitimate piece of technology, he hopes it will highlight how much attention is given to our phones and will cause people to “take time for self-reflection.” Examiner, 6/3/21, p.21B

HAPPINESS: Gavin MacLeod recently died on May 29, 2021 at the age of 90.  The actor had an interesting and memorable career.  Pre-mature balding as a teenager prevented little more than bit parts until he landed his breakout role as Murray Slaughter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970 when he was nearly 40.  But his legacy role came after that when he became Captain Stubing on The Love Boat.  Critics lampooned the show, but it enjoyed a popular ten-year run with a light-hearted formula of passengers boarding the ship to either discover love or rediscover it.  In response to all of the critics, MacLeod said of the show, “I don’t care if it reflects life or not.  I love happy endings.”  We all love happy endings, including God, and His Word is the best guide for having one. The Week, 6/11/21, p.35

STRESS: Some people approach stress as if there’s a simple pill for the cure.  The late Adrian Rogers told of a man who went to his doctor because of the toll stress was taking on his body.  After a thorough examination, the doctor reported that he didn’t discover any medical issues and then said, “You’re just burning the candle at both ends.”  The highly-stressed man curtly replied, “I didn’t come here for a lecture.  I came for more wax.”  Our “wax” is limited so monitor and guard it appropriately. Mature Living, July 2013, p.30

VISION: In his highly acclaimed new book, New York Times bestselling author Adam Grant addresses a term coined by Frank White in 1987; “the overview effect.”  Astronauts commonly experience this effect when in space looking back at earth.  Seeing the whole rather than the separate pieces can yield a different perspective; a more cohesive and unified sense of identity.  Too often we find ourselves focused on what matters most in the silo we inhabit.  When we see the big picture, like an astronaut, we’re “less focused on individual achievements and personal happiness, and more concerned about the collective good.”  Whether it’s vision for one person or a large conglomerate, painting the big picture is a powerful force for fostering success in the present and the future.  Jesus did that masterfully with His disciples in John 14:1-3. Think Again, Adam Grant, 2021, p.128

 

EVERYDAY HUMOR

 

FRUSTRATION: I don’t use profanity nor do I advocate it, but an article about automated answering systems reminded me of that old Baptist confession, “I’m so mad I could cuss.”  In an article subtitled “These tips can save your tech sanity,” a short list of tricks was given for getting past automated prompts to an actual human in customer service.  In addition to the usual ideas of repeating “operator” or “help” or continuously hitting “0,” the reporter noted that many systems are designed to recognize profanity as a level of frustration that demands immediate human interaction and can be used as “short cut.” It’s certainly not a license to cuss, just a reminder of how prevalent frustration is. USA Today, 6/11/21, p.3B

POETIC JUSTICE: Jennifer’s wedding plans seemed to be in shambles when it was discovered that her mother and her stepmom had purchased the exact same dress for the wedding.  The trophy wife stepmom refused to stand down so Jennifer’s mom acquiesced and said she would go buy a new dress for the big day.  The bride was so relieved to have the tension resolved and offered to return the dress for her mom since she wouldn’t have another occasion for wearing it.  With a sly smile, the older woman explained to her daughter that there was no need to return the dress because she was going to wear it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. Reader’s Digest, June 2018, p.74


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