Revisiting the Old, Old Story; Soccer, Football and Voting

America’s Trillions Make No Difference

The Tragedy in Mesopotamia Continues

By Harry M. Covert

The tragedy in Iraq involving Iran and probably Syria should be of great concern to Christians of all persuasions.

In the simplest of terms the horrific killings, invasions of previous territories and unseeing allies the warfare is going to continue, no matter what international help arrives from the United States, England and others.

Expenses in the trillions of dollars from America’s government make no difference to the religious factions such as the Sunnis and Shiites. No question that eliminating Saddam Hussein was a good thing but, dear friends, nothing has changed except more fighting.

Concern here is the mounting threats and danger to those professing Christians of the ages in the land of Mesopotamia. Too, I think of the Americans who have died, those who are physically injured and the many who have suffered mentally. The latter we call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and thousands of veterans, both men and women, are suffering.

Will further armed military intervention be required? Even the most the most battle-hardened and battle-weary soldiers, marines and officers wonder if their service was in vain.

How about the spiritual effect on America’s finest? If Jesus is the answer, what is the question? This question has been popular among busy interlocutors making rounds on the religious preaching circuits, especially in the 1960s and -70s.

There is no doubt that spiritual conversion changes lives and has.  Many of those who suffer from wounds in the Iraqi engagements, from Afghanistan, from Vietnam, Korean and World War II have difficult days and hours attempting to continue with Christian teachings. These are monumental mental infirmities that require long periods of prayer, supplication and again understand the teachings of Jesus.

The Middle East conflagrations aren’t improving no matter how much American money and resources are made available. No one wants to say it, but the tribal warfare in the Arabic and Persian societies is not new and is likely to continue forever. This may be negative thinking but the facts are true. The battle for Iraq, a land created after World War I, has not improved and will not, no matter the diplomacy exercised anywhere.

Christians, Bible teachers, Biblical scholars and laity will say the constant battling in the Mideast really began with the birth of Ishmael to Hagar, by Abraham. Just the discussion of this premise can bring about a battle royal and, unequivocally, is not Politically Correct these days.edy unfolding agai

Helping the Battle-Scarred

It is important to help PTSD victims en masse with the story of Jesus. Rectors, Bishops, Archbishops, ministers and preachers everywhere should be counseling and helping those men and women, and civilians too, with the Gospel. This is a heavy load to bear for those of the Cloth.  As the Bible says, “to whom much is given much is required.”

The professionals in the psychiatry fields must be bolstered by the Gospel. The Old Testament’s Jeremiah reports “call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things.” A powerful message but how do we reach the shell-shocked, the mentally hurt or physically damaged? For one thing, it must be a one-on-one matter and not just 15 minutes and go home. It’s a laborious, loving time when Divine guidance breaks through and heals the head and heart. It must be daily and willingness on the hurting victim and counselor.

Without question, the devastating Iraqi situation is not going to improve anytime soon. Dealing with the tribal minds and personages, the leaders and the civilian men, women and children will not be quick and easy.

While the politicians debate and consider, Christian leaders from top to bottom must be “on the battlefield” too, and be ready to remove themselves from their vicarages, parsonages and pulpits. They must “tell the Story” and do it now.

This article has appeared in Virtueonline, The Voice for Global Anglicanism, on June 17, 2014.

Tickets by Legals, Illegals

National Pastime Still the Best

By Harry M. Covert

FREDERICK, Md. — The first leg of the political season comes to an end in four days when Tuesday’s primary voting for local and state offices stops. The real “knockdowns” then hit the streets, airwaves and printed pages almost immediately on the road to finality in November.

Does the phrase, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” come to mind? It certainly will have some effects on winners and losers, including the voting public, and quite possibly for some time to come.

Today’s declamation joins others to encourage registered voters of all spectrums to mark those ballots. It is important. News recipients of print and broadcast certainly are aware of the growing turmoil around the globe. Maybe peace will remain in these environs.

Political fighting is alive and well. Frankly it can be disturbing to find the real truth. A wise old lady once said “tell the truth and shame the devil.” What a time facing “the good, the bad and the ugly.” I know everybody here in Frederick County is “good.”

Confession time requires that I’m not one watching, via television, the World Cup championship underway in Brazil. They call it really the world football classic. Well that is not true. In this country, the alleged world’s most popular sport is soccer. What? I’ve never been able to get acquainted to the game. Seems like a larger version of what we used to play in grammar school – dodge ball.

Of course in the sports crazy world, even in Frederick County, baseball, basketball and football – along with slow and fast pitch softball, golf and tennis and running, yikes – are honestly THE athletic preferences. The only soccer player I ever could remember is Pele, considered the best ever. My heroes still are Charlie Keller, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Richardson, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mel Allen and Bob Conley.

One of the advantages of the Latinos infiltrating the US is they like soccer. They do pack the stadiums. They buy the tickets, both legals and illegals.

As Americans born and bred in the states, we lean to baseball, basketball and football. In high school, back in the old days, we had to do a rope climb, at least twice a year in phys-ed classes. I never planned to be a paratrooper. Somehow, I made the assent.

A Washington sports radio station is airing the FIFA games live. I gave up trying to follow the descriptions. No one was hitting a four-bagger, or singling, or walking, no mention of a southpaw, lefthander, right-hander or hit-by-pitcher, of WHIP, a long reliever or closer.

Soccer moms? Sounds nice but there is no shortage, thankfully, for moms and dads leading their youngsters, boys and girls, to the baseball parks. Even the t-ball players for the tiny ones show their elders, the superannuated ones, they could possibly play again.

Those soccer moms could well be good to drive voters to the various polls. Could be a better than average turnout.

In my days of “public service” I spent a decade officiating basketball and football and umpiring scholastic and collegiate baseball including a Class A minor league game. An awesome experience long remembered. 

Best Officials ‘Play On’

            The association had many good umpires. One spring afternoon, seemed like every high school, public and private, in Central Virginia had baseball games. Also happened an important military school soccer was also on tap and one of the officials was ill.

At the last minute, this correspondent was begged to fill in. I explained I wasn’t plugged in about the rules. I did know it was running, running and more running. No time outs.

En route to the school, I received a quick clinic. “Just remember, if the ball goes outside, just say “play on. The players know what to do.”

It was like going to vote for the first time. The game progressed, parents filled the venue, yelling and screaming for their sons. The unusual thing was no coaches challenged the officials, no boos from the stands and no complaints.

Game fees had been paid before the start so anxious and tired I wanted to get away quickly.

Leaving the field, my partner and I were accosted by both coaches. I figured some disagreements would finally make it. What a shock. “You guys did a great job, the best officials we had all year.”

Turning to my colleague, I said, “Play on. Let’s get out of here.”

I know more about balls and strikes and elections. I’m keeping it that way and will be casting a ballot.◄