Criterion selects Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd”

Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services are quickly making DVDs a thing of the past, however, Criterion continues as a resource for outstanding, classic films. Criterion selects films it deems to be significant and presents them in high-quality resolution along with many bonus features.

No, I’m not a film buff even by the slightest stretch of the imagination. I’d much rather read a good non-fiction book than invest two hours in a Hollywood fantasy. But readers of this blog know that I am a fan of the films of director, Elia Kazan (1909-2003). His quintessential method-acting movie, “On the Waterfront” (1954), was previously released by Criterion in 2013. I now see that Criterion will be releasing Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd” (1957) on April 23rd.

“A Face in the Crowd” is a fascinating movie featuring a pre-Mayberry Andy Griffith as the folksy ne’er-do-well-turned-populist-kingmaker, Lonesome Rhodes, and Patricia Neal as the radio producer who discovered him, much to her regret. See my 2017 review of the film here.

Criterion’s summary of the film on it’s website is as follows:

“A Face in the Crowd chronicles the rise and fall of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a boisterous entertainer discovered in an Arkansas drunk tank by Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal), a local radio producer with ambitions of her own. His charisma and cunning soon shoot him to the heights of television stardom and political demagoguery, forcing Marcia to grapple with the manipulative, reactionary monster she has created. Directed by Elia Kazan from a screenplay by Budd Schulberg, this incisive satire features an extraordinary debut screen performance by Griffith, who brandishes his charm in an uncharacteristically sinister role. Though the film was a flop on its initial release, subsequent generations have marveled at its eerily prescient diagnosis of the toxic intimacy between media and politics in American life.”

Special features listed for the upcoming Criterion release include the following:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with Ron Briley, author of The Ambivalent Legacy of Elia Kazan
  • New interview with Andy Griffith biographer Evan Dalton Smith
  • Facing the Past, a 2005 documentary featuring actors Griffith, Patricia Neal, and Anthony Franciosa; screenwriter Budd Schulberg; and film scholars Leo Braudy and Jeff Young
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic April Wolfe, excerpts from director Elia Kazan’s introduction to the film’s published screenplay, and a 1957 New York Times Magazine profile of Griffith

“A Face in the Crowd” was a box office disaster when it was released in 1957, but its warning regarding the corrupting influence of the media upon politics is certainly an important issue in our current era and the reason why Criterion added it to its collection.

 Face in the Crowd – from the Criterion Collection web site
https://www.criterion.com/films/28703-a-face-in-the-crowd

A Face in the Crowd – Trailer

Advertisements

Polar Opposite Popes?

The Pope: Francis, Benedict, and the Decision That Shook the World
By Anthony McCarten
Flatiron Books, 2019, 233 pages

It’s safe to say the average, church-going Catholic layperson fulfills their mass obligation every Sunday, but is unaware of much of the labyrinthine complexities of their religion. In regards to the papacy, the laity see popes come and go and assume it’s all a smooth, glorious process controlled by the Holy Spirit. Well, not hardly.

In this book, the author, a self-professed, nominal Catholic, examines that unique episode in recent papal history when Joseph Ratzinger aka Benedict XVI resigned and Jorge Bergoglio aka Francis I was elected.

Ratzinger had been conservative pope John Paul II’s right-hand theologian and head of the modern equivalent of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. In that capacity, his energies were largely aimed at reigning in radical and liberal clerics. When JPII died in 2005, 78-year-old Ratzinger was elected as his replacement, much to the chagrin of liberal prelates. But the new pope’s health was already deteriorating at the time of his election and developing crises within the church (e.g., financial improprieties, clerical sexual abuse) convinced him to step down in 2013. Ratzinger was the first pope to resign since 1415. Bergoglio was elected pope thirteen days later.

The two men are polar opposites. Whereas Ratzinger was shy, withdrawn, and uncomfortable in public, Bergoglio is casual and confident to a flaw. Whereas Ratzinger was a passionate defender of conservative dogma and doctrine, Bergoglio is a pragmatic liberal who is very willing to “soften” church teaching in order to make the institution more “relevant” and “pastoral.”

How could the cardinals have elected a staunch, hardline conservative in 2005 and a progressive liberal in 2013? Bergoglio was somewhat of an unknown commodity in the minds of many of the voting cardinals. Only after he was elected did they realize how far to the Left of Ratzinger he actually was. Conservative and traditionalist Catholics rue the day when Francis was elected and pine for the end of his tenure.

Plenty of background information is provided on both men. The author does a good job of examining how each man’s individual history shaped their conflicting ideologies. The reader is also made privy to the patronage, infighting, and political maneuverings that are part and parcel of a Catholic cleric’s rise to the papal office.

Evangelical Vatican-watchers will enjoy this examination of one of the strangest chapters of papal history. Ninety-nine point nine nine percent of Catholics could not be bothered.

Postscript 1: The office of the pope is a man-made institution and cannot be found in the Bible. For more information on the papacy, see the article below:

What does the Bible say about the pope/papacy? – Got Questions
https://www.gotquestions.org/pope-papacy.html

Postscript 2: The Netflix-produced film, “The Pope,” based upon this book, is currently in post production. Anthony Hopkins plays the conservative, pope Benedict XVI, and Jonathan Pryce portrays the progressive pope Francis. There’s no release date scheduled as of yet.

When three Christians on the Padres became embroiled in political controversy and took their focus off Jesus Christ

The San Diego Padres are currently down in Peoria, Arizona in Spring Training preparing for their 50th anniversary season. In recognition of this milestone, we’ve already taken a look back at the team’s National League championship seasons in 1984 (see here) and 1998 (see here). Last week, I posted my player selections for the San Diego Padres’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (see here).

At this point, how about if I just put my keyboard on ice and wait for Opening Day, March 28th, when the Padres will host the San Francisco Giants to open what will hopefully be a winning season now that free-agent slugger, Manny Machado, is on the roster? Well, on second thought, I do have another important post about the Padres that needs to be told that actually involves spirituality.

I have a special fondness for the 1984 Padres team. After fifteen very lean years, the collection of wily vets and young players assembled by GM “Trader Jack” McKeon came out of Spring Training like gangbusters and never looked back, eventually winning the 1984 NL Pennant. I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983, so I was very interested when I found out that three of the pitchers on the ’84 team; Eric Show (rhymes with “cow”), Dave Dravecky, and Mark Thurmond, were all born-again Christians and hung out together. While their teammates went out barhopping when the Padres were on the road, the trio would stay behind in one of their hotel rooms and have fellowship together with God’s Word and prayer.

But the three also caused quite a bit of controversy for the team. Show was very interested in conservative national politics and had joined the John Birch Society (JBS). If you’re younger than fifty, there’s a good chance you may have never heard of the organization. The JBS was a radical conservative group founded in 1958 that believed America was being undermined by a national and worldwide communist conspiracy. As just one example, they linked the civil rights movement directly to the Kremlin in Moscow and argued that it was the inviolable right of each state to determine its own racial/segregation policies. As a result, the general public equated the society with the Ku Klux Klan and the “Red Scare” hysteria of the 1940s and 50s. By 1984, the JBS was already beginning to fade into obscurity, but Show talked Dravecky and Thurmond into joining the organization and the three would regularly regale their teammates with tales of how the U.S. was being betrayed by its political leaders. Show revealed the extremity of his politics when he told everyone who would listen that even President Ronald Reagan was too liberal for his liking. Huh?

The political debates stayed within the teams’ clubhouse until June 15, 1984 when Show, Dravecky, and Thurmond manned the John Birch Society information booth at the Del Mar Fair twenty miles outside San Diego dressed in their Padres uniforms. The resulting media feeding frenzy threatened to sidetrack the Padres’ quest for the NL pennant. When reporters asked the African-American players on the Padres what they thought about their teammates’ affiliation with the JBS, they replied that they certainly didn’t like the society, but felt the three were not personally racist. Padres management clamped down and ordered Show, Dravecky, and Thurmond to keep their politics to themselves.

Mark Thurmond was subsequently traded to Detroit during the 1986 season and quit the JBS in the early 90s. He has declined to talk about his former political activism and leads a quiet life in Texas.

Dave Dravecky was traded to San Francisco in 1987. Cancer was subsequently found in the shoulder of his pitching arm in 1988, and the surgery to remove the tumor forced him out of baseball. But Dravecky was determined to return to the sport he loved and followed an aggressive rehabilitation program. He caught the attention of the entire nation when he made his improbable comeback on August 10, 1989, but suffered a dramatic arm break while pitching in his next start. Shortly afterward, X-Rays determined the cancer had returned. After subsequent treatments proved unsuccessful, his left arm and shoulder were amputated in 1991 as a life-saving measure. Praise God, Dravecky has used his public platform to witness on behalf of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I’m looking forward to reviewing Dravecky’s book, “Comeback” (1990), which I borrowed from our local library. Like Thurmond, Dravecky also left the John Birch Society at some point.

Eric Show played for the Padres until 1990 and amassed more wins – 100 – than any other pitcher in team history. But Eric missed his two good friends and Christian brothers (Dravecky had been his roommate on the road) and became increasingly alienated inside and outside the locker room. A couple of rather infamous on-field incidents badly shook Show’s confidence.* At the time the team released him, Show was in a downward spiral of drug addiction. Ironically, Eric Show had become a poster boy for the moral decay he had railed against as a John Bircher. He began by using methamphetamine to give him an “edge” while playing and “graduated” to cocaine. In 1994, separated from his wife because of his drug addiction, Show died in a rehab center after ingesting a “speedball” (a mixture of cocaine and heroine). Dravecky gave the eulogy at Show’s funeral service, the only former teammate to attend.

What can we take away from the above? Well, I’ll venture to say that the three Christian brothers got sidetracked by the temporal. Remember 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Fame, fortune, and worldly concerns and pleasures ultimately don’t satisfy, but sometimes even believers get caught up in the whirlwind of temporal temptations and circumstances. In his eulogy, Dravecky warned that every believer can potentially lose their focus, just like Eric did. Run the race, brothers and sisters. Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t quit. Finish strong for God’s glory!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

*On Sept. 11, 1985, Show gave up the hit to Pete Rose that broke Ty Cobb’s previous long-standing record of most career hits. Show was roundly criticized, even by his teammates, for sitting down on the mound while the celebration for Rose in Cincinnati continued unabated for twenty minutes. On July 7, 1987, three days after Dravecky was traded, Show tried to brush back Chicago Cubs slugger, Andre Dawson, and hit him in the face. Brushing back hitters is part of baseball, but even Show’s teammates turned on the him over the incident.

Remembering Baseball’s Right-Wing Rotation
https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2017/10/31/16578390/padres-john-birch-society-mlb-alt-right

SCAN0056_edited
That’s Eric Show waving to yours truly in Montreal when the Padres visited the Expos in 1986(?). To the right of Show are Dave Dravecky and Ed Whitson.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 87, 88, 89, & 90: Relics and Sacramentals?

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week we will examine chapter eleven of Armstrong’s book in which the Catholic apologist presents four passages as proof-texts for the Catholic belief in the miraculous power of relics and sacramentals.

#87) 2 Kings 13:20-21: “20 So Eli′sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli′sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli′sha, he revived, and stood on his feet.

#88) 2 Kings 2:11-14: “11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli′jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Eli′sha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the mantle of Eli′jah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle of Eli′jah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Eli′jah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Eli′sha went over.”

#89) Acts 5:15-16: “15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”

#90) Acts 19: 11-12: “11 And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

Following these passages, Armstrong writes, “Catholics believe that physical matter can be a conveyor of spiritual grace. This is the foundation for the use of relics (objects associated with saints) and sacramentals (sacred or devotional objects)…The Catholic Church does not teach that there is any magical virtue or any curative efficacy in the relic itself. The Church merely says, following the Scriptures, that they are often the occasions of God’s miracles.” – p. 147.

The Roman Catholic church has accumulated a vast collection of purported relics over the centuries, although, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, the authenticity of many of those relics is less than questionable. The RCC accords amazing powers to its relics including the power to heal physical illnesses and reduce the time a soul must spend in purgatory. Over the centuries, Catholic pilgrims have traveled far distances to churches and shrines to receive the alleged benefits of relics. I recently posted on one such relic, the alleged seamless tunic of Jesus in Trier, Germany (see here)

Armstrong cites the four passages listed above as proof texts for Catholicism’s use of relics, as if the passages teach relics are normative for the present age. God certainly enabled the Prophets and the Apostles of old to use physical objects in miraculous ways as signs of their God-ordained authority. But we now have the New Testament as God’s solely authorized Gospel message to mankind. There is no need for miracle-performing prophets like those in the Old Testament. The Apostles were comprised of men who personally witnessed the earthly ministry of Jesus. People who claim to be apostles today do so deceitfully. It’s quite revealing that people today will claim some of the gifts of the apostolic age, but not others, like raising people from the dead (Acts 9:40-41), and drinking deadly poison and being bitten by venomous snakes without harm (Mark 16:18). Hmm, how do they explain that?

By crediting miraculous powers to relics and other physical objects such as sacramentals blessed by priests, Catholicism has encouraged rampant superstition and idolatry among its members. In addition to pilgrimages to displays of relics mentioned above, Catholics often utilize blessed statues, medals, rosaries, palm fronds, crucifixes, holy water, candles, etc. in their homes in hopes of warding off misfortune.

If Elijah, Elisha, Peter, and Paul were to enter Catholic churches and homes today, they would be appalled by the rank superstition and idolatry found within.

For more information on relics, prayer cloths, and such like see the informative articles below:

How should a Christian view relics? – Got Questions
https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-relics.html

What is a prayer cloth? – Got Questions
https://www.gotquestions.org/prayer-cloth.html

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 2/23/19

It’s good to see DC Comics has done an about face regarding this comic series, which satirizes Jesus Christ as a failure.

Pope Francis and 190 Catholic prelates from around the world are currently convening at the Vatican to address the clerical sexual abuse and cover-up scandal that pervades their church. The blazing irony is that many of these very same men, including Francis himself, are tainted by accusations of involvement in the scandal.

Conservative cardinals, Burke and Brandmüller, are among many Catholic insiders who are now giving voice to a truth that’s increasingly coming out of the closet; a large percentage of Catholic priests are homosexuals. What they’re not admitting to yet is that Catholicism’s rule of celibacy for its clerics has both attracted and fostered deviancy.

Jeffress needs to focus on spreading the Gospel rather than trying to advance his Christian nationalist “Reclaim America for Jesus” agenda. Christian nationalists (see also Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, Mike Huckabee, etc.), become so intent on fighting culture battles that they lose sight of the Gospel and readily make compromising alliances with religious unbelievers.

Francis accusing the opponents of the Roman church of being “friends of the devil” reminds me of the religious leaders of 33 A.D. Palestine accusing Jesus of being in league with the devil.

Hillsong has become the mother ship of hipster (c)hristianity. There is “some” Gospel there, but it’s really all about religious experientialism and emotionalism. Mixed in with the deafening music and light shows, this former Assemblies of God-affiliated church pushes ecumenism and the prosperity gospel.

With all of the casinos being built across the nation, bingo halls are definitely on the decline. But forty-years ago, a large percentage of Catholic parishes featured weekly bingo as a fundraiser. A born-again believer would have serious issues with their church’s building being used as a gambling den, but Catholics have always been able to syncretize the profane with the “spiritual.”

We continue to see the pedophile priests and cover-up scandal being played out locally. The arbitrator who works for the diocese has two mandates: 1) hand out compensation to victims as a gesture of “goodwill,” and 2), most importantly, don’t break the bank.

There’s no doubt actor Gary Sinise has done some excellent work on behalf of American veterans, however, he’s also one of a handful of high-profile Hollywood Catholics –  Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Colbert, and Patricia Heaton being others – who regularly use their celebrity to proselytize on behalf of their works-righteousness religion.

This is a timely and very apropos satire from the Babylon Bee in light of the story farther above.

Another strange Catholic paradox

The Roman Catholic church has an enormous catalog full of rites, rituals, ceremonies, observances, and laws. But of all of Romes’ many practices, it says the most important is the celebration of the eucharist as the prime component of the mass.

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), paragraph 1324.

At Catholic mass, it’s claimed the priest changes bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. The priest then offers the Jesus wafer and Jesus wine to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants and others who are mentioned (the pope, the local bishop, suffering souls in purgatory, etc.). The congregants who claim they have no major, unconfessed sin on their soul then line up to receive a small Jesus wafer from the priest. Catholics are taught that the Jesus wafer imparts graces for fifteen minutes as it is being digested. The graces are alleged to help the Catholic avoid sin so as to remain in a “state of grace.” Every Catholic’s goal is to be in this mortal-sinless “state of grace” at the moment of their death in order to merit entry into Heaven.

Got all that? Okay, now we can get to the paradox mentioned in the title.

As I mentioned, Catholics are taught that Jesus Christ physically resides inside of them for fifteen minutes as their stomach acids dissolve the Jesus wafer. Catholics believe those fifteen minutes that Jesus is inside them are profoundly special.

But wait! The Catholic church also teaches that God the Holy Spirit is imparted to every Catholic at the sacrament of confirmation:

“(Confirmation) is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation” – CCC 1316

So, Catholics are taught God the Holy Spirit seals them at their confirmation and indwells them. But if God the Holy Spirit allegedly indwells them every moment of every day of the year, why do they so highly prioritize the fifteen minutes when they are consuming and digesting the Jesus wafer on Sundays???

The stark truth is the tremendous emphasis given to the faux Jesus wafer keeps the Catholic laity dependent upon their priests.

As a Catholic, I also consumed the Jesus wafer at obligatory Sunday mass. However, nothing happened to me and nothing happened to my Catholic family members or classmates. There were no graces imparted. We all continued striving unsuccessfully to merit salvation by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and our church’s rules and by being “good” as we were taught. Well, on second thought, we didn’t really strive all that hard to be “good.”

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” – Mark 10:18

But no one can really be “good,” which is why Jesus Christ, God the Son, had to die on the cross for our sins. But He beat sin and death when He rose from the grave and offers the free gift of eternal life to all those who repent of their sin and accept Him as their Savior by faith alone. Won’t you accept Him today?

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12

Receiving Jesus doesn’t mean eating a faux Jesus wafer, it means repenting of sin and accepting Him as Savior by faith alone!

Tens of thousands of Rochesterian commuters are confronted by “Jesus Saves” billboard every day.

I took the above enlarged photo with my iPhone through the windshield of my car as I was driving home from work last week. I was driving around 60 mph at the time and took the photo with one hand. Definitely don’t try this at home! Forgive the poor quality.  Yes, I even photoshopped it as best I could.

Okay, so what about that “Jesus Saves” billboard in the photo?

Rochester, New York sits smack dab in the middle of the anti-Bible Belt. Ninety-five percent of the people here are either Roman Catholics, mainline (modernist) “Protestants,” or atheists/agnostics. We certainly don’t see a lot of “Jesus Saves” signs around here.

The huge “Jesus Saves” billboard sits aside Route 490 eastbound near the city center. It’s been there for a couple of months. Route 490 is the major east-west expressway in our county. Average daily traffic (ADT) on 490 at this location is about 100,000 cars per day. That’s A LOT of people reading “Jesus Saves” each day.

The Lord uses many people and things to draw souls to Him. I pray He uses this billboard on 490 to get people thinking about salvation in Christ. The smaller print on the billboard references John 3:16 and says it’s sponsored by The Shepherds Fold Church in Scottsville, New York. I checked the church’s website and I see it’s Pentecostal and teaches the prosperity gospel. Argh! Definitely not a church I would recommend. But I do pray the Lord uses the mammoth sign to get passing motorists to think about Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Postscript: I remember before I accepted Jesus that I used to scoff at any “Jesus Saves” signs that I saw. My buddies and I would always be tempted to append “…Green Stamps” to any “Jesus Saves” signs or posters we encountered. If you’re younger than, say, fifty, I’m confident you have no idea what S&H Green Stamps were.

The San Diego Padres’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team

In recognition of the San Diego Padres’ upcoming season-long 50th Anniversary celebration, we’ve already taken a look back at the team’s two National League Championship pennant seasons, in 1984 (see here) and 1998 (see here). It’s now time to choose the Padres’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Compared to the major-market ball clubs with their high payroll$, the small-market Padres haven’t had a lot of big-name stars. Relatively few quality players have had long tenures with a club that can’t afford to keep free-agent All Stars on the roster. With that said, here’s my take on the Padres’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team:

  • C – Benito Santiago (1986-1992) – The 1987 NL Rookie of the Year wowed players and fans alike by throwing out base-runners from his knees.
  • 1B – Adrian Gonzalez (2006-2010) – The three-time All-Star is second in career HRs with 161 only behind Nate Colbert’s 163.
  • 2B – Mark Loretta (2003-2005) – The Padres were not overloaded with All-Star-caliber players at the second base position, but Loretta was outstanding both offensively and defensively.
  • SS – Garry Templeton (1982-1991) – Gave the Padres ten solid years at shortstop despite sore knees. Had a rifle for an arm.
  • 3B – Ken Caminiti (1995-1998) – NL MVP in 1996. Struck fear in the heart of every opposing pitcher. Leads all Padres hitters in SLG (.540) and OPS (.924). Career tainted by the admitted use of PEDs. Died of drug abuse in 2004.
  • OF – Dave Winfield (1973-1980) – Four times an All-Star before being lured away by Yankee dollars.
  • OF – Steve Finley (1995-1998) – Easily the best center fielder to wear the Padres uniform. Awarded three Gold Gloves in his four-year tenure with the club.
  • OF – Tony Gwynn (1982-2001) – They don’t call him “Mr. Padre” for nothing. 3141 hits, a lifetime .338 BA, sixteen All-Star appearances, and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
  • Pitcher – Randy Jones (1973-1980) – Won the Cy Young award in 1976 as the best pitcher in the National League.
  • Pitcher – Eric Show (1981-1990) – Show’s 100 wins tops all Padres pitchers.
  • Pitcher – Jake Peavy (2002-2008) – 92 wins and a 3.29 ERA. The winner of the 2007 NL Cy Young Award.
  • Reliever – Trevor Hoffman (1993-2008) – 552 saves and a 2.76 ERA. Six-time All-Star. The best closer of his era. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.

Special mention: There’s too many players to name, but some of my other favorites of the past include Roberto Alomar (2B), Andy Ashby (P), Heath Bell (P), Kevin Brown (P), Joe Carter (1B), Nate Colbert (1B), Steve Garvey (1B), Brian Giles (OF), Goose Gossage (P), Kahlil Greene (SS), Wally Joyner (1B), Terry Kennedy (C), Ryan Klesko (OF), Fred McGriff (1B), Phil Nevin (3B), Bip Roberts (2B), Gary Sheffield (3B), Ozzie Smith (SS), and Greg Vaughn (OF).

Is there a spiritual bottom line to all of this blathering about the Padres? Actually, there is. Tune in next week.

Newsflash!: Yesterday, the Padres signed free-agent slugger, Manny Machado, to a $300 million, ten-year contract. Will Machado be the marquee franchise player the Padres can build a pennant winner around or will he turn out to be the club’s biggest bust?

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – # 86: Veneration/Worship of Saints? – Part 4

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week, we will finish our examination of chapter ten of Armstrong’s book that we began three weeks ago, in which the Catholic apologist presents passages that allegedly support veneration/worship of “saints.” Prior to presenting his last proof text, Armstrong writes the following, “We are not told in Scripture that we cannot ask someone in heaven to pray for us. Saints in heaven are more alive and aware and far holier than we are. They watch us (Heb. 12:1). They are aware of earthly happenings (Rev. 6:9-10). They can certainly be given extraordinary capacities for knowledge by God; there is nothing implausible or intrinsically impossible or unbiblical in that notion at all. St. Paul states about the afterlife in heaven:”

#86) 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.”

Following Armstrong’s proof text, he writes, “Therefore, they (saints) can pray for us, and we ask for their prayers. We know that they can come back to earth (from the four examples given earlier). Are we to believe that when such saints come to earth, they can pray, but immediately upon returning to heaven they cannot once again? And if they can present our prayers, why is it so inconceivable that they could intercede for us?” – pp. 143-144.

NOWHERE in God’s Word does it teach that believers can or should pray to anyone other than God. Praying to any entity other than to God is idolatry, which the Bible condemns.

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.” – Isaiah 45:5

Catholic apologists cannot produce one single Bible verse that even vaguely supports praying to “saints,” so they must resort to sophistry. In defending the Catholic man-made tradition of praying to “saints,” Armstrong utilizes Catholicism’s oft-used argument of “fittingness,” which goes something like this:

  1. God can do anything.
  2. Since God can do anything it would be “fitting” for Him to do X.
  3. God did/does X.

Catholics use the “fittingness” argument to justify many other fabricated traditions including the immaculate conception, the assumption of Mary, and indulgences.

God’s Word is our sole authority rather than the fanciful traditions of sinful men. God alone is omnipresent and omniscient. To ascribe those qualities to the souls of the dead is to make them deific, but Almighty God is the only God.

“I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.” – Isaiah 42:8 (NKJV)

For a Biblical understanding of saints compared to Roman tradition, see the article below:

The Saints of God – Grace to You
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/50-46/the-saints-of-god

Oh, yes! She’s going back to work today! 🤗

On Mondays, we normally continue our examination of passages from Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong’s book, “The Catholic Verses,” but today we’re going to put our regular series on hold and celebrate a special occasion.

As many of you know, this past November 16th my wife fell in the bathtub and broke her left femur. She had badly fractured the same bone previously in 1984 while demonstrating to our two sons how to skateboard and the bone was never 100% afterwards.

My wife’s been undergoing physical therapy for the last thirteen weeks and has graduated from using a walker to a cane and now walks without a cane half the time.

After a three-month recuperation, my wife is returning back to work today, where she’s an RN at an outpatient headache treatment center. She’ll be working just three days per week initially.

My wife was REALLY getting to enjoy the retirement lifestyle, but, realistically, retirement is still a couple of years away for us. She has mixed feelings about returning back to work, but of course she’s grateful for her job and looking forward to seeing her work friends again.

I thank the Lord for helping my wife through this difficult time and continuing to heal her leg. She’s come a long way in three months and it’s all because of our Shepherd. We both had to “readjust our lifestyles” in light of the circumstances, and not always gracefully, but the Lord walked us through it. Thank you all for your prayers on her behalf!