Archivos Mensuales: abril 2006
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Un Problema Grande, No?
What major league baseball reveals about the dangers of immigration.
by Mark Galli | posted 04/13/2006 09:30 a.m.
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I repent in infield dirt and line chalk. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote a couple of pieces on behalf of Christianity Today supporting a lenient immigration policy. But when I read a recent press release from Major League Baseball (MLB), I saw the light. I now have eyes to see and ears to hear. Verily, verily.
It dawned on me that the one part of the economy catastrophically affected by our current immigration policies has been something as American as apple pie: professional baseball. This year, MLB tells us, 27.4 percent of major leaguers are foreign born. And that’s nothing compared to the minor leagues, where 45.1 percent of the players are foreign-born.
And the AFL-CIO thinks it has problems! In any event, when it comes to baseball, this is (pun-intended) a major-league problem.
1. These "guest workers" are taking jobs from qualified Americans!
We’re not talking about washing uniforms or shining batting helmets, which is work beneath any true patriot. We’re talking about 223 ultra-high-paying jobs in the majors, and 2,964 modest paying jobs in the minors. So immigrants are taking jobs that Americans want after all! Believe me, you can go down any college baseball roster and find well-qualified, red-blooded American boys who would die to fill those major and minor league slots.
Okay, granted, that the presence of the foreign born—the likes of Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic), Ichiro Suzuki (Japan), and Andruw Jones (Curacao!)—has dramatically raised the bar of professional baseball, forcing the Americans who do play to work harder to remain competitive. Overall immigrants are raising the quality of play. But of course the issue is not achieving excellence as a nation, or fostering a strong work-ethic that builds character. It’s really about, well … it’s about, uh, something else, believe me, which I’ll get back to in a minute. …
2. They don’t even speak English, yikes!!
Take one of our local teams, the 2005 Chicago White Sox, who took multiculturalism to new heights. Last fall sportswriters sat amazed during the World Series as they extolled the fact that between the team members and coaches, the White Sox represented six foreign countries and spoke three languages besides English. It was commonly noted that Japanese second baseman Tadahito Iguchi had minimal command of the English language, and that Cuban pitchers Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez (since traded to Colorado) and Jose Contreras only used translators when they spoke to the media.
One incident from last fall suggests the real problem: During a simulated game, bullpen catcher, and South Korean-born, Man Soo Lee went looking for pitcher Damaso Marte, who hails from the Dominican Republic.
"Are you pitching three innings today?" Lee asked in heavily accented English.
The 30-year-old Marte looked confused.
"Three innings," Lee repeated. "Three innings."
Marte remained puzzled, so Lee played MLB charades. He mimicked throwing a ball, then held up three fingers.
Finally comprehending, Marte held up three fingers and nodded.
Now, while nearly everyone agrees the mastery of English, whether here or overseas, is a sure path to success, here we have players getting success before they’ve learned English! Granted, they’ll eventually learn English, like most guest workers and immigrants do, but should they be allowed to play American baseball at all until they’ve learned the American language? It’s just rewarding them for not learning English!
And granted that these multicultural Chicago White Sox became not only world champions, but international celebrities. And granted, even without the World Series rings, they’ve had enormous opportunities to get outside their language and culture just being in America. And granted, the fans have become culturally richer in observing the team work together. But all that, and I mean all of it, is beside the point, because the point is, well … believe me, it just goes to show that, uh … I’ll come back to that. …
Anyway, let’s not get all tied up in pseudo-arguments and other sophistry. Let’s not confuse the issue. The point, which to any red-blooded American is obvious, is this: It’s absolutely unassailable that this country is worse off with immigrants, as the example of Major League Baseball makes clear.
It does make it clear, doesn’t it?
Mark Galli is managing editor of Christianity Today.
Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Last month I attended a “worship experience” that included smoke machines, lasers, digital graphic projections, and more flat panel screens than I could count. Technology is changing the way we worship, but what are we losing as a result? David Fitch, pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community in Long Grove, Illinois, and author of The Great Giveaway (Baker, 2006), encourages us to use greater discernment when employing technology in worship.
I read a nice story recently about football player Jerome Bettis (aka “the Bus”) returning home to Detroit for the Super Bowl. They described his whole journey and how he bought a house for his parents on a golf course in suburban Detroit. But he didn’t stop there. Johnie Bettis, the running back’s mother, recalls: “When Jerome found out we were going to the laundromat, he said that wasn’t acceptable and told us to go get a new washer and dryer. But I kind of liked the laundromat because you get to meet so many interesting people.”
Mrs. Bettis’ comments reminded me how technology can change the inherent “good” of the basic practices of our lives. Technology, in this case a washer and dryer, means no longer needing to go to the laundromat. As a result, we lose the “good” of meeting and engaging interesting people in our lives. We must therefore discern whether more technology (buying a washer and a dryer, a cell phone, or Tivo) is a good idea by considering more than just the capitalist reasons: “it’s more efficient,” “it saves time,” or “it just looks and feels so good.”
The same of course is true of worship. Not every technologically enhanced “improvement” necessarily improves our worship. The flashing of the Lord’s Prayer on the screen with a powerful graphic may disable us from bowing as a community and saying it from our soul’s memory—in submission together as a Body of Christ.
The brilliant Albert Borgmann in his book Power Failure, narrates for us how technology can change something that was once a “commanding reality” with deep personal and corporate value, and turn it into a “disposable reality” devoid of meaning and power. For example, the music symphony that took so much time, effort, tuning up of instruments, the staging of a concert hall . . . is now reduced to a handy CD that we can play at our convenience and command. He believes this shift to a disposable reality changes us and how we view our world.
Borgmann says technology can make certain wonderful “goods” in our lives disappear without us even knowing it. Example: the central fireplace is replaced by the invisible central air furnace. In the process the family that once gathered around the fireplace to get warm before heading off to bed no longer engages in the community-building routine. The family no longer talks about the day, tells stories, or prays together. Through technology we lose what Borgman calls a “focal practice.” We lose a concrete, formative, and simple activity, and our lives are changed without ever noticing.
The question is obvious. Have we lost worship as a focal practice? By turning it into an “experience” saturated with convenient technology, have we made worship a disposable reality when in it is supposed to be a commanding reality?
Last night at a worship meeting we talked at length about the use of technology and graphic arts in our worship service this past Sunday. We want to retain the concrete nature and the formative practice of art in our church, but any art that shocks or produces a disposable experience we try to avoid. Art is really important in our church, but we must not produce disposable experiences. We must retain the focal practice of worship.
Focal practices and commanding realities are things we lose when we purchase a washer and dryer. These are things we lose when we turn worship into a theater show for the masses. And so we must be careful with the application of technology in worship. I am not saying don’t use it! I am saying let us be discerning. I believe we need the candles, the wonder, and the mystery of the concrete embodiment of Christ’s work at the Lord’s Table. We need to kneel (if our knees will hold out) before God with all our brokenness. And we need to use the marvelous technologies of our day in worship in ways that resist making God, community, and worship disposable.
David Fitch is pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community in Long Grove, Illinois, a professor of ministry, theology, and ethics at Northern Seminary, and author of The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies (Baker 2006).
Posted by UrL on April 6, 2006 12:00 AM
"After we have been perfectly related to God in sanctification, our faith has to worked out in actualities." (My Utmost for His Highest, April 4th)
What do you think of this phrase? It really hit me. I can see a lot of process in this phrase. First, the process of personal relationship to God, and inner transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit, our study of the Word, and our personal time we devote to prayer. The great thing is that it doesn’t just stop there….we need to work out all this in actualities, which I understand as in tangible works, which require us to engage the "real world", to enter into relationships, to face the challenges of everyday life.
What do you all think?