Month Archives: June 2014

Vincente Del Bosque, Spain’s Greatest “Football” Coach, and Pure Love

by Chris Gacek

June 17, 2014

The quadrennial playing of the World Cup soccer (“football”) tournament began last weekend and will last several more. As the tournament approached, many, many articles, especially in European papers, have focused on this worldwide competition. The Financial Times (FT), for example, published a small section with several lengthy feature articles about the World Cup in its June 7/8 weekend edition.  The weekend FT is a wonderful amalgamation of articles on a wide variety of international topics including the arts, sports, travel, real estate, books, gardening, and hard news.

This World Cup section contained a brilliant article by Jimmy Burns on Vincente Del Bosque, perhaps the greatest soccer coach in Spain’s history. Presently Del Bosque is the coach of the Spanish national team that received a drubbing at the hands of the Netherlands last week.  That said, Spain’s only World Cup tournament victory came in 2010 under Del Bosque’s leadership. There have been many other victories and honors in his career, and Burns provides a masterful overview of the coach’s professional achievements.

That said, it was another aspect of the story and Del Bosque’s life that gave the article a transcendent quality.  At the beginning of the piece, Burns informs us that Del Bosque, 63, has three children including Alvaro, age 24, who has Down’s syndrome. It is here that Burns describes a touching dimension of Spain’s 2010 World Cup campaign:

While Del Bosque’s Spain was winning the country’s first ever world cup in 2010, Alvaro became an unofficial member of the squad. Afterwards Del Bosque wrote him a letter, now reproduced with his permission in a new Spanish biography. “It wasn’t Iniesta’s goal, or Iker Casillas kissing Sara, his journalist girlfriend while being interviewed by her on TV which moved me to tears. It was seeing you on TV, saying that you felt proud of your Dad, that you always wanted to help, that your heart was with him.”

How beautiful. The article then proceeds at length to discuss Del Bosque’s career and the current state of Spain’s 2014 World Cup efforts.

As Del Bosque and Burns take leave of each other, Burns returns to Del Bosque’s family and Alvaro:

Our meeting ends as it began, with family. Del Bosque’s daughter, Gema, 21, picks him up in the family car. “Can I give you a lift anywhere?” Del Bosque asks me. Before we say goodbye, I ask about his son Alvaro. A big smile comes over his face as he shows me a photograph of Alvaro in a suit working behind a desk. “We’ve achieved what we set out to achieve, which is to find him work.” Alvaro, he says, has come to mean more to him than anything else. “I’m not very expressive of my feelings. I am not a great one for words. I am not very lyrical. I am quite a practical person. But when I think of pure love, it is what I feel for Alvaro.”

Isn’t it fascinating that so many parents of Down’s children say similar things about the exquisite nature of these innocent souls? Del Bosque is known for being a “big-hearted” decent man: “Spain’s Man of Honor,” as the article’s title informs us. Is it unreasonable to suppose that Alvaro is responsible for many of those qualities? I don’t think so.

Our Father

by Family Research Council

June 13, 2014

When I was young, my father used to take each of his children out to spend a day with him. Whether it was playing putt-putt golf, getting lunch, or spending a day with him at work, our “day with dad” was always an anticipated treat. Then, those days were times devoted to bonding and having fun with dad. Now, those days have built memories and lasting foundations of love that I would not trade for the world. I was learning to walk in Dad’s footsteps.

When we celebrate our fathers on Father’s Day, we honor men who have ultimately given their lives to the vocation of fatherhood. We are not recognizing men who are handy with tools, or who like cars, sports, and beer, as Hallmark cards so often try to sell us on. We commemorate men who have chosen fatherhood as a primary role in life and who regard all other occupations as inferior. Rather than submitting to the materialist mindset so prevalent, the recognition of the significance of fatherhood grows more potent every day. This is why it is vital to celebrate fathers in a society that degrades strong male figures and attacks traditional fatherhood.

Scripture tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, and to lay down his life for her if necessary. Earthly fathers are figures of our Heavenly Father, and they direct us upward to him. Father’s Day reminds us that, though it is a day to celebrate our earthly fathers, everyday should be one spent with our Heavenly Father, from Whom all blessings flow.

In a letter written to his son on the topics of love, manhood, and marriage, Ronald Reagan said, “There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.”

I’m always listening for your footsteps, dad.

As the years pass and simple days of childhood fade into tempestuous reality, one thing remains: the Trinitarian love reflected in the family, flowing from the father. I have learned from my father what true manhood and fatherhood are: the willingness to pour out one’s love and life in sacrifice.

So to the man who taught me about the importance of tradition, family stories and family prayer, whose generosity to the family and to strangers astonishes me still, and who revealed to me, most especially, that doing small things with great love is the road to holiness… Thank you. Thank you for the memories of simpler days when the path of truth was illuminated over lunch and putt-putt, for being a caring father, and for being a father whose footsteps I still wish to walk in.

President Obama’s Revolt Against American Liberalism

by Robert Morrison

June 13, 2014

What is not generally appreciated today is how far President Obama has taken the country from the roots of classic American Liberalism. It is one thing for conservatives and partisan Republicans to decry Mr. Obama’s rule by Executive Order, his governing by mandate. Such opposition, when principled, is what our system is designed to foster. “The business of the opposition is to oppose,” is the phrase that best describes a vibrant two-party democracy. The idea behind that is that it is in the give-and-take of open debate that the best policies for the whole country will be determined.

We know Mr. Obama actively dislikes open debate. He has declared broad areas of American public life off limits to debate. The climate change issue is “settled.” He and most fellow graduates of Ivy League law schools consider Roe v. Wade “settled law.” The late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-D-Penn.) went so far as to call that most unsettling ruling a “super precedent.”

Marriage is another issue the president considers now settled. No matter that the position upon which he was elected in 2008, and the position held by virtually all his Democratic opponents cleaved to in that contest is the position they have now abandoned. They’ve evolved, they tell us, and now that’s “settled.”

To understand how radically President Obama has departed from American Liberalism, we need only to compare his record with that of the U.S.’ most sustained, arguably most successful, example of liberal government.

Just as conservatives regularly invoke Ronald Reagan’s electoral triumphs, liberals look to the four election victories of Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR is their model for a genuinely popular activist government committed to liberal change.

But an important recent article in The New Republic by Robert Kagan brings us a startling quote from Roosevelt in 1941 that shows the stark differences between FDR’s American Liberalism and President Obama’s essentially European leftism.

The “institutions of democracy” would be placed at risk even if America’s security was not, because America would have to become an armed camp to defend itself. Roosevelt urged Americans to look beyond their immediate physical security. “There comes a time in the affairs of men,” he said, “when they must prepare to defend, not their homes alone, but the tenets of faith and humanity on which their churches, their governments, and their very civilization are founded. The defense of religion, of democracy, and of good faith among nations is all the same fight. To save one we must now make up our minds to save all.”

President Roosevelt was trying in the speech quoted above to prepare Americans for what he saw as an urgent necessity to defend democracy by fighting against Hitler and the Nazi menace.

The speech, however, stands out almost as a statue in a great museum illuminated by a sudden flash of lightning from a threatening storm outside: Notice what Franklin Roosevelt places on a par with men defending their own homes: “the tenets of faith and humanity.” And these are shown as foundational for “their churches, their governments, and their very civilization.”

Roosevelt was a religious man. His faith had deepened in his early bout with paralyzing polio. He doubtless saw his own rise to the pinnacle of American politics as a result of divine Providence.

In August, 1941, four months before the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt sailed aboard the USS Augusta to a secret rendezvous with Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. The liberal Roosevelt braved death to meet with the conservative Churchill. Those chilly waters of the North Atlantic were infested with German U-boats. Roosevelt’s and Churchill’s warships would have been prime targets for sinking.

When FDR’s son Elliott went to see Churchill in his plush stateroom, aboard HMS Prince of Wales, anchored in the cold, black waters of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, he told the wartime Prime Minister “father thinks you are the greatest man in the world.” Elliott added “my father is a very religious man.”

Churchill already knew that. That’s why he chose the hymns that would be sung by thousands of British and American sailors in a joint worship service on board the Royal Navy battleship. Prince of Wales still bore scars from the recent pursuit and sinking of the great German warship, Bismarck.

The Prime Minister sang lustily if off key, joining his new American friend in “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” “Eternal Father Strong to Save,” and “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

Roosevelt was deeply moved and it shows in the old newsreels. He knew that Nazism was anti-Christian even as it was murderously anti-Semitic.

President Obama’s leftism derives none of its strength from these Christian sources. During the entire twelve years of FDR’s popular administration, there was never anything remotely like the ObamaCare Mandates that so menace religious freedom in America.

When he greeted the first Soviet ambassador to the U.S., Maxim Litvinov, FDR sternly lectured that atheist Communist about the need for greater religious freedom in the USSR. He thought, doubtless naively, that the grandson of a rabbi would understand how essential religion is to a healthy state.

Today, as we await the U.S. Supreme Court’s verdict in the Hobby Lobby case, we are concerned that the four liberal justices — Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan — will line up against the ideals of religious freedom that FDR and liberals of his era would have instinctively understood and respected.

Nor is it Christians alone whose freedoms are threatened under the Obama administration. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America shares our concerns with the HHS Mandate.

The [Obama] Administration’s ruling makes the price of…an outward approach [to our fellow Americans] the violations of an organization’s religious principles. This is deeply disappointing.

To our Jewish fellow citizens, whose religious freedom is also threatened by the Obama administration, we can only say: Amen!

Let us pray for a liberty-affirming result from the Supreme Court.

Hamilton McCallum: Joyful. Committed. Gift-giver.

by Cindy Mouw

June 12, 2014

My father loved life with exuberance and wanted to help everybody else love it as much as he did. He sought out bargains on ponies, snowmobiles, and motorcycles so his five daughters could experience new adventures in the world that so enamored him. Knowing that a family requires the nourishment of joy and fun, he set work aside for two weeks each summer to bring his family to a cottage on Bass Lake.  He recognized that God loved the world and was pleased with those who sought to experience all its joys and delights. But a depth of wisdom matched this exuberance. He was a listener and a pragmatic advisor for everyone he knew. Down to earth and in love with his family and his world, he knew how to offer good gifts and love.

 

As a man of faith, my dad wasn’t vocal, but he lived out a commitment to Christ for years without wavering. He readily admitted that he didn’t understand the depth of biblical stuff; instead, he lived what he believed.  When I think of the fruits of the spirit I think of him.  I think of a man who practiced love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. As kids we could count on him being home from work every day at 4, and we knew that he’d take us to church every Sunday. He provided all of his daughters with a Christian education, knowing that he was investing in long-term formation. He made these daily choices without complaint or comment; they were a given. I am thankful for this every day.

 

He knew how to do the important stuff — praying at dinner, coming home on time, taking his family to enjoy the lake — over and over again. Father’s like him know that what matters in life should be practiced, recited, lived out each day. He was a Christian tradition in an Irishman’s body, someone I could always count on to joyfully live the commitments he made. 

The “Top Ten” Countries for Violence Against Christians

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 12, 2014

The respected anti-persecution ministry Open Doors has released its annual “Top Ten Violence List of countries in which Christians have experienced the most violent incidents for their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Nigeria, thanks to be vicious actions of the Islamist “Boko Haram” group, ranks first on the list. The others, in order, are: Syria, Egypt, Central African Republic (CAR), Mexico, Pakistan, Colombia, India, Kenya and Iraq. For a complete country summary of the Top 10 Violence List, click here.

Today, FRC President Tony Perkins and a host of FRC staffers went to the White House to call on President Obama to work for the release of Meriam Ibrahim from a fetid Sudanese prison, in which she is being held with her toddler son and newborn daughter. Her crime? Her refusal to jettison her lifelong Christian faith. FRC joined 40 other groups in calling on the President at least to make a public statement of support for this woman, who is married to an American citizen and whose children arguably are thus themselves American citizens. Meriam and her little ones should be released — now — and the U.S. government should take the lead in making this happen.

You can read Tony’s remarks and learn more about this tragic situation here.

Protecting Women from Virginia’s Gosnell

by Arina Grossu

June 12, 2014

When the public found out about the atrocities going on in abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s “house of horrors,” there was widespread disbelief. Pro-abortion activists claimed he was the exception to the rule and that most abortionists were not like Gosnell. But other abortionists just like Gosnell are still wreaking havoc on women and are a danger to society.

Steven Brigham, for example, is another Kermit Gosnell. Recently, newly elected Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe requested a review of abortion facility health and safety standards by the Commissioner of Health. These measures have been put in place to protect the health and safety of women. My comments to the VA Board of Health concerning Gov. McAuliffe’s plan to rescind the new abortion facility safety rules can be found here.

Steven Brigham is an unscrupulous abortionist who has had his license suspended in six states, faced countless lawsuits, been caught operating without a medical license, and personally injured and killed multiple women by his dangerous abortion practices. He currently starts late abortions in Virginia, then transports women across state lines to his facility in Maryland to finish the abortions.

His unethical practices are a menace. The Family Foundation in Virginia exposed his unethical conduct in this video. Even NARAL has called Brigham’s actions “egregious and unscrupulous”.

If Gov. McAuliffe succeeds in revoking Virginia’s regulation of abortion facilities, public health risks to vulnerable women will increase substantially. Among them: there will be no oversight of abortionists like Brigham.

Let’s urge Gov. McAuliffe to stand with women and keep the health and safety measures in place.

Tony Perkins on CSPAN

by FRC Media Office

June 12, 2014

FRC President Tony Perkins on CSPAN discussing the recent election upset in the Virginia Republican Primary, and the release of Bowe Bergdahl.

Rob Schwarzwalder: Love. Wisdom. Fun.

by Family Research Council

June 12, 2014

Rob Schwarzwalder is the kind of guy you hope to work for when you sign on at an organization like Family Research Council. He’s a man of deep faith and conviction. He’s stubbornly gracious with his interlocutors, often affording to them unrequited courtesy. To his friends, Rob is encouragement personified. Think of the character Faithful in Pilgrim’s Progress, and you’re about there.

I’ve had the pleasure of working for and with Rob at FRC for a number of years now, and he’s someone I’ve come to admire and value as a friend and mentor. Rob has embraced the character of his heavenly father, who has adopted us all into his family (Eph 1:5), by becoming an adoptive father himself.

Rob was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the adoption process, and to share what he’s learned about fatherhood along the way.

 

CM: Rob, for some men, fatherhood catches them off-guard. Not unwelcome, but perhaps unexpected. You had the experience of becoming an adoptive father, which entails a significant process, and a kind of fierce intentionality. Describe your reaction when you got the news you were going to be a father?

RS: We had had a couple of fall-throughs in which the birthmothers who had committed her child to us changed her mind, so I was somewhat guarded.  Actually holding them at the adoption agency and then driving home with them in car seats behind my wife and me was surreal (but joyous!).  My wife had prayed for twins for about 16 years, so of course our hearts were full of praise.

CM: How can family and friends best encourage those couples struggling with infertility and perhaps going through the adoption process?

RS: Don’t give trite, dismissive advise (“Well, you’d probably get pregnant if you’d only relax”) and listen a lot.  Encourage the couple with the fact that Jesus was adopted (his Davidic lineage came through His adoptive father Joseph) and that all Christians are the adopted children of our Father.  So, adopting places you in good company. -J

CM: Do you have a favorite Father’s Day memory?

RS: Going to an Outback Steakhouse and watching my then-two year-olds come close to obliterating our table with grease, sauce, napkins, etc.

CM: How has fatherhood changed you?

RS: It has filled a vast empty place in my soul.  It’s forced me to recognize the depth of my selfishness and also that I have reserves of physical and emotional fortitude that surprised me; and it has made me more fervent in prayer than I otherwise might have been.

CM: What fatherhood/parenting myth would you most like to see suffer an ignominious death?

RS: Two, actually: That you are doomed to repeating your father’s mistakes and that you must always be the source of complete wisdom and even-temperedness – saying, “I don’t know” and apologizing after getting angry count for a lot. That’s not to excuse anger, but to remind that anger is almost unavoidable – the key is to strive against it and, when you fail, take responsibility for it.

CM: What do you and your children enjoy doing together? Favorite pastimes or hobbies?

RS: All kinds of things – hiking, watching movies, church activities, throwing the baseball, wrestling, etc.

CM: If you could give new dads a piece of advice or a bit of wisdom that’s been helpful to you, what would you say?

RS: (1) The best gifts you can give your wife and children are your love for Jesus Christ and your time; (2) everyone who has ever had a child thinks he’s an expert, so take un-asked for advice with a grain of salt; (3) read Christian parenting books with discernment – there is no mechanical template for raising children, only principles that must be applied with wisdom and grace per the needs of the child; and (4) boys need to wrestle and rough-house – accept no substitutes.

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