Worth Reading - 4/22

1. When a man walks away from $13m, it brings many to question his motives. This ESPN article about the recent retirement of Adam Laroche talks about his decision, but it also provides the portrait of a man who was not dominated by love of his image or of money. Would we have done the same? Who knows. This article is worth reading either way.

So here's the deal: You need to forget everything you think you know about professional athletes. Adam LaRoche is different. He walked into the clubhouse for the first time every spring and greeted new teammates by saying, "Oh, hey, I didn't know we signed you." During spring training in 2010, with the Diamondbacks, he and his family pulled a trailer to Tucson, and he rode a bicycle from the campground to the ballpark every day. He's one of the stars of the reality TV show Buck Commander, in which he bow-hunts with a couple of ex-ballplayers, two country music singers and one member of the unapologetically redneck Robertson family, they of the Duck Dynasty dynasty. He also owns E3 Meat Co., which is run out of the Kansas ranch that's been in his wife's family for six generations.

2. An evangelical couple illustrates beautifully the extent of their pro-life belief. They adopted two embryos, one of which split into identical twins, and gave birth to them. Embryo adoption is an issue that the culture will have to deal with in the near future. An interesting read.

We see protection of children not as charity, nor as part of a political agenda, but as something near to the heart of God. Because every human life bears his image, all life –no matter how young or old, no matter the stages of development — has inherent dignity and value. The Scriptures testify that God has always pleaded for the protection of his most helpless and needy image-bearers. Another prevalent theme of the Bible is that God adopts believers into his own family. When we adopt, we are echoing his own compassionate work, giving the world a glimpse of the truth and beauty of the gospel.

3. Many middle class families lack the financial resources to cover moderate, unexpected expenses. An author discusses the shame he has felt in being financially needy while making a solid income.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection.

4. Although many narrow-minded people in contemporary culture would like to deny the basic human right of freedom of conscience, which is more narrowly referred to as religious freedom, there is a case to be made for the benefits of the freedom of religion. Right now the true bigots are winning. Those of us who value a classically liberal pluralism must continue to push back against the totalitarian demands of the radical left.

It’s remarkable, really. At the same time religious freedom appears both at a height of controversy in America and utterly collapsing in the Middle East, the world has at its fingertips volumes of research that affirm how good religious freedom is for every human on earth.

Most of us typically approach religious freedom through theology, philosophy, or history. Christians provide biblically informed arguments and learn from the history of our own tradition, both as martyrs and as oppressors. Similarly Judaism, Islam, and other religions provide their own rationale for religious freedom from within their traditions. And non-theists recognize their own self-interest in religious freedom when they are victims of theocratic oppression. We continue to need to cultivate and promote those reasons from within each religion and other worldviews.

But you may not have heard about the data-driven research that provide new tools with which to promote religious freedom. Sociologists and other scholars continue to find that religious freedom is a key ingredient to human flourishing around the globe.

5. A call for increased civility in political campaigns. Also, the realization that Trump has been so identified with incivility that his supporters are attacking calls for civility as being anti-Trump.

A story in The Oklahoman this week about Edmond fifth-graders urging presidential candidates to raise their level of discourse prompted a letter to the editor (unsigned) accusing the reporter of “stooping so low as to recruit kids to take down Donald Trump.”

Yet Trump, the Republican front-runner, wasn’t mentioned in the article, even one time. Sadly, the candidate has indeed become that synonymous with the boorish behavior among grown-ups that these young people are trying to temper.

Trump is known for following his own counsel most of the time (and, it should be noted, this has served him well, in business and now in politics), so he wouldn’t be likely to pay much heed to what a group of grade-schoolers has to say about comportment. Yet he and the other remaining candidates for president could stand to lend their ear.

Reporter Darla Slipke wrote Monday about a project in Linda Skinner’s enrichment classes at Heritage Elementary School, in which fifth-graders first discussed some of their concerns regarding the election, then wrote letters to the editor and letters to candidates.