Four Myths

May 22, 2008, 9:00 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, David, Featured  | 6 Comments

1. Racism

Racism — the idea that people hate other people for the color of their skin — is a myth.

How do I know? I grew up in Watertown, N.Y., a city so far north that we only had four black families in the whole city when I was a kid. So what did we do? We hated other white people, and it worked out just fine.

We hated each other for being rich or poor, fat or skinny, tall or short, Northsiders or Southsiders. We hated each other for living in the different projects: Maywood Terrace, East Hills, Cloverdale, Empire Flats. We hated people for being from Canada or Carthage, Adams or Alex Bay.

What people call racism is simply hatred and it has nothing to do with the color of your skin, but rather the color of your heart. If we were all the same color, ate the same food, listened to the same music, and even went to the same churches, we would still find a million reasons to hate and despise each other that had nothing to do with race.

2. The birth of a child is a miracle

A miracle occurs when God suspends the natural operation of this world and interferes with the outcome of a particular action or set of actions. As mind-boggling and incredible as the birth of my children was to me, it was still simply the most likely outcome of my union with my wife.

If producing a child is miraculous, then some of the sorriest examples of humanity ever to live have also been prodigious miracle workers, and should be able to avoid beatification and be immediately named as Catholic saints.

3. The tie goes to the runner

Anyone who has watched any baseball has to admit that this isn\’t the case.

I am too young, or perhaps too unobservant, to comment on whether it was ever true in the past, but surely today it is not. The tie goes to the infielder who makes a spectacular play. If a shortstop or third baseman makes a spectacular grab, wheels, and throws an off-balance strike that skips off the dirt and right into the glove of the first baseman, there ain\’t no way — if it’s at all close — that the runner will be called safe.

4. Southern Hospitality

I know I have said this before, but experiencing “Southern hospitality” for the first time is like drinking a Diet Coke: an initial sensation of sweetness that quickly dissipates, leaving an aftertaste that tells you it\’s not quite genuine.

Adults end every encounter with “Come see us!” (an updated version of “Ya\’ll come back now, ya heah?”) while secretly wishing you would never actually cross the threshold of their house. Children sweetly say “Yes, ma\’am,” “No, ma\’am,” “Yes, sir,” and “No, sir,” while lying to your face about the obscene gesture they made while your head was turned — and will make again as soon as you turn away again.


6 Comments to “Four Myths”

  1. Erin on May 28th, 2008 5:52 pm

    Having limited experience with numbers 3 and 4, I will only comment on the first two.

    1 – Racism may be a heart problem, and other “isms” of hatred may pop up all over the place, but that is NOT an excuse for saying that racism is a myth. People all over the world fear, despise, envy, and hate on the basis of race. Although that may have to do with their own hatred, the fact that it is tied and often springs from racial differences leads me to believe that racism – unfortunately – is alive and well. To deny its existance and pass it off as uncontrolled hatred is to deny those who are fighting it one of their greatest weapons: a name for their adversary.

    2- Maybe I am just naive, but the fact that the joining of two cells can and often does result in a human being is pretty darn miraculous. And really, how dare you call ANYONE “[one]of the sorriest examples of humanity ever to live” ?? What qualifies someone as a sorry example of life? And shouldn’t the fact that they have brought a child into the world set them above such an insult? Don’t forget – Jesus’ mother would have been considered one such person by most everyone who knew her.

  2. Steve on May 28th, 2008 6:27 pm


    You argue past the article. He said racism is just hatred, and that if we were all alike, we’d still hate. You say racism is a special type of hatred that can only be battled by calling it what it is. He didn’t deny its existence; he denied that it’s anything special. I see both sides and sympathize with your opinion, but I feel like you’re arguing different issues.

    Same on point two. He defined a miracle in a certain way that birth doesn’t usually meet. You define miracles differently (and most people would agree with you). Fair enough.

    The last part is the bit that interests me enough to intercede. It is indisputable that someone somewhere has to be the sorriest example of humanity ever to live. It’s a matter of logic and probability, just like the fact that someone, right now, is the dumbest person alive. This ain’t Lake Wobegon, where “all the children are above average.”

    Now we all might have different definitions for what should nominate someone for that dishonor (I know I have my own ideas), but I don’t think being able to insert tab A into slot B automatically disqualifies you. Baby-making does not make the dumb wise, the unpleasant wonderful, or the unimpressive impressive. Ever seen one of Springer’s paternity test shows?

  3. Erin on May 29th, 2008 2:00 pm

    Although I don’t agree, I see where you’re going with the arguring past each other.

    However – I don’t think that it’s true that someone, somewhere, at this very moment has to be the sorriest example of humanity. I realize that this is going way past what this article was even talking about, but allow me to say that I don\’t care about logic for a moment and entertain this idea.

    First of all, what makes a human being “sorry” or “pathetic” (or a number of different synonyms)? Poor choices? Lack of self control? Squalor in any manner of speaking? Slowness of mind or body? We might all have a picture in our heads of what a truly pathetic example of life might be, but that is the problem itself (and, by the by, can lead to forms of hate such as racism). When we start considering other human beings, who are just as endowed with the image of God as we are, to be sorry or pathetic examples of life, we are encouraging elitism of one kind or another. And that is wrong. What about “in the Lord there is no Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female…(name your category)”? If Paul could see that the coming of Jesus Christ brought the ability for people to defy the social boundary lines that we so love to set up, can we not take a hint from his strongly-worded notes in the New Testament?

    Really, what significance is it that ‘logic’ dictates a first and a last when one is attempting (attempting!) to quantify a finite set? Since when has logic dictated the way that we should think about and/or treat others? Jesus uttered quite a few ‘illogical’ statements that those of us familiar with Christianese have absorbed over the years – but doesn’t that indicated that we serve a Savior who is not interested in quantifying us, but loving us?

    If we are all equal in the eyes of God, then we are all equally great and equally sorry. There are many parents out there who are not considered worthy of the our (read: the world’s) approval just because they have created a child. Many live in messes of their own and others’ makings, and bringing a new life into the world is often the last thing that they hoped for, and is often results in an extremely hard life for the child.

    But human misery cannot trump the life that God has given each of us. So yes, I do think that women who have given birth under whatever circumstances are miracle-doers, having been used of God to bring a new life into the world.

  4. Steve on May 29th, 2008 2:35 pm

    An excellent and powerful argument. Dispassionate logic, in this context, should never dictate the way a Christian thinks about or treats other individuals, and you’re absolutely right about our status in the eyes of God. Logic misused in this realm leads us to the cold utilitarianism of the eugenicist — and the abortionist.

    I would even go as far as to say that this comment is my favorite thing I have ever read of yours.

    I add only (especially since David lacks Internet access this week) that I am certain that the original line was not intended to suggest that anyone, however ‘sorry,’ is any less deserving of the dignity and respect that attaches to all human life. I think he meant it as a throwaway line to bolster the argument that childbirth did not meet his stated requirements for a miracle.

  5. Tom on May 30th, 2008 5:40 pm

    “So yes, I do think that women who have given birth under whatever circumstances are miracle-doers, having been used of God to bring a new life into the world.”

    Your argument has become decidedly gender-centric.

    I believe the process that G-d breathed into being that allows two humans to create a third is miraculous. I believe that all of the systems of a human or animal or plant are designed, and that design is miraculous in its complexity, intricacy, and efficiency.


    I do not believe that the individual instances of that process is a miracle. The sun is not being held still in the sky when two people are in congress, a donkey doesn’t chat to a pregnant woman as she practices lamaze, and the whole concept of a water birth would be ruined should that water part.

    A virgin birth? Check.
    A non-virgin birth? Not so much.

  6. Steve on June 4th, 2008 1:48 pm

    Ahem, I quote:

    “A miracle is, by definition, a very special thing. Whether the word is ascribed to the birth of a baby, the parting of the Red Sea, or a game winning 3-point shot at the buzzer that brings to an end to the deplorable savagery known as basketball, when something is genuinely described as miraculous you know to expect something wonderful.

    “Fish, my friends, are miraculous.”


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