If Tiger Crashes in the Woods….

Tiger Woods is not having an affair with stunningly beautiful New York nightclub manager Rachel Uchitel, a woman who has been described as a ‘professional homewrecker’ after sleeping with actor David Boreanaz while his wife was pregnant. Just ask them.

Tiger Woods was not intoxicated when he crashed his car this weekend at almost 2:30am while leaving his home either. Tiger Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, ‘rescued’ him by smashing out the rear window of his SUV with a golf club after the accident. Really. No, seriously. She was, uh, rescuing him when she smashed out the window of his car. Res-cu-ing, thank you.

There are more holes in this story than in a block of swiss cheese. But one statement that is coming out of the Woods camp is beyond dispute. Tiger Woods has said that this is a ‘private matter’ within his family, and beyond a possible police interest involving the nature of the car crash, that is absolutely true.

The good folks at the National Enquirer and TMZ would like you to think differently, but what happens in the private home life of a celebrity is no one’s business. Not when the events, incidents, or happenings of that life are not affecting your life directly, or society in general.

The arguments and discussions have gone on for as long as there have been human beings. Are other people’s business in any way our business? The question is raised legitimately not just in reference to celebrities, but with your neighbors as well.

How many of us have been guilty of gossiping over the happenings in someone else’s family, home, or marriage? Are we ready to have our own situation become fodder for some similar gossip?

We all have a right to privacy. Every single one of us, whether we are a world-famous celebrity like Tiger Woods or a simple ditch digger, is going to have familial problems. We are going to have a marital spat or worse. We are going to have a kid who does something crazy. We are going to become involved in an accident after leaving a party. Something.

My bet is that every single person who ever reads this little blog entry has done something in their lives that they are very happy never got out into the public domain. Perhaps there are some who have not been as fortunate, and who have had some scandalous or embarrassing or personal situation become the source of such public gossip.

The fact is that Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren have a young child. They have the normal stresses and strains on their family and relationship that we all feel. Sure they have tremendous financial resources that make some things much easier. They also spend a great deal of time apart with his constant travels to golf tournaments, sponsorship commitments and other events.

The very last thing that the Woods family needs if there has indeed been a sexual indiscretion, or an auto accident, or a marital fight, or any type of misstep in their family is all of our eyes watching them, hungry for ever more sordid details, thirsting for more insider knowledge. It’s hard enough to overcome familial trauma under normal circumstances.

Every single one of us who stays tuned in to one of the gossip television programs, or reads some gossip article online or in a tabloid, everyone who thinks that they for some reason deserve access to the Woods family personal troubles is pouring gasoline on the fire. Sure, maybe Woods lit the match. But he and his wife deserve the opportunity to put their fire out, if that is what they wish. They don’t need us dumping that petrol into the mix.

The next time that someone says to you “What do you think about Tiger Woods and that girl?”, or perhaps “So, I heard Susie down the block is having an affair with Joe at the gas station, whatta ya think?” why not make your response “Do they care about what’s happening in my family? Because that’s what matters to me.”

It’s only a matter of time before you or one of your own slips up big time, and the very last thing that you will want is a bunch of nosy neighbors, or worse, the news media, sticking those big noses into your business. None of us could survive much of an in-depth prying into our personal affairs. We should not be doing the same to the Woods family, or any other family or individual for that matter.

Join the 912 Project

The picture accompanying this story might look like a scene out of some late 1960’s, Gump-esque, anti-Vietnam War rally with counter-culture hippies, radicals, and others disenchanted with the actions and policies of their government protesting those actions and policies.

However, the picture, one that many of you likely have never seen because the former mainstream media does not want you to know about these events and thus fails to cover them or under-publicizes them, is not from the ‘Summer of Love’ but rather it is from the end of this very past summer. September 12th, 2009 to be exact.

The Americans in this counter-culture demonstration, the new generation of ‘radicals’, gathered in the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument and all over Washington, D.C. to demand fundamental change.

You might have heard that before somewhere, the “Change” idea? The one word slogan was deftly used in last year’s U.S. presidential campaign by Barrack Hussein Obama. It was meant to galvanize those sitting on the fence in the election to support a change from the policies of the George W. Bush administration which had governed for the previous eight years.

But while Obama and his people sold that idea as a change from Bush policies to what they described as some new, more enlightened and peaceful era, what they were actually selling was a bill of goods. Their real motive was a change in the very fabric, culture, and traditional values of America.

During their first year with full control of the American political process since 1994 the Democratic Party has shown that it’s transformation from a centrist, populist party fighting for the middle class to one that is completely dominated by it’s fringe left and bent on massive social change is now complete.

Just since coming to power in January, Obama and his lock-step congress led by California congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Nevada senator Harry Reid have driven America further into debt than the combination of every political generation before them. And while risking financial catastrophe they have begun to risk our very safety and security with their weak foreign policy approach.

All the while, they and their supporters in the puppet media have begun to tear away at the very fabric of American spiritual and institutional culture, lurching it ever closer to collapse and their ultimate goal of a communist/socialist, totalitarian, government-run life for all.

Tens of millions of American did not vote for Obama or for much of any change in the last election, albeit as the lesser of two evils. Millions sat it out because they were not happy with the choices, even when they believed Obama was bad for America. And now millions more who did vote for that ‘Change’ have begun to realize that they were hoodwinked by these elitists masquerading as commoners.

In response to these mounting attacks on the American traditional way of life and value system, Americans from all walks of life, all races and social standings, began to mobilize at the grass-roots level, forming the beginnings of what has now grown into “The 912 Project” movement.

The movement began to organize with responses at a series of town hall meetings held by the Obama government meant to sell their socialist health-care program. Regular everyday people showed up and began to speak out against these policies.

Then the ‘Tea Party’ movement was born, taking its name from the famous ‘Boston Tea Party’ protest action during the run-up to the Revolutionary War. This all culminated with the massive rally on September 12th, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Popular radio and television commentator Glenn Beck, among others, devotes a great deal of time and effort to spreading the message.

The term ‘912’ or ‘9/12 mindset’ comes from the idea that in the immediate aftermath of the attacks against our nation by islamofascist terrorists on September 11th, 2001 (9/11) the entirety of the population was together. We all were wounded, outraged, mourned, grieved. We all demanded and sought retribution and we all clearly saw the enemy and the dangers which they posed beginning on 9/12, the day after the attacks.

Since the first months after the attacks, however, the continued passing of time has seen many Americans drift away into a state of passiveness and apparent forgetfulness. They seem to lack the knowledge that the enemies who attacked us then continue to look for further opportunities to attack us now, and on a grander scale.

There also are some Americans who have intentionally moved past that post-attack period and are happy that many others have forgotten. These are actual Americans who believe that we simply got what we had coming to us on that fateful day in September 2001. They want a version of what the terrorists want, a complete change in American ideals and culture.

Only these Americans want the opposite direction of change. Whereas the islamofascists want America to become an Islamic theocracy with the Koran as the basis of its laws and the ruling clerics as the interpreters of social and cultural doctrine, these liberals want an open, anything goes society. They want to force their version of equality and collective group-think, based on what the government believes is best for everyone. Both ways directly attack the very ideals that America was founded upon.

The organizers of ‘The 912 Project’ tapped into that feeling from the day after the 9/11 attacks, that remembrance that we are all one nation, that our freedom is unique and vital, and that the ideals which the Founding Fathers of our nation established are worth both fighting and dying for.

The project bases it’s organization on 9 principles and 12 values upon which it hopes to begin the process of refounding traditional America. The 12 values are: honesty, reverence, hope, thrift, humility, charity, sincerity, moderation, hard work, courage, personal responsibility, and gratitude. Pretty radical stuff, huh?

The 9 principles are even more radical, depending on whether you share the Obama-led view that government is the boss, knows best, has all the answers, is unaccountable, and that you should just shut up if you disagree. These 9 principles are:

1) America is good
2) I believe in God and He is the center of my life
3) I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday
4) The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
5) If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
6) I have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
7) I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
8) It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion
9) The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

While admitting that I agree with the vast majority of these principles and values, I have not always lived up to some of them. That is going to change. I am looking forward to dedicating myself completely to these basic foundational ideals in my life, and a fight to return them to their rightful place at the center of American culture, society, and law.

If you share the belief that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, that God has blessed America, and that we are supposed to be a nation of the people, for the people, and by the people then you need to look into ‘The 912 Project’ more deeply and consider dedication yourself in some way.

NOTE: As always, the title of this entry is a link to further information on the subject, in this instance taking you directly to ‘The 912 Project’ website.

Thank You, God

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who takes the time to read these thoughts of mine. Anyone who cares enough about the way you think and express yourself to actually use some of their valuable time to bother reading is certainly worth thanking.

There are many others in my life for whom I am thankful that they are a part. There are many things, situations, events, objects, opportunities for which I am particularly thankful this year. But there is one above all others to whom I am grateful for providing the blessings of all those others in my life.

Thank you, God.

Thank you for the wife whom you directed into my life more than 17 years ago. Thank you for providing to her the gifts that have enabled her to grow with me, forgive me, love me. Thank you particularly for the gift of the time we’ve spent together all these years. Most particularly, for bringing us together in an understanding and acceptance of faith in your son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for my daughters and my grandchildren. They have provided incredible love, color, and depth to the experiences of my lifetime. Thank you for all they have taught me and brought me, more than they probably know or could understand. Thank you for the gift of continuing to enjoy them as they all grow and mature, and I will continue to offer special prayers for their increased spiritual growth.

Thank you for this home that you have provided for my wife and I, and for the opportunities that we have had over the years to improve and secure it for ourselves. Thank you for the enjoyment of our family and friends here, some as their home, some as regular visitors, some as infrequent guests. All as welcome today as they have ever been at any time previously.

Thank you for my education, particularly this year with the achievement of a life long goal to graduate from college. Thank you for the opportunities provided to me by the Philadelphia Police Department, the Community College of Philadelphia, and Saint Joseph’s University and all of the good people who manage those programs. And going back even further, to the people at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint John Neumann for providing the educational and spiritual foundation that inspired those later goals.

Thank you for the gift of health, and for a reasonable amount of financial security and prosperity in times that have been difficult for many others. Well aware of the difficult times that I have experienced in the past, both physically and materially, I will never take these particular blessings for granted, knowing full well that challenges may lie ahead in the coming years.

Thank you for continuing to inspire Americans within this great nation that was founded with and grew under your direct blessings. Thank you for the men and women who still remember your primary role in that founding, in our past, in our present, and in our future. Thank you for all of those who refuse to surrender to the efforts to turn our nation away from your path. Thank you for not turning away from America when so many Americans have turned away from you.

Thank you for another incredible season of sporting enjoyment from the Philadelphia Phillies, as well as for the gift of the game and for inspiring my own passion for it’s enjoyment over the years as both a spectator and a participant. Thank you for getting to experience the thrill of the Phillies winning two World Series titles in my lifetime, and watching them compete in three others. Bless their organization with continued success, and we fans with continued opportunities to enjoy their play.

Thank you for the gifts that you have given me to express myself, both verbally and in writing. These gifts have allowed me opportunities that would not have come along otherwise. Opportunities to serve my community as a police officer, and to serve police officers and others as a teacher. The opportunity to express my feelings on issues of importance here at my website. And now the opportunity to express your Word as a lector for my parish.

Thank you for the meal that I am going to enjoy with some of my family members this particular Thanksgiving Day. For the turkey and stuffing and vegetables and trimmings. For the warm, happy home in which we will enjoy that feast. For the people with whom we will share that meal. And thank you for all of the meals that I am privileged to share throughout the year with all of my loved ones at every opportunity.

Thank you, God. Thank you for my life and for the people in that life. For all of the family members, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, priests, teachers, service providers. My one prayer this Thanksgiving Day is that every one of them, particularly those who intentionally turn away from you, or who do not fully understand or accept the sacrifice of Christ, that their hearts and minds and souls may be opened to the full measure of your love, forgiveness, and grace.

The ‘Other Football’ Championship

Even though there was an important game yesterday evening for my hometown Philadelphia Eagles on national television, there was another sports event on television at the same time which stole most of my attention during the whole night.

That event was the MLS Cup Final between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. To the rest of the world, that event would be considered the football championship of America. They would consider the Eagles game to be a contest known to them as ‘American football’.

To most of America, the MLS Cup would decide the champions of a sport we call ‘soccer’. For the uninitiated, ‘MLS’ stands for Major League Soccer, which represents the professional level here in America of the game that is the most popular in the rest of the world.

One of the reasons that pro soccer has very little profile or coverage here in Philadelphia is that we haven’t had a local team for whom to cheer. The last time that Philly had a true soccer team for which to root was way back in 1980 when the Philadelphia Fury played their final season.

For much of the 1970’s, pro soccer was a part of the local sports scene. The Philadelphia Atoms started things in what was a generally successful competitive four-year run from 1973-1976. In their very first year of existence, the Atoms won the NASL (North American Soccer League) championship. The team regularly would draw more than 20,000 fans to their matches on the pitch at Veteran’s Stadium.

After winning the title, Atoms goalkeeper and local player Bob Rigby became the first soccer player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Then in 1975, midfielder Chris Bahr, a Penn State product, scored 11 goals in 22 games and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year in his only season playing pro soccer. He would go on to star in the NFL as a kicker for 4 teams over 14 seasons.

The Atoms were unable to sustain their success, and eventually folded. In 1978 the NASL moved back into Veteran’s Stadium with the Fury. That team never really caught on thanks to three straight seasons of losses, folding after 1980 having compiled an overall 32-60 record.

The NASL, formed back in 1968, finally folded in 1984, and professional soccer became largely a non-entity in the United States.

The modern game in North American terms began with the run-up to the U.S. bid to host the 1994 World Cup, the acknowledged world championship of national team football/soccer. As a part of that process MLS was formed, and pro soccer began once again when the league formally began play in 1996.

The MLS Cup has become the annual championship game of the league, and for the 2008 championship a completely modernized trophy was developed for which the teams now compete.

The league is made up of 15 teams currently who compete in a season from March through November, but that will expand to 16 teams next season, including a return at long last to Philadelphia, and ultimately to 18 teams by 2011.

Philadelphia Union will begin play with their opener at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Eagles, on April 10th, 2010. This is due to construction delays at what will eventually become their permanent home in the Philly suburb of Chester, PA in an 18,500 spectator soccer-specific facility being built on the banks of the Delaware River.

With expansion on the horizon and with a renewed commitment in recent years to developing American youth soccer from within, the league held their 2009 MLS Cup last night in Seattle, home of the wildly popular expansion Seattle Sounders team. The two participants were the star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy and the upstart underdogs from Real Salt Lake.

The Galaxy is this year’s version of the ‘best team that money can buy’ as they are led by American superstar Landon Donovan, English icon David Beckham, and Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. They won the MLS West Division regular season with a record of 12-6-12, and were solid favorites to take this MLS Cup match.

Real Salt Lake finished under .500 for the season at 11-12-7 and in 5th place in the West Division. Normally the MLS Cup pits the top playoff finishers from the East against the West, but Real Salt Lake got in because the league puts it’s top 8 teams into the post-season regardless of division. RSL was placed into the East playoffs as the last seed, but then proceeded to pull upsets throughout to reach the MLS Cup.

Last night’s match began with the Galaxy continually taking the play to the RSL side, finally breaking through thanks largely to their superstars Beckham and Donovan. Beckham began a play at midfield and fed Donovan along the wing. Donovan then passed the ball deftly and perfectly across the goal mouth, laying it right on the path of a charging Mike Magee who directed it home in the 41st minute for a 1-0 LA lead.

The score remained 1-0 at the half and into the 2nd half where RSL began to even the playing field. RSL had been put at an even greater disadvantage on the field when playmaker Javier Morales was injured early in the match by an aggressive tackle from Beckham. That injury advantage for LA would be wiped away early in the 2nd half as Ricketts suffered a broken hand in a collision and eventually had to be replaced.

RSL began to press the play towards the Galaxy goal more regularly, and finally knotted the score when Robbie Finley left-footed a scorcher past Ricketts in the 64th minute after a scrum in the penalty area. It would be Ricketts final play, as the pain from his broken hand became too severe to go on. The LA goalie was replaced by backup Josh Saunders, marking the first time a goalkeeper was ever replaced in an MLS Cup match.

With the score now tied at 1-1, the two sides battled back and forth through the remainder of regulation and injury time, and then on into a pair of 15 minute overtime periods. This was the 7th time that an MLS Cup game had reached overtime, but for only the 2nd time in history neither team scored and the game would be decided on penalty kicks.

Beckham took the first penalty shot for LA and scored, but the Galaxy seemed dead when Donovan missed his shot as the #4 shooter. In the 5th round, Andy Williams of RSL had a chance to win it all but was robbed by a nice save from Saunders, and the penalties went on.

Finally on the 7th round, LA’s Edson Buddle was stopped by RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. That setup a chance for Robbie Russell, who had not scored all season, to win it all for RSL.

As Russell approached the kick, Saunders guessed wrong, and Russell calmly slid a shot into a wide open net. Dropping to his knees and burying his head in his hands with emotion, Russell was quickly mobbed by his teammates who celebrated in a heap in front of the goal.

The underdogs from Real Salt Lake had won the MLS Cup in just their 5th season of existence. In the process they also became the first team in major American pro sports history to finish their regular season below .500 and then go on to win the championship.

This coming week the Union will begin to fill out their roster as the MLS holds an expansion draft for the team. Between these players and others that it is able to sign over the winter, the Philadelphia Union blue and gold side will form for the first time. At some point a primary sponsor will be named to round out the team’s identity.

In April the club will take the pitch for the first time together under their motto “jungite aut perite“, “join or die”, cheered on by their already rowdy group of fans nicknamed the ‘Sons of Ben’ (relating to Ben Franklin) and thousands more with the ultimate goal being to one day reach that MLS Cup, and to bring home the ‘other football’ championship to the Philadelphia area.

Remaining thankful in the worst of times

If we live long enough here on earth, every single one of us is going to experience difficult times. Some of those are going to overwhelm us, challenging us to the limits of our ability to recover feelings of joy, peace, and thankfulness.

This coming week here in America we will celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving Day, a day specifically set aside for us all to give thanks for those blessings that we have received in this life. Though it may indeed be difficult, it is important that we remain thankful in the worst of those difficult times.

As this wonderful holiday approaches, I have been reminded recently of a pair of heartening messages, the first taught by Jesus Christ and the second by the apostle Paul: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world” and “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

In the first of these statements, Jesus let’s all of us know in no uncertain terms that we are indeed going to experience difficult times in this world. We are going to experience physical illness and injury. We are going to experience other people in our lives, at times the very closest and dearest to us, letting us down. We are going to experience death, both of our loved ones and ultimately our own.

But also in no uncertain terms, Jesus declares that He has overcome the world. We have all been promised that if we remain strong in our faith, that one day we too shall overcome the world and join Him in His kingdom in Heaven.

Have you experienced the sudden, tragic death of a loved one, perhaps someone who was your best friend, your partner in life, your husband or wife? Perhaps you have experienced the incredibly tragic pain of losing a child, one whom you raised and taught and played with? Many of us have experienced the loss of a parent, a mom or dad who helped preserve our own deepest feelings of security.

I cannot imagine how those with no faith can deal with these situations and remain sane and functional as human beings. With faith we understand that all is in God’s loving hands, and that we are all offered a chance at eternal peace, health, and happiness.

We will all pass on from this earth, that is a fact. Tens of billions of people have lived on this tiny planet over the millenia. Every single one of them has died. That includes our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, his mother, Mary, and every single great or holy secular or religious leader that was ever born.

The great gift that we receive when we have faith in Jesus Christ comes in the knowledge that He died for us. His suffering and death were enormous, painful, and difficult. If you have never done so, watch Mel Gibson’s truthful, passionate retelling in “The Passion of the Christ.”

Jesus Christ experienced people turning away from Him, from the very Word of God. He experienced His closest friends denying they even knew Him. He experienced physical pain and psychological torture. He experienced public mockery and challenges to His sanity and His soul. And He finally experienced suffering and death on a cross.

He experienced all of this so that we might learn the truth that there is more for us beyond this world. He has promised us that if we follow and believe in Him, that we will join him in eternal peace and joy with God in Heaven. Every one of our friends and family members who has ever passed away has also had this opportunity.

We can be secure that those who have died believing in Him, even should that sincere belief have come in their final days or moments, are with Him now in Heaven, and that we will see them again one day. Also, those who left us as innocents are absolutely together with Him this very moment. It should be our life’s primary purpose to ensure that we accept Jesus with faith so that we can indeed join them one day.

In the second statement that I mentioned earlier, Paul implores us to “give thanks in all circumstances” because whatever it is that we are going through, if we truly understand God’s love in faith then we understand that we are never, ever alone in our difficulties.

Many of us have been given the gift of family and friends to help us through the difficult times that will inevitably visit us. These people are the ones who will stand by us and stay with us, no matter our troubles. They will be there to offer a shoulder to cry on, arms to wrap around us and comfort us, words to encourage and strengthen us.

But even if we have few friends and family, we are still never alone. Even when your friends and family are not physically there with you, you are still never alone. Even if it is that one person who seemed to always be there for you who has been taken from you, you are still not alone. In every moment of your life, God is there. You only need turn to Him and acknowledge Him.

Paul teaches that it was God’s will for you to be thankful in all circumstances, including the worst, most difficult, and most painful. He teaches that it is in Jesus Christ and His teachings and example that we are to find the ability to give that thanks.

No matter how difficult the event, no matter how painful the experience, there are others here on earth who are suffering more right now and who have suffered more in the past. Every one of us is promised that peace, joy, and love with God in eternity if we remain faithful.

As this day and season of Thanksgiving comes to us, we should always remember and be grateful for every good time that has come to us on this earth. We should be thankful for the gift of every good moment that we were ever given with every good person in our lives. But no matter what, most of all we must overcome earthly pain and loss, and remain thankful for what will last forever – God’s undying love for us.