Posts Tagged ‘word of wisdom’
Politics is said to make strange bedfellows. While that is certainly true in a sense, I’m not sure what the following excerpt from the LDS Church’s Improvement Era of 1949 is exactly. Its not politics, but it certainly is somewhat strange. Often today our perception of Mormonism before 1978 is that African-Americans were ignored or dismissed because of the priesthood ban and the minuscule representation of African-Americans in Utah.
However, when the Improvement Era wanted to make a point, they apparently weren’t above using Jackie Robinson’s fame to help. And in this case, Robinson had said what the LDS Church wanted to hear.
There is a long-standing and often bizarre connection between athletics and vice, as if smoking and drinking and the like are somehow a natural part of viewing and participating in sports. While advertising might seem like a natural source of this connection, I doubt that advertising alone accounts for this long-standing cultural connection.
But given this connection, much of LDS writing and thinking about baseball has focused on showing the problems from disobeying the word of wisdom. Non-fiction articles often cited baseball managers and stars who decried vices like smoke and drink. And even the fiction in LDS magazines that featured baseball frequently tried to persuade readers against these vices. But in doing so they often made other assumptions also, such as what happens in the following story.
A review of The Last Natural: Bryce Harper’s Big Gamble in Sin City and the Greatest Amateur Season Ever by Rob Miech. Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2012. 356 p. Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
The title ‘The Last Natural‘ packs a lot of meaning and connotation into a few words. While ‘natural’ clearly refers to the inherent talent that Bryce Harper seems to have, there are a few other connotations, at least in baseball. Since Harper arrives at what might be considered the end of the “steroid era,” it could be a kind of pessimistic reference to Harper’s eschewing drugs since ‘natural’ can also mean pure or unchanged. It could also be a nod to Bernard Malamud‘s novel The Natural, perhaps the finest work of fiction about baseball and the source for the Robert Redford film of the same name.