6/14/2012—I just read this week’s Sports Illustrated cover story about Rangers centerfielder Josh Hamilton. It is the sort of story I usually find vaguely irritating, like stories about former Communists who want to lecture me about freedom and capitalism.
Here is part of the news release from SI—quoted at Sherman Report--"Texas Rangers centerfielder Josh Hamilton is on pace to have one of the greatest seasons in major league history, but one night earlier this year could have altered everything. Hamilton’s battle with drug and alcohol addiction had wasted five years of his career and an alcohol relapse in a Dallas bar in late January gained national attention. His family, teammates, the Rangers organization and most important Hamilton have moved on from this worrisome moment, but the difficult journey Hamilton faces every day is the cover story for the June 11, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now."
A large part of the story concerns Hamilton’s born-again Christian beliefs. He describes himself as in a literal and frequent conversation with the Holy Spirit. Occasionally, Hamilton will even be informed when he is about to hit a home run.
Now on one level, I find all this a little strange, especially the detail Hamilton reports, but as someone who has received messages of a sort himself, I find myself more than a little strange also. There is apparently more to reality than any simple account can capture.
Anyway, that is not my point here. In the article, Hamilton reports that fans of other teams taunt him about his addiction history in truly vicious ways. He is asked how he deals with this. He says that Jesus taught his followers to pray for those who persecute them, so that is what he does. He prays for those idiots in the stands (my term, not his).
The article does not specify what Hamilton prays, but the author of the piece, S.L. Price, believes he prays that they become better, more compassionate, people.
I think at this point, you and I must agree that Josh Hamilton is a better person than we are. I know I would not react that way. And the reason he is a better person seems to be that he is a follower of Jesus and we are not.
I don’t want to be partisan about this. I imagine that a former addict turned follower of the Buddha or Confucius or Mohammed would also be a better person than you and I. The point I take from this story is my usual one. The religious traditions are excellent sources of wisdom and character formation. We secularists lack what they have. We need to study them and borrow from them.