Sunday, September 27, 2015

Berra not Serra

A humanist pope? It’s almost an oxymoron but as popes go Francis is the best. His message was more universal, lower-case catholic than upper-case. It has been a good week for the planet.

In a few days he changed the conversation, shunned opulence to be among the least, modeling a back to Jesus moment for the faithful. He reminded the suits that refugees and the homeless are not just numbers but humans, called for responsible governance, urged action be taken to halt climate change, argued against the death penalty and even got John Boehner to pray for him, step down, stop crying and start smiling again.

Yet he got one thing wrong. He canonized the colonizer, Junipero Serra. At the time of the American Revolution Serra was busy in California jamming the cross down the throat of the indigenous people whether they liked it or not. There is evidence that he enslaved the Indians and forced them to build nine missions.

The Church was part of the Spanish rapacious power structure; a shameful chapter in European history still with its after-shocks.

No doubt by some act of providential intervention Yogi Berra choose this time to die. Now here was a man who not only performed miracles, he was one. He took the fork in the road less travelled to get to the restaurant nobody went to because it was too busy. He didn’t even say half the things that he said. This is enough to be sanctified.

His feats on the field also left us scratching our head. His strike zone seemed to extend from one dugout to the other. He swung at pitches from his shoe laces to his helmet. Yet he never struck out more than 38 times in a season. Compare this with today’s sluggers sometimes whiffing over 200 times. Standing at just 5 ft. 7 inches he was still a power hitter. Four more home runs and he would have surpassed Joe DiMaggio. As Yogi said, 90% of the game is 50% mental.

At the mention of Yogi Berra’s name a smile crosses your face. While Father Serra stole the native language, Father Berra gave voice to the common tongue. His blurts became immortal and raised illogic to new heights. Yogi not Junipero, Berra not Serra should have been sainted.

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