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Thread: The Celebrant

  1. #1
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    The Celebrant

    Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.
    2 The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning.
    3 Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies:
    4 Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions:
    5 Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing:
    6 Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations:
    7 All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times.
    Ecclesiastes 44
    Eric Greenberg’s novel “The Celebrant” was touted by W.P Kinsella (author of “Shoeless Joe”) as the best baseball novel ever. . Like Lawrence Ritter (who wrote “The Glory of their Times”), Greenberg praises famous men, sometimes to excess.

    “The Celebrant “ is narrated by a jeweler (Jackie Kapp, nee. Yacov Kapinski) who designs rings commemorating Mathewson’s achievements (victories, no-hitters, etc.). So I was prejudiced against it from the start. Jackie is Christy Mathewson’s “celebrant”, just as Mathewson (who admires his designs) is the jeweler’s celebrant.

    I disapprove of the modern infatuation with winning “rings”. Of course the “ring” is symbolic of a “championship”. Nonetheless, the emphasis on accolade annoys me. The map is not the territory. It’s almost as if those athletes who lust after “rings” don’t care about the process – they merely want the footnote on their resume.

    In addition, the modern concept that championships are the only worthwhile achievement in athletics is silly, elitist, and (almost) obnoxious. Huh? Surely finishing in second place is an achievement – better than third, or fourth, or fifth.

    We all long for celebration. But aren’t some things worthwhile on their own, celebration or no? Lionel Terray, who never completed 8th grade, wrote the greatest of mountaineering memoirs. It’s entitled (in the English translation) “Conquistadors of the Useless”. The fact that his achievements were unrecognized by the public and unrewarded financially mattered little to Terray, but Mathewson (in the novel) hauls out his rings and talks of seeking death in the War because some of the players he managed threw baseball games. The dying Mathewson tells Kopp (who is trying to lay off losing bets his brother has made on the Black Sox), “Think of this; they diced for His robe while He suffered on the cross. Will you do that while I lay dying.”

    Come on, “Christy”. Despite your fame, your name, and the fact that Marianne Moore loved you, you are not a savior, nor were meant to be.

    Nonetheless, I enjoyed the novel – harkening, as it does, to a time in baseball that I know better than my own lifetime. I couldn’t name all the World Series winners for the past 30 years – but I can name the first 30. The Snodgrass muff and Merkle boner live again in Greenberg’s pages, although there is no mention of Smokey Joe Wood beginning his professional career playing for “The Bloomer Girls”. I also liked the picture of New York Jewish life at the turn of the century.

    Aeschylus, the great Greek playwright, wrote “The Orestia” (which I’m going to see tomorrow), “Prometheus Bound” and “Seven against Thebes”. His epitaph makes no mention of his artistic achievements. It reads:

    "Aeschylus, the Athenian, Euphorion's son, is dead. This tomb in Gela's grainlands covers him. His glorious valour the hallowed field of Marathon could tell, and the longhaired Persians had knowledge of it."
    Sport is, perhaps, training for (early) war. “On the playing fields of Eton….” But let us not conflate the game for the real thing. It is only natural that Aeschylus should think that saving himself and his comrades from death, and his wife and children from slavery was more important than writing “Seven Against Thebes”. Christy Mathewson, perhaps, thought his honor more important than his life. He “damns” Cicotte and Jackson (the "Black Sox" who threw the World Series) and the others, and “shall spring upon them and drive them from the temple.”

    Fine. As long as he recognizes that the Temple of Baseball, like Lionel Terray’s mountain peak, is useless.
    Last edited by Ecurb; 05-01-2017 at 11:57 AM.

  2. #2
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    I enjoyed reading this, Ecurb.

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Thanks. I originally wrote it for the person who recommended the novel to me, so it needs a bit more description of the plot to appeal to a general audience.

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    Thanks for review, I was just looking for a summary for a book. Can not you advise a base with such summary?

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    The bishop anoints a confirmation candidate on the forehead with Chrism oil, then he places his hands on the candidate's head and prays that the Holy Spirit will enter that person, the bishop and candidate wear red as a symbol of the holy spirit, the sponsor also stands up with the candidate to support him or her in his or her decision to become a full adult member of the Catholic church.
    God bless.

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