Starting Point
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Issue Date:  November 12, 2004

Starting Point


Having spent far too much time at the local pool (my sunburned skin would remind me of this for several days), it was time to go home. Dinner was waiting.

Without too much resistance, we packed up our belongings and drove away. Shortly, we were stopped by a red light. Alongside us our neighbors pulled up. They’d just been at the pool with us.

Rolling down the window, with a smile I leaned out and asked, “Wanna drag?” Dan smiled back. This left me thinking: Is he taking me seriously? We were both driving minivans.

At this point my daughter Cara asked me a question that I have since forgotten. Turning my head to listen better, I was distracted and lost precious concentration. The light turned green. Dan had bested me.

When the story came up at dinner, Cara told my wife, “Daddy lost.” Yep, I was a loser.

Even in matters insignificant, I don’t take losing nearly as well as I should. It’s an experience I’m uncomfortable having. Even more so as a nation we are scared of losing. Winning is a national obsession -- militarily, economically, athletically, culturally.

If any group should be comfortable at losing though, it should be Christians. Our primary symbol of faith is the cross, a symbol of utter failure if there ever was one. Yet, we’d rather make jewelry out of it than live it. In so many ways we’ve forgotten “Good Friday” and fast-forwarded to “Easter Sunday.”

But, as St. Paul said, “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (I Corinthians 1:23).

Maybe that’s why American Catholics are so conflicted. We try to be religious and cultural winners at the same time. In the end, however, we know that we can’t be both. Herein is the seedbed of discipleship.

Mike Daley, a writer and teacher at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, recently edited with Bill Madges Vatican II: Forty Personal Stories.

National Catholic Reporter, November 12, 2004

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