Old friends sat on their park bench like bookends. . . . Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange to be seventy."
Simon and Garfunkel recorded that song in 1968, the year I entered college. To be 70 seemed terribly strange, but so did 60 or 50. Even 30 was a long way off.
So next month I hit 60. My philosopher friend Peter Kreeft, who is 73, says he still in many ways thinks he's 18. So do I. How terribly strange to be 60.
Strange but not terrible. I know that my Redeemer lives. And I don't feel it's the end of the world when tough times come either personally or societally.
My loving wife has asked how I'd like to celebrate. Since 60 is a number, I think in terms of other numbers. On the rare nights now when I can't sleep, I lie in bed and recite to myself Scripture, usually the 23rd Psalm, and that usually works. But two years ago I'd get up and, somewhat like King David desiring a census, count (and list on my laptop) places I've been.
Here are three of my 40s: Visited 49 states, 41 countries, and 43 major league ballparks, including spring training ones. (And talk about God's mercy: Landed safely at 145 different airports around the world.)
So before I mention a birthday number, let me mention one thing that impresses me about God's mercy. The other day a skeptical Christian in his 20s said, in essence, "You conservatives are always alarmed. In 1968 the U.S. had terrible riots, in 1980 double-digit inflation and unemployment. Now there's ObamaCare. Chill out!"
True, God has repeatedly shed His grace on an America that repeatedly walks close to the edge. But should we chill out so much that we take for granted His continued mercy?
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists would be an obscure publication but for its one graphically great idea. In 1947 it put a clock on its cover to symbolize the urgency of the new danger of nuclear disaster-and it set the clock at seven minutes to midnight. At best over all the years it's been set at 17 minutes to midnight, at worst three. Right now we're at six.
We could have a similar domestic clock. It would have been at three minutes to midnight in 1980, when inflation at one point hit 14.8 percent. We could have fallen into hyperinflation and destroyed our middle class, but the Reagan administration's tight money policy reduced inflation to the manageable amount we've had for three decades now.
Should we now set our domestic policy clock at six minutes to midnight? Just as the easiest way to deal with additional guests is to put more water in the soup, so the politically easiest way (at first) to deal with massive deficits is to print money. Will hyperinflation that we barely escaped 30 years ago roar back?
Let's pray that God will be kind to us once again. And in the meantime-in this mean time-let us celebrate the good things God has given us. So, as I hit 60 on June 12, I want to celebrate with my wife and with WORLD readers who are baseball fans. Next month from June 9 to June 15 we plan to drive and hit every day a different major league ballpark that I've never visited-mostly new ones in cities that had old stadiums the last time I saw a game there.
Starting in New York, we plan to be in Philadelphia on June 9, and then drive to Washington, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Kansas City. God willing, I'll be up to 50 ballparks, hurrah!
When our kids were small, we took lots of driving trips and saw what recently we've flown over. So Susan and I, to quote another Simon and Garfunkel song from our youth, will start out "countin' the cars on the New Jersey turnpike." Then we'll "look for America," avoiding interstates whenever possible. I'll write about what we see. Susan will take photos.
If any WORLD subscribers would like to go to a ball game with us in those cities I've named, please email me.
If you have a question or comment for Marvin Olasky, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.