Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda tells this story: He was on the road with his team in Cincinnati when he decided to attend Sunday morning mass. Whom should he see across the aisle but his rival manager, John McNamara of the Reds. Their teams were scheduled to play later that day. The two eyed each other but never spoke. When the service was over, McNamara knelt to pray. On his way out, he lit a votive candle. Lasorda—on his way out—blew it out.
Lasorda’s anecdote perfectly portrays the fragile balance that often exists between personal spirituality and the competitive spirit—not only in sports, but also in many areas of life. Indeed, the world seems locked in a state of dynamic tension between giving deference to others and gaining an advantage over them.
Dateline: The Desert of Sinai, 1444 B.C. Three years have passed since the Jewish people left Egypt on their journey to the Promised Land. They have received the Ten Commandments and conducted the first census to determine the number of men fit for military service. Now it’s time to move.
Leaving their camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Israelites march through an inhospitable wilderness, enduring great hardships as they journey to Canaan, the land where their dreams will come true. When the eager throng reaches the outskirts of Canaan, Moses selects 12 men to sneak across the Jordan River and check out the conditions in their future home.
The reviews are decidedly mixed. Canaan is indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, but it is also inhabited by giants and dotted with fortified cities. Taking possession of the Promised Land is not going to be a cakewalk.