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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent and the Rapture

According to the 2005 Baylor Survey found that approximately 50% of Americans believe in the Rapture, which holds that Christians will be gathered together in the air to meet Christ either at his return or seven years prior to his return.  There is even a Rapture Index that tracks world events and is
"designed to measure the type of activity that could act as a precursor to the rapture. You could say the Rapture index is a Dow Jones Industrial Average of end time activity, but... it would be better if you viewed it as prophetic speedometer. The higher the number, the faster we're moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture."
Not everyone who believes in Jesus' second coming believes in the Rapture, however.  For example, the 2006 Religion and Public Life Survey found that 79% of Americans believe that Jesus will come again someday, but only 25% believe that this will happen in their lifetime. The age group this is most likely to believe that Jesus will come again in their lifetime are Americans between the age of 35-44 (31%). The least likely group are those 65 and over (22%).

Such things came to mind this morning during worship as I listened to this year's Lectionary readings for the First Sunday of Advent, in particular the passage from the Gospel of Matthew (24:36-44):
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left."
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (New International Version).
What are those of us Christians who don't believe that Jesus will come in our lifetimes (a majority of Americans) or not at all (a small minority) to do with passages such as this? What are we to do, for the matter, with the season of Advent, which traditionally calls on Christians to prepare for Jesus' Second Coming?

I don't know if there is an easy answer to that question, but I think that this morning's passage from Isaiah (2:1-5) provides a clue:
This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 
Many peoples will come and say,
         “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob.
              He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”
         The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
              He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.
         They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
              Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD (New International Version)
Isaiah, I believe, is not only holding out a hope for a better future, he's also calling on his listeners (i.e., the descendants of Jacob), to live that future now (i.e., to walk in the light of the LORD) and not wait until God brings such a world about.  

I am almost certain that Isaiah's vision of the future informed Jesus' notion of the Kingdom of God and would argue that Jesus' vision of how the world should be (and not how it is) should inform how those of us who are Christians should live our lives today. And that, I believe, is how we can approach the season of Advent -- recognizing that the Kingdom of God, God's hope for our world, is calling to us to live in the present as if God's future has already arrived.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

America's Four Gods

Some of you may be aware of the new book by Paul Froese and Chris Bader, America's Four Gods, in which they argue that Americans picture God in four basic ways, and the way that we picture God is largely predictive of what we believe, value and do. These four understandings of God reflect the intersection of two distinct dimensions: (1) the degree to which we believe that God is engaged with the world and (2) the degree to which we believe God is judgmental:
  • 31% of Americans believe in a God who is engaged with the world and judgmental -- Bader and Froese refer to this God as the Authoritative God. 
  • 24% of Americans believe in a God who is engaged with the world but is nonjudgmental -- they refer to this God as the Benevolent God. 
  • 16% of Americans believe in a God who is judgmental but is not engaged in the world -- they refer to this God as the Critical God. 
  • 24% of Americans believe in a God who is nonjudgmental and disengaged -- they refer to this God as the Distant God. 
What groups are associated with these images? Black Protestants are the most likely group to believe in the Authoritative God (~70%) with Evangelical Protestants coming in a distant second (~50%). Mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics are remarkably similar in how they see God: approximately 25% of both groups believe in an authoritative God, 25% believe a benevolent one, 20% believe in a critical one, while 30% believe in a distant one.

Are certain individuals more likely to embrace one image over another? Yes. For example, individuals with a college education and who earn more than $100,000 per year are more likely to believe in a distant God, while those who are married and older are more likely to believe in an authoritative one. People who were spanked when they were children are less likely to believe in a distant God but are very likely to believe in an authoritative one. And males tend to believe in a critical God, while females tend to envision a benevolent one.

What difference do these understandings of God play themselves out in our everyday lives? Here's a sample of their findings: 
  • Individuals who believe in an authoritative or benevolent God are much more likely to say that they are religious than are those who do not 
  • People who believe in a distant or critical God are more likely to identify themselves as politically liberal 
  • Believers in an authoritative God are much more likely to think that abortion is wrong and that homosexuality is a choice 
  • And believers in a distant or critical God are more likely to think that religion and science are incompatible 
What is interesting is that one dimension of belief that doesn't play much of a role in how we picture God is the degree to which we believe that he or she is loving. This is because while 85% of us believe that God is "love," we don't agree as to what that means. Thus, it is unhelpful as an analytic concept, and, I would argue, as a theological one because it needs to be embedded in a much larger moral context or narrative in order for it to have any practical substance (I plan to return to this topic in a later post).

Obviously, this brief summary doesn't capture all that Froese and Bader discovered. Another helpful review of the book can be found in David Briggs's "Ahead of the Curve" column. Of course, if your interest has been peaked enough, you may simply want to pick up the book.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is Afghanistan a Lost Cause?

In a post on October 10, 2010, I mentioned that I had run across a wonderful resource: Intelligence Squared, which is a UK based organisation that stages debates around the world. The debates are held in the traditional Oxford Style, with as many as 2,500 people attending some events. Typically, those attending vote prior to and after a debate, and the winning debate team is decided by which way the vote swings. So, for instance, if prior to the debate the audience favors the propositions by 55% but after only 51% favor it, then the opposing team is considered to have won the debate.

In that intial post, I referred to a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared US, and the proposition under consideration was, "Islam is a Religion of Peace." A couple of days ago, I listened to another debate I found stimulating, one that debated the proposition, "Afghanistan is a Lost Cause." Those who argued in favor of the motion were Matthew Hoh and Nir Rosen; those who argued against it were Peter Bergen and Max Boot. Here's their bios from the Intelligence Squared US website:

Matthew Hoh is a former State Department official who resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan over US strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in September 2009. Prior to his assignment in Afghanistan, Matthew served in Iraq; first in 2004-2005 in Salah ad Din Province with a State Department reconstruction and governance team and then in 2006-2007 in Anbar Province as a Marine Corps company commander.

Nir Rosen is the author of Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World, about civil war, sectarianism, occupation, resistance, terror and counterinsurgency from Iraq to Lebanon to Afghanistan. His first book, In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq, was published in 2006. He has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Time, Mother Jones, The New Republic, Rolling Stone, Boston Review and other publications. He has been reporting from Iraq since April of 2003 and has spent over four years on the ground there. He is a fellow at the New York University Center on Law and Security.

Peter Bergen is a print and television journalist; a senior fellow at the New America Foundation where he co-directs the Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative; a research fellow at New York University's Center on Law and Security and CNN's national security analyst. Bergen has reported for a range of newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. He is editor of the AfPak Channel, a joint publication of Foreign Policy magazine and the New America Foundation (www.foreignpolicy.com/afpak). His most recent book, The Osama bin Laden I Know(2006), was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2006 by the Washington Post.

Max Boot is one of America’s leading military historians and foreign-policy analysts. The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and the Los Angeles Times, and a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and many other publications.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Aristotle, Virtue & the Youth Sports-Injury Epidemic

The virtues are making something of a comeback. Contemporary, moral philosophers such as Alasdair Macintyre ("After Virtue") and Michael Sandel ("Justice") are extolling well, their, virtue.  What is a virtue? A virtue is a trait or quality that promotes individual and/or collective well being.  According to Aristotle, a virtue lies somewhere between two extremes (what he called the golden mean).  For example, the virtue of courage lies somewhere between cowardice and heedlessness, and the virtue of charity lies somewhere between miserliness and extravagance. Moreover, the virtues are something we acquire through instruction and practice (i.e., they are not innate), which means that in order to become virtuous we need to schooled by someone who possesses the virtues we seek to acquire.

One could make a similar argument concerning the virtue of athletic excellence. One may have the requisite abilities to throw a football 70 yards or bend a soccer ball like Beckam, but without practice one doesn't acquire the skills needed to take advantage of such abilities.  However, athletic excellence, just like any other virtue, can only be acquired by avoiding the extremes of indifference and obsession.  It is easy to see why indifference does not lead one to become a great athlete, but it may be less intuitive as to why obsessiveness about a particular sport can be a bad thing.  The short answer is that too much practice incurs what economists call diminishing marginal returns. Medical evidence suggests that our bodies simply can't take it. They break down. What they need is a rest, but we don't give it to them.

This fact was recently driven home when talking with an acquaintance who was one of the top milers in Santa Clara County when he was a Freshman.  Like many runners he ran cross-country in the Fall and track in the Spring.  In the Winter he wanted to play another sport (basketball), but his track coach wouldn't let him. His coach wanted him to train year round, so he did.  Consequently, he ran between 13-15 miles a day, 365 days a year.  What happened?  Well, he never ran a faster time in the mile than he did as a Freshman. All that extra training didn't buy him another second.  What's worse, his legs eventually gave out, and he couldn't run anymore.

Or take another example: when I was in Middle School (what we used to call Junior High), a schoolmate of mine was determined to win an Olympic Gold Medal in one of the distance races.  He was constantly running. In fact, except when he was in class, he was never still. He was always moving, running in place, jogging from class to class, etc.  What happened?  His heart became so big that he had to give up running... for life!

These cases could be simply dismissed as anecdotes, except for the fact that for the past several years the medical community has been warning coaches and parents that our kids are training too much, which is causing their bodies to break down and leading to an increase in sports-related injuries ("Unhealthy Competition").  For example, a couple of years ago an article in the NY Times detailed how girls who play soccer year-around are suffering injuries at far greater rates than girls who don't ("The Uneven Playing Field" -- also, see the book, "Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women's Sports").  Similarly, the rate of arm injuries among young baseball players has been rising at an alarming rate and is strongly correlated with the advent of year-round "travel ball" tournaments and teams ("Arms-Control Breakdown"). Kids used to play baseball from January to July and then gave their arms a rest from August to December. Not any more. Now, kids as young as eight (and probably younger) play baseball year round. This can't be good for them.

In short, if athletic excellence is a virtue, then in order to acquire it, one needs to practice. Repeatedly. But there are upper limits to how much practice we need. This is especially true of our children. They need time off. There bodies need a break. And they should probably play more than one sport (Hall of Fame baseball player Cal Ripken once remarked that he believed that he became such a good infielder because he played a lot of basketball).

We can't, of course, expect our children to learn the virtues on their own.  They need to learn them from us: their parents and coaches. But that means that we need to practice and acquire the virtues as well, that we need to be able to strike a balance between indifference and obsession. We need to care, but we can't care too much. We need to push them hard enough so that they excel, but we can't push them so hard that their bodies quit on them.

Striking a balance between indifference and obsession applies to skills other than athletic excellence as well. It applies to any and all innate talents that our children may exhibit, whether they are athletic, academic, artistic or something else.  I should be clear that I make no claims that I have cornered the market on where this balance lies. However, given how the rate of athletic injuries among our youth continues to rise, I am certain that many parents and coaches either don't care or don't know where it lies either. I think it's clear that many of us have been a little too obsessive.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Much Does the President Really Matter?

Most of you are probably familiar with the Freakanomics and SuperFreakanomics books authored by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Levitt (a devout libertarian) is an economics professor at the University of Chicago, while Dubner (I'm not sure how devout he is) is a journalist who lives in NY City.  Drawing on rational choice theory, which argues that individuals tend to respond positively to incentives and that by analyzing various incentives, a variety of human behaviors can be explained. Anyone who has read one or both of the books know that they are not only entertaining but are also quite illuminating of human behavior. One of my favorite chapters recounts the story of how Levitt was able to detect how Chicago schoolteachers improved their students' test scores by looking at the patterns of answers on the tests. Levitt was also able to uncover cheating among Sumo wrestlers by looking at their rates of winning in relation to their win-loss records in a particular tournament.

What you may not realize is that there is also a Freakanomics blog (which almost certainly attracts more traffic than this one) and podcast, both of which are also quite entertaining (and probably serving as the basis of a third Freakanomics book -- I wonder what they'll call it: SuperduperFreakanomics?). The other morning while driving to work, I listened to one of their podcasts that considered the question, "How much does the President really matter?" While there is not point in repeating here what they found, their basic answer to the question is, "Not much." There are simply too many outside forces that constrain what Presidents can and cannot do. This is especially true of the economy, which ironically has more effect on the outcome of Presidential elections than any other factor.

You can find a summary of the podcast here as well as a link to the podcast, which you can listen to on-line. You can also access the podcast through iTunes. I think most of you will find it interesting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cheating and Sports, Part III: The Claims of Community

One of my earlier posts asked, "What are the rules about breaking the rules?" It wondered why certain forms of cheating are permitted (e.g., Gaylord Perry throwing spitters and not only getting away with it but being inducted into the Hall of Fame) while others are not (e.g., taking performance-enhancing drugs). Since that post a few incidents of cheating have occurred (e.g., Derek Jeter faking that he was hit by a pitch) that have been hailed by some as examples of "heads-up play," so again I can't help but wonder what the rules about breaking the rules are.

I can't say that I've resolved the issue, but I am beginning to think that it has something to do with whether the primary motivation lying behind the cheating is to benefit the team (i.e., winning the game is why one does it) or the individual (i.e., enhancing personal statistics). To be sure, the line between the two is blurry. When Derek Jeter faked that he was hit by a pitch, he did enhance his personal statistics (he was in a slump at the time, so the odds weren't good that he would get a hit), but still I think most people saw what he did as increasing the chances that the Yankees would win the game.  By contrast, although the Giants as a team benefited when Barry Bonds repeatedly launched baseballs into McCovey Cove, most fans (or at least most non-Giants fans) saw the underlying motivation as personal (i.e., being the all-time season and career home run hitter). (As an aside, I do think it is instructive that the Giants won their first World Series without any position player in pursuit of a major record)

Put differently, when it is the claims of community (in this case, the claims of a player's team) that are the driving motivation lying behind a player choosing to cheat in a sporting event, then it is considered to be OK to break the rules. However, if it is personal glory that is driving the cheating, then it isn't considered OK.  This is not to say that players and fans are consciously aware of what these claims are, and, as I noted above, the line between doing something for the team and doing something for oneself is often blurry (e.g., not everyone "cheered" Jeter's heads-up play). Nevertheless, I'm fairly certain that the form of  moral reasoning outlined here is often what lies behind determining what the rules are for breaking the rules.

Indeed, I would even go farther than that. I am willing to argue that most moral reasoning, whether in sports, in politics or in life, is driven by the values of the communities in which we live and move and have our being, which is why when we debate about what is right and just, we often talk right past one another, not necessarily because we don't respect one another but because we begin from different conceptions we are called as individuals and as a community to be.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Just War and the Fight Against Terrorism

The just-war tradition is guided by the goal of a just peace, which is the belief that at war's end the offending country’s social, political, economic and ecological conditions will be such that its citizens, both individually and in their common life together, are able to flourish (eudaimonia), to live lives that are meaningful and dignified (Allman and Winwright, After the Smoke Clears). The three sets of criteria of the just war tradition reflect this goal of a just peace. The first set (jus ad bellum -- justice at the time of war) places considerable restrictions on the moral ability of authorities to wage war because the tradition recognizes that the horrors that war can unleash are often difficult for a country and its people to recover from. The second set (jus in bello -- justice during war) place restraints on how wars are fought in order to minimize the damage that is done. For instance, the criterion of proportionality seeks to insure that no unnecessary destruction takes place, while the criterion of non-combatant immunity (i.e., civilians can't be deliberatively targeted or killed) recognizes that a country’s citizens need to be spared as much as possible from the ravages of war if they are to flourish after the fighting has stopped. Finally, the third set of criteria (jus post bellum -- justice after war) explicitly concerns itself with the restoration of the country to wholeness such that its citizens are able to live lives are worth living.

Because the just war tradition developed with conventional warfare in mind, it is legitimate to ask how (and if) it should be applied to the fight against terrorism, a fight that is often fought using unconventional or irregular means. I believe that the answer is that it should because the goal of a just peace is one worth fighting for but only if it is fought for justly. In particular, the principle of non-combatant immunity should loom large in how the problem of terrorism is tackled. How we can apply this principle to the fight against terrorism can be illustrated when considering the practice of targeted killing, a practice that the Israelis made famous (Walzer, Thinking Politically, p. 274). An obvious objection to the practice is that it is no different from assassination and thus prohibited by the just war tradition. That, however, is not true. The just war tradition only prohibits the killing of political leaders on the assumption that at war's end, a peace agreement will need to be hammered out with such leaders. It does not rule out the killing military personnel or enemy combatants, which the terrorists clearly are (Walzer, Thinking Politically, pp. 274-275). Thus, on the face of it, it appears that the practice is permitted by the tradition since, by definition, the practice of targeted killing seeks to avoid the killing of non-combatants.

That said, it cannot be stressed enough that the authorities need to take extra care in making their targeting decisions (Walzer, Thinking Politically, p. 275). This, however, can be quite difficult since terrorists often seek to blend in with the crowd, making detection more difficult and the loss of innocent life more likely, which is why we have to be as sure as we can that we can hit targeted persons without killing innocent people who are nearby:


Here I think we have to adopt standards that are closer to Philadelphia than Afghanistan. In a war zone, collateral damage cannot be avoided; it can only be minimized. The hard question in war is what degree of risk we are willing to accept for our own soldiers in order to reduce the risks we impose on enemy civilians. Bur when the police are chasing criminals in a zone of peace, we rightly give them no latitude for collateral damage. In the strongest sense, they must intend not to injure civilians--even if that makes their operation more difficult... That seems to me roughly the the right rule for people planning targeted killings... They can't avoid imposing some degree of risk on innocent people, and the risks will certainly be greater than those imposed by police in a city at peace, but we must insist on a strenuous effort to minimize the risks” (Walzer, Thinking Politically, p. 276).
 Targeted killing is not the only option, however, and it may not be the most desirable one. Research has shown that terrorist networks are remarkably resilient and often are able to recover quite quickly after a key leader has been eliminated. Moreover, terrorist groups generally suffer more "damage" if one of their members is captured or (better yet) defects. Defection, in particular, can shut a terrorist group's operations down for weeks or months because the group doesn’t know what information has been passed to the authorities (Eli Berman, Radical, Religious and Violent). Of course, getting someone to defect is easier said than done, but reconciliation and amnesty programs in Indonesia and Singapore have met with some success. Other evidence suggests that policies aimed at eliminating the structural conditions that help give rise to terrorist groups in the first place (e.g., building alternative schools, improving economic conditions, eliminating ungoverned spaces) can all be effective in reducing the prevalence of terrorism as well.

Most likely no single strategy, by itself, will do the trick. Instead, we will need a combination of them. Moreover, these alternative (and non-lethal) strategies, however, require an acknowledgement on our part that the fight against terrorism is ultimately a long one, which given our tendency to be an impatient people, makes adhering to the principles of the just war tradition all that more difficult. Nevertheless, if a just peace is our goal, if we want to help create a world where individuals are free to flourish, then I don't see where we have much of a choice.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Crowd Sizes, Glenn Beck and Championship Rallies

It appears that the Giants attracted about as many people to its championship rally in San Francisco as Glenn Beck did for his in Washington DC.  One interpretation of this is that sports fans take their sports much too seriously (the word, "fan," after all is a shortened version of "fanatic"). Another is that most people aren't taking Glenn Beck as seriously as some in the press are inclined to believe. I prefer the latter interpretation.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Midterm Election Results

It appears that most of my elections predictions came true. Republicans gained control of the House but failed to gain control of the Senate.  Barbara Boxer won in her attempt to retain her Senate seat, and Lisa Murkowski is making a decent run at retaining hers even though she lost the primary to Tea Party candidate (and Sara Palin favorite) Joe Miller. I was wrong about Harry Reid, though. I thought he would lose, but he proved me wrong.

So, what does this mean for President Obama's chances in two years? Well, it certainly isn't a death sentence considering that at the two year mark in Bill Clinton's Presidency, Democrats lost control of both the House and Senate.  It doesn't mean he's a lock for reelection either.  It will largely hinge on how quickly the economy recovers and how much it expands between now and Election Day 2012.  Some Wall Street insiders seems to think that the economy will benefit from the strong showing of Republicans in this election. If they are right, then one of the ironies of this election is that in the long run it may benefit President Obama more than it benefits the 2012 GOP nominee for President.

We will see, what we will see...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts: Or, Why the Giants Finally Won the World Series

Within complexity theory the term "emergence" refers to the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a series of relatively simple interactions. Complexity scholars generally refer to two types of emergence: weak and strong. Weak emergence describes how new properties arise in systems from interactions at an elemental level such that the resulting system has qualities that can be traced back to its constituent parts. Strong emergence, on the other hand, refers to those systems that have qualities that can't be directly traced back to its parts but rather to how those parts interact. Thus, the system's qualities are seen as "irreducible" to its constituent parts.  Put another way: the whole is sometimes greater than the sum of its parts ("Emergence," Wikipedia).

Much has been made that this year's San Francisco Giants team was able to knock off the Braves (not too surprising but probably the toughest series the Giants played), the Phillies (a surprise to just about everyone except SF fans -- we knew we had better pitching) and the Rangers (22 out of 28 ESPN "experts" picked the Rangers to beat the Giants) with very few stars apart from its pitching staff, especially compared to SF Giants World Series teams of the past. For example, the 1962 Giants team included future Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey, while the 2002 team had (probable) future Hall of Famers Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds. The 1989 team wasn't anything to sneeze at either; it included Will "The Thrill" Clark (lifetime .303 hitter), Robby Thompson, Matt Williams and Kevin Mitchell (the 1989 National League MVP).

What is the difference between this year's team and those previous teams? Former Giant player and manager Felipe Alou probably captured it best:
Sometimes in the past, we had great teams. We had many great Giants. But "the team" was not as great as this team, if you know what I mean. A team is not necessarily a bunch of great players together. But this team -- this is a team (Cam Inman, "Past Giants Greats Never Equaled This Team").
Put simply, the Giants, as a whole, were greater than the sum of their parts.  Apart from the pitching staff, which was probably the best in the majors this year (if there were any doubters prior to the playoffs, there probably aren't any now), this team didn't have any stars (although Buster Posey comes pretty close).  Different players contributed at different times. When players who were hot during the regular season cooled off during the playoffs, others picked up the pace.  When a clutch hit was needed, someone almost always came through, and it seemed like it was a different person every time (e.g., Cody Ross, Edgar Renteria, Aubrey Huff, Andres Torres, Juan Uribe, Buster Posey, Freddy Sanchez all had key hits in the World Series).

So, yes, sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That was certainly the case with the San Francisco Giants this year. To borrow a little from complexity theory, what we have here is an example of strong emergence. Very strong emergence indeed. May it always be so.