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May 12, 2004
Dear Concerned Citizen,

Late in life, when Bobby Jones was crippled with syringomyelia, a degenerative back disorder that eventually claimed his life, he was asked how he coped not being able to play the game he so dearly loved. Jones simply said that one must “play the ball as it lies.”

Such emotional grace and acceptance did not come easily to Jones, arguably one of the world’s most physically gifted natural athletes of all time.

The film Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius opened this week in limited release. It is Jim Caviezel’s first performance after his riveting lead role in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. In interviews promoting Stroke of Genius Caviezel expressed his concern that his next film following Passion would be an appropriate transition. His depiction of Bobby Jones answers his concern.

In Passion Caviezel promotes faith. In Stroke of Genius he promotes family.

The movie lets us see Jones as a sickly young child who falls in love with golf.

Yet from his earliest days on Atlanta’s East Lake golf course Jones battles with his temper and his obsessive need to win. During a tournament he misses a shot and throws his club, hitting a woman. The officials tell him he can’t compete again until he learns to control his anger.

Jones struggles to find balance in his life. He writes to the officials, apologizing for his behavior.

Determined to behave himself, Jones internalizes his competitiveness. Within seven years he earns two undergraduate degrees and a law degree, marries the woman of his dreams, has children, and in his spare time wins 62 percent of the national championships he enters, including 13 of 21 tournaments, becoming the greatest amateur player in the game’s history.

But he struggles with his health and his fiercely restrained rage. He often loses 20 lbs during a single tournament. And he drinks to repress his emerging “neurological disorder”.

Bobby Jones is the only person to be given two ticker tape parades in New York City. His wins, including golf’s Grand Slam, a record still held today, and considered by many the greatest individual accomplishment in the history of sport, come at too great a cost for Jones. His trophies become less important to him than his family and his love of the game.

At age 28 Jones stuns the sports world by retiring from competition.

Jones’ decision challenges our excessive accomplishment orientation by rejecting not only a win at all costs mentality, but the cash rewards associated with such success.

The fierce competitor with a violent temper had transformed himself from golf’s greatest competitor into golf’s greatest gentleman. Even winning championships could not give Jones the life he so desperately wanted.

Bobby Jones spent the remaining 40 years of his life a family man and moderately successful lawyer. He expressed his love for golf by giving us the Masters Golf Tournament, played at his masterpiece, the Augusta National Golf Club which he founded and designed.

In our age of celebrity, family (along with faith) is ridiculed by current culture. But to Jones, and more recently to fellow athlete Pat Tillman, family came to mean more than trophies and fame. It always meant more than money.

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Responses to: The Importance of Motherhood This Mother's Day

What is "authoritative community?" - On the basis of all my studies and experience I agree for the most part with your analysis on the importance of child/parent bonding. Studies have shown a substitute adult can bond nearly as well with an infant as the biological mother can, to the benefit of the child's development- including a father or another male. Still, MOM is best assuming she is not severely narcisistically disordered herself and unable to bond. But what do you mean by "authoritative community?" How do you leap from infant psychology to the socio-political realm? What's your point?    Rev. M. H.

Morse responds: Dear Rev. M. H.,

Thanks for your letter. The authors of the report describe an "authoritative communities are groups that live out the types of connectedness that our children increasingly lack." An authoritative community can be any social institution, including familes, schools, clubs and churches. The authors are careful to distinguish "authoritative" from "authoritarian." Authoritative communities should be multi-generational, and treat children as ends in themselves, and should have a long-term focus and should encourage spritual development.

My short-hand description of an authoritative community is that it encourages connections that are more enduring and personal than market relationships, and less coercive and powerful than governmental institutions.

I can attest to the reality of this article. My husband and I adopted a three year old child who had been neglected and abused. Her biological parents were alcoholics and her step father abused mother and child. Her mother died when she was three years old. We took Stacey into our home to live with us and our three year old child (the two were 4 months apart). The doctors thought she had a speech impediment, but with work, it appeared it was neglect. She had difficulties keeping still, following rules, and would react - never think things out. She could not be alone and found no pleasure within, always looking for pleasure outside of herself. She saw professionals off and on but the problems escalated with age and at 16 we sought out a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with Reactive Attachment Disorder. She would act out and have no remorse. It was very scary and today I am so sad for her. As long as there were boundaries in place she functioned okay, but once she was 18 and left home, all fell apart. The story has alot more detail; however, I just wanted to tell you, without doubt, your article is true. Our biological children who had stability in their wombs and throughout have done well. They have the normal challenges of growing up, but have been awesome loving and compassionate children. Stacy has helped us all grow in love and understanding ... especially the knowledge of the importance of nurture and love.     T. L.

Morse responds: To this dear reader.

God bless you and your family. Please know that you are not alone in your struggles to help these children.


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