Sunday Best – September 27, 2020

These past months of separation, my family has sometimes hosted virtual movie nights, where we watch the same film from our different locations and text our comments back and forth. It is not as good as piling on the sofa together, but it’s still pretty fun.

Last night we watched Miracle, the film about the 1980 US Hockey Team and their victory over the Soviet Union. It’s the sign of a powerful story when different elements stand out at different times in your own life – and right now, when revisiting this impossible story in this impossible time, three observations shone most brightly:

First, my memories of this night came back vividly. My mom and I were upstairs on Dogwood Drive, and my dad and brother were shouting so loud after that first goal that we bundled up my little sister and all gathered downstairs in our Bicentennial-themed family room to watch, even though it was already past our bedtimes. Probably at least one of us was wearing plaid pants, though I can’t say that for sure. I do not remember every second of the game, but I remember the thrill of knowing something special was happening, and the joy of being together and hopeful and proud.

Second, the 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” speech from President Carter was not just background context in the movie this time ‘round. It was sharp and present and well worth revisiting here in 2020.

And finally, last night we had to explain to the younger folks that there used to be a thing called the Soviet Union.

Friends, big things can stay the same.

Big things can get even worse.

And big things can change for the better.

We have the chance to influence all three, each in our own way. Our thoughts and actions, big and small, can create arcs that extend far beyond the horizon.

What will we set in motion today?


The full text of the Carter speech is here. In addition to its essential observations on late-70’s challenges to US well-being, it shows the early stage of US energy policies that eventually have led to a hydrocarbon surplus that was truly unimaginable in 1979. It also shows a leader who started a big important speech by reading aloud all of the legitimate critiques of his own capabilities by regular citizens, something I have not witnessed before or since. 

Also, I just learned that the game was played at 5pm but broadcast at 8pm, and we had NO IDEA what the outcome was, three whole hours later! I do kind of miss living in a world where “spoiler alert” was not yet a needed phrase.



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