Daily Archives: July 25, 2012

Book review: Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones speeds to glory

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Based on the success Cullen Jones has displayed in swimming, one would find it hard to believe he almost drowned at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Penn., when he was 5 years old. But, Jones turned the horrific event into a positive. He learned how to swim, and 20-plus years later, he became a gold-medal winning swimming champion in the 50-meter freestyle at the Beijing summer games in 2008.

Jones, 28, the second African American in history to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming (400-meter freestyle with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak, and Garrett Weber-Gale), places his faith, courage, and hard work in a children’s book titled “Speed to Glory: The Cullen Jones Story” (Zonderkidz; $6.99), currently in bookstores.

In the 2012 London Olympics, the North Carolina State University alum will participate in the men’s 100-meter freestyle (July 31 heat), men’s 400-meter relay (July 29 heat), and men’s 50-meter freestyle (Aug. 2 heat) at the 2012 summer games.

Written by Natalie Davis Miller, the book is truly inspirational. Whether it is swimming or in life, Jones wants readers to understand that commitment and trusting in God goes a long way.

Miller said Jones, who lists Proverbs as his favorite book in the Bible, attended church as a teen with his father and mother, the late Ronald Jones and Debra Jones. Although he is unable to attend church on a regular basis, Cullen Jones still devotes time in his schedule.

“I call on religion in every aspect of my life, whether I’m at the OIympic Games representing the USA or about to get on a plane to an event,” Jones said.

In the chapter “Finding Faith,” Miller said Cullen Jones keeps faith at the core of his daily life.

Jones also addresses the stereotypes about African American swimmers which exist. In chapter 12, “Make a Splash with Cullen Jones,” Miller describes how Jones came to create his swimming initiative, Make a Splash With Cullen Jones. In August 2010, Jones was taken aback by the drowning of six African American children in the Red River in Shreveport, La. This event prompted the gifted swimmer to partner with the USA Swimming Foundation and ConocoPhillips to help minorities across the country learn how to swim. In addition, Jones provides free to low-cost swimming lessons to children.

“Speed to Glory” is a simple read with a strong message: honor the steps His has provided to you, work hard, and always give back to others.

Aurora theater shooting reveals numbing reality

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By Charme Robarts
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: The views in this piece are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Inside The Pew staff.

Reeling from shock and pain we rush to issues of justice and blame and gun control and violence in entertainment. The pain arouses our passion.

But we cannot rush past the grief.

Through our TV windows we see a rush of images. Lives snuffed out, agony creased faces of survivors, innocent, unknowing children hoisted on the shoulders of their dads attending the memorial gatherings. We mourn it all.

Down in the grief where we all try to breathe underwater, we may see in each other’s eyes questions of how and why things have gone so wrong.  Could the struggle for breath in these murky waters cause us to slow down, to think hard about how anyone of us could become so disaffected and isolated as to do unthinkable things?

Psychologists know that when we experience disappointments, rejection, and humiliation in our lives, we respond around what is called the Compass of Shame. These responses or reactions to the hurt we endure in life range from withdrawing and isolating to attacking others. We all make our way around this compass, most of us in fairly mild ways; but obviously some are extreme in their reactions. It is hard work to deal with our pain in healthy ways.

As we grieve this new tragedy in the city named for the bright mysteries that sometimes grace the sky, I hope we can reach for light and find ways to deal with hurt and disappointment in non violent ways. That is what we wish James Holmes had done.

Fort Worth resident Charme Robarts, a graduate of Abilene Christian University, is a caseworker with First Street Methodist Mission in Fort Worth.  Read more of Robarts’ writings on her blog, Speak What You Feel.