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CULTURE DIGEST: Shark attack victim writes of faith in God

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Bethany Hamilton, the 14-year-old surfer who lost her left arm when she was attacked by a shark nearly a year ago, has written a book in which she credits her relationship with Christ for providing the strength necessary to recover.

Hamilton recently appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” to discuss the book she coauthored with her pastor, titled “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.”

“To be honest, I never wanted to write a book,” Hamilton said. But after encouragement from her family and friends, she decided it was the right thing to do in order to provide people with a larger picture of her faith and the people who have helped her get back into the water after the attack.

In the book’s forward, Hamilton tells how she spent many hours pouring her heart out to Rick Bundschuh, her spiritual adviser and pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship Church in Koloa, Hawaii.

“In the end, I’m really proud of what I’ve written here,” Hamilton writes. “… I hope it helps people find faith in God and in their own strength and ability. I hope it motivates someone going through a tough time right now to keep on fighting until they rise above it.”

Hamilton said she doesn’t want people to pity her for losing an arm at such a young age. She wants them to see an example of how to cope when life doesn’t go as planned. And she clearly states what her sources of strength have been.

“My strength came from my relationship with Christ and from the love and encouragement of my family and friends,” she writes.

The teenager even has an answer for those who wonder why God would allow such a tragedy to happen to a young, vibrant surfer who showed so much promise as a professional competitor.

“I don’t pretend to have all the answers to why bad things happen to good people,” Hamilton writes. “But I do know that God knows all those answers, and sometimes He lets you know in this life, and sometimes He asks you to wait so that you can have a face-to-face talk about it.

“What I do know is that I want to use what happened to me as an opportunity to tell people that God is worthy of our trust, and to show them that you can go on and do wonderful things in spite of terrible events that happen,” she adds.

EARNHARDT JR. DOCKED FOR CUSSING — One of NASCAR’s most prominent figures was docked major points and fined for his use of profanity on national television just after winning a race in Talledega, Ala., Oct. 3.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was knocked out of first place by a 25-point penalty and fined $10,000 because of a remark he made to NBC about the significance of his fifth victory at Talledega.

“It don’t mean [expletive] right now. Daddy’s won here 10 times,” he said.

Instead of leading Kurt Busch by 13 points in the Nextel Cup standings, Earnhardt now trails by 12 with seven races left in the season, according to the Associated Press.

“This is a huge setback for the entire company,” Richie Gilmore, director of competition for Dale Earnhardt Inc., said. “We’re in a sport that focuses its primary attention on the final 10 races of the season and we’re racing against formidable teams for a championship.

“We’re facing a setback from a competition standpoint for something that should be considered a personal foul,” he added. “We have no choice but to appeal the points portion of the penalty.”

But earlier this year, NASCAR President Mike Helton warned drivers to keep their language in check when speaking on radio and television.

“[Helton] made it clear back in February at the drivers meeting at Rockingham that we, as a family sport, were taking this very seriously and adhering to [Federal Communications Commission] guidelines,” NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said in the AP report. “The timing is unfortunate for Dale Jr., but NASCAR also made it clear to the competitors that we would police the last 10 races just like we did the first 26.”

In his weekly diary posting on his website Oct. 4, Earnhardt said he regrets his choice of words.

“I want to apologize for my post race comments using curse words,” he wrote. “It was all in the excitement of winning…. It was a slip of the tongue and I apologize to anyone that was offended.”

GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP ENCOURAGED -– The Division 1-AA Gateway Conference has implemented a policy in which players from opposing teams shake hands before the opening kickoff in response to a post-game brawl two years ago between two football teams that led to NCAA-imposed penalties.

This season, Gateway teams are instructed to show good sportsmanship by requiring players to line up across the field and walk toward the opposing team to shake hands after the coin toss.

Gateway Commissioner Patty Viverito told USA Today the response to the policy has been overwhelmingly positive. The handshakes were met with “spontaneous and sustained applause,” she said, and, “The coaches and the players all embraced it.”

ROOSEVELT QUOTE TO BE COVERED — The Anti-Defamation League has asked that a quote by Theodore Roosevelt displayed on the wall of a California courthouse be covered up because it could be interpreted as a direct “endorsement of Christian faith.”

Roosevelt’s statement that “the true Christian is the true citizen” was part of a longer address he gave at a YMCA convention more than 100 years ago, according to the Associated Press. The words are engraved in gold letters on a mahogany wall inside a Riverside County courtroom along with several other quotes by the former president. The words have been a part of the decor for 70 years, AP said.

The associate director of the ADL’s Pacific Southwest region said that without the original context, Roosevelt’s quote could be perceived as “equating Christianity and good citizenship.”

Officials have decided to cover the quote with a wood panel when the court is in session but will leave it on display during historical tours.

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  • Erin Curry