Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stevie Johnson let God down....didn't he?

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There's lots of talk about Stevie Johnson, the Bills wideout who dropped the game-winning touchdown and then, after the game, tweeted:

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

I feel bad for the guy. He’s getting mocked across the nation, and some of the criticisms are along the lines of “it’s just a game.” Such criticisms are very ignorant. Catching a ball is what this guy was hired to do. It’s his living. I get upset when things I try to do at my job don’t go well. Doesn’t matter if your job is a plumber, programmer, pastor, doctor, or athlete.

In the case of an athlete, a failure on the job is witnessed by millions of people. To this day, athletes like Leon Lett, Bill Buckner, and Robin Ventura, who should be known for having great careers, are instead known for one bad moment. They’re regarded as failures despite being better at what they do that 99.9% of people who judge their performance and assess their worthiness.

My hope for Johnson is that he will have a game where he does something really well, and alters the way people think about him. And my other hope is that he will see God as He really is.

I have never received a dime for playing sports, but have felt his same frustration when my softball team, or the kids’ baseball team that I coach, has had a heartbreaking loss, a dropped ball, or missed opportunity. In fact, I’ve had it outside of sports, as well. This isn't about money; it's about a guy who had thoughts like we all do, only his went public.

Note: much of this blog post originated in comments I posted on Karen Spears Zacharias' excellent post at http://bit.ly/hdGrSA

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: Snow Day, by Billy Coffey

I was alerted to Billy Coffey by a tweet from Karen Spears Zacharias earlier this year. He's a blogger who has a day job and lives in Virginia, and has just published his first book, Snow Day. After reading several of his blog posts, I was intrigued by the book and had meant to purchase it. As it turns out, I won a free copy in a promotion by the publisher. I am under no obligation to give any review, positive or negative, about Snow Day.

Having said that, I'm recommending Snow Day very highly.  This is a story about a man named Peter whose circumstances are similar to that of Mr Coffey (mid-30's, wife and two kids, one with diabetes, factory job), with some differences. In particular, Peter is facing a very tough situation:  an impending layoff in a small town with little in the way of alternatives for him if he should lose his job.

Snow Day takes place in one day: a winter day in which the protagonist decides to take a day off. He spends the day running errands at the store, meeting interesting people, watching local kids sledding, and thinking about people and life in this small town. The gray cloud looming over all these thoughts and encounters is the sobering prospect of joblessness.

There's not a lot of plot to get in the way of the story, and that's a good thing in this case. It's a simple account of one man's thoughts and attempts to keep his chin up as he faces not being able to provide for his family. Along the way, he meets several characters, and learns a lesson from each one. My favorite is chapter 4, where Peter mocks an imperfect toy Santa, only to learn that this world is full of imperfect people, each of whom has value.

If you're up for a nice story which teaches some things without being preachy, and which is hopeful in the midst of hopelessness, I recommend Snow Day.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Elections results

With the recent mid-term elections, I've been hearing a lot about how wrong it is for evangelicals and social-justice Christians to hold to the political right and Left, respectively, as the answer to the nation's problems.

I, too went through a time where I questioned why so many Protestants wrapped up their faith and their politics to the point where the two couldn't be separated. I, too, want to see this stopped, because Christians fighting Christians about whose politics are more Christian is, um, not Christian.

But as much as I love these calls to stop the madness, I don't think it will work. As long as political liberals hold and defend the party line on the two big moral issues (abortion and gay issues), there will always be a backlash from those Christians on the Right.

Like many Christians, I've asked the questions about why these two issues are picked as hot-button topics. In particular, why are conservative Christians so vocal about homosexuality and not other sexual sins? I think there are three answers to this:

1. It's a false supposition: Many evangelical Christians leaders preach just as much about other sexual sins, but nobody is noticing.

2. If right-leaning Christians do focus on one sexual sin over the others, it's because they cannot relate. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul lists several sins that are problematic: witchcraft, fornication, alcoholism, homosexuality. But many Christians are more forgiving when it comes to alcoholism and fornication because they engaged in that behavior in their youth. Most do not have any incidences of homosexuality or witchcraft in their past, so those two sins are elevated. This particular charge against evangelicals is right-on.

3. Homosexuality and abortion are unique in that they are the only sins which have organizations which seek to make them acceptable. Is anyone out there advocating bank robbery as an acceptable way to earn a living? Is anyone lobbying legislatures to legalize murder? Is there a push to get churches to drop the idea that fornication is sin?  No. But there has been a major push over the past 3 decades to make abortion and homosexuality acceptable, both socially and legally. A backlash from conservatives is to be expected. It's not evidence of meanness or intolerance. It's an obvious, predictable reaction from those who hold to a particular worldview. To cast is as intolerance or hate is nothing less than dishonest.