Saturday’s Stray Thoughts

Scattered, stray, whatever. Here are a few thoughts to close the week; as always, feel free to follow up and let me know if any of them strike you as good candidates for further discussion on this blog.

Speaking of candidates (can’t get away from it, can you?), the latest negativity in the Republican field was kicked off by none other than James Dobson of Focus on the Family–and of that controversial John 3:16 ad aired during last week’s AFC playoff game. This time he strongly suggested that true believers concerned with morality should support Rick Santorum because his wife put her career on hold to raise the couple’s seven children, one of whom is a “special needs” child. This makes her a more worthy first lady than the wife of Newt Gingrich, who is unworthy due to a long relationship with the candidate while he was still married to another woman. Oh, but then it turns out that the good Mrs. Santorum had a live-in relationship with a much older man prior to her marriage to the former senator. Does any of this matter, and to what extent if it does? Is it legitimate fodder for consideration of political candidates? And it’s not even February yet.

The issue of environmental preservation was raised yesterday. I apologize for the incompleteness of the thoughts; I expect to return to the topic. I’d also encourage you to read the comment on that post by “Schoff” and see if that raises any additional thoughts. Some of what he raises will be considered in conjunction with a fairly popular book by David Platt, entitled Radical. It was passed along to me by a good friend this week, and I’ll work on it between class preparation sessions.

And about that John 3:16 ad. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s available on youtube (what isn’t?). I mentioned in a post earlier in the week that I thought it was not as great a move as many other people seemed to believe it to be. I can go either way on the idea of airing this type of commercial, one that offers a Christian message as opposed to the selling of cars, beer, or stupid reality shows for the further dulling of our minds. On the other hand, should the faith be reduced to a sound-bite, on the same level as the aforementioned messages? Do we portray it as on option to be purchased due to consumer preference and nothing more? But my other concern was with the “actors” in the spot–small children, taking turns reciting the well known verse. Not much diversity among the reciters, for one thing. But what about this age-group giving “the message” to football fans? There is a difference between a childish faith and a childlike spirit with which the faith must be embraced, a difference in no way discernible through this ad. It’s hard enough to create and maintain space for Christian views in the public square; this, in my opinion, does not move us in the direction of a position on human flourishing–the public good if you will. As Charles Barkley famously said, “I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.”

I went to a pro basketball game last night for the first time in 17-18 years (it’s so long I can’t quite remember). Aside from being pleased to see the long-downtrodden Philadelphia team playing good team basketball, including defense, it was a nice evening out with my daughter. But she raised a concern over something that is now so much standard fare in professional sports that I don’t think much about it. The young (and, yes, very attractive) women who once filled the role of leading cheers now perform another function–keeping men in their seats with movements and costumes that have nothing whatever to do with basketball. And this is an event to which families with children are present in significant numbers; “Family Packages” are promoted to draw them in with (slight) discounts on certain seats and concession items. What are they saying to the young boys and girls with undeniably sexually charged costumes and movements on display at center court during breaks in the game? Should it be of concern, or are kids subjected to so much of it that they don’t see it the same way? Judging by the loud-mouthed, vulgar fellow seated behind us, whose comments wer untempered by the presence of my daughter in front of him, we’re not doing anything good. Does it really sell tickets? Just wondering. And a little more reluctant to return before another seventeen years go by.

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One thought on “Saturday’s Stray Thoughts

  1. It all matters, but how is the question.

    [But to be fair to one piece of Dobson, I think he is no longer with Focus.]

    Maybe it matters in the opposite manner than they or we, or I think. I’ll start with a small example, from watching Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1930’s Mississippi unjust trial of a “negro” told from the POV of a 12 year old).. with my 15 year old who was impressed with the by’s “yes sirs”. He couldn’t understand the confrontation with the lynchmob and the boy’s disobedience to his father in staying with him and his father’s lack of punishment. I explained, that my interpretation was that the Father in that context decided to bless loyalty and forgive disobedience due to the conflicting virtues present.

    And there are ALWAYS conflicting virtues present amongst the righteous.

    But you know how much I like Lutherian ethics.

    While I am a strong believer in the psychological principle that “past actions predict future behavior” I also believe God is (non exclusively) in the box (by His choice). Man’s will alone can be very deterministic, Man’s will in concert with God is another matter.

    It is possible, and I have seen this many times, that those bad even horrible choices of the past, have been forgiven/reconciled/changed in someone so that what they are “passing on” is a redemptive teaching and work. I doubt very much that Mrs. Santorum is telling her children to go live with someone and undoubtedly is contrite (from the RC Catechism: “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again”) which is all her Church asks her to be.

    Even if both would say “boldly” that they have no regrets with what they did, we need to wisely weigh the whole person and all the virtues. We are a people with a lithmus test too much, one issue determining our whole appreciation of an individual. I certainly have a lithmus test, I have this issue with respect to child molesters and rapists.

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