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Godandsports:

In honor of the Masters Golf Tournament, we remember that “Kindness is Par for the Course.”

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Originally posted on God and Sports:

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“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)

Kindness is par for the course.

Par for the course is an idiom that means what should be expected because of past experience. It is primarily a golf term. It is the number of strokes set as a standard for a specific hole or a complete course.  It means want is “typical”; and is about what one could expect. The Etymology is based on the literal meaning of par for the course which is the expected number of times a good player in golf will hit the ball to get it in all the holes.

Par for the course is from the Latin ‘par,’ equal, meaning the score an expert golfer is expect to make on a hole or course, i.e., playing without errors; used as a…

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Baseball brings spring; or is it that spring brings baseball? Or do both come at the same time? Whatever the case, now that the trees are blooming and the grass is greening and the birds are chirping their little hearts out, it’s now springtime; it’s time for spring and it’s time for baseball and it’s time for hope. With childlike faith, it’s time to spring from hope and it’s time to gain hope from spring.

Baseball comes with spring. And, like Baseball or no, it’s coming in April is one sure sign that spring has sprung. So shake off the weariness of winter and put on the spritz of spring. Shake off the winter blues and welcome the spirited good news. The good news is that God will not leave us in the winter of our discontent; God will not leave us to wane in the winds of winter; God’s will is not that we wallow and wander and are left to the whims of wintry weather. This frigid and freezing, frosty and frightening time of our lives is called by the ancients, “the dark night of the soul.”

Baseball and spring come because we all crave a release from being confined by the darkness of winter and being consigned to the weariness of the weather. The despair of our hearts and the darkness of our souls leave us longing for a “spring” to come. Our doubts need to be soothed and our fears need to be calmed. For all of us that long to emerge from the darkness of our winters, here is some pain medicine: let’s spring from hope and gain hope from spring.

Alexander Pope said that “hope springs eternal.” It must. The great God of the Universe that so many people doubt and don’t believe in was wise enough to give us the season of spring. And not just one or two or a scattered few, but many, manifold springs; one every year. And with spring comes hope, and from hope we can spring.

Baseball is like spring and spring is like baseball; baseball and spring bring hope. Every spring, every team (mostly the Yankees and the Red Sox!) begin the season with the hope of winning the World Series. So like baseball or no, hold onto the hope that this sport brings. Hold on to the hope that you too will emerge from the dark night of your soul with joy and say, “the time of the singing of the birds has come.”

Spring brings light and life for all of us who have high hopes and deep fears. Spring is for all of us who have doubts about how “things” are going to turn out. Spring is for all those who stretch for and hold on to future hope, but also have a strong penchant for present help. We believe in pie in the sky by and by, but also hope to eat some of that pie before we die. We struggle with what the theologians call “the already and the not yet.” We believe that things will change for the better but wrestle with if and when that change will come.

So take courage my soul, and let us journey on. “Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, for we don’t care if we never get back.” Hope says “root, root, root, for the home team.  If they don’t win it’s a shame, for its one, two, three strikes you’re out,” if you don’t hold on to hope at the old ball game of life. So spring from hope, and hope from spring, for it’s time to “Play ball!”

 

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

Man never is, but always to be blessed:

The soul, uneasy and confined from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

 

– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

A Brief Theology of Sport

Many Thanks to Joe Conner for recommending this Book.

“Sport is extremely popular. This ground-breaking book explains why. It shows that sport has everything to do with our deepest identity. Sport is where we resonate with the most-basic nature of reality.

A Brief Theology of Sport sweeps across the fields of church history, philosophy and Christian doctrine to draw the reader into a creative vision of sport. The book begins with an examination of how the Church has approached sport in the past, before turning to consider sport on the basis of the divine act of creation. In doing so, Harvey is able to distinguish sport from all other human activities, identifying it as a set-aside sphere in which the unnecessary-but-meaningful nature of life is celebrated.

This constructive proposal is used to shed light on a wide range of issues in sport, including the role of competition, professionalization and celebrity culture today. As such, A Brief Theology of Sport constitutes a significant contribution to our understanding of the value of sport in human life. No one who reads this book will look at sport in the same way again.”  (from http://www.scmpress.co.uk/books/9780334044185/A-Brief-Theology-of-Sport)

 

Product Reviews

“Lincoln Harvey has managed to do something quite remarkable here: this book is at once historical and constructive; academic and accessible; detailed and concise; systematic and practical. It is good to see serious work done on theology and sport, and this book is a fine example of what serious theology about contemporary issues should look like.” — Tom Greggs, Professor of Historical and Doctrinal Theology, Aberdeen University, UK

“With lively prose, conceptual clarity and a deep affection for the subject matter, Harvey kicks off an important conversation about how theologically we should make sense of – and order our love in relation to – a central cultural phenomenon of our times: sport. Wonderfully insightful, historically rich and theologically punchy this is vital reading for anyone who plays, watches or is utterly bemused by the world of sport.” — Luke Bretherton, Associate Professor of Theological Ethics and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, USA

“Sport, says Lincoln Harvey, is only for sport. But A Brief Theology of Sport is about much more than sport…. In winsome fashion it advances a conversation that is much needed and a thesis that deserves a response.” — Douglas Farrow, Professor of Christian Thought and Kennedy Smith Chair in Catholic Studies McGill University, CA

“Lincoln Harvey is a soccer fan, and one of the most besotted sort, a supporter of Arsenal. What as a Christian should he make of the hours spent absorbed in an activity that does nothing but itself? I give away only a hint of his profound proposal by citing a chapter title: “A Liturgical Celebration of Contingency”. This is high flying theology that manages to be a good read – not a common achievement.’ — Robert W. Jenson, Professor Emeritus of Religion, St. Olaf College, Minnesota, USA

“This is a brilliant book. Brief but profound, brimming full of ideas and intriguing insights, it achieves something rare and yet deeply satisfying for those of us who love both God and sport – relating them to each other in a way that does proper justice to both.” — Graham Tomlin, St Mellitus College, London

“This important book provides an accessible and yet theologically rigorous account of how Christians should think about, and more importantly, ‘play’, sports. Dr Harvey is to be commended for the way in which he has meticulously examined the nature of modern sports through an interdisciplinary lens (mainly theological), offering insights into the nature of sport, play and competition and the complex history of the sport-faith symbiosis. The systematic reflections on why we play, watch, and just ‘love’ sport through reflection on key Christian doctrines, is arguably, the most significant and original contribution of this book that sits within an embryonic but fast-emerging literature that has long been in need of a theologian’s ‘heart’, ‘mind’ and pen. As an Arsenal football fanatic and theologian, the author passionately lives in his story and analysis of the sport-faith relationship, and thus, this volume connects to those well beyond the academy, while being an invaluable source for those in the academy.”  — Nick J. Watson, York St John University, UK

 “This is an impressive contribution, required reading for anyone interested in thinking deeply about the place and meaning of sport in the Christian life.” Shirl James Hoffman, author of Good Game: Christianity and the Culture of Sport

Godandsports:

Not Everyone is 7′ 5″ Tall

Originally posted on PlanB Sports:

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What’s not to like about Tacko Fall!  He’s a 7’5 kid in high school that wears glasses, brings back memories of the tv show ‘Family Matters’ and goes by “Taco.”

But before you get too excited thinking about how he’s going to dominate the NBA in the near future, Taco isn’t even dominating high school competition…yet. He averages 11 points, rarely gets more than 1 block a game and only had 1 double double in 21 games. With that said, he’s tall, young, very tall and looks like he’s having lots of fun and I’m sure Taco Bell wishes they could hire him right now to join Nate Robinson and Kevin Love in their XXL campaign just so they can say “The Taco XXL isn’t a big meal for Taco, but you are not Taco.”

How does Taco not dominate high school? The kid is probably a foot taller than…

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Boys and girls, gals and guys, ladies and gents. We’ve pitted ourselves against each other for too long. Now that the UCONN Men’s AND Women’s basketball teams have won the national championship, someone said, “Let’s have them play each other to see who’s THE REAL National Champion!” Mmmm, No.

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There are some things men can do better than women and there are some things women can do better than men. Playing basketball isn’t a guys versus girls or a dudes are better than dames issue; the issue is style. The UCONN women beat the pants off of Notre Dame. The UCONN men were just faster and smarter and hungrier than their young Kentucky opponents. Playing each other should be for fun and fervor, not to fulfill a fictitious fact about the superiority one gender over another, which of course is a falsehood.

Men and women are congruent, compatible, and complementary. We were made to go together and fit together, not to fight each other and conflict with one another. The battle of the sexes hit an all time high when Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King faced off on a tennis court way back when, on September 20, 1973. For those of us old enough to remember, Billy Jean King won, and women were declared fit to do everything a man could do, and some.

Well, boys and girls, I hope we’ve learned our lesson. God made Adam and Eve, and made them so that they would be joined together in harmony. It’s a thing together. When Jesus came He had to elevate the status of women because man had hampered and hindered and demeaned and debased women so much and for so long that something HAD to be done to level the playing field. In fact, Old Testament Jael was given the honor of winning Barak’s victory just for this reason.

So stop all of this stuff about what women can do and what men can’t do; each gender has its strengths and weaknesses, and we should honor and esteem each other in the beauty that God made us, and leave it at that. And as for the UCONN men playing the UCONN women, on second thought, why not? Just make sure that it’s a best of seven series.

Harrison Twins Hug

Aaron Harrison saved his brother. With the game on the line, his twin brother, Andrew Harrison, had missed a wide open three-point attempt. Then, to add insult to injury, Andrew fouled Wisconsin’s spiritual leader, Traevon Jackson, as he heaved up a desperate three-point attempt with 16.4 seconds remaining. He only made two of his three attempts at the line. The score: 73-71, Wisconsin over Kentucky, with a trip to the National Championship Game at stake.

Enter Aaron Harrison. For the third time in as many games, Aaron won the game on a three pointer with just seconds remaining. Aaron Harrison’s shot – his only three-point attempt of the game – proved to be the game winner, as Traevon Jackson’s shot from the wing bounced hard off of the back rim at the buzzer.

Aaron saved his brother. Andrew made mistakes and Aaron cleaned up the mess. Aaron made shots while Andrew missed them. Not only did Andrew make one critical mistake, he made two. Andrew missed a go ahead three-point attempt AND committed a cardinal sin –  fouling a shooter in the act of a three-point attempt and doing it with the game on the line.

Sometimes we do things that are damning and damaging, hurtful and harmful, detrimental and deleterious. We don’t mean to, but we just do. Sometimes we do things by accident and the incident could spell the end of us. Sometimes we are careless and thoughtless, and our emotions get the best of us. Thank God for brothers that save us.

Cain killed his brother. Instead of being happy for him and rejoicing that God accepted his sacrifice from the firstlings of the flock, Cain was wroth because God rejected his offering from the ground, the same ground that God has cursed. Cain was jealous and envious, mean-hearted and mean-spirited, and it cost him his standing with God and with other men. Contrary to Cain’s response to God, we are our brother’s keeper.

I have a brother at work who has been falsely accused. He’s not an angel who’s perfect but he’s also not a demon full of defect; he’s not a sanctimonious saint but he’s also not a vicious villain. He’s a well-meaning, sound living man who is trying to do his job and is living the best he knows how. And that goes for all the rest of us. We’re not perfect, but we’re perfectly striving. In the middle of the drama and in the midst of the trauma, he is still standing, and my job is to save my brother.

Truth be told, I have been saved by my brother. If it weren’t for my big brother at work, I would not survive. I would not live and I would not last if I had not been saved by my brother. He’s picked up where I have left off; he’s picked me up when I’ve had letdowns and when I’ve been let down. And so thank God that we have brothers that are willing to step in and step up and rescue and ransom and redeem us. Thank God for brothers who have the ability to give up their lives and save us.

And so with that in mind, which one of your brother’s are you going to save?

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13, RSV

Million Dollar Baby

 

Sometimes it isn’t going to be pretty. In fact, this one was downright ugly. Nonetheless, it’s “Hats Off” to the University of Maryland Women’s Basketball Team. They defeated Louisville – AT LOUISVILLE - 76-73 to advance to the Final Four. 

Maryland Women 2014 Final Four

In the 2005 film, Million Dollar Baby, best actress Hillary Swank was taught how to win ugly by Coach Clint Eastwood. This acting duo is now sitting pretty as they won the film an Academy Award for Best Picture. But for now, it’s time to talk roundball.

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Winning pretty is what Brenda Frese, Maryland’s prolific coach, is used to. Yet she had to have gnawed off almost every fingernail in this white knuckle – nail biter, as she watched her team squander leads and squash opportunities right up until the buzzer sounded. She has amassed a terrific and talented team including an all American (Alyssa Thomas)and a freshman phenom (point guard Lexie Brown). Yet for all of their talent, they won this one the ugly way.

This one wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was about the ugliest, unsightliness, most hideous looking win I’ve ever seen in my life.  There were more turnovers and more bad shots than you could shake a stick at. But fortunately, they won.  Unfortunately, the Lady Terps did it the hard way.  They had double-digit leads they couldn’t hold, and manifold instances where they looked like they’d fold, but they held on to win.  They held on and will move on to college basketball’s biggest stage. 

Sometimes it may be downright ugly.  If we were being honest, we would admit the many of our wins haven’t been pretty either.  Some wins are neat and tidy, and other wins are rumpled and ratty, scruffy and scrappy, shoddy and shabby – just like in life. Sometimes and some days we’re full of glitz and glamour; other days and in many ways we’re nothing more than clutter and clamor. But at the end of the day, we can rejoice because in Christ we are sitting pretty. 

Sometimes you win messy. And sometimes you win clean.   But you win.   Some of our most memorable clashes are costly, and some of our biggest parades are Pyrrhic. Yet all conquests don’t have to be cute; and all wins don’t have to be winsome. Sitting pretty doesn’t require winning pretty. Sitting pretty means that you make it but you didn’t necessarily deserve it. 

Jesus’ death on the cross was an ugly win. It was a bloody brawl and a sordid slugfest. But our Savior won! The cross, the emblem of suffering and shame, is now the symbol of victory. Because our Lord was willing to win ugly, we are privileged to sit pretty; we are saved, healed, delivered, set free, and sitting pretty in Heavenly places in Christ.

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It all boils down to four; four teams who are playing their best at the right time of the year. Some say they’re the best teams; please notice that I didn’t say that these are the four best teams, but they are the four teams who are playing their best. Florida, Kentucky, UConn and Wisconsin – all are legitimate contenders for the title. So the lesson is this: save the best for last. Be at your best when life gives you its worst. Do all of the little things that add up to one big thing. And don’t take your opponent for granted.

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Finally we have a four. Four represents completeness. Four winds, four corners, four quarters and four quadrants (we will omit four letter words). Biblically speaking, we have the four rivers of Paradise in Genesis and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in Revelation. When you have four you have two pairs –  two half parts of a whole. It all has to boil down to four, and then to one.

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On paper and on the court, by all accounts, it’s a fine Final Four we have. Florida dispatched the darling of the ball Dayton; Kentucky is playing their best ball and they won the best game of the tournament against Michigan; UConn unraveled Michigan State; and Wisconsin bested Arizona. Now, Wisconsin will face Kentucky and UConn has a rematch from an early season game with Florida. Each team will realize that their opponent is going to be, to mix sports metaphors, a tough Out.

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So narrow it down; narrow it down to a maximum of four. To avoid being overwhelmed and undermanned, outgunned and inundated, narrow it down. We try to do too much and then wonder why we accomplish so little. We try to cram it all in, and in the end we end up having it hang all out. We try to achieve it all, and in the end we don’t do that much at all. We have too much stress and too little margin in our lives. So narrow it down! Doing four things well is better that doing fourteen things halfway. Narrow your wants and your wishes, narrow you fancies and your fantasies, narrow your longings and your cravings, your anticipations and your expectations, and focus on what means and matters most to you.

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DeSean Jackson is good but did he have to go? According to NFL.com, the Philadelphia Eagles announced Friday that DeSean Jackson was informed of his release. He wasn’t traded and we got nothing for him; he was just let go. It’s a sad day for Eagles Nation (pronounced Iggles everywhere and to everyone who loves things Philly).

Our best and our brashiest, our fleetest and our flashiest receiver is gone. Say what you want about him off the field (well get to that later), but on the field he was a fan favorite. And this is coming during an offseason where we are planning for a deep run in next year’s postseason.

Jackson is good. His talent and his tenacity earned him respect from friends and foes alike. His stats are impressive: he just had his best year as an Eagle and he will finish his six-year Eagles career with 356 receptions, 6,117 yards and 39 total touchdowns. He had grit and he could take a hit.

Jackson is good, but sadly, they let him go. Performance on the field is one thing; behavior off the field is another. Players must realize that what goes on off the field bleeds back onto the field. NFL.com reports that “the end of the Jackson saga comes in the wake of a Friday morning NJ.com report claiming the Eagles have ‘serious concerns’ about the wide receiver’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members tied to a pair of homicides.” The same NFL report also “questions Jackson’s attitude, work ethic, chemistry with coach Chip Kelly and penchant for missing team meetings to hang out with friends.”[1]

And so we must realize that evil corrupts everything it touches. I’m not accusing DeSean of anything; I’m just sayin’. Whoever he was hangin’ with, and whoever he was rollin’ with, they weren’t good for him to be with. Not for where he was going. He had so much promise and so much potential that he should have protected the perception people have of him. Sadly, it does not appear that the Eagles had the will or the wherewithal to work and wax and polish and finish the brilliance that Jackson has. And for his part, Jackson didn’t care enough either, and it cost him. Just like Lot.

Lot chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Lot lived and breathed the low life of the low end of the food chain and it corrupted his life and corrupted his wife to the point she loved evil more than good. She turned to look back and turned into a pillar of salt. “And (God) delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7). Lot didn’t protect his family so the Lord had to provoke him to leave that wicked and wonton place before He destroyed it.

So we must learn the lessons of Lot and of DeSean. Don’t let your good be evil spoken of. Don’t be good on the field and ghastly off the field. Don’t be great in uniform and grisly in plain clothes. Be good on and off of the field. Protect your reputation and your disposition. Let your makeup and your moral fiber be above reproach. If you are good inside and out, in and off-season, on the upside and on the downswing, you won’t have to be let go.

 

[1] http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000337774/article/desean-jackson-released-by-philadelphia-eagles

 

 Dayton Flyers

What does winning look like? Winning looks like the Dayton Flyers defeating Ohio State in the first round and deflating the Syracuse Orangemen in the second round. Winning looks like the Dayton team piling on each other at center court after the first big win. Winning looks like Mercer beating Duke in the first round. Winning looks like Kentucky outlasting undefeated Wichita State and Virginia beating Memphis by 18.  Winning looks good, especially when you’re the one winning.

We know what winning looks like and we know what winning doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like losing; it doesn’t look like long faces of shame or slow paces after the game. We know that losing “sucks;” yet we know that losing is a part of winning just like death is a part of life and just like dying is a part of living. No healthy human wants to die, and no agile athlete wants to lose. We know that everyone who has a hunger for the game wants to win and everyone who has a passion for the same hates to lose.

So what does losing look like? Spiritually speaking, losing is as ugly as 40 miles of bad road. Losing is like having a bad hair day. Losing is gut-wrenching and heart-aching. And so we conclude that losing looks like this: Eve being deceived by the Serpent; Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit; and Cain murdering his brother, and then lying to God about it.

Winning does not look like and does not sound like and does not feel like losing. Unfortunately, losing, Biblically speaking, is found in every life of every legend in the Bible. Abraham, his son, and his sons’s sons were pathological liars. Moses was a murderer and David orchestrated a murder mystery second to none. All of our Heroes of the faith had moral taint and immoral tendencies. And yet they all “won.”

And so we conclude that winning is a spiritual thing. We conclude that we cannot win by ourselves, in and of ourselves. We only win in Christ. We only triumph when we trust; we only subjugate when we surrender, we only rout the enemy when we have been redeemed by our Eternal Friend, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

So remember that wining in Christ doesn’t look like winning in the world. Contrary to the propositions of the prosperity preachers, winning is not necessarily a nice new car and a huge new house. Winning is not necessarily living to gain or life without pain. First and foremost, winning is spiritual. Our victory is our reliance and relationship with Him. No one is perfect and everyone doesn’t win every game. But our victory is found and bound in a life lived to win the pleasure of God and not the applause of men.

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