Save The Last Dance

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“She was dying while I was dancing.” These are the classic movie words of Sarah Johnson, played by Julia Stiles in the 2001 MTV film,”Save the Last Dance.” She speaks these words as she is delivering her soul to the film’s love interest, her boyfriend Derek, played by Sean Patrick Thomas. In this romantic drama, two teenagers in love struggle to look past their differences.  This interracial, cross-societal couple has you hooked from the gun, as you fall in love with them at first sight. The smart-looking pair is likeable, believe-able and loveable and their feelings for each other and dancing are palpable.

Is dancing a sport? All you dancers out there join in with me on this one: of course it is. To be a sport the activity must be active and the player or dancer must have a physical effort or skill. Dancers can absolutely check all of those boxes. Ballet dancing is difficult and demanding, challenging and commanding, and to pull it all off you have to push your way in and through and past your past and present and strive to achieve what lies ahead of you in the future. This is the story of the film as Sarah, at first overwhelmed by life, finally overcomes and triumphs in spite of death.

Jesus was dying while we were dancing – we were dancing and prancing and doing everything and anything we thought we were big and bad enough to do. The world was dancing to the beat of a different drum, while Jesus was dying for her sins. Remember, “God so loved THE WORLD.” We were so focused on what we wanted and what we fancied that we failed to realize that Jesus loved us and was rushing to meet us. But we were too self-absorbed to notice that His love and His death were all for us.

Dancing is a beautiful sport and it is what Sarah was born to do. And with the help of her coach, friend and love, she returned to the love of her life, ballet dancing, not just to honor her mother, but to fulfill her passion and her destiny. And we need coaches and friends and those who love and care about us and for us to lead us back to our first love. Make no mistake; God is man’s first love. And God is willing to stick with us even when we push him away. Sarah overcomes her rage, her remorse and her regret and stages a tear jerk of a comeback to dancing her way out of her darkness and into her dreams and her destiny.

So this Easter, remember that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. While we were dancing, He was dying so that we could dance for Him.

  

Hit And Run

 

Jackie Robinson

 

In baseball, a hit and run is a high risk/high reward offensive strategy used to advance base runners. It uses a stolen base attempt to try to place the defending infielders out of position for an attempted base hit. In other words, the defense will be so busy with the runner stealing second they will be out of place to field the base hit, if in fact the batter gets the base hit. So, the risk in a hit and run situation, is that the batter may not get a hit. The reward only comes if the batter gets a hit, or the base runner is a sitting duck.

In legal circles, the term “hit and run,” means to leave the scene of an accident without either reporting the incident or waiting for police to arrive. To leave someone stranded when you hit them is not only immoral, it’s unlawful and just plain wrong. Comparing the term’s use, it’s amazing how a negative in one realm can be a positive in another. And so it is in life.

Jackie Robinson could hit and run. He broke the color barrier in baseball and he did it running and hitting. A hit is a big deal, such as a “smash hit.” A hit is a huge or whopping success, like a hit song or number that is pleasing and popular. A hit in the baseball game of life is a good thing or a high time and so we are formed and fashioned to get hits. By the way, hits on my blog are a welcome thing (Thanks for reading!)

A run is a score. When you get a hit you run the bases you are to run and head for home as fast as you can. Spiritually, we need more hits. Hitting is a combination of concentration, focus and timing. For some of us, our concentration is divvied and divided; its spit and splintered; it’s fractured and fragmented. We need focus. We need to forget the fiction of multitasking and concentrate on what matters; loving and living well. We would score more and strike out less if we would focus on edifying and enlightening and not demonizing and dehumanizing.

I just got a hit at work. I was in a hit and run situation and I not only got a hit but I caused our team to get a run. Every positive, purposive and progressive thing we do and word we say is a hit. Every negative thought and nasty deed is an out. Do the math. How many negative thoughts run through your head every day? We “hit” others with negative notions and damaging emotions that leave co-workers and co-laborers lying on the side of the road, and we then drive off and leave them for dead.

Hit and run, not for evil, but for good. Jackie Robinson Derek was a consummate baseball player, and is one of the most complete players of our time. He is the essence and epitome of a risk/reward player. He took the risk of doing what no player had done before, and then reaped the reward that resonates with us today. So remember that a hit and run that is a high risk/high reward strategy that will advance you, your team and your cause. Many don’t like to take the risk, but as the philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard taught us, “Without risk, there can be no faith.”

So take a risk; hit and run. Be nice to the person that was meant to you; smile at the person that growls at you; go out of your way to do something for the person that wants nothing to do with you. In other words, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Force your opponents out of position; catch the enemy of our souls off guard; hit and run and make a play. The risk is worth the reward.

Kindness Is Par for the Course

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

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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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Springtime and Baseball

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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 with 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 gain 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

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

Battle of the Sexes:UCONN Men vs. UCONN Women

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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.