Monday, February 05, 2018

Superstar Christians?

Image result for nick foles celebrates win

Championship games in pro sports can be much like all star contests -- a lot of hype followed by disappointment. That was not the case with last evening's Super Bowl for NFL football. The New England Patriots, sort of the Darth Vader and Storm Troopers football were up against Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles had never won the Super Bowl while the Patriots have triumphed repeated under the leadership of Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback ever.

It wasn't just that the Eagles were underdogs. Their star quarterback went down to injury near the end of the season and the back-up, Nick Foles, was handed the task of steering the team. Foles had considered leaving football a couple of years ago after his career stalled and it seemed that he wasn't so much a "has been" as a "never was." During that time in the football wilderness Foles considered his options, including training to be a pastor, and he enrolled in seminary courses. He still hopes to pursue this vocation when he finishes football, which might not be for a while because the Eagles prevailed in what was a very entertaining game.

Here's the thing. While it is interesting to know that Foles is a Christian, the faith of players doesn't matter much, other than the comfort and strength that faith provides for the individual. In an age of celebrity worship it can be dangerous to associate success on the big screen or field of play with "successful" faith. Strangely, Christianity is a religion grounded in what appears to be failure. The peasant Jew, Jesus, is betrayed by friends, rejected by religious leaders, executed as a criminal. Out of that failure arises our improbable hope as his disciples. I have to think Nick Foles knows this.

What could possibly go wrong with connecting faith with triumphalism. The wretched, racist conservative commentator Ann Coulter appeard thrilled about the religion of the Eagles’ quarterback. Last night she tweeted “Congratulations, Eagles!!!!!!!!!! QB Nick Foles, Christian! ”  No doubt this will fuel her Islamophobic diatribes for reasons it is difficult to fathom. She has taken quite a beating on social media for that tweet and it's well earned.

Congrats Eagles on a great season and a thrilling victory. Well done Nick Foles, and may your vocational aspiration to become a pastor be fulfilled. I doubt very much that God was paying any attention to the game.

Any thoughts, other than Roger's gloating at the Patriots' defeat?

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