Sunday, February 03, 2008

Instead of the Super Bowl

[I posted a somewhat different version of this list last year. Here are things to do instead of watching the worst team sport on the worst medium.]

1. Read a good book or several articles in one sitting.
2. Inspect your soul in silence for one hour.
3. Pray for the American church to wake up and strengthen the things that remain.
4. Pray for the global church, especially the suffering church in Africa, China, and so on.
5. Lament what needs to be lamented. See James 4.
6. Rejoice in your salvation (if you are a follower of Jesus Christ).
7. Ask yourself where you will spend forever. Hint: it isn't in a football stadium.
8. Read The Book of Romans or the Book of Ecclesiastes or both.
9. Memorize Scripture.
10. Sing unto the Lord.
11. Recite Scripture unto the Lord.
12. Associate with the lowly.
13. Compose an essay on the moral viciousness of football.
14. See how many push ups you can do in one minute. (I did 43 back in May of 2007. I have witnesses.)
15. Organize your library (of books). This would take me several years.
16. Write a hand-written letter to someone.
17. Call someone you miss and try to edify them.
18. Repent what needs to be repented of.
19. Listen to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" in one sitting through headphones.
20. Write poetry--even bad poetry.
22. Read poetry--only good poetry.
23. Pray for the Victoria's Secret Models.
24. Pray for our troops stationed around the world.
25. Pray for your pastoral staff.


Anonymous said...

Amen, preach it brother!!!

D. A. Armstrong said...

Unfortunately, I come from the culture in which it would not be easy for me to avoid a super bowl party. However, I am bringing a book, Josef Pieper's Faith Hope and Love, with me to read.

Sirfab said...

Trust me, watch the Superbowl, it's going to be good.

There's plenty of time for all the things in the list even if you spend four hours watching the game. You could do worse (like going to a Republican rally or reading a "A Charge to Keep").

Vitamin Z said...

Doug G. - come on bro... This is a bit over the top. I get what you are saying, but your post kind of has a super spiritual tone to it that leans toward superiority. Most likely not your intent, I know, but just a heads up. My perspective. I usually dig everything you write. And I love that you are a jazz lover like me.

Kyle said...

"the worst team sport on the worst medium."
Oh, man! I didn't realize they had brought back the Christians vs. Wild Animals at the Colosseum in Rome! I'll make sure not to miss it next year. There's nothing like watching people get eaten in a live show.

Justin Geis said...


Mike Austin said...

26. Order and (when it is published later this year) read "Football and Philosophy: Going Deep"...and see why football has value.

Doug Groothuis said...

Kyle has slipped a cog (or ten). Since when is a Roman sentence of death to Christians in the stadium a "team sport"?! Do the Christians and the lions make up two "teams"? If that was supposed to be an argument, I suggest you think before you write.

The Royal Bookworm said...

27. Participate in a committee meeting discussing the intricacies of the student government's election code.

Greg said... church actually had our regular evening service! We had 80 people come(about 1/3). I had the privilege of preaching 45 minutes on "Enjoying Intimacy with God." Nobody fell asleep and we had a wonderful time in worship.

The game just didn't matter. Now that it is the morning after, it still does not matter!

GB said...

Dr. G.
I think you missed Kyle's point. To borrow a phrase, he was "illustrating absurdity by being absurd." More directly, your stridency severely diminishes your credibility.

BJ the Tornado said...

Dr. G -- It's too bad, you missed one of the best games I've ever seen.


Sarah Scott said...


Giving a list of edifying things to do instead of watch football hardly qualifies as absurd. Holding to the position that it is the "worst team sport on the worst medium" hardly qualifies, either, though I respectfully disagree and believe that the worst is, in fact, Rugby.

mark mathewson said...

Instead of all the sophmoric emoting and ad hominems, I, for one, would be interested to hear people actually present arguments as to why watching the Super Bowl is a superior activity to any of the alternative activities Groothuis suggests.

Again, arguments (premises with a conclusion that actually follows) please. The knee jerk reactions are rather wearisome.

GB said...

I think you too miss Kyle's point -- and mine. It was a gratuitously absurd statement, without regard to its veracity, the omission of which would have improved the quality of the post.

Reveling in the "truth" with smug superiority make acquisition of it less desirable. I work to get beyond such occasional statements by Dr. G. to thereby learn from and apply his larger teachings. But such statements make me wonder whether Dr. G is intending to provoke thought or merely provoke. Having to expend that effort shifts the cost benefit balance.

Can you see the forest now?

Jeff said...

You could retitle this blog post to "Instead of _____" and put just about anything in the blank, and the list would be equally valid. Those are all wonderful things that we could all take a little more time in our lives to do.

I happen to enjoy football, college football in particular, but I strive for moderation in my fanhood. I don't think football in and of itself stands out as a particularly bad thing. I see the concepts of team, hard work, dedication, and dealing with both victory and defeat as good things that can be learned from sports.

Sirfab said...


It is not a case of whether watching the Superbowl has more merit than any of the activities activities proposed (being an atheist myself, it has more merit than about half of the things of the list, but much less than many more activities I could think of).

Rather, it is a case of whether watching football is a morally debasing and worthless activity, as Dr. Groothuis contends every year. In my opinion it is not. Particularly when one compares it to watching baseball, which Dr. Groothuis approves of instead. I could not think of anything more boring that watching a regular season baseball game, and playoff baseball is just barely less lethargy-inducing.

In this political season, watching football games in general or the Superbowl in particular is no more morally debasing or worthless than watching some political debates. It certainly causes less harm to society, since watching sports is only meant to distract people (in a "panem et circenses" sense), whereas political debates or roundtables are meant to (or have the effect of) deceive and mislead people and are now based more on personal attacks than on rational and respectful discussion of ideas.

David said...

I have to echo BJ's sentiment: that was an incredible sporting event. And I don't even like football that much. It was perhaps the most dramatic and entertaining game I've ever seen.

Peter Malik said...

I prefer soccer (i.e. "football"), it seems to be a more intelligent and more pleasurable sport to watch, or play. Sadly, I do not really have any spare time that I would use to watch it or play it.

Marty "the fly" Rosenbloom said...

Pastor Groothius:

It's a shame that very few people agree with you. I think that they are unspiritual and lazy as you suggest for promoting the cult of football.

I also think it is unfair that peopel question your academic credability. Just because you didn't go to a good school, doesn't mean that you aren't one of the top 5, maybe top 3, apologists in the Christian churches legacy.

My cousin goes to your school and says that you is a very good preacher. Keep preaching the truth--sometimes Paul verbally abused people and so it is okay if you due.

mark mathewson said...


While I appreciate your comments, they are irrelevant to my desire to see people interact with the specific list of recommended activities with arguments.

Even though Groothuis argued in the past the ethical problems with football, that is really not the point of this particular post (but I'll let Doug correct me if I am wrong here). And I see nothing in his post about political debates being better or baseball being better. Those are red herrings. Let's try to stay a bit more focused.

I simply find it telling that in all the replies against Groothuis' list of recommendations, not one (including yours) approaches anything like an argument that watching the super bowl is time better spent than any of the activities he recommends.

Now I am not saying an argument cannot be given, only that none has. It would simply be refreshing to actually see something more than opinions and emotings. Is that really too much to ask?

Sirfab said...

Well, Mark, I did say that as an atheist I find half of the things Dr. Groothuis recommends doing instead of watching the Superbowl irrelevant (hence watching the Superbowl for me has higher value). And I also said, although I fear that it may still not answer your question, that the remaining activities are not exclusive with watching football for four hours a year.

In fact, I'd say that a balanced mind needs a little diversity. Whether you get the diversity from reading good books, good poetry and listening to jazz or from watching a football game, watching a good movie and doing charity work, it is all part of a balanced mental diet.



Marty "the fly" Rosenbloom said...

"In fact, I'd say that a balanced mind needs a little diversity. Whether you get the diversity from reading good books, good poetry and listening to jazz or from watching a football game, watching a good movie and doing charity work, it is all part of a balanced mental diet."

This is where you are wrong. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing!

Pastor Groothius needs to reprimand you for neglecting the Bible's teaching for some silly game. Preach it brother Groothius! You are a fiery preacher of God's message of judgment on this SINFUL world!!!

Jim Pemberton said...

In deference to d. a. armstrong, I've never been invited to a Superbowl party - ever. I know plenty of people who came to church Sunday evening who went afterward to Superbowl parties. Not me. I went home and worked on an arrangement for our church choir and orchestra. I did catch the last few minutes when a friend online buzzed in and encouraged me to watch the commercials. I turned the TV on and peripherally saw what to many was the exciting part as I completed my arrangement. A close "28."?

Antithesis' Anonymous said...

With much respect to Dr. G., it seems much more simple to me to urge followers of Jesus Christ to keep the sabbath on Superbowl Sunday rather than urging someone to do "righteous" (and I really do believe they are righteous things) on Sunday based on human authority (i.e., Dr. G). And if one wants to chime in immediately and say, "we are not under law, we are under grace...the sabbath was and is on Saturday, not on Sunday...we are nowhere commanded in the NT to observe the sabbath...etc. etc., blah, blah, blah," then I say to you dear friend that if you really believed that then in the spirit of Romans 14 and I Cor. 8-10 (i.e., the passages that teach on Christian liberty)you ought not to tread on the Christian liberty of your brother/sister. If the sabbbath is "gone" and if the Bible does not obligate Christians to guard/keep it, then that means GOD does not expect me to keep it. If that is the case and I have no command from God to keep the sabbath (SUNDAY)then it is legalism for anyone to try and bind my conscience to not watch the superbowl. I have the liberty to do so. Now I don't happen to believe that the Sabbath has been abrogated. Therefore we are to keep the sabbath. Therefore that means that the day is to be spent in public and private worship ALL DAY LONG (not just in "worship" service at church). No sabbath, no special relevance for Sunday under the New Covenant. And please do not offer up some irrational dispensational hermeneutic like, "if a commandment is not repeated in the New Testament then Christians are not obligated to keep it." Does that mean bestiality is o.k. since its prohibition wasn't repeated in the New? My tone here is irenic not angry. My wife and I had a wonderful sabbath yesterday without the horse and pony show of the superbowl. I pray my evangelical friends would consider this a bit more thoughtfully because when "commands" are given, or even "strong suggestions" about what I should or should not do on Sunday to the effect that I am made to feel guilty if I don't, I see nothing more than a Pharisaical spirit in evangelical facade. The Lord bless you brothers/sisters.

Exodus 20:8-11 8 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Matthew 5:17-19 17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

D. A. Armstrong said...


Honestly, I'd rather not attend a Super Bowl Party. I rather hate most social gatherings in which people gather to talk about football, which I don't follow, the weather and other trivial conversations. However, when invited to a Super Bowl Party I will attend. I'm certain that one take the exact same principle and apply it to say an immoral party, but I would say there is a difference between say immoral parties and Super Bowl parties.

As to the game, for first half I talked with a teen who I have been discipling. I did sit during the last half, but I really didn't pay attention until the last quarter.

Marty "the fly" Rosenbloom said...

D. A.

Preach it brother. We must abstainith from worldliness and staith in Christ. Your true spiritual discernment is what the church sorely lacks. Praise ye Jesus that you got to witness and didn't waste your time "fellowshiping" while talking about vapid things!

BJ the Tornado said...

Marty "the Fly"

-- Dude... Dr. G DID go to a good school and got a solid PhD. Orgeon is a solid school. This whole "mail order degree" thing has gone too far. I never said anything about, and Dr G. never refuted the guy directly who first said it (I assume), because it's complete nonsense. But now it seems like some people actually believe it!

So, Marty, don't ever say "Just because you didn't go to a good school..." in reference to Dr. G. He DID go to a good school, he has a solid PhD in philosophy -- his academic credentials are well-grounded beyond any doubt. This is nuts. I can't believe I have to correct people on this.

This is actually a telling example of what one piece of mis-information spouted by one ignorant person can do. It's infecting, even though it has no basis in truth.

Marty "the fly" Rosenbloom said...

Thanks BJ-you are probably right. I was looking on the philosophical Gourment (because I'm thinking about being a philosopher) and know what you mean. It said that a 3.5 from Princeton is better than a 3.9 from a small school. I go to Bible College of Los Angeles (BIOLA) and have some concerns. But I think you a very good point. Ranking doesn't mean anything if the school is solid--that's what counts. Have you ever heard of Peter Kreeft? He teaches at Boston College. He's top-notch even though the school isn't "highly ranked."

Sarah Scott said...


I beg you to ease up on the (popular) assumption that dispensationalism necessarily equals hermeneutical irrationality. That representation of D's is not consistent with the majority of dispensational scholars (yes, they exist). Further, being under grace rather than under law does not remove the responsibility to live a life pleasing to God (after salvation which is not dependent on works). As James says, faith without works is dead.

That aside, I believe that keeping the Sabbath is another issue entirely from that of this post. Perhaps it would be beneficial to you to reread it without thinking about Sunday or the Sabbath. That should clear things up.

Chuck Kinzie said...

I found watching the Super Bowl with my Christian friends quite enjoyable. A friend of mine actually watched the Super Bowl AT HIS CHURCH!

Mike Austin said...

There is an assumption made in many of the comments, and perhaps in the original post, namely, that in order for it to be morally permissible to watch the Super Bowl, doing so must be a superior activity to engage in compared to the other activities on the list. This is far from clear, and in fact runs counter to common sense. For example, we are all reading a blog and offering responses, about watching the Super Bowl. Surely a superior activity would be to sell all of our possessions and move to a foreign nation, helping the desperately poor and ill, or at least to post and comment on our obligations to such human beings. But this is a legalistic way of moral thinking, and perhaps even Jesus spent time eating, sleeping, and doing other activities (or nothing at all) when it was possible for him to do something more important.

Marty "the fly" Rosenbloom said...

"But this is a legalistic way of moral thinking"

Apologist (?) Groothuis has always emphasized grace over legalism. In fact, he's been part of a movement to purge heretics who preach a different gospel and who will be accursed (Galatians 1:6, 8). He helped remove Dr. Francis Beckwith, mainting its purity and belief in grace.

Groothius does NOT have a legalistic bone in him. He firmly believes in grace! Read his letter below.

"This is a sad day for all true sons and daughters of the Protestant Reformation, for all who lived and died for its truths.

"Having abandoned the distinctives of the Reformation (which are deeply rooted in Holy Scripture), you are embracing SERIOUS THEOLOGICAL ERROR. I wish I could say otherwise, but conscience-bound, I cannot.

"By joining Rome, you are putting an institution above God; you are putting men (and I mean males) ahead of the PURE GOSPEL OF Christ (See Galatians 1:6-11). (This is the passage where those people are accursed by God.)

However, you are doing the right thing to resign from your position at ETS.

I have appreciated much of your writing over the years, but I lament what you have now done."

Jim Pemberton said...

I doubt Dr. Groothuis has legalistic intentions. I certainly didn't. Furthermore, it may be a bit legalistic itself to condemn intentions one can't know.

However, Mike has an interesting, and in many ways correct, observation about the perceived relative moral value of any number of activities. It could be argued that Martha was doing more good in the kitchen than her lazy sister. After all, she was contributing positively for the good of others and Mary was absorbing truth for her own good. But that's not quite Christ's take on the situation.

As it is, I was being a Martha during the Superbowl because I don't have immediate friends who care enough to invite me over, so I really don't care about the big event. It seems that the value in sports beyond the test of two teams against one another is the social value of the process of following all the teams, players and coaches through the season for the purpose of developing common ground for sharing insights and commentary with others.

Myself - I prefer such as theological, missiological, philosophical and musical discourse. Such is guaranteed to leave one with less social contacts than a command of current sports trivia. Truly, though, I might just show up if someone actually invited me to a Superbowl party. :)

Mike Austin said...

I did not intend to imply that anyone's intentions were legalistic, in the way Christians use the term these days as something opposed to grace. Please forgive me for not being clear, as I'd never want to assume I know people's intentions merely from a post on a blog. I actually assume that people's intentions here are good.

My point was that this is a legalistic way of thinking about morality, insofar as it views morality merely as a law to be followed. This is surely part of the Christian conception of morality, but other aspects such as character, context, and consequences are relevant in any full evaluation of a moral choice.