1. Read a good book in one sitting.
2. Inspect your soul in silence for one hour.
3. Pray for the American church to wake up.
4. Pray for the global church, especially the suffering church.
5. Lament what needs to be lamented.
6. Rejoice in your salvation (if you are saved).
7. Ask yourself where you will spend forever (it isn't in a football stadium).
8. Read The Book of Romans.
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.
15. Organize your library (of books!).
16. Write a hand-written letter to someone.
17. Call someone you miss and try to edify them.
18. Fast unto the Lord, seeking wisdom.
19. Repent what needs to be repented of.
20. Listen to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" in one sitting through headphones.
21. Write poetry--even bad poetry.
22. Read poetry--only good poetry.
23. Pray for the Victoria's Secret Models.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
More Super Bowl Party Ideas
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Ahh... yes. The annual curmudgeonly frustrations with mass media hype, football, TV viewing (particularly a common-law national holiday dedicated to it), silliness, commercialism in its most unabashed form, over-eating, and general modern Americanism.
Well... I must say that I will enjoy the superbowl party I am attending. Our homegroup (a handful of Christian couples who meet every week for prayer, bible study, and encouragement of one another in our marriages, lives, and walks with the Man), is having a SB party. It should be a blast. I expect to enjoy many a good laugh with my dear friends. I expect we'll watch a good competition by incredible athletes who are undeniably gifted by God in their abilities. I imagine we'll give a few rounds of "cheers" via a good brew or two (or three, praise the Lord for wine which gladdens the hearts of man -- check out Psalms). I foresee delicious if not nutritious food being consumed in good cheer. I conjure images of a small community of Christ's people, loving one another as we know how, in this -- our Rome -- and living as we best can until He Returns.
Ahh... It doesn't seem so dark after all. Depravity and Nobility side by side. The fall and the remnants of the imago dei coexisting.
It seems Pascal was right. If that's not a case for the supremacy and accuracy of Christian theology I don't know what is.
Forgive me... but for every Constructive Curmudgeon, there must be a Positive Optimist. One who is not only looking forward to Christ return, but looking for signs of his renewal and love even now... in the midst of our imperfections. (Yes... even imperfections as egregious as the Superbowl).
Consider me your foil and loving sidekick.
What books, beyond those found in the bible, have shaped your understanding and convictions regarding the importance of lament?
Nicholas Wolterstorff, "Lament for a Son."
CS Lewis, "A Grief Observed."
If you give me your email address, I'll send you a detailed sermon outline called, "Learning to Lament."
There is another book by Michael Caird called, "Sacred Sorrow."
Pascal would have hated football: the ultimate mindless diversion.
Complements to the curmudgeon on his superbowl-day suggestions. Maybe you should add: talk and listen to your wife and kids (or parents). Watching the level of dialogue, or diatribe, that takes place during football games can be a painful wakeup call in itself.
I just find it hard to believe that we Christians (even if we do not like football) can not find some redemptive value out of it. Such as the opportunity to be missional and engage the community and people group's around us. I think this is an excellent example of being able to relate to non-believes and deconstruct stereotypes they may have of Christ followers. I personally have had many good conversations with non-Christians at events just like this that I believe have been quite fruitful in them understanding the Gospel.
I'm just going to party and watch football on Sunday and have a really good time. (It'll be kind of like the way they partied in the Old Testament!)
I could not help but ponder the implications when I heard Tony Dungy, head coach of the Colts, thank God for their success during a news conference. Now, I realize that any business person should give God the glory for success, and should just as readily thank Him for His provision when they fail, but is God really that focused on football?
We have nations in uproar, children starving to death, children murdered prior to birth, churches rejecting the truth of the Gospel for popular gimmicks, and untold millions who have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and who are doomed to damnation if they die. Does God really care if an athlete who kneels down and crosses himself after a touchdown happens to make the catch?
As crazy as it sounds, I believe He does. He is beyond my comprehension, and I believe He is equally able to weep over the atrocities of our world while receiving praise for mundane accomplishments. These athletes are in a business, and just as I believed God cared when I did my job well, I believe you can play and coach professional football to His glory.
It is insane that we worship a pastime to this degree. I do not think that Christians would have supported the circus in Rome like we will be supporting the circus in Miami.
The only real value in this game will be seeing how the two head coaches conduct themselves. Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith have been applauded for being the first two African American head coaches in the Super Bowl, but I think it is more exciting that they are both Christian men. Tony Dungy not only mentions his faith, but has discussed how much he has changed in his temperament and outlook. Lovie Smith challenges reporters to find a player who can accuse him of improper behavior, even uttering a swear word, stating that how he coaches is as important as how well he coaches.
I think it will be interesting to see the attitude of the winner in regards to the loser, and vice versa.
So, how many times have I contradicted myself? I cannot condone our behavior, and yet I see possible glory to God in it. I do enjoy watching football, especially the UT Longhorns, and yet I find my responses to wins and losses repugnant in light of the state of our world. "Fiddling while Rome burns" would be a good way of describing it.
I pray that God would get some glory in all of this, but I know He will be marginalized during the celebrations. With so many in our country worshipping football, I suppose we should rejoice when God can receive any mention.
As for me, I am no Curmudgeon, just a good Baptist. I will be in Evening Worship during the Super Bowl because there is no way that I would cancel a regular worship service because of a game, no matter how few people show up.
Like the party in Exodus 32 at the foot of Mt. Sinai?
(I know, cheap shot. I understand what you meant, and I am just giving you a hard time.)
If football is not your cup of tea, you should indeed read a good book, listen to an immortal piece of music, or praise the Lord, if you wish to do so. But for most people, the final act of the football season is an event not to be missed. Is it wrong to seek enjoyment in a sport event?
As I get older, I have increasingly mixed feelings about professional sports. The Latins had a phrase, "panem et circenses" (bread and circuses) to designate a means of appeasing the populace and keep them in check. Professional sports, and entertainment in general (with few exceptions), often serve the purpose of distracting people from more important and consequential matters of politics, society, etc. And yet, every year, I find myself unable to follow the curmudgeonly advice that Dr. Groothuis gives. Why? Because few things in life engender the empathy that sports generates in people, one of the most human of emotions.
"The big game", whether it be the Superbowl, the World Series, or the World Cup Final, is the crowning moment of a year of suffering and anticipation for fans. (Yes, I am aware that suffering is too big a word for a thing of such small consequence to a person's life as a game.) It is through suffering that we learn to appreciate the sweet rewards of victory, isn't it?
For winners, including the fans, it is a wonderful moment. Of course it is only a moment, a fleeting one, probably not a life-changing one. But it is one of the great things in life. Sharing the joy of victory is one of the things that allow people to bond, to rejoice in unison, to feel more human, in spite of differences and divisions. Aren't there better ways of sharing joy? Of course, but a sporting event is a synopsys of humanity, one that works on a gut level perhaps, but not to be easily dismissed in any case. The "big game" condenses into four hours everything that is human: players and coaches give everything they have to the cause, they rise to the top, fall to the pits of despair, pull together to overcome adversity. Everything develops on an individual level, and on the collective level as well. In the end, one team gets to celebrate a one-in-a-lifetime moment (some lucky few repeat the experience twice or more.)
For losers, it can be a devastating feeling. Depression kicks in. Life looks unfair and bitter. But even defeat and despair have their place in life. Dispiriting as a loss in a sporting event may be, it soon makes room for all the other more important things in life. It is an opportunity for re-evaluating what really matters. It gives you a chance to refocus, to re-energize, and to improve yourself. No matter what the game brings, few things are sweeter in life than the joy of anticipation, even if things do not turn out as we would like. Even a moment of loss is an worth living, and building on.
And finally, for "neutral" spectators, the Superbowl is an occasion for entertainment (some Superbowls being more entertaining than others.) But it is still a chance to take sides, to root for the underdog, because few things in life are as pleasing as seeing the tables be turned on the mighty.
Whatever your feelings on the Superbowl, let's not lose perspective of things: the game last four hours. We are talking about the 0.0004th of a year in the life of a a person. The Latins used to say "semel in anno licet insanire." It is ok to do something crazy (or inane) once a year. In other words, the Latins understood that not everything one does in life needs to be evaluated from a rational, cerebral standpoint. Perhaps for the curmudgeonly amongst us, the Superbowl is a good occasion to compose an essay on the moral viciousness of football, or to do other loftier things yet. It's not that Dr. Groothuis's suggestions are not worth following. (They are, whether you care about football or not.) It is just that they seem to overlook the fact that life is meant to be lived on many levels, including the emotional and even the ephemeral. Life is a collection of fleeting moments, to be enjoyed or endured, to be shared and to be taught, to be analyzed and to be memorized; and the "big game", whatever that means to each one of us, is one such moment. That's one of the things that make us human.
Off topic -- speaking of good books: read Don DeLillo's End Zone. Football and nuclear apocalypse. Though it might trip the postmodern lit alarm, it doesn't get too much better than Don DeLillo.
A sure sign that the Superbowl is way to hyped up to me is the fact that so many people say they are tuning into the superbowl just to see the advertisements...now that is just sad.
I do enjoy an occasional football game and see nothing wrong with that, but the fact that it will keep men out of church and keep women wishing that their man would step up and lead the family to church gives me great pause...and when I pause I hear the clamor of children dying and going to hell because dad would not do what he knows he should.
The Super Bowl is going on?
Actually I agree. It is not necessarily the football in itself. If you all pay attention it is the mode. TV has ruined us into passive, mindless and barbarous people. Now what about the barbarous people who have no TV? So, we can go the other direction too. This culture its TV and football. In another its soccer played with people's heads. I'll be ignoring the event this Sunday...and looking toward the bigger events of Church and having lunch with my wife.
This year's Super Bowl differs greatly from those before it. Both coaches joyfully profess their love for Jesus Christ and declare Him their Lord and Savior. The two are happily taking advantage of the positions they are in, and have published a website (http://beyondtheultimate.org/) to help minister to fans, publicize their testimonies, and share the good news of Christ. For the first time, I am actually eager to watch the Super Bowl and I will be praying that both coaches act according to God's will, and honor and glorify God in all they say and do. I will also be praying that these two men make an impact on the ever-so-saddening realm of sports, causing fans and athletes alike to at least question their beliefs and reconsider the way they conduct themselves... and possibly inspire coaches, fans, and players to be more open with their faith. The sports realm is a battlefield. Littered with profane language, malicious conduct, and worse... it is similar to the real world (aside from its' average income :-) ). Hopefully this can inspire more Christian athletes to develop, speak up, and witness to fellow teammates.
The Christian testimony of the coaches is a good thing for them, but is immaterial, irrelevant to the issues concerning the intrinsic nature of football, about which I posted an essay on this blog some time ago.
Combing TV and football is about as bad as it gets--outside of porn.
Has nearly nobody read and appreciated Religious Affections, by Edwards? For crying out loud, this should not be a difficult choice!
The "intrinsic nature" of football isn't nearly as bad as the "intrinsic nature" of war. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you come out at one point in support of this illegal and immoral war in Iraq?
"The Christian testimony of the coaches is a good thing for them, but is immaterial, irrelevant to the issues concerning the intrinsic nature of football, about which I posted an essay on this blog some time ago."
Not sure if I agree. Their testimonies directly challenge the issues concerning the intrinsic nature of football. They are professing a lifestyle modeled after Christ Himself. Can you get more corporeal than God's Word? It appears to me that the reasoning behind the publication of their testimonials is to change the nature of football. Their mission seems akin to those belonging to groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action.
1. War is sometimes necessary in a fallen world.
2. Football is not.
3. The argument fails.
Considering the stance of the NFL in the past few days, one could do a survey of one's town, figure out which congregations are sponsoring Super Bowl parties with televisions larger than 55 inches, and call the NFL to get the congregation sued.
That'd sure make Christians think twice about watching the Super Bowl next year!
Or, is this one part of the "war on Christianity in public" that the Constructive Curmudgeon supports?
By the way, we discovered some years ago in Washington, D.C., that when the local team is in the game, the supermarkets are absolutely empty. Time to go shopping!
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven!
I would suggest that if not watching the Superbowl is one's conviction, charity would be to leave it at that, your conviction.
I think Paul addressed this in his epistle to the church at Rome.
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