Archive for October, 2012

16
Oct
12

The Oppressed Christian?

In the early days of this blog, I think I may have posted a few times on the prevailing view of supposedly well-educated U.S. citizens (and probably those of most Western nations) toward Christianity. More on that in a moment, though, after I ridicule off-the-deep-end evangelistic former child star Kirk Cameron for his take on his own “crucifixion” for his beliefs.

Cameron is a moron. He left his critical thinking at the door a long time ago (if he ever possessed it), a fact made most obviously when he did a video with another loonball Christian about how the banana is “the atheist’s nightmare” because it somehow proves the existence of God. (Here on YouTube, and also here)

I’m a Christian. While I don’t know the precise nature and scope of God, I do believe in Him and that Jesus was His son (whether literally or spiritually) in whom was vested God’s power and the ability to grant salvation to all humans, among other neat skills like healing and making wine out of water, both of which would come in handy at a lot of parties (oh, Jesus made jokes, people, and I love my savior; don’t go pointing sacrilege fingers at me if you’re Christian).

None of these beliefs of mine, however, interfere with my belief in (and respect for) science. I simply have faith that there is a spiritual realm and a temporal one, and you can’t prove or disprove one with the other.

People like Kirk Cameron, though, make people like me look bad. And believe me, there are many people like me. Some 20 percent of the U.S. populations considers itself “unchurched” now (that doesn’t meant they’re all atheists; some of you evangelical atheists out there need to read about those stats more closely), so it’s clear that the church in all its forms has failed miserably to move with the times (regardless of the specific faith). And move it must, the Christian church being one of the most notable these days, as it always has in the past, adapting and evolving many times, no matter how many Christian leaders try to convince people otherwise.

Cameron thinks he’s being crucified for being called out on his homophobia, a bigotry which is entirely out of step with Christian love and acceptance of people where they are at. (By the way, in fair disclosure, I’ve had some out-of-step opinions about same-gender relations in the past on this blog, but even though I no longer see it as a sin…even when I did, I didn’t see it as worse than any other sins we all commit.) Cameron is, again, a moron. Also a slightly blasphemous moron, since Jesus and a whole lot of other people endured Roman crucifixion, and based on what I’ve read about it, no level of public ridicule compares to that suffering. So, suck it, Kirk Cameron.

Now, that said, I am going to continue to hold to a theory that I’ve espoused before on this blog, and that is that Christianity gets the side-eye a lot from other people, even people who sometimes attend Christian churches. So, if the name “Jesus” comes out of my mouth, I can pretty much anticipate that many people in hearing distance are going to tense up. If I discuss my faith or the value I see in it, I can expect that I will get a lot of ridicule, whether spoken or unspoken.

And I don’t just mean from atheists; this cuts across most lines. Moreover, this kind of attitude is generally reserved for Christians. Sure, plenty of racist, demagogic, jingoistic bastards look askance at Muslims in the United States, but what I’m talking about are the more educated and/or “aware” people, who don’t judge any other religion (Wicca, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.) and often express curiosity about them, but openly show disdain toward Christians, even when said Christians aren’t behaving badly.

Kirk Cameron is wrong that he or Christians in general are persecuted in the United States. Far from it. They still hold great gobs of influence and don’t have to worry about being strung up for their beliefs. But it is true that, much like the notion that white men are the only group you can joke about safely now (somewhat true), Christians are one of the few religious groups you can make open fun of with little chance of blowback (unless you’re in the rural portions of the Bible Belt, perhaps).

I say this not to defend Cameron, who had earned all kinds of reasons to be made fun of because there is little thought or logic behind his statements. I say this to remind everyone that Christians are people, too, and most of them aren’t going to bite.

Or even try to convert you.

So let’s band together in making fun of Kirk Cameron, if nothing else.

12
Oct
12

A Lance Through the Heart? Not Mine…

Maybe it’s time to abandon the idea of competitive sports in which you rely 100% on your natural body, exercise, nutrition and practice. Maybe it’s time to stop looking for the cheaters who use performance-enhancing measures beyond the ones I just mentioned.

If there’s any legacy that cyclist Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall has left me with, that’s it.

Let’s stop worrying about who’s taking what and get down to the real problems of sports. Better yet, let’s get down the real problems of society and push sports more into the background.

On Twitter today, I saw a link posted by movie critic Roger Ebert to a New York Times article that described how Lance Armstrong was able to get away with things like blood doping and thwart the testing procedures that would have revealed he was doping for so many years.

The revelations in that article didn’t make me lose any respect for Lance Armstrong; granted, I haven’t gained any either. For at least a dozen years now, I haven’t made any habit of putting my loyalties behind specific cities, teams or individual athletes.

My take-away lesson from the article about Lance Armstrong’s blood doping is not that he’s a bad guy. What I came away with is this: Apparently, these activities are rampant in the cycling world, as they are in so many sports, and the problem is that measures to police use of performance enhancers don’t work.

So, tons of people are taking substances they aren’t supposed to, and competing, and not getting caught. It’s just that Lance Armstrong was such a consistent winner and jealousies came to bear that he has been singled out. Clearly, many of his competitors have cheated, too, but the spotlight is on him now, and they continue on with their activities.

Many people are outraged by the idea of Lance Armstrong winning and having done blood doping. But I look at it this way: His competitors were, by and large, doing the same thing, and he was still beating them.

Doesn’t that still make him the better athlete, when so many strong cyclists also using performance enhancers still can’t beat him?

You can talk about the cyclists who have played it straight and get screwed over by all the cheaters, and you’d have a strong point, but my concern is singling out a specific person as the villain when he isn’t the lone offender. Also, demeaning his athletic abilities and work because he doped his blood. I mean, it’s not as if he took a pill that magically made him a good cyclist. He still had to work out, sweat, push, endure pain and injury, eat properly and employ racing skills in order to win. Did he have an edge? Yes. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t work hard.

Cheating is not the same in all circumstances. Now, in sports if you bribe judges or referees to ensure that you win, that is somewhat comparable to stealing the answers to a test and memorizing them. You have chosen to slack off considerably or perhaps do no work at all to ensure you win or get a good grade. You have taken the effort largely out of the equation. Those who use performance enhancers still have to work hard and compete, and sometimes their choice to give themselves an edge results in health problems later.

Now, from a moral standpoint, I think what Lance Armstrong did was wrong. It’s just that I don’t think it gave him so much of an edge it made him unbeatable.

Also, let’s consider the “why” of all this. He did it because we have put such a high premium on professional athletics and celebrity. We have made the rewards so great because of our misplaced priorities that people are driven to win at any cost, because it’s how they will make it big and get the long cash. We created the problem—all of us: owners, promoters, media, fans, etc.—and we have compounded it by making governing bodies that do a shit-ass job of policing athletes.

I would love if everyone competed on a level field, with no drugs or other enhancers involved. But hasn’t it become clear to us by now that the use of substances by athletes is a pervasive and all-too-common activity? Do we benefit by singling out one or a few just to send a message that still won’t be heeded? Sending a message to drug users by jailing people for stupid crap like possession of marijuana certainly hasn’t helped anyone but people who construct and operate prisons, so why would taking down a doping athlete make any difference?

Better would be to stop making sports such a high priority. If we stopped funneling so much money into sports that could be better used for things like charitable causes, research and development and things like that, athletes won’t be so driven to cheat with drugs.

We all cheat in life, at various levels and in various ways. We all use tricks to get ahead at times.

But it’s only when the prize for which we are shooting has been made so enticing that we through caution to the wind and cheat massively and disastrously.

That’s why Wall Street and the finance industry failed us and crashed the economy recently. That’s why a lot of angry and scared politicians right now fling out blatant lies with no shame these days.  That’s why Lance Armstrong and every other athlete caught for use of performance-enhancing drugs did what they did.

Because we’ve made the rewards to them so valuable.

08
Oct
12

Haiku-charged Lord’s Prayer

I had a cynical (though no less accurate for it) post a little over a week ago with a “new” Lord’s Prayer (here).

In all fairness, since this blog started out being focused on spiritual and faith musings, let’s get spiritual today. Hell, let me get annoyingly artistic, too, with my poetic turn on the Lord’s Prayer…a haiku version I wrote more than a dozen years ago.

Lord’s Prayer – Haiku Version

Oh God our Father
Who lives and reigns from heaven
Holy is Your name

Let Your kingdom come
May Your sovereign will be done
In earth and heaven

Give us bread of life
Dwell not on our sinfulness
Help us to forgive

Divert us from sin
Help us resist temptation
As only You can

Power and glory
Honor and all Creation
Are Yours forever




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

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