Friday, January 31, 2014
The Super Bowl. . . Much, Much More Than A Game. . . .
A friend recently picked up a note pad they found at a clearance store and handed it on to me. At the top of the page are the words "Culture Vulture." My friend thought that was appropriate for me. At the bottom of the page is this phrase: "You Are What You Like." This little novelty pad is more true than we think or admit. And as we crazy people gather in north Jersey or around television sets wherever are for a few hours this Sunday night, that little phrase is one we must ponder.
One of the answers to our unhealthy obsessions and idolatries is to step back and carefully examine both ourselves and our idols. You know, a careful objective look that's grounded in wisdom. For those of us who endeavor to follow Christ, it's a wise practice that we call thinking "Christianly" and "biblically."
What are you going to do with this year's Super Bowl Commercials? Two years ago I posted a blog on "Redeeming Those Super Bowl Commercials." It's loaded with practical questions that you can use with your kids while you're watching the game. It's a good exercise in thinking critically and Christianly about marketing, how it works, what it assumes about us, how it shapes us, and what it really is selling. The questions still apply.
Is the Super Bowl about more than football? You bet! Sociologist and Christian Matthew Vos has written a powerful article on looking beyond the game into what the games "sells" and how the game mirrors who we are. I love this article: "Prizes and Consumables: The Super Bowl as Theology of Women." What the article states is oh so true. . . "the way we consume iconic national events like the Super Bowl better depicts what we really believe about women than does anything else. For in the invisibility of normality, there we find our idolatry." Whoa.
Is there anything else going on in New Jersey during Super Bowl weekend that we need to be aware of? The answer to that question is a big "YES!" Another friend posted this disturbing and eye-opening piece from Laura Dimon on his Facebook page yesterday: "You'll Never See This Side of the Super Bowl on TV." This article is about the sex-trafficking that's become a huge part of the event. This is something that our kids need to see and hear.
Can we recover a sense of sportsmanship? Maybe a better way to ask this question is, "Can football be redeemed?" The answer is "YES!" In recent years I've read a few books that have helped frame my thinking about what redemptive football and redemptive sport look like. Two authors and their books come to mind right away. First, there's Tony Dungy, a man of deep faith who has spent his entire life living in the belly of the football beast. His two books, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life and Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance, offer powerful advice that should be taken to heart by every human being, whether they play, watch, or don't even care about football. Then, there are two books by Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Marx, Season of Life: A Football Star, A Boy, A Journey to Manhood and The Long Snapper: A Second Chance, A Super Bowl, A Lesson For Life. Read them!