A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Quote of the Day: King James Puts His Head in a Miami Vice

Ben Witherington reflects on LeBron and prayer, and Jesus in the Garden:

...let us consider for a moment the reasoning that went into this decision. Lebron tonight said repeatedly he wanted to go to a place where he had a chance to win a championship right away, him being the grand old age of 25 now. Of course Clevelanders will rightly say he already had that in Cleveland as was demonstrated in 2007 when he got to the finals.

But also right at the bottom of the bottom line according to Lebron is that he wanted to go somewhere that would make him happy---- it was all about him being happy. Now this is not an unexpected thing. In America we often glibly tell people including our own children 'do whatever makes you happy'. But frankly that's a pretty narcissistic criteria, don't you think?

I realize that we are just talking a basketball player playing a game, but when you consider what this decision will do to the already iffy economy of the Cleveland area, then you begin to realize that Lebron knows that it was not just all about him being happy or him winning championships. There were a lot of so called 'little' people depending on Lebron to stay at home and make it work. And I feel very badly for Cleveland about now, especially since I used to live in northeast Ohio for 11 years. Cleveland sure didn't need this, what with their Browns suffering another brown out, and their Indians getting scalped night after night. Its not good when a city loses something that gives them a sense of hope.

But this turn of events gives a moment to pause and think about the narcissistic American mantra--- 'do what makes you happy'. All too often that mantra is just an excuse to do the selfish and self-centered thing. As a Christian I am trying to imagine Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying fervently to his Father 'let this cup pass' and hearing the response from God-- 'do whatever makes you happy'. Yes, I know King James is not Jesus, and his mission in life doesn't even compare to that of Jesus. But guess what----- Lebron said he spent no little time consulting 'the Man Upstairs'! I wonder, more than a little how hard Lebron listened when he prayed. Did God really say---- 'do what makes you happy, head south'? I doubt it.

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You can read Ben's entire post, here.


Robert Cornwall said...

I think Ben is a bit harsh with LeBron. LeBron is doing exactly like all of us do as we move up the ladder, preachers taking bigger churches, church members leaving for bigger and better churches, etc. I've reflected on this a bit myself, as one with no vested interest in Mr. James' decision. http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com/2010/07/lebron-loyalty-life-paths.html

Allan R. Bevere said...

Bob, I read your post and you make an excellent point. Perhaps the LeBron incident should cause all of us to reflect upon the selfish motivations of our decisions.

Chuck Tackett said...

I agree with the both of you. Bob raises some great points in his blog post. It speaks, as one comment to Bob's post notes, that we focus more attention to ourselves than our calling.

Yes Clevelanders and Cavs fans feel hurt and are often being hypocritical in their castigation of LeBron; but it doesn't make it less true. If Clevelanders want to show their superior loyalty then they better show up for the Cavs 2010-2011 season.

As Christians, then, we need to show up when it's not convenient or self-gratifying, working based on God's call and not our desire for "important" or life-changing work. Cutting the grass, fixing toilets and painting walls also has its place in the needs of the church.

PamBG said...

I'm not a sports fan, but living in a "suburb" of Cleveland, it's been hard to escape this story over the last few weeks.

It actually struck me as a story of idolatry: particularly when people started saying things like it was going to be the end of the city of Cleveland (I thought the city "ended" in the 1960s, but go figure).

For my money, this is all taking sports far too seriously. If we pay sports stars these outrageous "salaries" and we're willing to pay the price of a vacation to see a professional sports game, why on earth would we expect the players to act with loyalty when we've made it all about money.

A phrase with the words life, get and a springs to mind.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I guess free agency is understandable now, but I was a fan in the days when NBA teams, except for trades retained the same personnel and personality, for the most part.

I guess I little understand the NBA and Cleveland's dilemma, but it most certainly would have been nice if Lebron would have committed himself to Cleveland and a championship there. I hope the best for him. But wouldn't it be nice to see him win a championship and Cleveland win one as well in the near future?! I'm afraid I'm dreaming on the latter thought.

Steve North said...

With all due respect, not everyone does what it takes to climb the ladder. Some - not many, admittedly - ignore the ladder altogether. There is something higher than exercising one's "rights," and certainly something greater than climbing the corporate (including church) ladder. The something higher, something greater is choosing calling and common good over individual good or happiness. In the end, I believe, choosing the something greater is the only thing capable of delivering on any promise of happiness.

I know I'm a ridiculous idealist. I really am crazy enough to believe the world can be changed, that people can and do choose higher thoughts and actions than the status quo.

When i was a junior in high school, I made my school's basketball team in spite of my relative lack of talent for a team that cut to 8. The coach liked my hustle, so I made it. One day at a practice, Coach Baqiley told us to begin a drill that alternated between sprints and walking, and to continue it until he came back into the gym from his office. As soon as the gym door clicked shut behind the exiting coach, everyone started walking - except me. I continued running, until I reached the senior captain of the team. He grabbed me by the front of the shirt, slammed me up against the wall and said: "You walk like the rest of us, because we're not going to look bad when he comes back and you're still running."

The status quo is a bully that intimidates people into accepting its modicum of mediocrity as something "we all do," and calling it the standard. I would rather die than to cave in to its demands. I choose to run. I choose something higher than climbing the ladder or "what's going to make me happy." And I choose others who aspire to do the same.

I'm not as concerned about LeBron choosing to do what made him happy as I am about a Church and its leaders who choose on that same basis. I'm concerned about a culture whose preference was just chosen in a high profile way, and denies being that decision's source. According to his words, LeBron just decided to do what "we all do." He just gets paid more to do it.