Cheers to the World Cup

I met a friend in the local hipster bar to watch what was to be the U.S. team’s final game of the World Cup. An exciting game, we left with a loss that felt like a win. I was at the beach when the U.S. played Portugal and Germany.

I was a serious soccer player in high school, planned to play in college until a senior-year leg injury (not on the field) took me out, so I was ready to watch some soccer no matter who was playing; I didn’t know about my family. They caught the excitement. We had not cheered this way for a sports team as a family ever before—even my kids who don’t watch sports on television and don’t particularly care for soccer.

But what I felt this time around watching the World Cup most strongly is a sense of pride in being American that I haven’t felt for a long time. It appears that we are having dealings with the rest of the world on equal and friendly terms. Americans on the field are simply men on the field, just like the ones from Ghana and Portugal and Germany, and every other nation. There is competition, but it is (mostly) friendly, and filled with admiration for a well-played ball no matter who makes the play. (My wife has complained that it is still a world of men, and I can’t disagree with that.) [Read more...]

To Run and Not Grow Weary, Part Two

Maybe it was instinct that sent me back to relive the 1924 Olympic Games.

In Part One of this reflection, you found me despairing, feeling a sudden collapse of my lifelong will to write. Slumped on the couch, I was watching, of all things, Chariots of Fire.

As a child, I loved this movie. But it wasn’t until college that I saw how it stands in stark contrast to so much evangelical entertainment, how it avoids a faith will make your dreams come true pep talk.

In fact, its most fervent evangelical figure, Eric Liddell’s sister, Jenny, is frustrated when her athletic brother postpones his missionary work in China in order to become an Olympic runner. Straightforward evangelism, Jenny believes, is the real work. If people are dying without hearing about Jesus, what is running but self-indulgence?

[Read more...]


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