The Week-est Link, March 28. 2008: Blogging Tournaments, Disney World, Blog Gems, and Violence

1. Whew. It’s been quite a week here at consumed. This little blog has seen a relative avalanche of comments due to some controverted content. I’m really thankful for those who have weighed in, and it was interesting to hear another side of the Billy Wolfe saga. Thanks again to everyone who wrote in. I don’t have time to respond to comments, but I read every one of them, and I’m often pushed to think by them (as you can tell if you read my frequent follow-up posts).

2. Said at Southern has a terrific March Madness-like contest going on right now (replete with brackets and all!) that has the dual purpose of 1) finding out which SAS-related blog is the big dog on the block and 2) giving exposure to unknown bloggers and linking them to better-known bloggers. It’s a terrific idea, though Tony Kummer and Timmy Brister are known for terrific ideas. The “Madness” is in its second round, and somehow, inconceivably, consumed made it to the second round. Sadly, folks, we’re currently getting smashed. Oh well–I suppose this blog is something like NCAA cinderella Siena. At least, like them, we made it to the second round!

3. Together for the Gospel has multiple videos up from the 2006 conference. They will be well worth the time it takes to load and watch them. I was there to witness most of this content in person, and I can say that it made an impact on me. Less than three weeks to go ’til 08!

4. Slate ran a hilarious series exploring the weird sub-galaxy of Disney World this week. Not everything is nice (or rated PG), and I don’t love the paranoid, mocking nature of some of the author’s writing, but he also unearths some pretty realistic insights about this strange place. I don’t know about you, but animatronic robots give me the absolute creeps.

5. Introducing a new feature on this blog: “Blog Gems”. I want to bring to your attention worthy blogs that you may not have heard of. I’ll do this on Fridays, and I’ll generally only give you one link so as not to water this feature down. Today’s Blog Gem: Redeeming History, a blog written by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School PhD Student Mark Rogers. This blog, written by a very sharp Historical Theology student, is devoted to spreading the riches of Christian history. It is well-written, well-researched, and spiritually profitable. Mark is a good friend and a future scholar, and I could not encourage you more to check out his young but very good blog. I may not have many readers or much “virtual clout”, but many people have been very kind to me in giving my blog attention (Tony, Timmy, Justin Taylor), and I want to extend that kindness to others. Email me at owendstrachan [at] yahoo.com if you think you might qualify here.

6. Last words on the violence issue (I promise). Let’s cut to the chase: I think it’s rather foolish to think that one needs to watch shows devoted to acts of brutal, needless violence in order to train one’s son to be a robustly masculine protector. We need not freak out about violence, but neither should we think that the worst iterations of it (i.e., meaningless, needless violence) serve as the best instructors of our children. That’s just silly. If you want to cultivate a strong man, a good man, a man who knows his body and can use it for good, train him in biblical truth. Teach him. Show him how to use his body. Wrestle with him. Teach him about safe, bounded, harmless (relatively) violence. Allow him to participate in contact sports, albeit those (in my opinion) that do not glorify or rely on violence (e.g., basketball, baseball). In these ways and others, you will acquaint your son with his body, teach him to use it productively (an important word, no?), and ensure that he does not equate physicality with hurting people–which so many boys today, whether Christian or otherwise, do. This is productive training.

It is silly to think that we need to expose children to bloodsport to train them up. Simply put: we do not. Our children need not be awkward, unexposed to physical contact and play, but neither do they need to love violence and crave it to be robustly masculine men and protectors of others. Those who argue along these lines are overextending the bounds of credulity, in my humble opinion (though I appreciate my friend Reid’s thoughtful piece on this subject, even if we do come to different conclusions).

My father never watched a brutal fighting match with me, but he trained me to be a protector. I never played football, or wrestled, or watched brutal combat fights (either real or otherwise), and I never relished violence. I wasn’t a wuss, though; I loved sports, and I liked some degree of contact. My father oversaw all this, and he exuded a spirit of tenderness toward the women in his life, being primarily his wife and daughter. I never had any doubt that Dad would protect us to the death, and I don’t have any doubt that I would do the same for my family. I am thankful that he did not think that I had to become hungry for brutality to develop this instinct. He didn’t think that, and I didn’t need it. I simply needed what we all need: an unapologetically masculine, physically capable, compassionate man in my life, showing me on a daily basis what it means to be a strong but restrained, able but careful, manly but gentle man of God.

That, and not any form of violence-glorifying media, is what we need more of. Not UFC, but good dads. Not TKOs, but good dads. Not wrestling that hurts, or football that brings concussions, or chest-beating fury, but good, godly, wise, masculine dads.

  • Telcontar

    I’ve appreciated reading the balanced look at this issue. I personally enjoy contact sports, like football, and to a lesser extent, boxing. Although I think I might disagree to a certain extent with the opinions of Driscoll, I think he makes a very good point (quoted in the first blog on this issue) that Christians should be careful to avoid ignoring what popular culture is doing. I think that it’s all really involved in the principle of being in the world but not of it. If we ignore, and even worse, adopt an arrogant, condescending, dismissive, and/or judgemental attitude towards the pursuits of the unsaved around us, we risk hiding our own lights under a cloak of self-righteousness. This certainly doesn’t mean that we need to participate, but that there are occasions where we need to at least be aware so that we can engage effectively.

  • Tyler

    Owen,

    Thanks for making me think about this stuff. I simply have enjoyed UFC too much to really think about what kind of message it sends (an embarrassing omission of thought). I agree with you 100% that we need strong, Godly fathers instructing their sons in biblical wisdom and masculinity. No sport replaces that. Then again, not everyone has such a father. but in those cases we needn’t let sports replace fathers.

    As far as the rest of the discussion goes, I don’t think baseball teaches a kid more than soccer does, or basketball. But I have to disagree with your assessment of football. The sport has made great strides towards downplaying the glorification of violence, and putting the contact element into perspective, among other things. I’m just not willing to say that it’s wrong to let your kid play football. Among other things, that leads to some absurd discussions (i.e., Is it ok to let him play kicker? or QB? Likewise, can a Christian not be a pitcher because it does irreversible damage to your arm?). I think this is a claim that is too generalizing.

    With any sport, there are class acts and there are punks. In basketball, your punks punch each other in the face. In baseball, they start bench-clearing brawls. In football, they attempt to inflict as much damage as possible rather than just taking you down. Football does lend itself to more of a risk than basketball does, but that doesn’t make it wrong. For some kids, playing football is better than playing any other sport. I can’t play basketball or baseball to save my life. But I can play football and hockey.

    Again, thanks for bringing this stuff up. I’m seriously reconsidering whether I can continue to watch UFC. I only disagree with you on one point and I could be wrong about that, it will simply require more reflection than reading a blog brings. Keep up the good work.

    -T

  • Al

    I have not thought about such sports, so this has been a exercise for me as well.

    ESV Deuteronomy 5:17 “‘You shall not murder.

    ESV Proverbs 24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,

    The commandment should not be limited strictly to murder as the Pharisees sought to do. Christ expands this to include anger/hatred issues and name calling in Matthew 5. So the idea that one might form from this commandment is that we are not to do any harm to our neighbor. However, Christ did not teach: Don’t do anything to your neighbor that you don’t wish for him to do to you. We are to love our neighbor. Thus we ought to seek good for our neighbor instead of his harm or lose.

    Gambling is a popular activity in our culture. Yet an essential part of this ‘game’ is that my neighbor must suffer in order for me to gain. So, Christianity has, rightly so I believe, opposed gambling as a lawful activity, or at least as an edifying activity even if the opponent is willing to sacrifice.

    I think some ‘sports’ parallel the gambling idea. All physical sports probably has some risk that we might hurt our competitor or be hurt ourselves by another participant. This is a ‘chance’ that we take, and at what level we throw in the towel and declare that the risk of hurting myself or someone else is getting to high for us as a believer to participate is a judgment call. However, if we are in these sports just to inflict physical harm upon my neighbor or if the very nature of the sport is to inflict harm than we are not loving our competitor.

    As a younger man I rejoiced too much in hard hits, in football. I rejoiced too much when my neighbor fell. This was wrong. In saying this I am not making a claim that football is evil. Yet it might be played by one who’s heart is set on doing harm. This, these verses declare, is evil.

    Fathers need to teach their sons to love, even their enemies. While I do side with you, Owen, on the issue of a man protecting his family, the reality of this issue is that I might easily be overcome by a number of factors and so prove to be helpless. In such cases what/who have I taught my family to rely upon? What response(s) have I been teaching my family to respond with? And why?

    I will conclude with the following.

    ESV Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

    Al


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