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A response to a conversation started on Facebook after I commented to support Minnesota Vikings fans after a tough loss. Follow that here.

Okay, here’s some perspective from a non-NFC north fan.

I’ve lived in five NFL markets: Pittsburgh, Miami, DC, Detroit, and now the TC. Again, I’m a Miami fan.

The Pittsburgh fan base is one of the most loyal, faithful, authentic groups in the league and in my opinion one of the top 5 in the league. I have every reason to hate them and they Miami. The Stellars (w. pa. accent) essentially ended the Miami dynasty in the 70′s and the two cities are complete existential opposites. Yet never once was I drilled by a Pittsburgh fan for my Miami aqua #13.

Miami fans are among the most definitively fair weather in the league. Most of the true Phins fans moved away in the 80′s when the racial issues killed the city’s authentically blue collar population. Its not that the remaining don’t care but why would you spend time on a mediocre team when you can enjoy one of the largest party towns in the US where you can party way better on South Beach among far more visually pleasing scenery and cheaper with less emotional cost. Plus you’re only 90 minutes from Margaritaville. Nothing better illustrates the Miami situation than the fact that every home game this year has been a ticket sales sellout including next week’s pre-playoff, playofff vs the Stellars; but none has been an actual gameday attendance sellout.

As for the Skins, I think for the most part you can apply the statements about the Stellars to them as well. Miami ended their perfect 72 season with a SB W vs the Skins and about a decade later they pummeled a David Woodley led Phins team in the SB. The Skins are old school, the DC community is as unique an existence as there is in the NFL, and they love their team regardless.

No team better represents the state of their city/state better than the boys in Honolulu Blue. The fans are there in Motown, but they’ve been punished like very naughty children since anyone still alive can remember. Why would anyone still go to a Detroit game? I mean 10+ years with #20 only got them one NFC title game. What makes anyone with any common sense believe anyone on the current roster is going to lead them out of NFL purgatory? Yet, like robots they tune their DTV Sunday Tix package (games are blacked out like the sun rises) to the Lions and are safely asleep by halftime. Ford Field is gorgeous but in the end if the girls in the shoulder pads aren’t attractive why is anyone gonna care. That said, the minute the Lion-Cubs grow into men for a decade or so, watch out, the fan base will rise from their slumber and be one of the most rowdy in the league. They’re so bad they don’t even have the energy to notice I’m even wearing my Danny Marino threads.

That takes me to the TC where the first time I suited up in my Dolphins stocking cap and #13 and headed to class at NCU I was promptly informed by a well educated person wearing purple that “Miami sucks!”. And the echo resonates nearly half a dozen times a season since I came in the fall of 1999. While I’m not so much arguing that in fact “Miami doesn’t suck,” I am oft left wondering why anyone in the TC would even care if that statement is true. I say that to illustrate a point about Vikes fans, of which I can honestly say there are the faithful. But most of the vocal “fans”, for what ever reasons there might be good or bad, are so bitter about history in general that they are not able to rationally deal with losing a game even in the midst of a decent season. They have a great tradition and are very rarely truly awful but if you lived in a vacuum and landed on earth in December of any of the last 10 years except 1998 and spoke with the average Vikes fan, you would feel like they were supporting a team suffering through a Detroit Lions-like slump. Whether that frustration is a sign of passion or being sore losers (I don’t care how long its been since Tark played at the Met or if the Vikes ever won a “big game”) its a tired act the MN fans put on every year. I can fully see how Vikes can be annoyed by the Cheese or Halas Hall each year. But so many of the loudest Vikes fans couldn’t tell you who won the SB in 1977. That was the last time the Vikes played on Super Sunday, albeit, a loss to the Fighting Jon Maddens. The bottom line in my experience is they don’t even really know why they’re so bitter, its just an inherited sin of their fathers. Are the fans good? Maybe. Are they loyal? Sure. Are they tolerable. Just barely. Again not all are this way but every real fan is bitter when their club loses so, as hard as it is to believe, EVERYONE hurts when their team disappoints.

I know what its like to watch a team in your division rise from ashes to dominate the NFL. Remember I grew up with Indy in the AFC east. To know that the Pats and the IndyPonys have risen from classic NFL mediocrity to be two of the 3-4 premiere franchises just makes me ill. Plus our franchise’s greatest player was denied SB glory by the NFL’s most pure chokers, the Jills, through out the early 90′s. Top that off with an owner who threw $$$ at the Marlins to earn WS rings with money he made selling stadium naming rights to our building that only made profits during FB not Hardball games. And how Marc Anthony? That’s another blog. But never once have you heard me present scenarios for me to disown my team or create my own personal global warming bonfire with all the Dolphins gear I’ve collected over 28 years. Yet both have been bullet point items in many dissertation speeches presented to me by Vikes fans.

Nothing against Vikes fans or any other team’s supporters but this is just one guy’s experiences.

I haven’t read a whole lot of anything that Christopher Hitchens has written that I’ve even come close to agreeing with. Most of the time, I dislike his pontificating, his lack of manners and his irresponsible caricaturing of his intellectual opponents. But I’ve stumbled across a piece from him that I mostly agree with, and not only agree with, but almost agree with wholeheartedly.

I haven’t yet run into an argument that has made me want to change my mind. After all, a believing religious person, however brilliant or however good in debate, is compelled to stick fairly closely to a “script” that is known in advance, and known to me, too. However, I have discovered that the so-called Christian right is much less monolithic, and very much more polite and hospitable, than I would once have thought, or than most liberals believe. I haven’t been asked to Bob Jones University yet, but I have been invited to Jerry Falwell’s old Liberty University campus in Virginia, even though we haven’t yet agreed on the terms.

[Andrew] Wilson [of New St. Andrews College] isn’t one of those evasive Christians who mumble apologetically about how some of the Bible stories are really just “metaphors.” He is willing to maintain very staunchly that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and that his sacrifice redeems our state of sin, which in turn is the outcome of our rebellion against God. He doesn’t waffle when asked why God allows so much evil and suffering—of course he “allows” it since it is the inescapable state of rebellious sinners. I much prefer this sincerity to the vague and Python-esque witterings of the interfaith and ecumenical groups who barely respect their own traditions and who look upon faith as just another word for community organizing. (Incidentally, just when is President Barack Obama going to decide which church he attends?)

Usually, when I ask some Calvinist whether he is really a Calvinist (in the sense, say, of believing that I will end up in hell), there is a slight reluctance to say yes, and a slight wince from his congregation. I have come to the conclusion that this has something to do with the justly famed tradition of Southern hospitality: You can’t very easily invite somebody to your church and then to supper and inform him that he’s marked for perdition. More to the point, though, you soon discover that many of those attending are not so sure about all the doctrines, either, just as you very swiftly find out that a vast number of Catholics don’t truly believe more than about half of what their church instructs them to think. Every now and then I read reports of polls that tell me that more Americans believe in the virgin birth or the devil than believe in Darwinism: I’d be pretty sure that at least some of these are unwilling to confess their doubts to someone who calls them up on their kitchen phone.

The recent elimination of the national evangelism office of The Episcopal Church has caused me to think about the relative lack of emphasis on conversion in the Episcopal Church, especially when compared to more conservative denominations. In that vein, the below is a quote from a former professor at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, James Wm. McClendon, Jr., on the centrality of conversion in Paul:

The battle that Paul fought and won was to keep conversion, understood not as a mere change of religious or doctrinal allegiance but as the transformation of the human self in all its spheres or strands, squarely in the center of the Christian way. Many since Paul’s day have sought to evade this experience to a few exceptional individuals, or shunning it to Christian groups said to be marginal or socially dispossessed (heretics, dissenters, baptists, pentecostals) or subordinating transformation to the orderly rhythms of an organized church life with formalized ‘initiation rites’ and ‘confirmations’ and ‘ordinations’ and ‘consecrations.’ Yet the hot breath of the Spirit blows, the liberating air of the resurrection rushes in, the rumor of the new that comes in Christ breaks the old molds of convention time and time again, not merely in the so-called marginal churches and social strata (though perhaps especially there) but within the high structures of ecclesiastical convention and Chrsitian social control as well.

-James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Ethics, 254.

Uberblogger Halden recently posted the following quote from Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll. Halden also had several lines of colorful commentary to go with it. Let’s just say that I don’t think Driscoll’s logic follows here at all – read any men’s magazines lately? In short, this is pretty horrifying, as usual. [Reader beware - the following is pretty crude...]

Without blushing, Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. While many irate women have disagreed with his assessment through the years, it does appear from this that such women who fail to trust his instruction and follow his teaching are much like their mother Eve and are well-intended but ill-informed. . . Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies – and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality.

Mark Driscoll, Church Leadership: Explaining the Roles of Jesus, Elders, Deacons, and Members at Mars Hill, Mars Hill Theology Series (Seattle, WA: Mars Hill Church, 2004), 43.

“But even where the response from the one forgiven is muted or absent, the act of forgiveness, by reaching out as in a transaction to the other, is yet a real act if real consequences flow from it. This is the act that is formalized in the Disciples’ Prayer taught in the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive’ (Matt. 6.12) – the “as we forgive” is not the report of some prior state of mind in the worshiper; it is not an attitude avowed; it is the performative act of the disciple granting pardon to those who have offended. And this is done in the very moment of seeking pardon for one’s own unpayable debts owed to God. When Matthew’s church prayed this prayer, they would know themselves to be granting forgiveness, whether of uncollectable debts, or of untruthful words, or of injury at the hands of family members long gone, or of enmity from a world acknowledged to be against them. In saying the words, these disciples did not merely tell about pardon, they extended it to their debtors, in the eyes and under the authority of God, and were bound thereafter to live accordingly.”

-James Wm. McClendon, Ethics: Systematic Theology, 227

mcclendon‘This brings up the recurrent belief that forgiving means forgetting. And indeed, Scripture says that God tells Israel he “will remember your sins no more” (Isa. 43.25 NEB). Yet this cannot be understood with literal simplicity, for in the following verse (26) the forgiving God recounts those very sins Israel has committed. In this passage, then, to forget must mean to cease to harbor resentment, must mean to hold their sins against them no longer. Indeed, it might be more truly said of forgiveness that it is a special kind of remembrance. One who forgives knows the other’s offense to be offense; forgiveness takes its rise, begins, as Butler has shown, from natural resentment, else there is nothing to forgive. Then the forgiving one takes that offense up into his or her own life, makes the other’s story part of his or her own story, and by owning it destroys its power to divide forgiver and forgiven. In this sense, to forgive is truly to love one’s offending neighbor as oneself. Forgiving is not forgetting; for we can repress the memory and still be at emnity with one another; for Christians, forgiving is rather remembering under the aspect of membership in the body of Christ: it is knowing that he who is our body and we, forgiven and forgiver, are all one.”

-James Wm. McClendon, Ethics: Systematic Theology (Vol. 1), 225.

Here’s VLog #2 for those who are bored with their summer.

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