JOCKS FOR JESUS
Congratulations to Frank Deford on his discerning article Religion in Sport (April 19). Malcolm Boyd is right, of course, for what Deford describes is not so much religion in sport as religion in America. This is painfully obvious in this Bicentennial year as we put our national flag in the hand of the Almighty.
It is not, however, a simple case of black and white but one of shades of gray. Religion must be expressed in the vernacular if it is to be relevant and not hopelessly ethereal. Three cheers for keeping the message "simple," for not trucking with "intellectualizing" but appealing to the "gut." I look forward to the final two articles.
THE REV. JAMES W. MORRIS
St. John's United Church of Christ
Your cover line "Sport Gets Religion" is apt in the same manner that one might say the Roman Empire "got" religion by ostensibly adopting Christianity as a state religion while subverting it to its own uses.
I, for one, have viewed with horror the subversion of religion for their own purposes by those who have also given us the "winning is the only thing" philosophy that pervades sport from the youth leagues through the professional leagues.
Jesus does indeed have much to say to each of us about our daily lives. But those who seek to bless the status quo by invoking His name do us all a disservice. He did indeed win, but He never asked to win. He feared (Luke 19:41) what awaited Him in Jerusalem and He turned to God, who gave Him the power to endure what came upon Him. In the end Jesus won (and through Him so do we all) but His life was one of ministering to losers, to whom He showed unfailing love and understanding.
Would that those who profess His name in the sports world attempt to emulate Jesus rather than blacklist coaches for nonmembership in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Thank you for Frank Deford's series.
THE REV. WILLIAM G. HILES JR.
I was reminded of a quote in a Kenny Moore article several years ago that went something like "God likes only the strong." I was also reminded of many of my own coaches who appealed to Jesus before pleading for violence and destruction on the field. I find a great gulf between knowing a religion and living it; I don't understand how a Master of kindness, compassion and peace can fit into football.
Thanks to Frank Deford for raising questions about this movement. I am a Christian, but I feel the Christian religion is being prostituted.
Frank Deford presents a provocative but fair picture of the "Christian Movement" in sport. However, I take exception to his criticism of "Sportianity" for failing to take action against the athletic Establishment for its "excesses and abuses."
The Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that the root of all immorality lies in the sinful nature of man, and that the one way to overcome this sinful nature is to turn to Him. Fulminating against the dishonest and unethical practices of athletes, managers and owners would be treating the symptoms rather than the disease. The cure for the conditions described by Deford cannot be effected with rhetoric and criticism. It must start in the hearts of the individual athletes. I hope that is what much of Sportianity is all about.