Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Praise and Glory Glory Glory

Colts owner Jim Irsay and coach Tony Dungy inadvertently spotlighted the inanity of sports teams claiming God was on their side by making contradictory invocations in the span of roughly 15 seconds (Irsay) and tossing out situationally unfortunate metaphors (Dungy) during the trophy presentation last night.

Irsay led off, quite appropriately, with a statement of support for the central Florida communities that got blown apart by tornadoes a couple of days ago. He indicated that the Colts will be aiding in the recovery effort, and said a couple of times that their prayers are with the people "who had those tornadoes, we don't wanna forget that."

Okay, decent enough, nothing wrong with the usual lip service of "our thoughts and prayers are with you." But he followed that up with this, not missing a beat, apparently oblivious to the rather marked contrast between God's attention to central Florida and God's attention to his football team:
Now we're world champions! And so there's an awful lot of shining glory up here again, even more than last time, but we're giving it all to God again, because that's what God is here, sticking together and believing that we could, and I know God has looked after us on this journey...
Then there was Dungy, who maybe hadn't heard about the actual storms to the north, talking about his team's struggles against adversity this season:
We said there's gonna be a storm, we said the Lord doesn't always bring you directly through, sometimes you gotta work for it.
Ah. So God was in Florida this week (the folks cowering in their bathrooms might have wondered), but apparently too distracted with the Holy Colts to notice the tornadoes bearing down on trailer parks and retirement communities in areas inexplicably bereft of warning sirens. He had the foresight to toughen up the Colts with the metaphorical storm of being down 18 points in the AFC championship game, but couldn't be troubled to flick a couple of funnel clouds away from people's houses. Nice.

Dungy went on to make his own number one priority clear.
"I'm proud to be the first African-American coach to win this," Dungy said during the trophy ceremony. "But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only the first African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that."
All the previous Super Bowl coaches, I guess, have been Hindu or Jainist or something. Noted Muslims Mike Ditka and Dan Reeves must be mortified to have that finally brought out into the open.

Don't get me wrong. Dungy and Lovie Smith (Bears coach) are polite, gracious men who do an incredible amount of charitable work in their communities. I doubt Dungy thinks he's being self-righteous when he sets his brand of Christianity (headlined by no swearing or drinking) apart from every other nominal Christian who has coached in the big game. Hey, he's just witnessing; no harm in that, right? His chosen affiliations say otherwise. In the next few weeks he's making appearances at the Anderson, Indiana Church of God (resolution on homosexuality here, resolution against marriage equality here) and the Indiana Family Institute (James Dobson stamp of approval here, opposition to HPV immunization here, opposition to marriage equality here).

This is the Lord's way according to Dungy. A lord who ostensibly created the whole world and everyone in it, who knows us before we are born, but in whose name certain people are to be condemned and legally discriminated against if they live the way they were made. A lord who takes time out of his busy schedule to shape the destiny of a 45-man football team but is oddly indifferent to 20 people killed by a tornado in central Florida, or to 3,080 troops blown up in Iraq, or to thousands of innocent victims of drunk drivers each year, or, or, or... Tony Dungy might consider the possibility that his god, who, despite being omniscient and omnipotent, is more interested in a football team than in human life and death, needs to reassess His priorities.

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