Last week, former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins was speaking at a Christian high school in Michigan and was asked about the possibility of sharing a locker room with an openly gay teammate.
So from a football standpoint, if the guy can help us win, come help us win. Now, there are a lot of teammates in my locker room right now who may not have a homosexual lifestyle, but they have sins, too. They’re not perfect. So I don’t say they can’t help us win. Nobody’s perfect.
To that degree, we’d welcome him into our locker room and say come help us win, and hopefully I can love him like Jesus and hopefully show him what it means to follow Jesus.
A lot of sports websites and blogs jumped on Cousins’ comments to highlight what seems to be obvious intolerance both within the NFL and from Christians.
But I wonder if there isn’t at least a little bit more going on here.
It’s well-known that Cousins is a football player who is outspoken about his Christianity, someone likely to want to proselytize at any opportunity. He’s speaking here to young men at a Christian high school.
The best thing he could say is that everyone is equal in his eyes and, if you can play, you’re welcome on the team. The worst thing he could say is that homosexuality is an abomination and he would never have anything to do with someone who is gay.
What he said, instead, was pretty much exactly what I’d expect: A little bit of the best possible thing he could say, something that sounds close to the worst thing he could say. Taken all together, it amounts to exactly what Cousins has heard thousands of times in the churches he frequents: "Love the sinner, hate the sin."
While this is certainly not what I think of as progressive, my guess is that many people in the crowds Cousins addresses would see it that way. He can do a whole lot better, clearly, but there’s a possibility for real improvement already contained in his statement. Rather than worrying quite so much about teaching his imperfect teammates about Jesus, he might work on his own imperfections and blind spots so that he’s actually living a more loving and less judgmental life himself.
The guy’s not going to stop being outspoken about his Christianity, but that doesn’t mean he’s always going to believe what he believes today about homosexuality being an “imperfection” like, say, adultery or cursing your parents. It might be that, rather than condemning Cousins for where he is today, we could find ways to work with him so as to speed him along toward the place we’d like for him to reach.
HT: Marcus Sanborn.
I participated in my first Pidyon Ha’Ben ceremony today.
For those who aren’t familiar with the whole concept of Pidyon Ha’Ben, here’s some info straight from Wikipedia:
According to the traditional rabbinic interpretation, in the early part of the Bible, as recorded in the Book of Genesis, the duties of a priest fell upon the eldest son of each family. The first-born was to be dedicated to God in order to perform this task.
Following the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, after the nation had sinned with the Golden Calf, the priesthood was taken away from the first-borns, and given to the tribe of Levites, specifically to the Kohanim, High PriestAaron, his children, and their descendants. At the same time it was instituted that the first born of each family should be redeemed; i.e. they would be ‘bought back’ from the dedication to God that would previously have been required of them.
The ceremony is relatively rare, so I was both honored and very pleased to be asked by good friends of ours here in Omaha who wished to redeem their first-born son by offering me some sheqalim in exchange for him. I was happy to oblige in making the trade and the cantor from our synagogue helped out to make the ceremony a really beautiful one:
The Shulkhan Arukh states that when a Jewish woman gives birth to a firstborn male by natural means, then the child must be “redeemed”. The father of the child must “redeem” the child from a known Kohen representing the original Temple priesthood, for the sum of five silver Shekels, or equivalent in country’s currency (if it has silver currency of the correct weight). The procedure does not apply when the father is a Kohen or Levite, and does not normally apply when the mother is the daughter of one.
As “a known Kohen,” my grandfather participated in these ceremonies with some frequency for many years; I felt a particular connection with him today in taking part in my first.
Well, this has occasioned a whole lot more discussion than I’d anticipated (especially given how little anyone said about yesterday’s post on the very same topic) …
But, seriously, we all know the whole religious freedom argument is just an attempt at an end run around all manner of anti-discrimination laws and court cases, right?
Unpopular Opinion Alert:
It doesn’t make you look like the genius you think you are when you make fun of someone who died because he believed something you think is clearly ridiculous.
Lots of people believe things I don’t believe; I can’t get on board with their beliefs. And I believe things that lots of people don’t believe; they can’t get on board with my beliefs.
But maybe let’s not laugh at people because their sincerely held beliefs aren’t ours and thus appear to be ridiculous or terrible. It’s one thing to disagree or even disapprove; it’s quite another to point and laugh.
The most pressing questions of the day:
Do you think you could spend 10 minutes talking to these people? What makes you think so?
Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K
Today in things I just don’t understand:
People are paying attention to a “debate” where one of the parties is absolutely certain that the creation story in the Hebrew Bible is what literally happened.
Singing in American
As the child and grandchild of immigrants, who worked to make a place for themselves in this country and who spent considerable resources on my education so that I would be able to fluently speak the language they spoke when they arrived here, I absolutely cannot figure out why last night’s Coke commercial or the idea of multiculturalism has so unhinged so many people.
This desperate drive to make “America” or “Americans” into a single thing that matches one’s own personal experience seems so futile, such a waste of time and energy.
What’s worse, so many of the comments I’ve read in the past few hours in favor of assimilation — the utter derision of the concept of the “salad bowl” rather than the “melting pot” — have been mixed with such blatant xenophobia and racism against the very people who are being advised (or ordered) to assimilate.
"Everyone can be American, so long as they don’t look too Jewish or Muslim or sound too Mexican or Chinese." In other words, "Be yourself, but also fit in completely with the white Christian majority or else our real feelings about you are likely to come shining through."
roguepriest asked: I'm not Jewish. Is it wrong that I feel weird when Jewish friends willingly and happily eat pork or other non-kosher foods?
Well, I can’t tell you how you ought to feel.
But I’ll say this: People, Jewish and not Jewish, often apologize to us when they order non-kosher food in front of us. I’m not sure why they do this, especially those who aren’t Jewish, but I’d say it happens two-thirds of the time.
And I don’t think we’re especially “judgy” about keeping kosher. What we typically explain to people is that we keep kosher in our home and we’re vegetarian or pescatarian (if the fish is kosher) when we go out to eat. This position is, in itself, a compromise; we know many people who wouldn’t eat at a non-kosher restaurant at all. Given that we make this compromise in order to be (relatively) observant of ancient dietary laws in our modern world, we know that what we do doesn’t have any bearing on what other people do or what we expect of others.
This works for us and we’re comfortable with it. We wouldn’t presume to tell other people what’s good for them.
I’m always amazed — though I know I shouldn’t be — by people who tell me that personhood is the very same thing as just being alive. For so many people — mostly religious people as far as I can tell — the thing that makes you you is simply that you exist.
So, you were you when you were a day-old ball of cells and you’ll be you when you’re rotting in the ground. Being you is nothing particularly special and has nothing to do, apparently, with thinking that you’re you.
I think that’s weird. But, hey, that’s just me.
I’m spending the weekend trying to figure out if my grandfather attended the Vizhnitz “Beit Israel” yeshiva (pictured above) in his hometown of Vișeu or the Satmar yeshiva in nearby Sighet.
Stories in the family suggest the latter, but I can’t figure out why his parents would have sent him out of town when he could have remained at home.
This is part of a little side project of mine; I’ve just started working on a historical narrative about the first 35 years of my grandfather’s life.