There is an immense amount of football on the TV this month and the ‘God’ or Jesus of Football players continues to perplex me. But recently I have found some relief! A month ago something happened that I can not stop thinking about.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson dropped a game-winning touchdown in the end zone Sunday in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That night he used Twitter to say the most honest thing I have ever read!
I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…
I can not tell you how refreshing it is to hear Football Jesus get it trouble! He never gets blamed for anything. He gets all of the credit when things go well and none of the blame when things go wrong. This drives me absolutely crazy. This was like the Twitter version of the Psalms of lament where the psalmist cries out “where are you God?”
So Stevie Johnson pulls back the curtain and exposes the wizard! In one fell swoop he says the thing that we all were thinking and were too afraid to say.
On a little side note: have you ever noticed how we play the ‘God card’ in ways that are not exactly consistent? If someone who you like (or think lives well) gets cancer, you may say that the Devil is attacking them. If someone who you do not like (or do not think lives well) gets cancer, you may say that God is punishing them. It is a weird form of theo-poetics. We think that God is against people that we do not like and that the Devil is against people that we like. When someone we like dies, I never hear anyone say “Jesus must have been mad at him.”
I am not OK with this view of God. I will be honest – I hate it. I have spent that last three years on my podcast deconstructing it.
Back to the main point: So when Stevie Johnson blames the God of Touchdowns – who usually gets the credit for people catching touchdowns but escapes all the blame from those who drop them – and it all comes up equal.
I have to admit, I hate that ‘God’ gets all the credit when things go well and none of the blame when things do not go well. So I am thrilled when someone blames Football Jesus when things go wrong. Not that I am glad when things go wrong… I wish that they did not… but they do and THAT is the point. Things go wrong! If we blame God or the Devil when they do, we saying something essential about the universe. Is that what we mean to do?
It is not what I want to do any longer. I am glad for moments like Stevie Johnson’s tweet – while they may seem shallow or backward to some – they are theologically intriguing to me.
I am not a fan of crediting God for everything nor am I wanting to blame God for everything.
I want to get away from the Puppet-master view of God, the ATM prosperity gospel God and, while we are at it, the removed clock-maker view of God. These superstitious pre-modern views and these mechanistic modern views do not work. That is the beauty of pop-theology in sports! It helps us see the logical end of something boiled down too far.