Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jesus Fails to Convert Extra Point

Look Like a Fool - Matt Maher (mp3)
Seriously - Erin O'Donnell (mp3)

We made the national news. Naturally it was about Jesus.

Here's my Cliff's Notes version for anyone who doesn't know: A football team in North Georgia has, since the days when Adam and Eve rode around on velociraptors, run through signs with Bible verses on them at the start of every game. This tradition is older than the Declaration of Independence. Anyway, apparently one woman -- one single stinkin' woman -- who attends law school at Liberty University (which I guess North Georgia people will start calling "Liberal University") thought she should inform the powers that be that said signs were illegal, as they signified the promotion and condoning of a particular religion by a government-run body, namely the school. Our local paper had two of the banners on their front page as well as a story along the lines of "Spirit of Jesus Beaten Mercilessly With Whips By School Bureaucrats," which of course stirred up so much vitriol that it was guaranteed to be on the front page for several more days.

Last Wednesday night, we hadn't hardly started choir practice -- yes, I'm in our church choir, and yes, you can stop laughing now -- when the entire room started "discussing" the ramifications of this news. I would like to offer a loosely-reconstructed version of the "discussion" held at my church choir practice below, but first I feel I need to describe the environment and the cast of characters involved a little.

Wednesday choir practices are held in a long room with risers, with the 15-25 participants sitting in their assigned areas and the director and organist in front of us. Men on the left. Tenors in front. Women on the right. Sopranos in back. Our choir has exactly three regular members under the age of 45. We have another four who range between 45-55. The remainder of the choir -- probably 70% -- is over 60 and either retired or should be. (I don't say this condescendingly; but the age of the people involved and the fact they are regular church members in the South are all vital to the discussion that ensued.)

LFO HS Music Teacher walks in. He's one of the three under-45s in our choir.

OLD CROTCHETY ALTO #1: Ohhhh (LFOMT), I'm soooo sorry to hear about what happened at your school with those poor cheerleaders.

LFOHSMT (frowning and shaking head): I know I know, it's just awful.

OCA #2: You know, nobody would complain if them football boys ran through signs with Koran verses on them.

OCA #1: Or something Hindu!

(Nodding and agreement across the room. Billy looks up from his choir folder to see if anyone is nodding in an ironic or insincere manner. They are not. He returns to flipping through his choir folder.)

CHOIR DIRECTOR: Our country has strayed so far from God. He must be so ashamed of us. So so ashamed.

(More nodding. Billy thinks of his father-in-law's timeless observation that he was "The Last American Heterosexual Choir Director." Ohhhh what these poor ladies don't know.)

OCA #1: What did those poor cheerleaders do? You'da thought they gone and killed somebody.

OCA #3: It's just a Proverb, people. Really. Does it hurt that bad to have to read a Proverb?

LFOHSMT: Well the kids had a prayer rally this morning that was truly amazing. Must've been more than a hundred kids showed up early before school to pray together over this. I've never seen anything like it.

CHOIR DIRECTOR: Christians are at their best when they're persecuted.

(More nodding. Billy wonders why he didn't down a few beers before attending practice. Oh wait. Maybe he did.)

50-SOMETHING BEST SOPRANO: Don'tcha just wanna know who called that principal? Don'tcha wonder who thought it was so awful that they'd report it? ("Amen" "No kidding" "Poor soul") I pray for that person's soul, I really do. Their one act could keep unknown numbers from ever knowing Jesus. ("MMmhmm" "You got it") Just don't know how the Lord will respond to that when she has her day.

CHOIR DIRECTOR: We're in a sad place when you're in more trouble for saying the name Jesus than you are for wearing your pants below your butt.

OCA #2: Or cussing at your teacher! ("Sad place" "Amen")

60-SOMETHING BASS (to his friend and fellow 60-Something Bass, as the women and choir director continue talking): You think UT's offensive coordinator will be there next year?

60SBass #2: If they keep playing like they did Saturday, I don't know. But that Crompton fella is probably most of the problem.

60SBass #1: That poor boy couldn't pass gas right.

(Billy chuckles. Oh c'mon, it was kinda funny.)

CHOIR DIRECTOR: OK, let's get to next Sunday's songs before we get so upset we can't sing...

----- END SCENE -----

Just for the record, I've searched pretty thoroughly, and I can't find a single example of a high school football team in the South running through a banner with words from the Koran written on it. I haven't even seen a team run through a banner with quotes from Sun Tzu's The Art of War written on it, which would be a helluva lot more appropriate for the kind of mentality and approach most high school football coaches have than anything Jesus said.

(And yes, some scholars believe Jesus might have been the first to say "Push 'em back, shove 'em back, waaaaay back," but until we can find the Dead Sea Scroll to prove it, it will remain the subject of intense debate.)

Mostly I just enjoyed this story because, for once, "poor cheerleaders" earned pity not for being too popular, not from struggling with eating disorders, and not from having sex with too many people before they graduate, but because they can't dot the "I" in their Bible verses with big hearts, hearts designed to remind those icky Jews in the stands that they might well be going to hell unless they cheer for LFO... and JC.

Which stands for Jesus College, home of the Protestant Impalers.

POSTSCRIPT: They also released the name of the woman who "reported" this illegal activity to administrators. I'm honestly dying to know how many good God-fearing Christians either called or wrote this woman to say any number of threatening or vulgar or demeaning things to her. Yes, I bet a few sent nice brief notes saying they were praying for her, but I also bet she got some nasty stuff.


Goofytakemyhand said...

What... No Summer Girls by LFO?

"You come from Georgia where the peaches grow
They drink lemonade and speak real slow"

How sad I can still quote that musical abomination ten years later.

Ira Rabinowitz said...

I wonder how many non Christians there are at LFO? My guess is not many because all the icky Jews and Buddhists send their kids to private schools. That choir of yours, do they wear white robes with hoods?

Hank said...

I have not followed this story very closely, so I apologize if I am just picking up on the obvious. The woman who reported the sign goes is a law student at Liberty? Jerry Falwell's school and one of the most influential law schools in the Bush administration? Did she bring it up because she knew that it would raise a stink and turn people against "liberals." I would think that they would run her out of school if she was sincere.

Bob said...

How about that prayer before the Baylor game? That ain't legit, is it?

AngryTockstar said...

I assumed that the prayer before the Baylor game was totally an, "IN YOUR FACE, PUBLIC SCHOOLS!"

But I could be wrong. Why has no one else (besides Billy) brought up the point that running through Bible verses is stupid? I mean, even if it was legal, it demonstrates some serious dumbassery. Jesus doesn't care about your offensive line, nor does Allah, and Buddha DEFINITELY doesn't give a crap.

troutking said...

Well said, Tockstar. It's exactly the point Jon Meacham brought up in his book about the founding fathers: separation of church and state was at least in part designed to prevent church from being debased in exactly this way!

Interestingly, my word verfication right below this is "jewaling." How does the computer know? Is the WOPR from WarGames running this thing? It's gone from giving up on tic tac toe to on-line religious identification in only 24 years? Good work, Joshua.

Anonymous said...

Sort of reminds me of the Taliban...but without the big heavy beards and AK47s. And I think they play with a real animal carcass instead of a football. But I bet if they did play our brand of football, they'd run through verses from their holy book too. Who wouldn't?!