Here in our small Oklahoma town, we have three or four high school boys currently on crutches. Football injuries. When they are my age, will old injuries haunt them?

A recent study> strongly suggests that former NFL players have a much higher risk for dementia than the general male population because of more blows to the head.

So, once again I am thinking over my relationship to football. Can I in good conscience, as a Christian, be a fan of the sport? I here put one of my previous posts on instant replay.

I want to pose a question that many will regard as heretical, especially south of the Mason-Dixon line, and that may render me unable to return to Texas. Question: Can a Christian remain faithful and participate in or watch football?

I know that lots of players and coaches at all levels are outspoken Christians. I know that many football games in the south are opened with prayer regardless of the courts. But the question is not Do Christians participate in and watch football, but rather can we do this and be consistent in the Faith?

Raised in Missouri, I grew up a Chiefs fan and a University of Missouri fanatic. On Saturdays I lived and died with MU and on Sundays I rooted for Len Dawson and company as though the fate of the world hung in the balance (and hated the Raiders as if they were the forces of the antichrist). In elementary school we played football at recess (tackle if we could get away with it, touch if the teacher on duty was paying attention). I was not and am not particularly athletic, but enjoyed playing football when I got to Jr. High and on for a while.

So, what causes me to ask this question?

Injuries. Especially the life-long pain most veterans deal with. Rick Reilly reminded me of this fact in his essay for the Nov 13 Sports Illustrated. In the context of talking about Tiki Barber Reilly told story after story of seeing NFL former greats hobbling stiffly through life, enabled to go on only by pain pills--Butkus, Otto, Deirdorf, and others. Essay here, subscription required. The harsh truth is that playing pro football will damage your body such that you will live with pain and impaired ability for the rest of your life. Some research results here.

You are a Christian, and someone comes up to you and offers to entertain you for money by jumping from a one-story building to the ground, again and again and again. Do you pay him the money to watch him abuse his body? Or, do you decline, and tell him that his body is entrusted to him by God to be used wisely?

More wisdom from Australian Archbishop George Pell. The issue is women in combat, evidently an idea being floated in Australia. The Cardinal is against it, offering reasoning both traditional and practical. Read the whole Essay here.

Excerpts and comments:

But do we really want to expose those who are the source of life and love in human communities to the horror of the battlefield, just so the defence bureaucracy can meet recruitment targets and feminists can tick another item off their equality agenda? This is not a peculiarly Roman Catholic statement. In most cultures throughout human history women have been regarded as somehow linked to the sacred by virtue of the ability to bring forth new life. In most human cultures over the history of humanity, men have functioned as the agents of death (warriors and hunters) and women as agents of life (childbirth and nursing). It seems to me we should not blithely ignore millenia of tradition without seriously considering the consequences. Only a kind of bias toward modernity, a narcissism that only we know the ultimate truth about human beings that our ancestors did not know, a hubris that only now has the human race reached wisdom, would allow us to discard long-standing practice without compelling argument and evidence in our favor.

Many who return from battle physically untouched often suffer from post-traumatic stress for years with devastating consequences. The effects on children whose mothers have been crippled by PTS after combat does not bear considering. The Cardinal, of course, is saying that we must indeed consider this reality if we are to be prudent at all.

Western soldiers taken prisoner or hostage on the battlefield can expect little mercy in today's wars. Women combat soldiers could expect even less, especially if they fell into the hands of misogynistic enemies like the Taliban or the militias in Somalia and Sudan. There is a word for those who ignore hard reality when it does not fit their ideals--delusional

Archbishop Pell also points out the common sense observations any one can make about boys and girls. Growing boys play rough, give and receive physical pain in play and in fights, and tend to be less sensitive emotionally than girls. My sister played with dolls. I liked blowing up dolls and other toys with firecrackers.

Our military is under similar pressure to make quotas, and to conform to modern feminist sensibilities.
Six members of the United States Supreme Court are Roman Catholic: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. (I don't know how many are practicing Roman Catholics.)

Red Mass before Court Session. from Newsmax.
Amazing. In pre-Civil War America Irish immigrants regularly faced discrimination, and earlier even riots, mostly because they were Roman Catholics. In the same period Protestant organizations raised money for missions in the West by arguing that if Protestants did not make converts on the frontier first, then the Romans were sure to do so, with dire and deadly results for the nation.

In the 1960 presidential election, JFK's Roman Catholicism was an issue.

Several questions come to mind, for which I have no answers. What is it about growing up Roman Catholic that increases the odds of becoming a Supreme Court Justice? Which Justices think with a coherent Roman Catholic world-view and how does that affect their opinions? Which religious traditions are under-represented, compared to the U.S. population?
In the last few years Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy both have died. Pastors of large churches, Baptist and Presbyterian (PCA) respectively, they were culture warriors on the national scene. Fighting for a "Christian America" on every front, including political, future historians will be assessing the impact of these men, and the New Religious Right, for years to come.

Their churches, and many of the ministries they started continue, though with changes.

Controversy at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church from the South Florida Sun-Sentinal.

The two sons of Jerry Falwell now lead Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University. From USA TODAY.

While these two articles point out some of the changes made under the leadership of Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road, Jerry Falwell at Liberty, and Tullian Tchividjian at Coral Ridge, a significant point is missed in both. These three men are representative of the new generation of evangelical leaders who are not taking up leadership in political and cultural crusades fought by their predecessors to change institutions and structures. Instead, all three are following a philosophy of changing the world through changing individuals.
Information from the Pew Forum, including names and brief information on board members.

On Feb. 5, 2009, two weeks after taking office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The new office retains the basic administrative structure of President George W. Bush's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The central White House office and satellite offices in 12 government agencies work together to encourage partnerships between the government and religious and community groups for the delivery of social services.

The White House office, led by executive director Joshua DuBois, has identified four primary goals:

”Connecting faith-based and community groups to economic recovery;
”Promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperation;
”Encouraging responsible fatherhood and healthy families;
”Reducing unintended pregnancies and the need for abortions, strengthening maternal and child health, and encouraging adoptions
A while back I did some posts on Distributism. In a nutshell, Distributism is an economic/social theory that advocates keeping the "means of production", to borrow a phrase, as widely distributed as possible. Such a position is not Socialist, since government does not plan and manage the economy, nor Capitalist, since concentration of means in individual hands is not allowed.

Tocq has provided this link to an interesting essay that challenges the assumption that Distributist economics could not work in the modern world.

I try to live like a Distributist-favoring smaller independent businesses over chains; and have belonged to coops, but still have doubts that a modern economy can operate in this fashion.

Chuck Colson has an article on health care reform in Christianity Today. In favor of a reform, he raises important questions, and urges Christians to participate in the debate.

Here is his next-to-last paragraph:

Christians have to reassert that there are transcendent standards of right and wrong. While some kinds of heroic care may be withheld in hopeless cases, it is wrong to intentionally take a life. Second, we must champion care for the poor and the weak. Bringing health-care reform to the forefront is the first step. But prudence—a classical virtue that looks objectively at complex situations and applies moral truth—is the third concern. How do we best allocate limited resources?

A while back I posted some considerations on end-of-life issues, which I now repeat.

My pastoral work this week has me thinking about life and death and modern medicine: when to fight death and when to accept it.

Here is my view, for what its worth.

If I were diagnosed with cancer, and told I needed extensive chemo and radiation, I would ask the following questions: what are the odds that the treatments would bring me to a state of being cancer free? if I take the treatments, how much longer would I live than if I refused treatment? if I take the treatments, what would the extra time be like?

If I were told that the treatments would give me a better than even chance of becoming cancer free, then I would accept treatment. If I were told that the odds were good that treatment would add years to my life, years that could be productive, then I would accept treatment. On the other hand, if I were told that there was almost no way treatment could make me cancer free, that treatment probably would add minimal time to my life, and that this time would not be productive, I would refuse treatment. These decisions I would make as a Christian.

Christian wisdom on this issue gives me two guidelines for my decision making.

On the one hand, I am a steward of my own body and its health, the one to whom my body and its health actually belongs is Jesus Christ. My life is not my own to destroy by active measures or by neglect. My purpose in life is to glorify God and work for the Kingdom. If treatment has good hope of a cure, or of adding productive years to my life, then I am under obligation to take treatment. (Scriptures to read include 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.")

On the other hand, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;" Ecclesiastes 3:1-2. None of us are going to live forever as we now are. Unless Jesus returns sooner, all of us reading this will die. As Christians we should regard our own death as did Paul--"for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," Philippians 1:21.

As a Christian I am not free to take my own life or to neglect my own health, including neglecting treatment that may give me health. But, I am under no obligation to try to prolong life merely for the sake of avoiding death. I believe these things to be true when we must make decisions for those incapable of making their own.
Gateway Pundit has the story on the Muslim convert who gunned down two "hometown" recruiters in Arkansas.

My guess is that he, like the four recently convicted in the synagogue bombing plot, is a convert to Islam who is taking his duties seriously of extending the Realm of Submission by any means possible, just like the Q'uran and Muhammad teach.
An interesting contest now in Connecticut between certain legislators and the Roman Catholic church and allies.

A Bill currently under consideration would mandate lay boards for Roman Catholic parish corporations, with the Archbishop or Bishop being an ex officio member without vote.

Full text of the bill here. Status here.

This Bill has provoked strong opposition from the Archdiocese of Hartford.

In a letter to parishioners the Archbishop wrote that the bill "directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our faith," because "[i]t forces a radical reorganization of the legal, financial, and administrative structure of our parishes" and "disconnects parishes from their Pastors and their Bishop."

Wizbang reports and responds to this bill, urging readers to contact the Bill's sponsors and give them what for. One of the links is to the Family Institute of Connecticut, a conservative political action group opposing the Bill.

On the one hand, the First Amendment, as it has been interpretted, would seem to forbid such government restructuring of a church. After all, the Roman Catholic Church is hiearchical, power and authority flows from the top down, not the bottom up. The Shepherds--pastors, bishops, archbishops, pope--are decision makers, not simply advisors or persuaders.

On the other hand, the state has the responsibility to establish adequate safeguards regarding legal corporations and their activities. The Church does not exist in a vacuum. Congregations, parishes, and denominations carry on activities that are covered by civil law.

If this Bill passes, I am sure it will be challenged in court. It will be interesting to see just where the courts would draw the line between necessary regulation of a non-profit corporation, and undue interference in the basic structure of a religion. My guess is that this Bill goes too far in giving power to laity in a religion that believes Christ established a hierarchy.
Only God is God, and beside him there is none other. Only God is absolute, omniscient, and omnipotent. Only God is to be accepted without qualification.

Recently I have heard several conservative commentators speak of the Free Market, and laissez-faire Capitalism, as though it were God. Its decrees to be accepted without question.


For example, you can't be a social conservative and believe in the Free Market absolutely, or in laissez-faire Capitalism. Prostitution, in market terms, is simply product meeting demand. Producers of child pornography have found a demand, and create a product to meet that demand. Abortionists likewise. Hit-men are members of the Service Sector with a different skill set than plumbers. The free maket of laissez-faire Capitalism has no conscience, no moral code, no sense of Right and Wrong. Morality must be imposed on the Market from outside the Market System.

Recently, Mark Davis, a radio host I greatly enjoy and respect, argued that Energy efficiency should be left strictly up to the Market. If consumers want to buy fuel-efficient cars, then they should be allowed to. If buyers want horsepower and size, then they should be able to buy those cars. Car companies should be able to build and sell whatever the consumer wants to buy. These decisions should be left up to the market. His thought was--you don't mess with the free market.

Here are two reasons not to accept the decree of the Free Market, as though it were God, on the energy issue.

First, energy consumption in the United States is closely linked to world affairs, particularly our relationship with the Middle East, and all its instability. Dependence on oil puts our economy at the mercy of OPEC, jeopardizing our national independence. Reducing U.S. demand is a sensible goal. We either can wait until gasoline once more reaches $4 per gallon, and stays there--not good for our economy--or, we can take steps like mandating fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. As C.S. Lewis remarked in another context, the French Revolution should have taught us that the behavior aristocrats enjoy may not be the behavior conducive to the survival of aristocracy. In other words, the behavior free citizens enjoy may not be the behavior conducive to the survival of freedom.

Second, the Free Market tends not to reward good stewardship of the environment. Why do you think almost all plastic products sold in the U.S. are made in China? Because is is expensive to manufacture plastics in an environmentally responsible way, we outsource production to a country that is willing to destroy its environment for economic gain. Automobiles are hard on the environment. Increasing efficiency in a responsible way is a reasonable goal. Such a goal must be decreed from outside the market.

Regarding any economic system as absolute seems to me a form of idolatry.