Professional Sports: Another Opiate for the Masses

I’ll start by saying, I watched the Vikings game last night and I was into it. I’ve watched a few games this season, urged on by the throngs of die-hard vikings fans around me, and some old nostalgia toward Favre.  That being said, I haven’t been able to watch a sports event recently without this line from Noam Chomsky coming to mind regarding professional sports:

“It offers people something to pay attention to, that’s of no importance. That keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about.”

Now, I’ll be the first to say, I’m not immune to the draw, the entertainment and excitement involved in watching, or playing, a good game. I just finished reading a biography about Major Taylor, a black cyclist in 1900, and the most interesting thing about it was this competitive drive and spectacle of the race. I say all that to say, I don’t make this statement from the other side pointing my finger, rather I’m asking you to think through this with me.

Q: Does the media, professional sports and entertainment news, distract us from the important issues?

A Brief Post About Financial Stewardship

ps2Last spring, the church we go to was been doing a series on finances (Full disclosure: I’ve only heard two of the sermons in the series).

In all my time of attending church and listening to sermons (about 1997 till today), I’ve rarely heard a sermon that really lays out practical thoughts or ideas about money. It always boils down to being a “heart issue”, that is, it’s basically between you and God and that your heart is in the right place. Even if there is mention of the “tithe 10%” scriptures, it’s never issued as a command or standard in the church. Pastors rarely say “if your a Christian you should be giving away ten percent or more of your income,” and if they do it’s balanced or padded with “heart” talk

What I’m getting at is that it just doesn’t seem like there is much straight talk about finances in the church at all. I would love for a pastor to get up and say, even with qualifiers that it’s a “heart issue”, exactly how much their family’s cost of living is, and why they chose that amount and what financial stewardship looks like in their life. I’m wondering if others have heard sermons at all like that, or even close to that. (The close example I can think of is Ron Sider discussing the graduated tithe his family does at the end of Rich Christian’s in an Age of Hunger).

It reminds me of part of one of the finance sermons I heard last March. It was really good, I love the kind of stuff the pastor says. He went off about how big corporations have ripped off the grassroots origins of Hip Hop and used it just to make money. He’s tearing into how gangsta rap has affected both the urban centers and suburbs and a lot of “wickedness” is going down as those big corporations make money off the rap and the blame is placed on the artist and the urban culture. And then he says this:

“Nobody saying to Sony, “I’m not buying a PS3 because thae same company that makes PS3 is also pimping these kids and having them sign these contracts and making money off the stereotypes of black people. Now, I have a PS2 at home, which makes this kind of a complex statement. Just cause I failed at it don’t mean it’s not right!

Somebody has to set a standard, somebody has to set an example of what this righteousness with resources looks like.”

Now I missed the other sermons after that, and I don’t know him personally, so I’m not sure what he’s decided to do with his PS2. But, I do appreciate him being honest about it. And the point isn’t really to call out the pastor on this, but to say I really wish I’d see two things: 1) That kind of honesty and practical application of faith as it relates to finances/resources and 2) pastors, churches and communities that were going a step further and making collective decisions (or at least discussing them) regarding resources and choices in supporting brands, etc.

Q: Have you heard sermon’s or had mentors that laid out practical thoughts and application of faith regarding finances and resources?

[photo credit]

(P.S. Take the one minute survey to help me pick topics for 2010!)

Infographic Discussion: Healthcare

Once a week I’d like to post an image or infographic, without much commentary from myself, in hopes of evoking some discussion. I post lots of the random images and graphics and things I come across on my tumblr, but that’s not as conducive to discussion. I’ve seen this thing called “Wordless Wednesday” around the blogosphere, but I’ll probably be posting things with words usually. So, without further ado, here’s the first open discussion…
(From National Geographic, click to enlarge)

YouTubesday: Monkey King

Kicking off 2010 right with the return of YouTubesday. No promises it’ll be weekly, but I couldn’t help posting this sweet video of Jyoti Raju.

“A man who taught himself rock climbing and acrobatics to escape poverty in India as become so accomplished he’s been given the title “The Monkey King.” –Reuters

See Reuters video (couldn’t embed) for more details on the story

2009 Year in Review

No good blog would be complete without a year end review (or year beginning, I guess). Probably the best way to jump back on the blogging bandwagon is to reflect on where I’ve been the past year. Mid-2009 saw my blogging taper off quite a bit, but not before we had a few great discussions. Here’s a quick list of the Most Commented Posts (written in 2009, starting with most commented):

The blog also saw the launch and ruminations of many of the different things I’ve been doing this year:

Finally, here are some interesting stats about the year, and compared to previous years on the blog:

postsperyearI wrote just 121 posts this year, significantly less then previous years (most of those before June).

commentsperyearThere was also less commenting (940 comments), though on a post:comment ratio it was the best year,  averaging 7.7 comments per post (you .7 commenters know who you are).

Looking Toward 2010

So, what do you have to look forward to in 2010? Regular posting at least. I’m shooting for one thoughtful post a week (less thoughtful ones on an “as needed” basis). I’m also hoping to read 30 books this year, a more modest goal then 52 books in 2008, but also more practical with two toddlers running the house.

Your 2010 Resolution

The only thing I’d ask in return is that one of your 2010 resolutions be to stop by and comment more. If I only post once a week or so, can you resolve to stop by and add your thoughts a couple times a month? It’ll be a growing experience for both of us. I’d love to hear what your other 2010 Resolutions are, so stop by and leave a comment.