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Is Football a Sin? (Author says "yes" because Christians shouldn't try to triumph over others)
press release ^ | unkn | Pangaeus press

Posted on 02/03/2003 8:09:40 AM PST by mountaineer

DALLAS--In the wake of Superbowl XXXVII, there’s the pain of loss, the agony of post-game quarterbacking But the toughest fact to confront on Superbowl Monday may be that the whole business of sport is really a sin, from the Christian point of view, says Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D., author of many best-selling books on Christian beliefs and practices.

In his Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads--hailed by National Review’s literary editor Michael Potemra as "the best book I have yet seen on this subject"--Johnson reveals the surprising history of sport to clarify the story of Christ’s "Agony in the Garden" before the Crucifixion, an episode traditionally meditated on as part of the Rosary’s prayers.

The term "agony" is from the Greek word for sport, Johnson says; it’s applied to the internal struggle that Jesus felt before going to his suffering and death. That’s the essential struggle, the "good fight" of every Christian, but struggling with other people in sport is something else entirely. "I hate to be the one to say it, but the Church has always taught, from the Gospels, that any sport--any contention in which you try to triumph over somebody else--is completely opposed to everything that Christ teaches," he says.

It seems obvious when you put it that way, but it’s still a shocker. Sports fans always ask, "Are you serious?" and come up with all kinds of excuses about sportsmanship and teamwork and the like. Sorry, it won’t work, Johnson says, because sport is what it is--obviously--and there’s also a huge body of Christian literature that knocks down every pretext you can think of.

That’s because the Church worked so hard to remind Christians that they’re not supposed to go around hitting, fighting or tackling other people ("Turn the other cheek," remember?) and certainly not to try proving themselves better than others. St. Paul himself used the image of an athlete in his first letter to the Corinthians (9:24-27) when he catalogued everything that a Christian is not supposed to do. All of the Fathers of the Church preached fervently about the sinfulness of sport, and some even wrote whole books about it. Eventually the point got across and the stadiums fell into ruin, but it had taken 600 years. "Evidently the early Christians were even denser about it than we are now," Johnson says.

Of course, those games were often fights to the death, with hundreds of human beings slaughtered in gladiatorial combats or even footraces. But it wasn’t just the bloody murders that the Church objected to. Long before anybody gets killed, the Fathers of the Church said, sport always involves the sins of strife, superstition, sedition, pride, vainglory, contention--"how many ways do we need to prove that not one of the things associated with these sports is pleasing to God?" the 2nd-century convert Tertullian asked. No sport, he said, fails to inflict spiritual damage, because in sport there is always "eagerness, which adds spice to pleasure. Where there’s eagerness there’s the taking of sides. Where there’s the taking of sides, there’s rage, and bile and anger and pain and all the other things that follow from them, which like them are incompatible with spiritual discipline."

After the stadia closed down, sport still erupted informally among the less-educated classes, but the Church was always there to remind them. By the time St. Thomas Aquinas catalogued the vices that sport expresses in his 13th-century Summa, sport was widely understood as a violation of Christian principles of life, and in fact as sin.

(Excerpt) Read more at pangaeus.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: aquinas; bookreview; football; notredame; superbowl
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1 posted on 02/03/2003 8:09:40 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer
Some people have WAY too much time on their hands. He needs to go hook up with the SUV kooks.
2 posted on 02/03/2003 8:11:25 AM PST by Paul Atreides
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To: hobbes1; dubyaismypresident; CholeraJoe; VRWCmember; TheGrimReaper
pinging sinners. REPENT!
3 posted on 02/03/2003 8:12:09 AM PST by xsmommy
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To: mountaineer

4 posted on 02/03/2003 8:13:37 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: mountaineer
Isn't this the same mindset as the mullahs in Afghanistan?
5 posted on 02/03/2003 8:13:38 AM PST by theDentist (So..... This is Virginia..... where are all the virgins?)
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To: xsmommy
Praise the Lord, and pass the pigskin.
6 posted on 02/03/2003 8:13:42 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer
It's a GAME therefore PRETEND. When we start beheading the losers he can complain.
7 posted on 02/03/2003 8:14:20 AM PST by Hawkeye's Girl
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To: mountaineer
Cool! ND should change their logo to "The Sinnin' Irish"
8 posted on 02/03/2003 8:14:28 AM PST by Hegewisch Dupa (best way to win over some of those fans of the Miami U. Criminals, too)
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To: mountaineer
hold muh sins accountable alert!
9 posted on 02/03/2003 8:14:39 AM PST by ewing
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To: mountaineer
Some things are permissible for some that aren't for others...all depends on their walk with God.

For me...I'll continue to watch football. :)

10 posted on 02/03/2003 8:15:18 AM PST by BureaucratusMaximus (if we're not going to act like a constitutional republic...lets be the best empire we can be...)
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To: mountaineer
If football is sin, then I dont ever want to be perfect....

And no, football is sport and not a "sin". In sports, there is usually a triumphed and a victor.

2 Timothy 2:5 “Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.”

Sounds like an "ok" by me from the Bible itself.
11 posted on 02/03/2003 8:15:19 AM PST by smith288
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To: mhking
American Taliban alert!
12 posted on 02/03/2003 8:15:27 AM PST by ewing
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To: Hegewisch Dupa
hairshirt for you, sinner!
13 posted on 02/03/2003 8:16:01 AM PST by xsmommy
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To: Paul Atreides

14 posted on 02/03/2003 8:16:26 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: xsmommy
to match my hairy palms!
15 posted on 02/03/2003 8:17:46 AM PST by Hegewisch Dupa (must open classroom soon - I've already had to backpedal twice today)
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To: xsmommy
I wonder if this wonder-monk looks anything like this guy:

(Click on the picture)
16 posted on 02/03/2003 8:17:56 AM PST by VRWCmember
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To: mountaineer
if football is a sin i guess us hockey players are REALLY in trouble lol
17 posted on 02/03/2003 8:18:35 AM PST by MetalHeadConservative35 (All Your Base Are Belong To Us)
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To: mountaineer
If defeating an opponent in a game is a sin, wouldn't that make checkers a sin?
18 posted on 02/03/2003 8:18:58 AM PST by Paul Atreides
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To: smith288
Didn't the apostle Paul use sports analogies or metaphors on more than one occasion? "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
19 posted on 02/03/2003 8:19:38 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer
I've been known to curse while watching football games. I suppose it does lead to sin.
20 posted on 02/03/2003 8:19:41 AM PST by csvset (Man, what kind of @#$%^*) call was that?)
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To: mountaineer
Puleeeeeeeeeeze.
21 posted on 02/03/2003 8:20:17 AM PST by lodwick
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To: mountaineer
He thinks football is not Christian? Sheesh!

I wonder what he thinks of a real blood sport like politics...????
22 posted on 02/03/2003 8:20:25 AM PST by 11th Earl of Mar
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To: deathscythex
hockey players go straight to hell, do not pass GO, do not collect $200....
23 posted on 02/03/2003 8:20:43 AM PST by xsmommy (i am a hockey mom, do i have to go too?)
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To: mountaineer
"how many ways do we need to prove that not one of the things associated with these sports is pleasing to God?" the 2nd-century convert Tertullian asked.
In his final days, Tertullian was an obsessive ascetic.
24 posted on 02/03/2003 8:20:54 AM PST by eastsider
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To: mountaineer
Makes Christians look as stupid as Mooslims, with all their silly, ignorant rules and superstitions. And that would put Christians pretty near the bottom, since you only get to be a Moo if you're not quite stupid enough to be a Scientologist.
25 posted on 02/03/2003 8:21:02 AM PST by Hank Rearden (Bringing you grumpy bon mots since early '99. You're welcome.)
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To: mountaineer
Going to a football game rather than going to Church is a Sin. It is the sin of idolatry.

26 posted on 02/03/2003 8:21:23 AM PST by ColdSteelTalon
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To: Paul Atreides
That's what I was thinking. What about chess? Curling? Ballroom Dancing?
27 posted on 02/03/2003 8:21:43 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: mountaineer
There's no doubt that most of the earliest Christians (all but the antinomian gnostics) and the Patristic Fathers would've considered athletics as sinful. Not only for their competitive nature, but also due to the frivolity and eroticism of such public spectacles. But, then, hardly anyone follows Christian precepts to any meaningful extent anymore, so who cares?
28 posted on 02/03/2003 8:21:51 AM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: xsmommy
I saw this thread and thought "What kind of idiot could possibly come up with that idea?" I bet the guy also thinks it is a sin to drive an SUV, and the US shouldn't kick saddam hussein's butt out of Iraq.
29 posted on 02/03/2003 8:22:09 AM PST by VRWCmember
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To: xsmommy
lol ok...um...so does that mean i gotta repent every time i maim somebody into the boards (did a bit of that yesterday)
30 posted on 02/03/2003 8:22:22 AM PST by MetalHeadConservative35 (All Your Base Are Belong To Us)
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To: mountaineer
UN-FREAKING-BELIEVEABLE!

Why is it that they are so afraid of any form of competition? And the fact that this comes from a conservative journal is even more perplexing....

31 posted on 02/03/2003 8:23:00 AM PST by rightwingreligiousfanatic (HHD)
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To: VRWCmember
the world is crawling with idiots, vast. sad but true!
32 posted on 02/03/2003 8:23:41 AM PST by xsmommy
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To: mountaineer
It's really the cheerleaders, isn't it?
33 posted on 02/03/2003 8:25:59 AM PST by angkor
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To: deathscythex
i guess i have to make sure my 11 year old hockey-playing son hits the confessional this weekend!
34 posted on 02/03/2003 8:26:39 AM PST by xsmommy
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To: ColdSteelTalon
Going to a football game rather than going to Church is a Sin.

Certainly, Christians shouldn't skip church, but the author doesn't address this issue. To him, the very nature of sports is sinful, because it is competition.

35 posted on 02/03/2003 8:30:05 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: ColdSteelTalon
Agreed. But Amish think photographs are idolatry too.

Making Superbowl sunday a religious experience where people get excited for a game could be classified easily as idoltry. If people could transfer the excitement about the game to excitement about the goodness and power of God then we would be better off in my humble opinion.
36 posted on 02/03/2003 8:32:14 AM PST by smith288
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To: mountaineer; hchutch; Poohbah; rdb3
"I....like....quarterbacks eatin' dirt!"

...and those twins!"

37 posted on 02/03/2003 8:32:56 AM PST by mhking
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To: mountaineer
Damn those Tampa Bay Buccaneers!!!!
38 posted on 02/03/2003 8:33:14 AM PST by Temple Owl
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To: xsmommy
forgive me father for i have sinned...a man hit me with his stick so i slammed him against the boards....lol ...im just waiting for someone to go off on me for this one
39 posted on 02/03/2003 8:33:37 AM PST by MetalHeadConservative35 (All Your Base Are Belong To Us)
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To: mountaineer
Is that a pic pre-renovation of ND Stadium?

I thought that 'Touchdown Jesus' was difficult to see with the upper tier of seats..


40 posted on 02/03/2003 8:35:13 AM PST by ewing
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To: smith288
q: Why don't the Amish make love standing up?
a: It might lead to dancing...
41 posted on 02/03/2003 8:35:33 AM PST by Norman Conquest
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To: mountaineer
You can't tell me God isn't a football fan. No football? That would be hell.
42 posted on 02/03/2003 8:35:51 AM PST by Dan from Michigan (I feel the need...for speed!!!!)
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To: ColdSteelTalon
No one mentioned that. The author indicates that participating in or watching and enjoying sports is a "sin".

"All things are permissable, few things are profitable." It is that sort of tolerance, and recognition by Paul that the Spirit would lead people to diferrent manifestations of their faith that contributed to the church have a broad appeal 1900 years ago. Pronouncements like this are little more than bloviating by persons long on Law, short on Grace.

Sort of the same the mindset that I have seen other asthetic christians arguing that sex between husband and wife is

a) For making kids
b) To keep each other from "sinning"
c) Definately not to be enjoyed or anticipated, rather thought of as a duty.

I'll pass on asthetic Christianity...
43 posted on 02/03/2003 8:36:17 AM PST by L,TOWM (Liberals, The Other White Meat)
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To: mountaineer
In a nation which is suffering a health crisis in large part due to insufficient physical activity, preaching against sports is the LAST thing we need to be doing. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (if you're a believer) and letting your body fall apart can't be a good thing. The apostle Paul's "bodily exercise profiteth little" was addressed to a preindustrial culture where nearly everyone got enough exercise just doing their jobs -- clearly, that's not the case for most of us today.

Granted, full impact football isn't an exercise that can be sustained for life. But if 40 or 50 year old football fans would get out and play a game of touch-football or flag-football a couple of times a week, the nation would be a lot healthier, and they'd also enjoy the "spectator" experience a lot more. It's also something they can do with their sons, but that's a whole 'nother issue.

If not football, there's plenty of other sports to choose from. I prefer running, myself -- and when I was younger the occasional race provided a good competitive "push" to improve myself in ways that still benefit me today. So I find it difficult to proclaim competition as "evil" -- I think it's more logical to say that every human instinct is a creation of God and that all of them (including the competitive instinct) are right if they are exercised in the morally right context.

44 posted on 02/03/2003 8:36:19 AM PST by Rytwyng
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To: ewing
I have no idea. I try not to think about ND too much! Here's another pic of "Touchdown Jesus":

45 posted on 02/03/2003 8:39:48 AM PST by mountaineer
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To: Paul Atreides
If defeating an opponent in a game is a sin, wouldn't that make checkers a sin?

It would go farther than that and actually I can see socialist/communist fodder here. You shouldn't get that promotion over Fred as that would be a triumph, you shouldn't send your kids to a better school than Phil, you shouldn't drive a nicer car, have nicer stuff, basically any and all competition in which there is a winner and a loser even when the competition is not formal. After all life itself is a great competition.

46 posted on 02/03/2003 8:40:50 AM PST by amused
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To: Dan from Michigan
T. Jesus probably waiting for the Four Horsemen..


47 posted on 02/03/2003 8:41:38 AM PST by ewing
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To: mountaineer

48 posted on 02/03/2003 8:44:11 AM PST by ewing
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49 posted on 02/03/2003 8:45:50 AM PST by ewing
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To: amused
This attitude that competition and winning are bad is fairly common. How many youth sports leagues have we heard of where the kids aren't allowed to keep score in the interest of enhancing their self-esteem (but most of them do, anyway, because it matters to them whether they won or lost)?
50 posted on 02/03/2003 8:50:19 AM PST by mountaineer
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