Sports

Eddie the Eagle Edwards and the Power of Myth

We would die inside if we did not give our all. Maybe that should be our life mantra. All of us.

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The Media Thought OU Would Ride In On a Scooter – Instead It Was A Schooner

Many Okies touted bravely that our beloved Sooners would represent in the Sugar Bowl. Privately many of us doubted. The media had us believing we were riding into Bayou Country on a scooter. No way the Sooners could stop the Tide from rolling. McCarron was too good. The Tide D was too stout.

Vegas made money on those who bought the schtick. But, we made it to Aspen!

Instead of the scooter it was a Schooner!

Jim Carey Meets the Sugar Bowl or, How Paul Littleton Views the Matchup

Later this evening the Sooners will play the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. I am not making any predictions except that my brother Paul’s Facebook Page may blow up about 10:30 p.m. CST. Many an Alabama fan will race over to ask what was he thinking when he suggested Alabama give up yesterday.

We are indeed Sooner fans – we Littletons. It does apply that we are Sooner born and Sooner bred and when we die we will be Sooner dead. But, most of us like to temper our enthusiasm with a little rationality. The truth is I did not give the Sooners much of a chance to beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys. But as someone put it, “This is Bedlam.” I was happy with the outcome. I will be cheering the Black and Orange tomorrow evening when they play Mizzou in the Cotton Bowl.

For now I leave you with what must have inspired Paul to go all in with rollicking, inciting posts about the beat down OU will put on Alabama tonight. By the way, I hop he is right. I just think he has gone a little Jim Carey on us.

Don’t Blame Musburger – An Addendum

I told you I should have left it alone. ESPN helped us understand the story behind Musburger’s exclamations about Ms. Webb. They noted,

“We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test.  However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”

That clears it up. Someone forgot to tell Musburger to focus on the storyline.

The real reason it may have been better to leave the story alone is all on me. Running several late morning errands yesterday gave me time to think more about the incident that has been kept alive via viral video and Ms. Webb’s growing Twitter followers. Yesterday I wrote,

I am reminded of the sociological work, Guyland. The author argues female identity in our culture is cheapened as it flows through the male. If you have daughters, I would give it a read. I learned about the book several years go via Joe Thorn. Some will point to the Bible as source material to justify just such a move – that is, female identity formation is derivative through the male. The problem is what male, which male? The thinking surely follows that good Bible believing people cannot allow the neo-Freudian feminists any room to point out the way in which our culture, even in our churches, views childhood development has been deeply scarred by male only control groups out of which Freud drew his conclusions. If we really want to turn to the Sacred Text, we still must work through the Apostle Paul’s summary in Galatians 3 without the lens that explains away identity implications as he writes, “there is neither male nor female,” our identity is formed in our understanding of the Imago Dei. It is silly to think such work results in androgyny. That is sheer pandering.

There are subtle ways we perpetuate that female identity is derivative through the male. I write to confess my guilt. A personal story illustrates.

I planned several gifts for Patty for her milestone birthday last Friday. One involved securing the services of a landscape artist. One of our friends told us about Heather. I called to enlist her services and told her it was a birthday present for my wife. My hope was the first appointment would be a surprise. Extenuating circumstances forced me to re-schedule. The hope of a surprise was dashed.

When I first spoke to Heather on the phone I asked if she was a well-known figure’s wife. She acknowledged that she was. For the next few minutes she told me about her business and how the process would result in a potential transformation of the yard. I told her I wanted to hire her and we set the appointment. Innocent, right? Not so fast.

What dawned on me yesterday as I drove from stop to stop was how I had diminished a person by first identifying them through another. I realize we often do this to make connection. I could fall back on the fact that I was not sure I called the right person so I asked my question for confirmation. No matter my excuse, the reality is rather than engage Heather for the reason I called; I first identified her through her husband.

Before Heather arrived I told Patty what I had done. I told her I would need to apologize. Patty understood. Most Pastors’ wives get the same treatment. “Oh, so you are Pastor Todd’s wife.” Patty is very supportive. She has been through the ups and downs of being a pastor’s wife.

Patty is more than a Pastor’s wife. To identify her through me is to make of her an object. Once a person is declared an object we fall back on standard expectations. The first question Patty was asked in our very first encounter with a Pulpit Committee, “Do you play the piano?” The unspoken expectation was the Pastor’s wife played the piano. She said she would need lessons.

The implications for the way we subtly objectify those we don’t normally consider objectified points to the way we keep the as is structure in tact. For instance, we have little trouble considering pornography a demeaning objectification of the human form, male or female. We would never think that identifying one human being through another human being to be similar, surely not the same as pornography.

When Christians claim human beings are made in the Image of God, then it stands that to consider the identity of one human as derivative through another is objectification at best, and idolatry at worst. The philosophical turn that suggests we shift the subject helps us open up the possibilities that are other people. Or, when we work to recognize the other, other persons as human subjects, we open up the possibility of both deeper and challenging relationships. If I cannot, or will not, objectify you then I must be ready for you. And that means I must be ready to get outside of my expectations bound up in my former objectification of you as a human being and realize there might be something for me to learn, experience, and grow from rather than use our relationship built on the object I made of you.

The as is structure compels us all to be the same. Christian people, Jesus-y people, should think deeply about the ways in which we subtly objectify the other to both their and our detriment. Objectifying the other is not cute.

Yesterday I apologized to Heather. I am sure there will be other occasions where I realize the all too subtle ways in which I need to throw off the as is structure that keeps people objects to fill my expectations rather than subjects with which to share life, making it meaningful and abundant.

Don’t Blame Musburger

I should leave this one alone. I would have were it not for the morning anchors on our local CBS affiliate, News9. Reading the Wall Street Journal with the news playing in the background this morning I heard one of the anchors describe Al Musburger’s latent adolescence as cute. I became incredulous. Cute?!

My Dad and Musburger are the same age. I cannot imagine under what conditions my Dad would howl at a young woman younger than his granddaughters. That is not to say my Dad would not appreciate beauty. But, under no circumstances would he or has he ever stopped me to say, “Hey Todd, look at that young lady.” Not in my almost fifty years. Here are two samples of responses from my friends, roughly my age, on Facebook,

Marty Duren on Facebook,
Monday, January 7 at 8:06pm (11 hours ago) near Hermitage, TN
Somebody in the truck needs to get Musberger a drool cup. Good grief.

Greg Horton on Facebook,
Monday, January 7 at 8:06pm (11 hours ago) near Oklahoma City
Announcers rightly bored with game, now objectifying female spectators.

Marty and Greg offer reasons not to blame Musburger. First, let’s blame the camera men. Had they not been panning the crowd maybe Musburger would have never noticed A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend. Those in the truck could have easily offered shots of the mascots. Other games have featured commentators offering thoughts on family, even the wives of some players. None. None. Offered a suggestion to young boys as to how to capture Miss Alabama. “Get out and start throwing the football.” Second, we should blame the teams. Alabama played too well. Notre Dame, well, did not. The game was over in the first quarter. Not unlike our ability to call the OU game early in the 3rd Quarter of the Cotton Bowl. It was a yawner. My friend David Philips, an avid ‘Bama fan, updated his Facebook status keeping track of how out of balance the Tide’s scoring was. He wanted an even number of rushing touchdowns to passing touchdowns. Yes, the game got boring.

Know that Marty and Greg would never blame someone other than Musburger. But, our tendencies are to ignore responsibility. Their comments were not subversive allusions to Musburger’s innocence. Which leads me to cute.

When the morning anchor described the incident as cute, I immediately thought, “I need a new morning news show.” The sophomoric charade intended to entertain the early morning viewer reached an odd level. Musburger’s outburst may well be a Zizekian irruption of the real, it is not cute. One of those moments that pierces our otherwise managed impulses to reveal this is a man’s world and women are for our benefit. No, that is not how I think the world should be, but this may well reveal the as is structure that, in its throws of death, irrupts to remind us there is still work to do.

Many in my line of work talk much about worldview and having the correct one. But, few I have read get to this level. The arrangement described by some leaves the as is structure in tact only to dress it up and manage it so fewer irruptions betray the vocal aim. After all septuagenarians behaving adolescent is cute.

I am reminded of the sociological work, Guyland. The author argues female identity in our culture is cheapened as it flows through the male. If you have daughters, I would give it a read. I learned about the book several years go via Joe Thorn. Some will point to the Bible as source material to justify just such a move – that is, female identity formation is derivative through the male. The problem is what male, which male? The thinking surely follows that good Bible believing people cannot allow the neo-Freudian feminists any room to point out the way in which our culture, even in our churches, views childhood development has been deeply scarred by male only control groups out of which Freud drew his conclusions. If we really want to turn to the Sacred Text, we still must work through the Apostle Paul’s summary in Galatians 3 without the lens that explains away identity implications as he writes, “there is neither male nor female,” our identity is formed in our understanding of the Imago Dei. It is silly to think such work results in androgyny. That is sheer pandering.

Maybe we should not be so quick to poo poo the philosophical move intent to open up the subject rather than lock it down as an object. Of course it is easier to objectify a subject. We set the parameters for the object and then exclude all other possibilities. The young lady may possess beauty but if that is all we see the reaction is sure titillation. But, when the subject is not objectified an expanse is opened up to remind us the world is also seen through her eyes and not just our eyes only. It is not unlike Eugene Peterson’s description of his affection for the Scriptures. In his series, Eat This Book, he offers an analogy. After fifty years of marriage he knew his wife better than he ever knew his wife. And, after fifty years of marriage he did not know his wife any better. Peterson considers the Scriptures a vast subject and not an object to lock down. Surely you see some important implications.

Blaming Musburger comes with a price. We must also assume responsibility for creating the ongoing atmosphere where little boys will be told to throw footballs in the yard with their dads in hopes of landing a beauty. So, maybe we should do what is easier to do. Let’s leave the as is in tact and blame the girl. After all, were she not so beautiful, Musburger might have gone on about McCarron’s mother.