Archive for February, 2008
The images are everywhere: players pointing skyward after scoring touchdowns, teams gathering for prayer, coaches praising God following victories.
Religion has always been a part of the sports world, but its presence today is hard to ignore. Some say more athletes and coaches have been emboldened to speak out because of the rise of conservative Christianity in politics, where it has become mainstream to discuss religious beliefs.
President George W. Bush helped usher in that era, and was elected largely because of the religious right. We are seeing Christianity play a role in the Republican primaries with Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. But there is a major divide in politics that parallels a similar split in the sports world: There are those who believe God belongs everywhere, and there are those who believe God belongs only in church.
In sports, both sides of the “to preach or not to preach” question are jockeying for attention. The more we see the vulnerability of athletes and corruption in sports, the more each side feels it is necessary to speak out either for or against religion in sports. That presents a series of questions: (more…)
Christian evangelist Luis Palau is encouraging Christians to bring their Bibles to the Summer Olympics in China, claiming that the Chinese government is “wide open” and will not stop visitors from bringing Scripture into the officially atheistic country.
“I have asked officially from people here and over there. Any person can go in there and take Bibles, as long as they’re not selling them,” Palau told The Christian Post in an interview on Thursday.
“If they’re giving them away, they can take all the Bibles they want. And I think that’s going to happen. And I think that’s very valuable.” (more…)
Considering that his old buddy Roger had thrown him under the stagecoach five days earlier, Andy Pettitte was in a tolerant mood about Clemens on Monday, even if it fell slightly short of turning the other cheek.
Pettitte still loves Clemens like a brother, he said, even if Clemens testified at a Congressional hearing that Pettitte “misremembered” that little conversation they had in 1999 about human growth hormone. Pettitte has testified under oath that Clemens admitted using the stuff, and Clemens has denied it. A small misunderstanding between buddies.
“The truth will set you free,” Pettitte said, quoting Christ’s words in John 8:32. Pettitte’s manager, Joe Girardi, had used the same phrase earlier in the day. Pettitte has played a bit loose with details in the recent past, but Monday he seemed chastened, horrified, by his public exposure, and seemed to need a public forum to set himself free. Always quick to note that he is not very smart, Pettitte did it four or five times during a news conference that was remarkable not only for its length of 57 minutes, but also for its tone of humility. Pettitte rarely preaches in the clubhouse. His references to his Christian faith generally come out in the context of the life he is living, which has always seemed controlled and sober and decent. (more…)
The handsome, lanky movie actor strode coolly onto the stage during the PromiseLand West service Sunday morning.
He wore a simple black suit with no tie and longish styled hair with streaks of blond. His tan, chiseled face looked nothing like the bloodied, bearded Jesus he played in “The Passion of the Christ” four years ago.
And as Pastor Randy Phillips began interviewing him, Jim Caviezel spoke so softly, he appeared almost shy.
The hundreds of church members and visitors who packed the auditorium at Westlake High School seemed to take a collective breath.
Here was a mere man — yet someone who had captured their savior so convincingly in a film that grossed more than $370 million in the United States and became one of the most effective tools for evangelism in modern times. (more…)
There are few more devoted followers than NASCAR fans, whose fervor rivals –and sometimes exceeds — their Christian faith. So it should come as no surprise that a college lecturer has made their twin passions the subject of a new book, Godspeed: Racing Is My Religion.
“You can’t separate them,” says the author, L.D. Russell. “A race is a kind of morality play in which fans witness the drama of human existence. We live in the face of unbeatable odds. The ultimate defeat is waiting for us.”
Without question, he writes, “Racing is a religion, a cult of true believers with their own rituals, myths and a system of ethics that rival Confucianism.” Russell compares the NASCAR rule book with the Bible’s book of Deuteronomy.
Today, like millions of NASCAR fans, Russell, 52, expects to be glued to his television.
“I never miss the Daytona 500,” he says, but at the same time he’ll also be going over papers from the course he teaches on racing and religion at Elon University in North Carolina. (more…)
You might call Lisa Daltirus the Save-the-Day Queen.
The soprano, who stars in Seattle Opera’s upcoming “Tosca,” has made something of a specialty in rescuing opera companies in distress. But never was the drama higher than on the evening in 2003 when Daltirus was sitting in the audience at the Richard Tucker Foundation’s benefit gala in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall.
The soprano performing excerpts from Verdi’s “Aida,” Aprile Millo, was struggling with illness, and announced that she would be unable to continue. Suddenly Daltirus looked to the aisle by her seat in the audience and saw the foundation’s executive director beckoning to her. They knew she had just sung the title role in “Aida” in Delaware; could she step in? Right now?
Daltirus had five minutes to warm up. She went onstage to sing the Triumphal Scene, and the first person she saw in the audience was Leontyne Price — the retired super-diva who used to own the role of Aida.
“There was no time to be scared,” remembers Daltirus, chatting recently during a break in rehearsals at Seattle Opera’s offices. “I am a deeply spiritual person, and I always believe if God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.” (more…)
To step back and take a look at Tommy London’s life, in and out of sports, you’d have to marvel at the achievements.
At Shelby High he was a Shrine Bowl player on an unbeaten Golden Lion championship team in 1972. He went on to play at the college level for Lou Holtz at N.C. State and spent time in the NFL with the old Cleveland Browns, then in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Roughriders.
Yet, until his decision to go into the ministry (1996), his biggest mark may have been how he successfully navigated the transition into a post-football career. He went into the insurance field and raised a family, passing along a love of sports to his children.
Yet London now takes on the biggest game he’s ever been involved with each Sunday when he steps up before the Cloverdale First Baptist Church (near Roanoke, Va.) to handle his pastor’s duties.
“It was a big change, going into the ministry,” London said in a recent telephone interview. “I’d always praised God and thanked him for giving me the success I had. Now he’s letting me be a representative for him. Pro football is good but this is so much better. (more…)
Louisiana College athletics director Tim Whitman said the LC football program will make “between $50-75,000″ from LC’s inaugural Football Celebration Friday evening that featured longtime Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden and LSU running back Jacob Hester.
Whitman said he made the wide-ranging guess at the revenue generated from the program without having seen all the figures, especially from the silent auction.
Neither of the featured guests required a speaking fee, Whitman said, and he noted different people donated the money necessary to pay for their flights in and out of Alexandria.
“Coach Bowden normally charges $25,000 to speak, but he did it for us at no cost because of his relationship with our people,” Whitman said. “It was wonderful to have two great figures who spoke on our campus about putting God first in their lives. It was great for our town, our football team and our college.” (more…)
Spotting the Los Angeles Lakers’ A.C. Green ,Jr. at the 1999-2000 NBA finals with the Indiana Pacers was easy. When he wasn’t on the court, he was the tall guy with the green bear on his head.
The bear, affectionately known as Little A.C. (the initials are embroidered in yellow), sports a message on his back: I’ve got the power.
During the series, the Lakers, with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, showed their power by defeating the Pacers in six games, the team’s first NBA championship since 1988. Green collected championship ring number three (along with 1987 and 1988), all with the same franchise that had drafted him in 1985.
Green’s most recent team was the Miami Heat, his fourth team in a long career. At the beginning of the 2001-2002 season, Green, 38, announced his retirement. But his tenure in the NBA, thanks in part to his physical endurance, should keep his Ironman title secure for years to come. Green has been in so many consecutive games since 1986 that the number escapes him (it’s close to 1,200). (more…)
The Giants’ David Tyree spent about 90 minutes with The Times on Saturday morning and graciously recounted his arrest, his drunken blackouts, his finding faith and his mom’s death in December. He had just arrived home after taking a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, where he was making the talk-show rounds after making his memorable catch in the Super Bowl. He sat at his kitchen table, surrounded by family preparing for an afternoon baby shower. What follows are some excerpts from the conversation.
New York Times: So what has this week been like?
David Tyree: People ask me: Did I feel like I was going to have an impact on this game? And I definitely did. But I always feel that way. Because I play on special teams. So I didn’t know how I was going to impact the game, but I felt good. I was really trusting my faith. You can’t separate me and my faith.
NYT: Has it started to sink in?
DT: It’s definitely starting to sink in. It’s good to be back home, with my family. Just to have that feeling of normality, you know. Obviously, there’s tremendous opportunities and advantages. It opens up doors, when you have a game like this on a stage like that. The other end of it is I’ve got some kid calling my house. “How did you get my number?” He’s like, “Can Mr. Tyree give us some stuff?” It’s innocent, it’s cute, but at the same time it’s like, ‘Whoa.’ This is another world. (more…)