10.28.2009

Facebook Theology

First person’s status:
“Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.”
Second person’s comment:
“Jesus doesn’t kick field goals bro. He goes for the touchdown on 4th down, he makes it, and then he goes for the freakin’ sweet 2 points afterwards.”
There’s actually something significant there, I think.

9 comments:

Colby 10/28/09, 3:36 PM  

In defense of Bobby Bare's theology, it sounds more like he was singing about rugby or australian rules football.

David Manes 10/28/09, 4:41 PM  

Something... significant, you say?

Luke 10/29/09, 9:29 AM  

Colby,

He’s a country singer from Ohio, so I question his connection to Aussie rules football or rugby, but maybe you're right. He does talk about an “offensive line” in the lyrics, but I don’t know enough about either to know if that term applies.

Either way, the overall lyrics of the song are better than the chorus would indicate.

Luke 10/29/09, 9:38 AM  

David,

Though perhaps unintentionally, I think the commenter struck upon some theological poignancy.

Certainly at times it’s the strategically smart thing to do, but fundamentally, kicking a field goal is about playing it safe.

I think that God’s plan of redemption—God taking human form, becoming vulnerable to all the weaknesses and temptations of humanity, overcoming them, defeating sin and Satan through the enduring of the cross, and then the Resurrection—is not at all about playing it safe.

You could go on…Jesus entrusting the establishment of His Church to Peter and Co., God using very imperfect people throughout history to accomplish great things, etc.

Now, I kind of doubt that the commenter was thinking about all this when he wrote what he did, but I think he (perhaps inadvertently) struck upon something—God isn’t about playing it safe.

John Wright 10/29/09, 12:38 PM  

There's another possible theme at work here:

The original lyric could actually be interpreted the opposite way. A "drop kick" in American football terminology, where the ball bounces off the ground before it is kicked, is actually a highly uncommon play in the modern game.

Before Doug Flutie successfully attempted one in 2006, the last successful drop kick PAT in the NFL was in 1941. It was a common play before the ball was changed in 1934 to better accommodate the forward pass, but Bobby Bare wasn't born until 1935 (assuming he wrote the lyric). It's still technically a legal play, but not advised except as a novelty or tribute in an unimportant situation.

For what it's worth, I'm all for aggressive playcalling on fourth down, since it's more defensible than kicking in many situations, at least from a strict statistical perspective. Most coaches are too afraid of being second-guessed and are overly conservative on fourth down. A drop kick would be something completely out of the blue, but perhaps it's too risky unless someone's really been practicing it.

What are the theological implications of making Jesus part of a high-risk or novelty play? Good or bad? I'll leave that analysis up to someone else, if anyone wants to bite.

Luke 10/30/09, 9:19 AM  

John,

You are so right about the drop kick. I’m a little embarrassed for glossing over that.

I’m pretty sure that Bobby Bare is wrong about what constitutes a drop kick though, because he describes it as going “end over end” which isn’t the natural rotation for a drop kick at all.

I’m also a huge fan of going for it on 4th down. Did you see that article a while back about how Pulaski Academy always goes for it on 4th down?

Statistically, it's the thing to do, especially in high school, where punters aren’t great and punt coverage is sometimes spotty.

John Wright 10/30/09, 9:29 AM  

Luke, I think you're right about Bare's technical goof. He probably wasn't thinking about an actual drop kick.

I've read about and seen some interviews with Pulaski's coach. I think the TV segment I saw on him was in relation to a game against CAC, actually.

It's absolutely a good strategy, and you have to figure that his kids have a lot of confidence on 4th down compared to a team that takes a more traditional approach.

David Manes 10/31/09, 2:36 PM  

Luke, I might see where you are coming from here. The development of Christianity has gone through some precarious times for sure. But isn't your God omniscient and omnipotent? Is there such a thing as risk if you know everything and can do anything?

Luke 11/2/09, 4:55 PM  

David,

I do believe that God is omniscient and omnipotent, but I don’t claim to understand all the implications of that. It can be fun to talk about, but before long, it starts to resemble a Star Trek time travel plot.

I don’t believe that God’s omniscience and omnipotence limits our free will, though. And referring back to what I mentioned early about the Incarnation, I firmly believe Jesus was capable of sinning (hence, the risk element). If He wasn’t then I think the Incarnation loses its significance.

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