September 19, 2008


When I was in high school, our district managed to scrape together the funds to build themselves a whole bunch of new stuff. We got a brand new high school tacked onto the old one, and the old one became the junior high. Now, some things were of apparent importance over others: we got a ton of new sports fields, state of the art, and a new gym and weight room, but no new auditorium (apparently the old one with no wings and eight feet of fly space was deemed "acceptable" by the board, who all loved football). In this new gym, of course, were the best of everything, including wall padding, retractable bleachers and hoops, and of course, the logo for the middle of the court. The logo, though, ended up being a bit of a controversy, because after it was painted, many of the area residents were appalled.

Now, the team at Victor was the "Blue Devils," and up until now had featured this little cartoon baby-looking devil with a pointy tail, naturally colored blue. But somebody had got it in their heads to hold a contest for the new gym floor, and had picked a winner. It looked real.

It was a scary logo; the horns almost glistened, the creases on his face were curved up in a wicked smile, and the shoulders looked like they were about to leap into action (there was no more, it was a head-shot). I can only imagine what the first home game would've been like for the visiting team, seeing that thing in mid-court at the toss; talk about home-court advantage, but it was truly hideous. And naturally, half the parents in the district called the superintendent or members of the board to have it repainted with something less ... offensive. Something less ...


I remember people kept saying "but it's so real! We can't expose our kids to that!" Reality can be very scary. We like to hide it, to deny it's there, to push it away so we don't have to think about it. I know that a devil with horns is as much a cultural image as any (I don't think the devil has actual horns, but maybe he does), but we Americans (maybe all human beings) like to push away things that don't make us comfortable. Like the poor. Like the homeless. Like people who smell funny. Like nerds or bullies. If you're poor, you push away the rich because they represent to you everything that is wrong in your life. If you're rich, you ignore the poor because you're better than they are. If you're in the middle class, you try really hard to get rich, and giving to the poor doesn't help that, so you ignore them too. The poor are uncomfortable to the rich, and the rich are uncomfortable for the poor. The middle class is confused, because they don't want to be poor, but any attempt to get rich might make them poor. Bullies push around the nerds because they are easy targets, and the nerds try to ignore or get back at the bullies because they make the nerds uncomfortable. It's a vicious cycle.

A bully I knew in high school died this week. He committed suicide, and it's making everybody uncomfortable, myself included. Because I'm a Christian now, and Christians are supposed to love our enemies, even the guys who pushed us around all through grade school. I didn't know what to do with myself when I found out, but I think I do now - pray for the family. Thinking back, I wonder if I'd treated him differently, if that might have helped him, if it might have changed his life to the point that at least he wouldn't think he was better off not sticking around. What if I'd not let my discomfort dictate my actions?

Rob Bell has a new book out. It's about this, sort of. I just finished reading it, and I recommend you go buy it and read too. But you'll have a choice when you finish: you can either push it aside or talk about how "wrong" it is (because it WILL make you uncomfortable), or you can choose to respond, to let it mess with your thinking and maybe change you a little. I think I'll have to read it again soon - I read it in two days - but for now, please go find a copy. It's called
Jesus Wants to Save Chrisitans. It's about reality, and how sometimes we don't notice the things right in front of us that maybe we should.

Trust me, just give it a shot.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Man, what hard news to hear - whether you like someone or not...
I remember some of the sermons Bell preached with the same title (I'm guessing the book came out of that) and they were challenging because it reminded me that I have not "arrived" yet, and probably won't for a long time... it reminded me that Jesus wants more than just a prayer, but wants to see His Kingdom built here on earth - now!, not later in the future... it reminded me that I am still in need of God's grace - daily. Thank you God.