Arizona – God enriches; Man divides

In 1539, long before the English reached the Virginia shores, a group of men took a hike.  Out of the ruins of rocks and the rumble of scare vegetation, out of the dusty and beyond the struggle it had taken to reach that far, they saw a ray of hope.  They believed in building a beautiful place, claimed it in the name of their country of Spain, knowing it would not be a city of angels but could be a city of man.

Colonized by the Mexicans, later part of the spoils of the Spanish-American War to become forgotten real estate officially known as a path to the gold in California and later annexed in the New Mexico territory, Arizona became an unlikely battleground of the Civil War.  The Confederate Arizona Territory was regained by Union troops and again considered part of New Mexico.  Natives of the area which included the predominant population of Navajos were rounded up and given the Long Walk to isolated captivity.  Since admittance to statehood in 1912, the residents of Arizona have slowly built their state – brick by brick, heart by heart.  It was hoped that the 21st Century would be the dawn of a new era for Arizona, a state of man for man, all men.

“When your trust is all but shattered; you faith all but killed.”  Now Arizona has become known for their inhospitable treatment of its original settlers.  Instead of valuing their motto – God enriches, they have lived a creed of fear.  Those in power have forgotten that we are all but travelers, explorers on that which God has indeed enriched and given us.

Now Arizona is reaching new heights in ignorance.  Apparently, none of their legislators or those in positions of power or with the loudest voices can remember how to use a dictionary.  There are, in fact, 221 public libraries in the state of Arizona (http://www.publiclibraries.com/arizona.htm).  Additionally there are 14 college or university libraries and they do have the Arizona State Library which is division of the Arizona Secretary of State.  Sadly, though, no one has utilized the most basic reference book in each and every library – a dictionary.

The proponents of Arizona’s newest venture into narrow-mindedness are defending their position based upon Christian teachings and the US Constitution.  Christianity has at its helm the concept of the Holy Trinity and the US Constitution outlines the duties and the limits of the three branches of the federal government.  Perhaps it is fitting then that there are three words in the dictionary that need to be explored as they consider this new law to restrict who can be served and use public businesses.

First let’s define why those businesses exist.  The concept of free enterprise began in the 1700’s when only those businesses receiving favor from the king could be opened and even then, paying for the honor through “taxes”.  It was no surprise then that free enterprise was protected by the Constitution since the new countrymen wanted freedom to own private businesses, organized to be operated for profit in a competitive system without interference by government.  In the past two centuries, only that regulation felt necessary to protect public interest and keep the national economy in balance has been enacted as legislation.   

That leads us to the remaining two words which are antonyms or opposites of each other – public and private.  Private is defined as that which is intended for or restricted to the use of a particular group.  Churches, for instance, are not public buildings although they often are open to the public.  They exist for the specific use by a specific group of people.  Public is not inclusive.  Public refers to that which is of, relating to, or affecting all the people or the whole area of a nation or state. A business which hope to sell its product or be patronized by has many people as possible is considered a public business and protected under the US Constitution because it is part of the free enterprise system.

Arizona’s lawmakers and governor are considering making it legal to have public businesses serve only private groups.  One must then wonder why those business owners would put themselves in jeopardy to lose all their rights under the free enterprise system.  After all, monopolies are illegal under the US Constitution.  While there are many arguments to be made for interpreting the right to discriminate as a Christian theology and none defending that stance, the legal ramifications of discrimination, legally defined by US law as “disparity in treatment”, are clear and have many precedents in law.

How does providing a product and receiving payment for said product threaten the American way of life that Arizona prides itself on living?  The US Treasury does not discriminate in who can have and use its currency.  Indeed, it is the only currency considered legal tender and it is available to all persons, regardless of color, race, creed, gender, age, or a family history of discrimination, bloodshed, mental acuity, history of substance abuse, violence, legal standing, financial status, etc.  How does Arizona plan to tax its businesses if that which is public is really private and that which is legal to use by all in the USA suddenly is not legal to use in Arizona?  Will they secede and establish their own sovereignty?  What will be next?  Will everyone be required to have the same hair color, wear the same clothes, worship at the same building of faith?  We fought a world war to protest such ideas and later enacted legislation to open all public businesses to the public.  Does Arizona plan to retreat from those policies and opinions?

There are still many lessons to learn as we grow and continue to build our nation and each state as well as each city.  Without forcing a certain belief system on anyone, Arizona voted on its motto, God enriches.  Perhaps they need to remember it and once remembered, believe it.  Then perhaps we could start learning how to build that beautiful city, a beautiful state, and embrace our beautiful country that those early explorers dreamed of as they hiked throughout our great land.  Then we will be able start to build a beautiful place of acceptance for man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFZRt0ZLdRM

Separation of Sport and State

According to the official website of the Olympics and their historical records, the first ancient Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC. They were dedicated to the Olympian gods and were staged on the ancient plains of Olympia. They continued for nearly 12 centuries, until Emperor Theodosius decreed in 393 A.D. that all such “pagan cults” be banned.  Of course, like many things, there is another story about the beginnings of the Olympic Games. 

The oldest myth is known as Idaios Daktylos Herakles. This story has Zeus, the father of humanity, fighting and defeating Cronus in a struggle for the throne of the gods. The well-known demigod Herakles is said to have staged games in Olympia in honour of Zeus, because the latter had helped him conquer Elis when he went to war against Augeas.

Historiansa claim the Olympic Games were closely linked to the religious festivals of the cult of Zeus, but were not an integral part of a rite. Indeed, they had a secular character and aimed to show the physical qualities and evolution of the performances accomplished by young people, as well as encouraging good relations between the cities of Greece. According to specialists, the Olympic Games owed their purity and importance to religion.

The Olympic victor received his first awards immediately after the competition. Following the announcement of the winner’s name by the herald, a Hellanodikis (Greek judge) would place a palm branch in his hands, while the spectators cheered and threw flowers to him. Red ribbons were tied on his head and hands as a mark of victory.  The official award ceremony would take place on the last day of the Games, at the elevated vestibule of the temple of Zeus. In a loud voice, the herald would announce the name of the Olympic winner, his father’s name, and his homeland. Then, the Hellanodikis placed the sacred olive tree wreath, or kotinos, on the winner’s head.

Modern Olympics are said to be held as a sign of unity among the nations of the world with politics not invited.  Sadly, that has not been the case.  The murders of Olympic athletes in 1972 in Munich by political extremists, the boycott by the USA athletes of the 1984 Russian Olympics are just two such examples.  In 2012 a Truce Walk was displayed and signed by visiting dignitaries.  In 2013 the third edition of the International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development was held in New York City. Also in 2013, the United Nations General Assembly established an International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.  The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia opened as the General Secretary of the United Nations carried the Olympic Flame (or torch) on its final leg.

Most news casts, however, on this the eve of the close of these 2014 Olympics are divided in coverage.  Half references the heats held for the day, medals won, teams dejected.  The other half, though, are discussing the rebellion taking place with Russia’s closest neighbor, Ukraine.  The president of this once-former USSR satellite vast country is in hiding and his police force has seemingly abdicated their allegiance to him.  In this race and fight, the underdog populous has apparently become the victor.  The contest between dominance and dictatorship has fallen to the dream of democracy and human rights.  Those news casts following the American athletes returning home are also talking about animal rights.  Like many large cities, Sochi had a stray animal population and decided such was not in keeping with the image Russia’s president was hoping the world to have regarding Russia.  The strays were pushed aside and starving, something which appeared to the Americans as heartless.  Many have adopted some of Sochi’s strays and are bringing them home.

Of course, we have stray animals in the USA and every city with a shelter would be happy if all those athletes came home and also adopted an American stray.  Russians are fighting back at the Americans in dismay over the treatment and lack of democracy in Ukraine saying Americans are also downtrodden in the USA.  Each country has its strays – two and four-footed.  No country is perfect.  However – and you knew there was a however coming, we do have a Constitution in this country that is expected to be represented and followed.  Sadly, our animal treatment laws cannot cover everything and no ten Americans will agree on the same interpretation of all of our Constitution.  Blatant and hidden cruelty, though, is illegal in the USA and that cannot always be said to be the case in Russia or Ukraine if one has a position of power.

Hopefully, those viewing these athletes will be moved to follow their example and adopt locally.  Not everyone can become an Olympic athlete.  Hopefully, those children who have watched their favorite sport eagerly or who happen to switch on curling by mistake will be buoyed to try and practice and try again.  After all, Olympic athletes come in all sizes and shapes and ethnicities.  Even a Caribbean island nation can become the darlings of the bobsled and you tube audiences!

It has been hard to become excited about these Olympics when I read that villagers have been displaced, animals are starved, and neighbors are being threatened for wanting basic human rights.  Still, these Olympic Games represent what every Olympic Game has – the best and the worst of the world’s nations. The fact that they have taken place offers hope.  The fact that new records were set tells us we are becoming more healthy and stronger as humans.  The combination of physical skill, artistic ability, and audience appreciation is proof that we are not simply barbaric. 

Every four years a nation does its best to look its best, just as the athletes do.  Every four years, actually two if you combine the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics, the nations of the world converge in one place and march in as one mankind.  Waving their nation’s flag and their hands, they proclaim both at the opening and closing that mankind has won the most difficult race of all.  We are all winners.

 

 

 

Heart Attack

Heart Attack

 

A minister thrown out of the church because he married people against the teachings of the church.  Dateline 2013.

A man of the cloth thrown into jail because he married people against the laws of the land.  Dateline 3rd Century ACE.

 

The Roman Empire was only as good as the soldiers that protected it.  A football team is only as good as the players on it.  IN the 1950’s and 1960’s, college football players were often told if they married while still in school, they would be thrown off the team.  It was felt that marriage would lessen the athletic prowess of the player.  The Romans held similar thoughts and felt unmarried soldiers fought stronger and longer than those married.  The history of abstaining from physical relations in order to improve one’s concentration is not a new thought. However, the Roman army was not expected to be abstinent, just not married.  It was felt that the married state would divide the concentration, make soldiers less willing to deploy, and most likely make the impending likelihood of death more something to be avoided.

The Christian faith denounced polygamy which was practiced in the Roman Empire legally and encouraged couples to marry in the Church.  A priest during the time of Claudius II, refused to stop marrying couples and was arrested.  His early imprisonment went well as Claudius took a liking to the priest.  Then the priest did what priests often do – he spread the word of God to Claudius II.  Not desiring a change of lifestyle nor liking anything that reduced his power which acceptance of a God greater than himself would have been, Claudius ordered the priest to stop the marriages and had him beaten.  When Valentine’s service to God superseded his service to Claudius, he was beheaded.  It would take a hundred years before his name would appear on a list of martyrs and even now, there are actually eleven-plus Valentine priests who have achieved saintly status.  What they all have in common was the refusal to stop their preaching and bringing others into the family of God.

Birds mate in February.  The Romans had a pagan festival celebrating the beginnings of life (mating) in February.  Valentinus, a former bishop of Terni, was challenged by a judge named Asterius, to prove the validity of Jesus.  Asterius was convinced by, as the story goes, he later was ordered by Claudius to renounce his faith.  Valentinus refused and was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269.  Whatever the reason for the celebration, two things are common in all these legends.  One is that the name Valentine is derived from the word valens, meaning worthy, strong, powerful.  The second is that whichever Valentine legend you believe, whether that of a man or of nature, love is an integral necessary component to life which comes from God and that threatens those who need to feel they are God.

The priest in 2013 who risked all to embrace his beliefs and encourage monogamy between two loving people was heterosexual.  He viewed the couple being married as children of God but also as his own because, one of the two was one of his children.  The Bible talks a great deal about casting out sin but I know of no scripture that says the cast out your own child, to deny the love of God to any person.

I am not homosexual.  I have experienced discrimination from having friends who were thought to be gay, friends who did not embrace that lifestyle either ever or at least several years after our time spent on a college campus.  My experience in college was thought students who were in a loving relationship were better students, less susceptible to peer pressure, and happier.  That translated to better grades, better psyches.  I still have acquaintances who feel I should not remain friends with those classmates who are now homosexually involved – some openly, some still somewhat secretively.  My question to them is this:  Where in the Christian tradition does it say pick and choose which of God’s children are “good” enough to be loyal to and who should I refuse to show the love of God?

I marvel at the strength of faith that the Pennsylvania minister showed.  One cannot discount that the relationship to his son played a major role but, for me, that just makes the Christian tradition and God’s love even more amazing.  Valentinus could have lived, enjoying the favor of Claudius II, but that would have meant he ignored the call to faith, to evangelize. 

How do we evangelize?  I am not talking about standing on a street corner or knocking on doors.  Dropping of a pamphlet might reach one in a million and that one does count but the love of God is much more than typed words thrust into someone’s hand.  It is living those words, fighting for all of God’s children – not just those who look like us, shop where we shop, travel to exotic locales, can help us get ahead or seem to be wealthy enough to serve on a vestry in hopes they will remember the Church in their will.

Maybe you can buy two of half of your groceries and donate that second item to a food pantry:  two boxes of cereal; six cans of green beans; four cans of chicken or tuna.  If I spend an extra fifty dollars (cost for two people to eat at a Red Robin’s or Chili’s) at a warehouse discount store, I can purchase eight cans of canned chicken, two boxes of cereal, six cans of canned vegetables, eight boxes of pasta, eight cans of tuna, two boxes of crackers, two bottles of condiment, one gallon of milk.  My extra fifty dollars then becomes eight dinner meals, eight-plus breakfasts, eight lunches.  For a family of four, that is two day’s worth of meals but with another ten dollars buying dried beans, broth, and fruit, that can stretch to a week’s worth.  For a couple or elderly person it becomes two weeks’ worth.  All for the cost of a dinner out with a friend or spouse.  It isn’t the typical screaming the love of Christ type of evangelical action but it is showing the love of God and it is a Valentine that will provide not only the love of God but good health and goodwill.  Odds are you won’t go to jail for doing it, either.

Hospitals seldom see a person walk in suffering a heart attack and refuse to treat them until they have checked out their address, who their friends are, what type of car they drive, who their first teenage crush was, with whom they would select to be stranded on a desert island.  They see a person in need and they act, not react based upon a narrow vision or belief system that limits the love of God and therefore negates the teachings of Christ.

We are the ones with the heart attack.  We are the ones who need to do more than send a construction paper shape attached to a box of candy or wilted flowers.  We need to receive the love of God and pass it on by action and example.  Jesus did not divide the crowd at his crucifixion and profess to be only dying for a small select group.  He challenged the world to open its eyes and arms and heart.  And we don’t have to die to do it.  In fact, when we do it, we celebrate life – life eternal. 

May every day be a commemoration to Valentine.  May every day be a day for all of us to embrace our faith and live strong.

 

Shirley Temple: Baby, Take a Bow!

Shirley Temple: Baby, Take a Bow!

My first thought upon hearing that Shirley Temple Black, most famously known as Shirley Temple, had died was quite fitting:  “Oh my goodness!”  Fitting because it was one of her most often-said lines from the over fifty movies the actress and diplomat appeared and a popular song from the movie “poor Little Rich Girl”.  In fact, a review of some of her songs provide a most accurate biography of the girl who, at age six, garnered attention, first for her “Curly Top” (from the movie “Curly Top” signature head full of curls to her impish smile, “Laugh, You Son-of-a-Gun” (from the movie “Little Miss Marker”.

With “An Old Straw Hat” (from the movie “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”), Shirley sailed into our hearts “On the Good Ship Lollipop” (from the movie “Bright Eyes”) and became “Our Little Girl” (from the movie “Our Little Girl”).  “Young People” (from the movie “young People”) knew that another Shirley Temple movie was “Right Around the Corner” (from the movie “Kathleen”) as they followed her admonitions to enjoy “Animal Crackers in My Soup” (from the movie “Curly Top”), “You Gotta Eat Your Spinach” (from the movie “Poor, Little Rich Girl”), “You Gotta S-M-I-L-E- to be H-A-Double-P-Y” (from the movie “Stowaway”) and “Come and Get Your Happiness” (from the movie “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”).

For a young, curly-haired girl growing up, Shirley Temple represented hope.  She could “Hop, Skip, Jump, and Slide” (from the movie “Little Miss Broadway”) as well as “Walk in the Rain” (from the movie “Just Around the Corner”).  Shirley Temple lived her mantra of “Be Optimistic” (from the movie “Little Miss Broadway”) and dealt with Santa Claus asking her for an autograph at age six to a failed marriage in her late teens to becoming a diplomat to a Communist satellite nation during the Cold War.  She worked within her opportunities, expanding her talents and horizons and, in doing so, the opportunities for all young girls.  She planted seeds of hope, lived the realities of life, and never stopped, even when diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972. 

On behalf of all such little girls, I ask “How Can I Thank You” (from the movie “Little Miss Broadway”)?  I hope that for other curly-haired little girls, there will be another you but “One Never Knows, Does One?” (from the movie “Stowaway”).  You helped generations remember that “Dreams are Made for Children” (from the Shirley Temple Story Book television series) and brought those dreams home to us.  As “Young People” (from the movie “young People”), you taught us to find “The Right Somebody to Love” (from the movie “Captain January”) and as adults, you encouraged us to “Be Optimistic” (from the movie “Little Miss Broadway”) and never forget “The Simple Things in Life” (from the movie “Curly Top”). 

Shirley Temple, you never had to ask “Ven Aqui” (from the movie “Honeymoon”) because wherever you were, people always came.  “I Wouldn’t Take Million” (from the movie “Young People”) for all the time I spent watching you on the large and small screen “On Account-a I Love You” (from the movie “Baby Takes a Bow”) and playing with my Shirley Temple doll.  You never acted as if “Oh the World Owes Me a Living” (from the movie “Now and Forever”) and were a consummate star in life right up to the “Happy Endings” (from the movie “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”) as you passed away surrounded by the love of your family.  We can only hope that as more young girls dream the dreams of hope you planted, they not only practice their tap dancing “But Definitely” (from the movie “Poor, Little Rich Girl”) follow also your life of service and commitment.  Thank you again, Shirley Temple.  “Baby, Take a Bow” (from the movie “Stand up and Cheer”) – you truly were one of the greats!

The Legacy of a Man – Phillip Hoffman

The Legacy of a Man – The Inevitability of Drug Addiction

 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was discovered deceased.  In his mid-40’s, he had achieved twice as much as actors twice his age.  Possessing an easily recognizable physique, Hoffman was nonetheless able to completely transform himself into any character he played and make the audience believe the transformation – all through his incredible acting talent.

Hopefully, though, his legacy will be in the press that his death has and will generate and the education that will follow.  Surrounded by a reported fifty bags of heroin, most unused, Mr. Hoffman was found with a syringe and needle in his arm.  Successfully in recovery from drug addiction for over twenty years, the past fourteen months of his life were a daily struggle and sadly, he did not win that struggle.

Some will blame the divorce of his parents, some the artistic demons he often spoke of, and some will say it was the lack of a legal marriage to the mother of his three children.  Those in law enforcement will point the finger at the prevalence of drugs, those doubtful of the arts will say he followed a path many in the arts seem to walk, and some will even blame in on his success and having too much.

The truth is that Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a man living in the first half of the twenty-first century in a world that mocks those that are troubled, embraces what it viewed as “trendy” or “pop culture”, and where the media applauds and rewards all of the above.  If we want to blame someone, all we have to do is look in the mirror, towards our neighbor, in the stores, at the television, listen to the radio.  So-called reality programs endorse by their airing of young adults and teens drunk, doing drugs, getting pregnant before high school, yelling and screaming…The list is endless.  Comedians consider inappropriate behavior by those in the public eye as fodder for laughs.  Apparently, if no one misbehaved then they would have to think up their own jokes and that scares them.

The reality is that heroin is a killer and complete recovery from it is nearly impossible.  Cocaine was once considered trendy in New York nightclubs and movies still extol the so-called glamour of it.  Teens thrill at using bath salts and think it makes them part of the “in” crowd.  Everyone is “living for the moment”, which is good because their long-term prospects are really not that great and that “moment” might be all they have.  Illegal drugs do not go through any type of quality control inspection.  Somewhere along the illegal pipeline, someone has cut the drug or mixed it with a much cheaper substance like lye.  There are no guarantees when one enters into this world except the guarantee of loss of health or death.

Drugs alter reality.  That’s why people use them.  Painkillers alter a person’s perception of pain and later, other senses.  The body becomes accustomed to the drug so it takes more and more of it to have any effect.  There is no such thing as a tiny-amount-a-day user.  Drug use escalates, the need becomes the most important thing in life, and the outcome is sadly predictable.

As long as we live in fear of those not just like us, geniuses will need something to make them feel normal.  As long as we applaud inappropriate behavior, it will continue for those who need to hear that applause.  As long as the media pays for such, all of the above mentioned paragraphs will continue.  I do not want censorship any more than the next person but I do want humanity, concern, intelligent thinking. 

To be Phillip Seymour Hoffman was the role of a lifetime.  Regretfully, it lasted only half a lifetime.  He leaves behind a stunned world audience and three beautiful children who will only be able to see their talented father on a screen.   It is a glorious legacy, Hoffman’s body of work and we were always surprised at the heights of success he reached in his portrayals.   In the end, though, there is no surprise at the death of a heroin user. 

Drugs were the manner in which Phillip Hoffman met his death but his killer was society in the twenty-first century.  His greatest role in life was that of a father.   I hope we all remember his legacy:  It really is hard to get an Oscar statue to give you a hug.  That is not only the applause every child wants from their father, it’s the best thing a father can get from his child.  I hope in his last role he will teach all of us that while “we all are troubled”, quoting Hoffman, those troubles do not have to overcome our humanity towards another and most importantly, ourselves. 

Goodnight Phillip and thank you.  As you sleep forever, I hope we awake to the reality and inevitability of life in our current times.  Death is not a punch line.

 

Totes to Super Sunday!

I had the honor of being a guest blogger at www.episcopalcafe.com this past weekend.  Here is my blog:

 

Totes the Super Sunday!

A teacher once told her children that they could use profanity, just as long as they wrote an essay about the word or words before using it.  “You should know your vocabulary,” she stated.  “Write about the word’s etymology or history, where it came from, and why it is considered to be profane.”  Needless to say, her children waited until they had their own abodes before expanding their language skills to include cursing.

Eighteen years later, the same teacher, now retired, was watching a television movie with one of her children when a cell phone advertisement appeared.  “That is so silly,” remarked the child.  “Why?” queried the mother.  “James Earl Jones has a voice like black velvet or maybe rich ebony silk.  Malcolm McDowell could read the menu at McDonald’s and make it sound like Shakespeare.  I loved it.”  “Were you listening?” continued the child.  “They were talking like teenagers!”  The mother had to admit she really was too enthralled with the actors to even notice what company they were representing.

A few weeks passed and again the two were watching a program on television.  Suddenly the same advertisement appeared and this time the mother paid strict attention.  “Oh, how cute!” she exclaimed.  “Rather like a modern-day Dr Seuss.  Totes McGrotes!”  The child disdainfully glared at the mother and then offered a piece of cake.  “Thank you, dear,” said the mother.  “This is …Totes McGrotes!”  She reached for another bite when the plate was snatched out of her hand.  “You may not use that type of vocabulary, young lady,” admonished the child, “until you have written an essay on what it means, where it came from, and then maybe you will understand why it is so silly!” 

The circle of life is complete!  With the curiosity that characterizes most teachers, the parent did indeed study the new wordings.  She learned that Totes McGrotes meant “totally the best”, also spelled McGoats, having originated in a 2009 movie starring Paul Rudd.  Totes Adorbs was someone who was totally adorable and Totes Presh was used to describe something totally precious.  A gossip Internet columnist claimed “amazeballs” to be his own but actually fashion blogger Spiridakis used it several years earlier as an updated form of pig-Latin. 

This weekend we will witness why parents are urged to know what their children are saying and to what music they are listening and singing.  This weekend advertisers will pay $133,333.333 per second to air promotions for their products.  A thirty second spot for the Super Bowl will cost at least four million dollars.  They certainly believe that every second of airtime not only has value – $133,333.333 value – but can make an impact.  After all, no one pays four million dollars to be ignored.

Also on Sunday will be approximately 450,000 sermons given.  They will not be promoting something to make your life easier or make you look better.  They will discuss living fuller, feeling better about yourself, the sacrifice of One who always thinks you are Totes McGrotes, regardless of what you do.  If costing the same as a Super Bowl ad, those sermons, based upon a twenty minute homily, would value $159,999,999.60.  One man paid for the lessons in those sermons with his life.  Because he thought we were Totes Presh.  Without having to run a single yard, this one man scored the ultimate winning goal for each of us, thereby making us Totes Adorbs, and exchanging his life for ours.  Amazeballs!

What if we listened to those 450,000 sermons as intently as we will those thirty-second advertisements?  What if each church received an audience of the 164.1 million that watched Super Bowl XLVII in 2013?  There are usually thirty minutes of advertisements during a regular Super Bowl.  If we substituted those advertisements for a sermon and the churches got paid, each church would receive, based on the current pricing, $239,999,999.40.  Of course, churches are not prepared for a total audience of 164.1 million but perhaps for an annual budget of almost $240 million, they could expand.  Sadly, some ministers lack the velvet tones of James Earl Jones or the elocution skills of Malcolm McDowell.

And so, on Super Bowl Sunday, we will hesitantly venture out, much like Punxsutawney Phil, to our respective houses of worship and give the lessons presented bored shrugs worthy of any “Valley Girl” whose language the cell phone commercial attempts to emulate.  The retired teacher will not begin embarrassing her adult children with her new-found vocabulary and American churches will not be millions of dollars richer.  Yet, what will remain priceless will be the super sacrifice and game-winning play of one man, Jesus Christ, who thought each of us was Totes Presh, totally precious now and forever more.  With Him, by Him, and through Him, we get to win the biggest game of all – life. Amazeballs!