USA Today had a front-page article, “Rockies seek revival on and off field,” affirming that the baseball team has improved its league standings since it began embracing “Christian values” three years ago. Now, it isn’t unusual to use faith as a motivator and team builder in sports. And if “Christian values” means less drinking, less focus on individual gain, and more focus on character building and caring for others, then I have no doubt that this shift in values is making a difference for the team.
My concern was when Rockies chairman, CEO, and part owner Charlie Monfort said, “I believe God sends signs, and we’re seeing those…” Rockies general manager O’Dowd said, “You look at things that have happened to us this year…Those aren’t just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this.”
Some who believe in a God that takes great interest in all of our day-to-day dealings will look for signs of right thinking everywhere, including if we got hired for that job we really wanted or whether our team won and made us a little richer in the office pool that day. I get nervous about humans invoking God’s stamp of approval when things go well (or at least well according to that person’s viewpoint). Does this mean that the 100,000 + Iraqi citizens who have died as “collateral damage” in the war deserved their fate? Or if you don’t get the job you hoped for, you are a bigger sinner than the person who did get the job? Pat Robertson blamed the victims of Katrina for their plight, stating that they were being punished by God.
What about the notion that sometimes bad things happen to good people? Even if we believe that everything–good or bad–happens for a reason, can any of us claim to be all-knowing enough to know these reasons? When we insist that God is on our side because we have been momentarily blessed with what we perceive as success or abundance, we lurch dangerously toward narrow mindedness and arrogance, shutting us off from our natural state of compassion for the suffering of others.
How about compassion, thoughtfulness, truthfulness, and forgiveness, not because God will reward us for them, but because we inherently value these character traits? Isn’t it enough to look at the reflection in the mirror and see someone who is kind, who can say, “I don’t know all the reasons for my and others’ fortune/misfortune. But I will, in this not-knowingness, choose loving kindness toward myself and others once again.”
Causes Jane Straus Supports
International Rescue Committee
The Southern Poverty Law Center
The Nature Conservancy