Sunday, January 11, 2015

Does god have favorites when it comes to football?

So a good friend of mine posts this meme this morning – not just any friend mind you, but a pastor and a really – a good Christian man. 

Now I know he is only getting on board with team spirit, and of course, there are similar memes for the local team, the Broncos – stuff like god and the color of sunsets and such, but I was oddly disquieted by the whole idea as I headed off to fellowship.  And once there, surrounded by a sea of orange – I began to ponder – what exactly does god think about all this.  There were only two people I saw in something else – both Dallas cowboys fans so clearly god was unimpressed by their low attendance in church as they lost.  However I suppose in Texas there were churches full of white and bluish colors if like us they don’t have formal dress codes. 

And then there’s the whole praying thing on the fields, extra prayers after touchdowns and such – and I’m not offended by that – people should have the freedom to honor who they want – but what are they praying for in such a public way – I don’t ever remember praying before a hockey or cricket match in Australia – either as a player or a spectator.  Does the team with the best prayers get a leg up somehow?  I doubt it would intimidate me if I was an opponent of less or no faith.  You want intimidating – the All Blacks famous Haka – now that’s intimidating.

However what really troubled me as I pondered the sea of orange in the church assembly this morning was how do we disconnect the ever present reality of a significant part of what football “culture” is and what they believe?  How do you reconcile a business (call it a sport if you must) that tacitly endorses (is two faced about at best) rape, general violence against women and children, misogynistic behavior in general, violence in general (both on and off the field), the bullying, and then of course you have the general failings we all struggle with more commonly – greed, arrogance and so on. 

Now I’m not saying ALL people involved in football have these failings.  Nor am I saying NFL football is the only sport or that US major league sports are the only ones that have these problems.  Clearly there are some really standup guys in the staff and playing the game throughout the sport and often singled out for their good example at the professional level.  But there is no shortage of evidence than many of these problems start at high school level, and with a wink and a nod, just become more entrenched for those who are so inclined as they move through the levels.  And move through the levels they will.  Very rarely will the college system and especially the NFL uniformly pass on a player with great on-field potential because of his poor off-field behavior.  And in the rare instances where a team washes their hands of a problem player, more often than not, if he is good enough, someone else will pick him up.

How do we separate the knowledge of the reality through the week and what we sing and pray about on Sunday morning and then revel in on Sunday afternoon?  I really don’t know – I have no answers.  I know I mostly pay attention and are happy to see the Broncos do well because it affects the whole mood of the town I live in – but other than that if I’m being really honest – I couldn’t care less.  As I’ve said before – I don’t even rate NFL football as a sport.  I think of it more as war games dressed up as a sport at best – which might explain a lot of the behavioral issues.  But I had to wonder – and have no idea how this works out in the minds of those so affected…  if I were a woman who had been the victim of rape or something similar at the hands of a football player or players, or if I were gay and the victim of collective harassment and bullying to the point of violence and assault – how would I feel walking into church to a sea of football jerseys…

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Christmas 2014

So I haven't written much of late - at least not on paper - it is what it is.  As has been my tradition however, I generally share my efforts at keeping friends and family informed with our annual Christmas missive.  Which this year was actually more of a New Years letter - it is what it is.

So some will have already received this in the mail.  Others may still be on the way - and the rest - well - this is your brief look into my one page look back at the year that was - 2014.

And then there were three…  Reflections on 2014 from the Christensen family in Colorado

SO… our year was busy – so busy in fact especially toward the end we decided early in December that we would be getting caught up with you all in early January.

For us 2014 seems to have been the start of a profound shift as a family.  The girls are growing up so fast – too fast it feels someday, and we are looking over the horizon at the next phase of our lives, with today being the start of the year we become empty nesters.  This brings an intense spectrum of emotions.  But all in all, we are ready – we are ALL ready – and so it’s OK.

Mallory is now in her junior year at the University of New Mexico and still making the most of her college experience.  Always blazing a path less travelled, this past semester saw her take on an internship with Plant with Purpose, a nonprofit she first encountered on a summer service trip to the Dominican Republic a few years back.  The internship was in San Diego, and she set it all up herself.  I drove out with her, and we had a great time over the Labor Day weekend at the end of August.  Both Jilly and Joy also got to spend weekends there, and her experience was fantastic, with Mal taking several online classes to maintain her full time status and scholarships.  It all came to an end in early December with her boyfriend Cole flying to San Diego to bring her home – to Albuquerque.  That sounds kind of odd – but it feels like home for her for now.  So we make the most of the visits home, which this Christmas was for a short but joy filled week.  Mallory headed back to Albuquerque this past Sunday – and then there were three…

Jilly has entered her senior year of high school.  Her year has included of course lots of hockey, with her high school teammates completing a remarkable third straight undefeated season culminating again in a state championship.  Other extracurricular activities have included choir and mock trial which she seemed to really enjoy.  Choir has featured several special events featuring a wedding at the famous Stanley hotel (The Shining) in Estes Park.  The focus is now firmly on the next phase – COLLEGE!  Most of the applications are in, one school has already accepted her and another offered her a spot on the field hockey team.  With three other applications pending and perhaps two more in the works, this girl who sometimes dislikes making decisions has some big ones coming!!!

Joy and I sometimes just sit back, breathe, and take it all in – sometimes with a calming adult beverage.  We celebrated our 21st anniversary in July with a fun day exploring various parts of Denver.  I, of course, was making the most of celebrating the whole year as my 50th year, which culminated in a fabulous surprise gathering with family and friends at “our local” – Jake’s.  We have enjoyed travels with both of our girls, little getaways together, and still date as often as we can.  Our travels this year were mostly extensions of something the girls were doing – trips to San Diego, Memphis extending to Myrtle Beach, Boston and finally Las Vegas tacked on to Palm Desert for Thanksgiving.  We also enjoyed getaways into the mountains with day trips and a week in Breckenridge.  Although Jilly’s choir performances are impressive, our entertainment highlight of the year had to be seeing Fleetwood Mac!

So from us to you, our friends and family, we have loved being a part of your 2014, and we look forward to what 2015 has in store - sharing in both the good times and the hard times and growing closer together.
"I said to the man, who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'  And he replied, 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'" - Minnie Louise Haskins
Love always Peter, Joy, Mallory & Jillian
Oh - and there were an assortment of happy snaps some online service graciously (and inexpensively) assembled into a card.  Joy does that artsy stuff and who knows if we even have an image of the final product so this will have to do - it is what it is :)