As I was cleaning my house Sunday morning, sweeping floors, vacuuming up dog hair, doing loads of laundry, unloading dishes, dusting, I was catching up on listening to several of my favorite podcasts. In particular, I listened to an episode of “This American Life” called “This I Used to Believe.” It’s a take-off from the NPR series “This I believe” about people who used to believe strongly in something, but no longer do so. You can listen to this episode at this website.
The part that made me hit pause, walk away from my chores, and sit down to blog was the second segment of the show called “Team Spirit in the Sky”. It was about a woman who saw a story on the news about a Texas football coach (I can’t help but picture Coach Taylor from “Friday Night Lights”) from a Christian school who touched the lives of an opposing team from a juvenile lock-up by having fans from HIS team learn their opponents’ names, cheer for them, form “spirit lines” for them, and root for them when his team played them. For many of the lock-up’s players, it was a unique experience to finally be rooted for in any sense of the word, and for the coach, a chance to live out in some small way the biblical idea of loving one’s enemies.
The woman telling the “This I Used to Believe” story was a woman wrote to the coach after seeing the news story to tell him that though she was a lapsed Catholic who became an agnostic following the death of a close friend to cancer, she is glad that he is living out an authentic Christian faith for his players and everyone else in his community. And at first, the coach responds, and I, the listener was thinking, “YEAH! This guy is getting it right!” The coach says he feels that God is speaking to him about this woman who has emailed him, and they begin a correspondence. She even agrees to talk on the phone with him, intrigued that God has been waking him up many nights in a row, bothering him about what he needs to say to this woman who has lost her faith because of one of the most classic questions in theology: why do bad things happen to good people?
But then the coach totally drops the ball. Continue reading “this i used to believe? goalposts, grief, God, and Godwin’s Law”