we're all the Bad News Bears

First off, if you don't know who the Bad News Bears are, go read about them here. In summary, they are a Little League team of losers who gain hope and start to win. My premise is that every religious or philosophical team is a team of losers. But, because we are in teams, we support each other and tease the other teams, even if our coach wants us to recruit other losers to our team. Personally, by similar analogy, I can't imagine someone trying to convince me to become a Duke basketball fan. I hate Duke. And I'm not alone. Also I'm a UConn Husky fan and was there when Laettner ended our first NCAA run.

Wait, I need to cool off....

I don't hate people who like Duke, I just hate the Duke basketball concept. So I can relate to this atheist's feelings towards Christians.

The “hate the sin, love the sinner” line, especially when used in connection with LBGT rights, infuriates me. So now I just copy and paste the comment below. It always seems to piss them off for some reason… hm.
“I consider the act of practicing Christianity immoral, but I still like Christians. Oh… but they probably shouldn’t have any rights. Certainly we shouldn’t allow them to marry or adopt, because that infringes upon my personal belief that Christianity corrupts people. And my personal beliefs take precedent over any rights you think you are entitled to. But I still like YOU. I just disagree with what you DO. Please don’t take it personally.” ~JJ 
 As a member of Team Jesus, I want to say on behalf of the team, "Ouch." I shared this on Facebook and Twitter and some from my team wanted to whip Team Atheist in a ballgame. But I came across this quote from a repost at my non-theist friend's Tumblr page.
I had a friend on that other team, a friend I want to recruit to Team Jesus. I don't want to "whip" him in a debate game, but "win" him over by being winsome. I want to listen to this critique. What I hear is someone's frustration with Team Jesus' hypocrisy. Coach Jesus tells us to "love our neighbors as ourselves" as one of two fundamental rules to live by. Now that is not the same as "live and let live" but there is plenty of overlap. Most of us on Team Jesus are very confident about being on the team that will eventually win it all, so we, me included, can get pretty arrogant about our "upside." This tends to lead us to ignore the fact that we're all Bad News Bears. Our team's upside is all due to our Coach, who has unlimited grace on our foibles. "Foibles" range from the little things to outright atrocious wickedness. Coach Jesus lets anyone join the team, even the most rotten. He doesn't even protect his trademark, letting lots of people do awful things in his name. However, he wants his team to imitate him in humility and forgiveness, which can be hard for us who want to celebrate being ranked #1 before the season ends.

I've been reading a shorter work by Leo Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood and Youth, which is more like three novellas. They are a memoir that is not true, but truthy. (He is an amazing writer.) The story is a first person narrative by a 14 year old boy, in the 2nd book, who grows up in wealth, but loses his mother to illness, and is moved by his father to the grandmother's house in Moscow. Not only does the father bring his children, but also that of poor friend of the mother and her daughter, since they had lived with the family in the country, being greatly adored by the mother. On the ride to Moscow, in their carriages, the boy wonders why this girl he has grown up with is not enjoying the trip. She eventually let's him know that his mother is no longer their protector and there is no longer a guarantee of the family's continued patronage. Without that patronage, they will be paupers. They are rich only as long as his family shares their wealth with them. Her only option, she concludes, if they are turned out is to become a nun. This realization stuns the boy.
Has it ever befallen you, my readers, to become suddenly aware that your conception of things has altered—as though every object in life had unexpectedly turned a side towards you of which you had hitherto remained unaware? Such a species of moral change occurred, as regards myself, during this journey, and therefore from it I date the beginning of my boyhood. For the first time in my life, I then envisaged the idea that we—i.e. our family—were not the only persons in the world; that not every conceivable interest was centred in ourselves; and that there existed numbers of people who had nothing in common with us, cared nothing for us, and even knew nothing of our existence. No doubt I had known all this before—only I had not known it then as I knew it now; I had never properly felt or understood it. Chapter 3, Boyhood by Tolstoy
If I had read the atheist's quote without the context of my friend sharing it, I too would have ready to rumble. But because my friend shared it, my "conception of things ... altered." Instead of offense, I felt empathy. This doesn't change my happiness to be on Team Jesus, but it deflated some of the hubris I have for being on his team. What makes Team Jesus so great? We let anyone join, so we are full of losers. Some of us are so embarrassing. Some of us are so obnoxious. There's just not much good that can be said for the players. But the coach; he's remarkable. He let's anyone join (like me), even the biggest losers (like me), even the embarrassing players (like me), even the most obnoxious players (like me). Team Jesus' greatest weakness, the players, are a result of it's greatest strength (the coach).

All I have to offer to those that I or my teammates offend is an introduction to our Coach. He offers us the wealth of his grace, to be part of his family, and join him in the move to the heavenly city. Any loser can jump on the bandwagon, because everyone is a loser. He guarantees those who go with him, his ongoing, eternal patronage.

I recommend this book I reviewed last summer, Jesus + Nothing = Everything.


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