jesus coaches the super bowl

Lovie Smith, our hometown Bears coach, and Tony Dungy, Smith's former mentor, will meet later this afternoon, spearheading opposing teams in Super Bowl XLI.

Both are not only making news as the first black pro-ball coaches to make it to this final game, but both are trying to create a stir around their faith as well: both apparently evangelical Christians telling their story on an Athletes in Action (Campus Crusade) sponsored website:

"The inspiration from my coaching model comes from Jesus himself"

the website says in bold.

This is awkward for me to comment on, because as a Christian, I don't always like finding myself on the critical side of the fence towards my brothers. But, here am I again. Just really: it's tough for me to imagine a middle-aged American male - super bowl fan stereotype A - not laughing aloud at the Jesus-covering-his-mouth-to-call-the-play image the evangelistic website conjures.

The overall tone is hard for me. As you browse the site, two themes appear the biggest: a) God will give you inner strength to make it day to day, and you need a b) personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Possibly these are presented in reverse, with (a) being the reward of sorts for (b).

Waving aside my protests that "personal relationship with Jesus" is so stale a phrase that stand-up comedians regularly use it for laughs... I think my deeper concern is that the pitch is too small. Where are the central themes of Jesus being the origin and end to the universe - the unquestioned King? Where is the kingdom as a place for new citizenship, remaking fear into hope, hunger into health, anger to forgiveness, death to life?

The difficult side to the individualistic gospel message is that the gospel isn't - at core - individualistic.

I do appreciate the section of the site that addresses the human problem of insatiable desire: "After you have reached your goals, then what?" This is a human condition that naturally leads us to God... and humbles us simultaneously.

Well, those are my spiritual musings on culture (Christian or otherwise) for the day. I spoke on Why iWorship (iPhone) last night at I-Life, and when the recording goes up on the web, I'll link it up.

For now: da Bears!