The Eagles ‘Faith Playbook”: Kevin H

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77 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I am a cynical man.
    First of all, for the record, I don’t give a hoot in hell about the faith of my favorite teams.
    If a band of large Hindus wearing Viking jerseys won the Super Bowl, I’d forsake beef for a year in their honor.
    Second, the people I need to hear testimonies from are the poor and chronically ill who’ve kept the faith.
    Third, someone is making a boatload of cash off this product.
    Fourth…I’m a very, very, cynical man.

  2. Jean says:

    Kevin,

    Thank you for writing graciously about a number of serious issues with that event. You identified those issues with clarity.

  3. Dan from Georgia says:

    Us current/former evangelicals and otherwise (pointing out Evs because I was one and saw how we would prop up celebrities in order to “bring home the masses”) seem to elevate athletes and other celebrities to sub-God status, especially when they happen to be brothers and sisters in the Lord.

    See for example any given Saturday from September to December here in SEC’ville.

    I’ve seen ushers and deacons in church turn into jerks and babies when the football game was broadcast on large-screen TV after the Sunday service, and their guy didn’t make a catch.

    I’ve seen myself in early 1999 let out blue streak after blue streak when my Vikes could not dispose of the Falcons early on during a somewhat important game.

    I’ve seen nearly empty roads around Newnan on the night that the Bulldogs were playing for the National Championship.

    Heck, I am a baseball and football fan, but I think we all (me included) go overboard in our adulation of some guy who gets paid $999,999,999,9999…. to knock someone to the grass or shoot free-throws. I admit I like to see Byron Buxton dive for a ball and make an out that any other player wouldn’t have been able to make, but I have to remind myself that these things are fleeting and not important in the end.

    And hey, wouldn’t it be cool to see a teacher get paid mega bucks to encourage a young person to be the best they can be and turn said youth from a violent future? Of course it wouldn’t make ESPN’s Web Gems or the national evening news.

    Just thinking out loud here.

  4. Duane Arnold says:

    Kevin

    Nicely done reflection… For my part, I think you’re asking the right questions.

  5. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael said (#1):

    “Second, the people I need to hear testimonies from are the poor and chronically ill who’ve kept the faith.”

    But they don’t get the adulation or highlight reels!

    As it should be.

    I personally would rather here from some non-descript itinerant preacher than a published (multiple books) megachurchmegabusiness “pastor” talk about how he suffered for the gospel because he had to buy a Camry instead of a Lexus.

    yes, I am opinionated today!

  6. Michael says:

    Let’s nail these kind of events for what they are…an attempt to make Christianity a popular social feature.
    This verse has haunted believers since it was written…

    “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
    (1 Corinthians 1:26–29 ESV)

  7. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks for writing again Kevin!

  8. Michael says:

    Dan,

    If one wants to empty the church on a given day, all that’s necessary is to call for a prayer meeting or announce that it’s “missionary night”…

  9. JoelG says:

    Nice nuanced article, Kevin.

    “There are many good things about it. But as I observe the culture around me, I wonder where our priorities are?”

    This describes my view of evangelicalism in general.

    The only way I’d pay $20 for this thing is if those strong dudes who break concrete blocks for Jesus are there.

  10. John 20:29 says:

    Interesting…. Christians on any level declaring their faith is good

    But charging admission to hear your sports heroes talk about what they know of God is waaay off base…. Remember our Lord with the money changers? Too many “movers and doers” in Christian circles do not fear and may not know God….
    If the label wasn’t already taken, i’d call this methodism 💁

    Maybe they’ll just talk football ? ? ?

  11. Kevin H says:

    Thanks, all, for the feedback so far.

  12. Duane Arnold says:

    Anyone here have any thoughts on when this celebrity culture came into the church? Furthest back I can think of is Henry Ward Beecher in his abolitionist days….

  13. Kevin H says:

    Dan,

    I don’t have a problem with people being passionate in cheering for their sports teams or players. I think the inclination to be passionate with things we enjoy is a natural and good thing God has built into us.

    With that said, yes, some people can get unnecessarily and unhealthily excessive in their reaction to cheering for a team or player(s). Both in the moment when some action takes place on the field/court/ice/etc. and also outside the action when a team or player(s) are overly adulated or vilified primarily because of their performance in the sport.

  14. Michael says:

    Duane,

    I suspect it started with Apollos…and hit full stride with Billy Sunday (a former baseball player) and Sister Aimee…

  15. Dan from Georgia says:

    True Kevin…I am one of those who can get in the moment as per my 1999 comment. I am unabashed in my esteem for the Twins and Vikings, but it has been tempered somewhat since I felt embarrassed by my behavior that fateful January day. Sports talk is common here where I work, and I do enjoy it.

  16. Kevin H says:

    Michael,

    I do see some value and good in giving a platform to a group of football players speak about their faith. I don’t see such a things as overall negatively as apparently you do. With that said, I certainly have made my concerns clear as I do also see some difficulties of such a thing in general and specifically to this such event.

    And I’m all for the Vikings drafting a bunch of large Hindus. Typically, Hindus are populated in a portion of the world where there is very little development of American football. That means, they probably wouldn’t be very good at it. This will only help the Eagles chances of repeating as SB Champs. 🙂

  17. Michael says:

    The other side of the coin is equally interesting.

    As Dan will attest, the Minnesota Vikings really have had only one coach in the minds of many fans.

    Bud Grant.

    We love Bud…he’s in his nineties now and still has an office in the Vikings new complex.

    In his autobiography he spends part of a chapter explaining that he’s an atheist…and my heart breaks every time I see him.

  18. Michael says:

    KevinH,

    One has to take in consideration that I’m an old crank…
    I’ve never thought much about the testimonies of the famous or the notorious…it’s always seemed to me to be the church trying to ride the coattails of someone other than Jesus.

  19. Kevin H says:

    Oh, I know you’re an old crank. 🙂

  20. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael et al.

    Grew up in the 70s with the stoic stoneface Bud Grant on TV every weekend or Monday night.

    What Michael said!

    He is an icon in Minnesota and for Vikings fans everywhere.

  21. Dan from Georgia says:

    Uh oh,…did I just say “icon”?

    Hehehe…I still have that fanboy in me.

  22. Kevin H says:

    Michael, speaking to your #17, I was hit hard when Roy Halladay suddenly died last year from the plane crash. I really admired him for not only his performance on the field, but also for the way he carried himself on and off the field. But as far as I know, he never made any profession for Christ. He was raised a Mormon but left that faith in early adulthood. His kids attend a Christian school and Halladay was even an assistant coach on their high school baseball team. But, again, as far as I know, he never professed the Christian faith. It is hard to think on these things after his passing.

  23. Michael says:

    Dan,

    It’s all good.
    I still wear a Tarkenton jersey and expect his iconic status to be recognized in my house. 🙂

    I do it with musicians too…I expect people to remove their hats if Tammy Wynette or Roy Orbison is mentioned…

  24. Jeff Pautz says:

    Kevin, well-written article. I pray you get some answers. I agree with your concerns.

  25. Michael says:

    KevinH,

    I think it natural and good to hope for our heroes to be regenerate…it’s good practice for those who are in our “real” lives and we can possibly effect…

  26. Dan from Georgia says:

    Kevin and Michael…got me thinking about a favorite athlete and lack of faith…I can’t really imagine which athlete’s future passing will impact me deeply, but I did feel sad when Kirby Puckett and Kory Stringer passed away.

    This isn’t a sports hero, but a musician, so a bit off to the side of the topic, but I will probably shed a tear or two when Canadian musician Gordon Lightfoot passes away…fell in love with his music last few years and my dad played his records around the house when I was a young puffy kid.

  27. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t think having hero worship for ballplayers or actors is harmful at all – that kind of worship is not like Baal worship – it’s good natured fun, even if you are one of those guys who paint themselves. tailgate and watch the game.

    I can see fans wanting to meetup with and interact with players – but I do not understand the Christian aspect. If they are with a ministry to share Christ why do it in a Christian venue with a bunch of Christians in the audience? Why not do a neutral meeting and then slap the gospel / their testimony on non believers? What is a Christian going to gain by listening to their testimony?

    This is the same thing I said last week about evidential apologetics – they hinder evangelism but apologetics end up convincing the already convinced. Is it the same here? “whew, if this running back is a Christian, I guess I made the right choice in becoming a Christian.”

  28. Dan from Georgia says:

    BTW Michael…stood near the legendary Carl Eller back in the late 1990s while I worked at a TV station in Minneapolis…UN. BE. LIEVE. ABLE. how big and intimidating he still came off as…looked like he could still take care of himself in an alley.

    /mancrush

  29. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Not so much with athletes,but with musicians…I get more than a little upset when they pass.

    A lot more than a little…especially as I get older and lose more and more of those who provided the soundtrack to my life.

    My family has quite literally had meetings over what to do when Jerry Lee goes…

  30. Michael says:

    “whew, if this running back is a Christian, I guess I made the right choice in becoming a Christian.”

    MLD…on this we fully agree…

  31. Michael says:

    Dan,

    He still looks that way to me…while Alan Page went a completely different direction.

    Page is a great “role model”…Eller, not so much… 🙂

  32. Kevin H says:

    Thanks, Jeff, at #25.

  33. Dan from Georgia says:

    yes Michael, I am in the camp too of being a music lover to that degree. I love myself some good athletes (despite what I said in post 3), in moderation of course…but I tend to connect more with the musicians.

  34. Josh the Baptist says:

    All these weeks we await the return of Kevin H.

    And we get an Eagles article.

    Thanks Kev.

    (Just kidding. It’s a good article. The Evangelical / Celebrity relationship is a weird one, to be sure.)

  35. Steve says:

    Good observations Kevin! Another point to ponder is that this event is being advertised as a men’s ministry special event at CC. It makes me wonder, what about the women, they are not invited? CC Philly did the same thing when Jason Kyle came to talk about astrophysics but again, the women weren’t invited. Its like the women are confined to basket weaving and knitting and the men get all the science and sports topics. Are not women interested in Astrophysics or football? Its this stereotypical ordering of the sexes that really turns me off with this evangelical culture as well.

  36. Kevin H says:

    Josh,

    Just give it a couple more months and the next one can be about the NBA Champion 76ers. 🙂

  37. filbertz says:

    I’d pay to hear Christians from the losing team explain how they grew through the experience of loss and disappointment.

    I’d be willing to give autographs to fellow attendees. 😉

  38. Michael says:

    fil,

    “I’d pay to hear Christians from the losing team explain how they grew through the experience of loss and disappointment.”

    Then you’d enjoy my team… 🙂

  39. Kevin H says:

    Steve,

    Since the church is not the host or organizer of this event, I would think the choice to make it men only was likely made by the ministry hosting and organizing the event.

    I do not remember the specifics of the Jason Lisle (not Kyle) event, but you very well could be right that it was only a men’s ministry event.

    I do see the value in men’s and women’s ministries both trying to put together events that would be of more particular interest and impact to each specific gender. With that said, yeah, constricting an event with the Eagles to men only is rough. While there is obviously greater numerical appeal to men then women for such an event, there still are a significant amount of women who would like to be part of such an event. I considered writing about this aspect, too, but my article was already long enough so I had to hold back on some things.

  40. filbertz says:

    Michael, I’m a Lions fan so long-suffering is in the blood. 😉

  41. Jean says:

    This type of event fits within the theological category known as “theology of glory.” It is not in my opinion simply a non-essential distinction, but colors a person’s Christian worldview.

  42. JoelG says:

    “Its this stereotypical ordering of the sexes that really turns me off with this evangelical culture as well.”

    Indeed… my wife is twice the NFL fan as I am. I may be twice as emotional as she is. And worst of all, I’m not a huge fan of bacon. I may just turn in my man card…

  43. Steve says:

    JoelG, I already turned in my man card. Maybe we need to watch. Get on the scale and be a man. by Ken Graves

  44. Josh the Baptist says:

    @37 – Luckily, the 76ers are fools gold. They are the Hornets of 2-3 years ago. Parity in the NBA is an illusion.

  45. JoelG says:

    lol Steve

    “Men’s ministries” have zero appeal to me because of those kinds of stereotypes. I have a feeling we’re not the only one’s who think this.

  46. Babylon's Dread says:

    Not that long ago we would simply rejoice to have so many guys use their notoriety for the Gospel. Now we have to judge motives, methods, mission, manners and most of all money.

    Lots of anxiety over how far you can walk on the sabbath and not call it work. That’s what I feel reading this.

    I get it. I have done it too. I’m just weary of us tearing down one another when we need all the friends we can get. So I say let them do what they want and for whatever motive they want.

    This is just one more example of free-market religious faith. Meh!…

    As Long as Christ is Preached Dread

  47. bob1 says:

    #12 & #14

    My guess is that in our country, the celeb. thing started with revivalism and revivalists.

    I also think it’s caught hold more in nonsacramental churches. I’m positive
    no one outside my parish knows my pastor.

  48. Kevin H says:

    BD,

    I hear your perspective and agree with parts of it. In my article, I acknowledge there are good aspects to the event. One of them would be as you noted, these guys using their notoriety for the Gospel.

    I made my concerns plain. Without haggling over the whole list, my biggest concern is, yes, the money that is being made through this event. We don’t know where the money is going, but somebody, or some group of people is getting some very nice change. Making a bunch of money from a group of celebrity Christians sharing the faith does not sit well with me. It strikes me of something of the like of the spirit of the money changers in the temple who Jesus drove out, more than anything else.

    Any further thoughts on this?

  49. Duane Arnold says:

    Kevin,

    What would be you guess as to the average salary of the players?

    I ask because I have a friend who is a very well known executive with a large well known company. When they are asked to speak at a church related event, not only do they not accept any sort of remuneration, they also take care of their own travel and accommodation. The reasoning is that they are already well compensated and, in fact, their compensation is actually a part of their “celebrity” status. As such they feel it would be a really bad example to receive any remuneration.

  50. Kevin H says:

    Duane,

    Their 2017 season earnings varied from $800,000 for the lowest paid player to over $6M for the highest.

    I would prefer that players in such a situation would take nothing, but I’m not going to quibble over them receiving what would be standard speaking honorariums and travel accommodations. So that is why I allowed for that in my communication with the organizing ministry.

    I would be quite disappointed if they are commanding big speaking fees for such an event. But then again, I have no information whatsoever as to where all the money is going for this event.

  51. Dan from Georgia says:

    JoelG and Steve (44 and 46)…I am in your camp. I enjoy football, but I don’t need everything in life referenced in through the lens of sports, cars, business, etc to learn something. I was at one men’s retreat my former church hosted and it was a horrible experience for me at the time. I vowed never to attend another men’s reatreat…and to this day anytime a men’s retreat is advertised, there is always some sports or automobile angle to something at the retreat.

  52. Kevin H says:

    Those dollar figures cover only the players on the speaking roster. Additionally, each player earned an additional share of $112,000 for winning the Super Bowl and also made additional shares in each of their 2 playoff victories before that.

  53. Duane Arnold says:

    #53 Kevin

    As I understand it, to “minister” means to serve… not to be served. I would say if the players are receiving anything more that the bare minimum that this may be an “event”, but it has little to do with “ministry”. As you say, however, we don’t know where the money is going… which in and of itself is concerning.

  54. JoelG says:

    I hear you, Dan.

    My version of a “retreat” is to get as far away from noise and people as I possibly can. This always helps me feel “stronger”.

    😉

  55. Dan from Georgia says:

    JoelG, that is the def’n of “retreat”. Most men’s retreats seem to be “immersions” into something bizarre or more guilt-driven sessions of how to “Be a better dad/husband/golfer/etc”.

  56. JoelG says:

    Agreed, Dan.

    I think Jean’s #42 comment regarding a “theology of glory” applies to these kinds of gatherings.

    http://www.mbird.com/glossary/theology-of-glory/

  57. Steve says:

    I’ve never been on a men’s only retreat and have no desire at this point. I guess they serve a purpose for some men but I’m not convinced. Probably would cause more stress being away from my family that needs me.

  58. Babylon's Dread says:

    The money changers in the Temple had a whole other set of realities. They were making money off of a non-voluntary experience. Further, it seems they were turning the one place where Gentiles could pray into a marketplace.

    Selling tapes, t-shirts or tickets does not strike me as anything at all to do with what Jesus was opposing. There are no doubt reasons to chafe at our turning testimonies into income streams, I suppose. Free-market issues do not trouble me much as people can choose. Refusing is power.

    Having put on events that cost money for 40 years I know a thing or two about this. It does not offend me in any way. The Philly story was a warm and good one that ought to be told. I assure you the players who might not be desirous at the most conservative gatherings will have a manifold hearing elsewhere.

    I am not offended that we talk about these things as much as I just wish we would support rather than question one another.

    Frankly I totally support confrontation and consider it to be a mandate. This event simply did not raise any flags for me. I have no reason to assume the costs of the even are about aggrandizing wealth.

    It is no different than Kari Jobe doing her thing or Mercy Me or any array of pay for play events.

    I trust your goodwill and do not wish to question your heart over it. I just do not share the point of view.

  59. John 20:29 says:

    FWIW….. It seems to me that, if one is going to stage an event claiming the gate is going to charity, the charity should be ready to show where the money is going – especially an event under the banner of Christ…

    Right now i am disturbed that the Bush family says their Barbara had a strong belief in life after death and she is now with God… They never mention how she got there, from what i have heard… Is Jesus politically incorrect?
    Over my life i’ve known many women like her… It is good to have one in your family. My grandmother, the preacher’s wife was one
    Sorry… off topic

  60. Kevin H says:

    BD,

    Thanks for the gracious reply.

  61. Duane Arnold says:

    #60 Em

    From personal knowledge (albeit limited), I think that I can assure you that Mrs. Bush had a very strong faith in Christ…

  62. Outside T. Fold says:

    grift.

  63. John 20:29 says:

    Thank you, Dr. Duane… I was fairly certain her trust was in Christ…
    I suspect that she would scold her offspring for sidestepping the declaration of that necessity – … Faith in God and the afterlife doesn’t quite get your ticket to heaven punched in most cases

  64. Everstudy says:

    #60 “Right now i am disturbed that the Bush family says their Barbara had a strong belief in life after death and she is now with God… They never mention how she got there, from what i have heard… Is Jesus politically incorrect?”

    Really? “Never”?

    After Michael wrote his “This Isn’t The Time, Challies…” post, I would think that it would also apply to those mourning the death of a wife and mother. But I could be wrong.

  65. Dan from Georgia says:

    Steve and JoelG,

    Re: men’s church retreats…the reason I hated the one I went to was…at the time I was single and just about everyone else there was married with kids. I wasn’t a really sociable person back then and it was hard to talk to the men when all they could talk about was “my wife and kids”.

    Re men’s ministries in general…Steve (58) I agree with you that they do serve a purpose. Like I said, I like NFL football (and MLB baseball) and I do appreciate a few (stereo) typical men’s stuff, but those things really don’t motivate me and inspire me all that much – I’m more into music and the visual arts (goodbye man card…hahaha!), and I actually was involved in an artists bible study one year and really enjoyed it!

  66. Steve says:

    Dan from Georgia,

    I went to a men’s group (no retreat) for years when I was single and I felt exactly like you did. Looking back it was a lot of wasted time and in some ways I wish I had never gone. In retrospect I’m thinking a lot of these men were probably really hurting with lousy marriages and this supposedly was their therapy. I’m not judging them. If it helped them more power to them. However, they weren’t good role models for me. Now that I am married to a wonderful wife and have a kid of my own it boggles my mind how any of these men had the time to devote to men’s activities every week without sacrificing their most important relationships.

  67. JoelG says:

    Dan,

    Think you’d fit in nicely at the church I attend once in a while.

    http://idcpdx.com/community/arts/

    I quit trying to pretend to be “normal” and it’s liberating, although it can be lonely.

    Good point Steve.

  68. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Steve and JoelG!

  69. John 20:29 says:

    Everstudy, i am glad you and Dr. Duane reacted to my reaction to the Bush family… For anyone offended i apologize and regret causing angst of any form
    I’ll try for a little self justification here…. 😇
    Could it be that i am too critical of a grieving family? Well, maybe… But…
    George Jr. and his wife Laura were on the news, the world stage, continually as family spokesman. George went out of his way to declare his late mother’s faith in God and life after death…. That’s good. Or is it? Don’t all religions do that? Do we, as believers in Christ need to water down our declarations of Faith? Make them generic?
    Now i can cut George Jr. a little slack as he is from a political background and has good social and political instincts.
    Is it wrong to expect a Believer in Christ (i think these folk claim to be) to declare where their hope lies? I’d say no. I think Barbara would, also. But then i am more evangelical than Episcopal 😊

    Further, i’d say we all, myself included, need to take our responsibility to name the object of our hope more seriously. Listening to George, i could have sworn i heard our Lord say, don’t forget my Name when you’re talking about me.

    FWIW – Having gone thru the grieving process of saying goodbye to those whose life has run its course, i don’t put the Bush’s loss in quite the same traumatic category as the. folks up in Humboldt…

    I hope the spotlight shining on Barbara Bush’s life now inspires young women the world over to see themselves with dignity and self respect – She understood what it was to be woman and, for whatever His reason, God has shown a spotlight on her life history for all of us to think on today…

    Sorry for the long pontification… Promise not to do it again…. 😏 … mebbe

  70. Jerod says:

    Kevin

    What.
    A.
    load.
    of.
    A Horse.

    Carrying a cart weighed down with really excellent deductions.

    Love your writing, brother.

    Perhaps those other two protesting players decided not to be in on the fawning over Christian muscle-hustle.

    The Church has, become a reflection of the culture – tribal, concerned about optics and $$$.

  71. Jerod says:

    Dan@ #2

    Absolutely right about the real heroics taking place on the ground in mundane American life. The cop, the teacher, the stranger who performs CPR or takes a homeless stranger for a bite, etc.

  72. John 20:29 says:

    #70 footnote – while i took umbrage to George Jr.’s “polite,” and, in my view insipid,
    mention of his mother. Barbara’s declaration of Faith, i caught a couple snatches of her funeral service and it left no doubt that her Faith was in Jesus Christ… so, i guess i am de-umbraged now

    I like the son, but Jr. was not a good choice to lead a nation per his venture into Iraq IMO, so maybe i am biased against the lad… dunno….
    As i said, if my criticism of George Jr. seemed disrespectful of their grief to some, i apologize

  73. Duane Arnold says:

    #73 Em

    Episcopalians are a little “different”, but I thought the funeral expressed Mrs. Bush’s faith. I was so pleased to hear Jon Meacham. He was on the vestry of my old church in NYC and he has a real and deep Christian faith.

  74. Nikki Nicole says:

    I never read your work before & I will continue to willingly not read your work. Your so concerned about $20 streaming money and where it’s going. Why? Because it’s held in a church? How come your not equally appalled by the cost of parking per car? So petty I wasted my time reading your article of incessant whining, thanks again!

  75. BrianD says:

    Nikki, you’re entitled to your opinion. But you’re completely wrong about Kevin’s views being “incessant whining”. He has every right to say what he did, and no, he didn’t whine incessantly.

    Now, be nice to him when you see him at church this Sunday 🙂

    Kevin, you’re still right 🙂

  76. Kevin H says:

    BrianD,

    Always great to see you when you pop in here. And thanks for the support.

    And I doubt I’ll see Nikki at church. If she attended the church, she would know that parking is free. 😉

    But if the church ever started charging for parking, then I’d really have something to whine about. 🙂

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