I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The secularization of a football hero

Beloved sent me this article about Kurt Warner's Christianity, about how it's such a sports cliche -- this deflecting praise onto a higher power -- that this obviously significant driving force usually gets cut out of stories about him. The article made it sound like this editing is frustrating to him and to his Xian fan base, because it goes beyond negligent to -- well, the article doesn't go this far, but I'll go ahead and say "censorship."

Enough so that he's become quite a student of the media and how to wedge the God reference into the soundbite. Can't imagine that's very rewarding, but you gotta respect the effort.

Now, I mean, it's not like I think the post-game show is the place to have a meaningful forum on our place in the universe. And I'm not joining the ranks of those drawn to any spiritual practice -- whether it's that old-time religion or Scientology or Kabbalah -- on the recommendation of a celebrity.

And I'm aware of the danger of waving red meat at the Christian partisans who insist on their persecution by the liberal media. This is particularly offensive to me because I have had the privilege of representing asylum seekers who were tortured for their religious commitments. And their blues ain't like your blues.

But all that being said, I'd just like to say that it's not just Warner's Christian partisan fans who would like to see him succeed in having this conversation with the American public. I think all of us seekers out here might just be the richer for letting the man speak.

Or I'm kidding myself. I mean, if my "ultimate dinner party" scenario ever did come true and I got Kurt Warner, my undergrad philosophy prof, Angelina Jolie, W.B. Yeats, and Harvey Milk in the same room, would we all be glowering silently at each other by the cheese course? Maybe. Probably.

But the God-blocking bothers me. Why?

I am reminded of something
Patricia Willams wrote in The Alchemy of Race and Rights about Pushkin -- or was it Beethoven? About how these men were, in their times, proud and insistent on their African heritage, but that to bring up this aspect of their lives now seems so anachronistic that it calls into question the educator's motive. Williams writes of her despair in contemplating that if she ever manages to create something as monumental as did these multi-racial luminaries, "[T]hen the best reward to which I can aspire is that I will be remembered as white."

This thing that's bugging me -- I think that observation begins to get at it. It's just the streamlining effect, the "dumbing down." I mean, It's too bad -- isn't it? -- that the media can't seem to distinguish the obligatory shout-out to Jesus in an acceptance speech from a man's earnest desire to testify. It's interesting -- isn't it? -- it IS! -- that Warner the triumphant QB is also Warner the humble seeker?

So when he gives the invocation at outspoken Muslim Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night, doesn't knowing that about him make you wonder what that party was like? Might make me revise my ultimate dinner party guest list...