Audible

 

It’s not about the players. It’s not about the protests. It’s about the NFL.

The Roger Goodell NFL has been anything but glorious. For all his assurances of defending the shield, the self-righteous proclamation of the Commissioner has yielded nothing less than the opposite. The NFL shield has now become a tattered, tainted symbol of lawlessness, disrespect, and selfish hypocrisy.

Consider the pattern that has brought the nation to at least a momentary disgust with the most dominant professional sport in the United States. Goodell’s first “defense of the shield” was to ban happy dance celebrations in the end zone. Randy Moss could no longer “moon” Packers fans in the end zone.

Who can forget the improper spinning of the football? This was also regulated. Goodell was determined to make sure that football didn’t spin out of control. (I just couldn’t help myself.)

Then came the minuscule suspension for a player beating his pregnant girlfriend senseless in an elevator. Only after being publicly taken to task by Maine Governor Paul LePage, did the NFL decide to administer a more appropriate suspension. The NFL continues to tolerate repeated domestic violence within it’s ranks.

But then the NFL decided to morph into a political entity. When the sovereign State of Georgia passed legislation to protect the Free Speech and Religious Freedom rights of ministers to refuse to perform gay marriages, the NFL threatened to remove the Super Bowl from their State. In remarkable display of cowardice the Governor of Georgia vetoed the bill, effectively knuckling under to the NFL.

Now the new bully of political spectrum was feeling very full of themselves. They banned socks and shoes that had improper support of the 9-11 tragedy. They banned the support of fallen police officers on NFL helmets. They mocked Christian players for kneeling before the game prayer.

Until now. Now, it works for them. Kneeling now is another way the NFL can throw it’s weight around and tell the fans it doesn’t give a rat’s hairy hindquarters what they think; in fact, the NFL thinks that protesting fans and the President of the United States need to show the NFL, the “proper respect”, Goodell’s own words.

The NFL calls an audible on what expression is allowed and what is not because they have very little to fear in the form of reprisal in the Free Market. Given non-profit status by the Federal Government, with rabid fans who are so addicted to the game they will ignore any disgusting behavior just so they can have their Sunday fix, and a populace whose value system is somewhere between nada and nil, the NFL has very little reason to behave itself and the more reason to throw it’s shoulders at it’s viewers. They will sit there, take it,and wait with bated breath for the next game.

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Bonhoeffer on Stupidity the entire quote

Taken from a circular letter, addressing many topics, written to three friends and co-workers in the conspiracy against Hitler, on the tenth anniversary of Hitler’s accession to the chancellorship of Germany.

‘Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use  of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings  at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed- in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.

‘If we want to know how to get the better of stupidity, we must seek to understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is in essence not an intellectual defect but a human one. There are human beings who are of remarkably agile intellect yet stupid, and others who are intellectually quite dull yet anything but stupid. We discover this to our surprise in particular situations. The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect, but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or that they allow this to happen to them. We note further that people who have isolated themselves from others or who lives in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals or groups of people inclined or condemned to sociability. And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem. It is a particular form of the impact of historical circumstances on human beings, a psychological concomitant of certain external conditions. Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or of a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. It would even seem that this is virtually a sociological-psychological law. The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other.The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence, and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with a person, but with slogans, catchwords and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupdi person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.

‘Yet at this very point it becomes quite clear that only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity. Here we must come to terms with the fact that in must cases a genuine internal liberation becomes possible only when external liberation has preceded it. Until then we must abandon all attempts to convince the stupid person. This state of affairs explains why in such circumstances our attempts to know what ‘the people’ really thing are in vain and why, under these circumstances, this question is so irrelevant for the person who is thinking and acting responsibly. The word of the Bible that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom declares that the internal liberation of human beings to live the responsible life before God is the only genuine way to overcome stupidity.

‘But these thoughts about stupidity also offer consolation in that they utterly forbid us to consider the majority of people to be stupid in every circumstance. It really will depend on whether those in power expect more from peoples’ stupidity. than from their inner independence and wisdom.’

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from ‘After Ten Years’ in Letters and Papers from Prison (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works/English, vol. 8) Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010

Life Adrift

 

Known as the “Weeping Prophet”, Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the magnificent Temple of Solomon. Despite his repeated warnings to the people of Judah to change their ways and return to their foundation, which had built and strengthened their Nation, the people continued in their downward spiral of moral decay. After the death of King Josiah, Jeremiah watched the quick plunge back into paganism of his fellow citizens and foresaw their doom and, despite his many emotional warnings, the nation of Judah stubbornly quickened toward the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecies at the sword of a predatory empire.

Jeremiah’s writings in the Bible hold special significance to the Christian of today. He recounts in Jeremiah 1:4-5 an assurance of his call from God, “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” This scripture encapsulates to a great degree the view of life that Christians embrace.

It is to the Christian that life is formed by the very hand of God. Our Founders used the word endowed. Life is written into the fabric of our foundational documents, of this there can be no denial.

But the protection of life is not necessarily exclusive to a Christian pursuit or endeavor. Most of the greatest civilizations established traditions to promote life among their civilization to ensure their safe and prosperous propagation. Traditions of birth and marriage were established usually in the context of that civilization’s religion. These formed the foundation on which that civilization was built.

This discussion is basic grade school social studies to many but it is important to reaffirm, in light of our nation’s perilous course, the basics of world history. What destroys a nation? What makes it live?

If we as a people do not protect and cherish life, how can we live? As each civilization grows in power, its fear for survival lessens giving way to a desire for personal gain, pleasure, and indulgence. Life holds inevitable repercussions for personal choices, which the selfish work to circumvent. Wants outweigh what is worthy as the people so stalwart to build now wallow in decadence.

Civilization to civilization, the same weakness persists. We strive to build an empire but have not the moral fortitude to maintain it. The path for national decay is well worn for all have followed it.

The decline that Jeremiah wept against for his nation was not new then and happening before our eyes now. A nation grows strong on its zeal for life and desire to survive against all odds. It succeeds and becomes a power to the world and the envy of all nations. Soon, secure in its power, the people began to flock to pleasure and decadence. The constraints of life, the responsibilities thereof, are tossed aside as obstructions in the path towards a new and better nation. We sacrifice our children like nations of old and destroy the structure which raised them and built our society.

We wonder now at our depravity like there was no herald to warn of us of this demise, forgetting those we mocked and shouted down. The sanctity of life and the tradition of marriage is more than just a Christian tradition. It is the very essence and necessity of a nation’s security and survival.

Still, we will ignore the fate in the ruins of time and mindlessly walk towards our doom. It stands to reason, if we could reason, that the value of life could build a civilization and the devaluing of life destroys a civilization. But some will wonder in the end how we got here?

It’s not that complicated. It’s as simple as common sense. When you cut free of the mooring, you simply keep drifting…

  • Andy Torbett

My Rites Have Rights

Today I write of rites and rights. This phonetic pun is meant to catch your attention with a little pithy fun but there is an underlying truth that we must explore. It would seem that in this age we have sacrificed the right to rites in obeisance to the rite of rights. I’ll explain why I’m right.

In last week’s column, we examined the anti-miscegenation laws and eugenics which are the tap root to flower of the Marriage License. While the marriage license is manifestation of deep seeded racism within certain political circles, it also shows that government has no business in the business of personal choice. Specifically, should government decide who should and shouldn’t get married and should it have the power to punish those who disagree with its decisions?

Anti-miscegenation laws were abolished to stop those who were using the power of government to implement their eugenic beliefs that blacks were an inferior race and should not enter into marriage with whites, which eugenic experts held as the purest highest race. Still, every culture has traditions and rites passed down to this day that encourage children to marry within their race. Should government make it their business to encourage “sensible” modifications to these cultural rites?

A person’s choice to adhere to a ritual or belief, beyond the pall of physical coercion or violence, is their choice and according to the constitution cannot be infringed upon. Until this new age, we as a people refused to violate the rituals of other cultures present here in our melting pot, no matter how disagreeable, distasteful, or confusing they seemed, unless it could be proven coercion by force was in play. This steadfast adherence to freedom passed down from our Founders was the beacon to all who came to hope that they could live and practice their faith and culture without reprisal in their daily lives.

Our Founders were not so far removed from the exodus of many fleeing religious persecutions from the different countries of Europe and England. It should be noted that these religions had been told by their governments that their faiths could not be practiced in public or in their workplace. Some were punished for preaching sermons which government found intolerable and inappropriate to be voiced from a public pulpit. There was a state religion which government demanded be the template for all others.

So many of these groups through various means secured charters to flee to a world where they could worship and live their lives in freedom the they way they chose. These early settlers could not flourish under the “keep your beliefs in your own four walls” of the old world which is so prevalent now in the aging Democrat Party and the New Republican Party. This penal form of “freedom” is a study in contradiction. It amounts to nothing more than sentence of confinement by an over bearing government. Freedom is not freedom unless you are free wherever you may be.

But times bring changes. Recent polls and trends among the Nation’s youth, especially college students, have revealed a disturbing trend of beliefs that freedoms apply only to certain people or groups. That government is best suited to decide which belief systems are deserving of constitutional liberties is an argument that in years past would have been disregarded as barbaric and dangerous in light of world history, but in the surreal light of the imploding Republic, the generations of our tomorrow have embraced these seeds left from the shadows of fascism in dream of a new tomorrow. Sadly, as a wise man once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Many are now content to let government be the purveyor of morality. It is in style now to persecute Christians and their “intolerant beliefs”. The calls for the elimination of the First Amendment for those with unsanctioned beliefs comes from the shortsightedness of those who believe what is “en vogue” now will remain so without change or a shift of the pendulum.

The hammer of government has returned and all sides are intent on gaining control of it to advance their belief system with no care for the danger signs history has left for us. It is evident that some feel that shouting loud enough so that opposing views are silenced is preferable to debate and that a tantrum is sufficient argument for getting what they want. Short term satisfaction is of paramount importance and long term repercussions be damned.

We have burned the platform of civil debate to the ground while the structure in the marriage debate that needs to be burned is the bridge of the marriage license. It is through this structure that government has attacked and trampled the freedoms of those whose marital and religious rites it finds unpalatable. Some are thrilled to destroy those who hold unsanctioned beliefs while others are incredulous to find that there are some whose god is not mammon and really is…well…God.

The new modern rite of our society is to pursue rights as a validation for all behavior and lifestyle choices. It is the new religion and government is its god. All these beliefs have savaged each other  in a quest for a marriage license, a government overreach steeped in racism and government eugenics. If these truly seek the attainment of right and not the destruction of their fellow Americans rights, there needs to be cessation of the trampling of the right to rites.

These questions remain: Can these competing views on marriage return to the platform of civil debate without trampling certain unalienable rights? How can we allow all lives to live  in freedom in our every day exercise with a pattern of decency and deference to our fellow man? It is time to right a wrong and abolish the marriage license. This is the answer.