Saturday, April 25, 2009

Growth in God--More Like Soccer or More Like Football?


"The understanding of sin as a disease within the soul, rather than
external behaviors, sounds strange to Western ears. We prefer clear and
measurable criteria. We want to know if someone committed a sinful act
or not; don't trouble us with discussion about what went on in the heart.

I once heard North American culture compared to other cultures
through the analogy of football versus soccer. The implicit goal of a
soccer game is to keep going without stopping until the end. Flexibility
within the rules is often tolerated in the interest of not interrupting
the flow of the game. In American football, play consists of brief intense
skirmishes, after which everyone stops and progress is minutely
measured. If there is any question about a rule being broken, play is
suspended and scrutinized on instant replay.

My evangelical faith was thoroughly Western in the way that U.S. football
is Western. I was taught to be scrupulous about my behavior. The
heart was important only because it could lead me to sinful behavior."

from Michael Mangis' Signature Sins


I have to say here that my experience of evangelical Christianity was much more multi-dimensional than the experience described above--with the people I knew and the authors I read, it was all about the heart--but still, Mangis' metaphor reveals something very worth pondering regarding the life of faith--really, it can be applied to many of life's processes!

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