Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A few words regarding Tiger Woods...

Several months ago, I was troubled by the almost gleeful judgment and condemnation that was heaped onto Michael Jackson upon his death...often by people who claim to follow Jesus. Now, in the wake of the Tiger woods scandal, I am experiencing a sense of deja vu. Woods' actions were certainly immoral and he violated both his marriage vows and his wife's trust. This is between him and his family...not us. The truth is, he is a fallible human being, just like the rest of us...who seems to be struggling to put his life and maybe even his family back together. The second we can no longer feel sympathy for him, his wife, and his children as human beings, is the second we stop being human ourselves. Followers of Jesus are to be people of grace. We have received grace, and we are to embody it. Grace. Healing. Redemption. Reconciliation. Shouldn't people who have received (and are receiving) such things be the first to reflect it back to those who need it most?

Sorry if I'm rambling, but it really bothers me. I'm reminded of a passage from David Dark's book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything:
"Pervert is a verb, and we do it all the time. To pervert is to degrade, to cut down to size – and we do it to people in our minds. We devalue them. We reduce them to the limitations of our appetites, of our sense of what might prove useful to us, of our sense of what strikes us as appropriate. We often only file them away – these living and breathing human beings – into separate files of crazy-making issues-talk. When we think of a person primarily as a problem, a potential buyer, a VIP, a celebrity, or an undocumented worker, we’re reducing them to the tiny sphere of our stunted attention span. This is how perversion works. Perversion is a failure of the imagination, a failure to pay adequate attention.
While perversion appears to be the modus operandi of governments and the transnational corporations they serve – and the language both speak in their broadcasts – the reductionism implicit in perversion doesn’t ultimately work. It doesn’t do justice to the fullness of what we are. We, the people, are always more than our use value. Like the God in whose image people are made, people are irreducible. There’s always more to a person – more stories, more life, more complexities – than we know. The human person, when viewed properly, is unfathomable, incalculable, and dear. Perversion always says otherwise. Perversion is a way of managing, getting down to business, getting a handle on people as if they were things. A person reduced to a thing has been, in the mind of the perverter, dispensed with, taken care of, filed away. Perversion is pigeonholing…
I tried to share some of this with my high school students, and a fellow who’s always quick with an encouraging, conspiratorial smile walked up after class (always a rewarding experience) and said, “So we’re all perverts then.”
“Yep,” I said. “But we aren’t only perverts. We certainly underestimate each other, misperceiving and misrepresenting other people from one moment to the next. But we also get it right sometimes. We aren’t just perverts. In fact, if we say of someone that he or she is a pervert and nothing but a pervert, we’re being perverts speaking perversely as perverts do.” Here I had to pause to take a breath. “Like calling someone a fool or an idiot. It’s one of those things Jesus tells us to never ever do. Calling someone a pervert without acknowledging our own inner pervert might lead to the destruction – or at least the perversion – of our own soul. We become perverts in our determination to catch a pervert.”



Grace and Peace,
Adam

3 comments:

Dana said...

Pandora's box officially opened. Believe me, I know, I opened it on my facebook page. Good Luck. I think we might need to up our life insurance policy.

Falantedios said...

I hear you. I got torched too.

I find it interesting how easy it is to get torched for different things these days.

Show sympathy for Tiger - get torched by one group.

Say that Tiger needs Jesus - get torched by another group.

*sigh*

brgulker said...

The truth is, he is a fallible human being, just like the rest of us...who seems to be struggling to put his life and maybe even his family back together. The second we can no longer feel sympathy for him, his wife, and his children as human beings, is the second we stop being human ourselves.

I think (at least part of) the reason that people get upset by posts such as this is because it's all too easy to confuse "feeling sorry for someone" and feeling "sympathy" or "compassion" or "empathy" for that person.

On the one hand, I don't feel sorry for Tiger Woods at all. He's a man who has everything that "the world" has to offer -- money, fame, power, etc. (I certainly feel sorry for his wife and children).

On the other hand, I feel compassion, empathy and sympathy for his condition -- the human condition of fallenness.

I don't feel sorry for Tiger. He has earned and deserved the pain he feels; it is the necessary consequence of his actions. But I feel a deep compassion for him at the same time, because he, like me, is but a man.