According to sportslingo.com, “A personal foul is assessed whenever illegal physical contact takes place during a game. This may include charging, blocking, pushing or holding. Defenders may get a personal foul when they engage in illegal physical contact while trying to prevent an opponent from scoring.”
The definition implies that something illegal has occurred, the rules were broken and therefore, a penalty must be assessed... I mean, if the intention is to play fair. And it always is... isn’t it?
I watched with great dismay over that past few weeks as my NCAA bracket crashed and burned within mere rounds as the 2021 March Madness season began. There was, however, climbing bravely out of the rubble of the first two rounds, a glimmer of hope and inspiration. I mean, how does a mere 15 seed destroy brackets by toppling No. 2 Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA tournament and then enter the Sweet Sixteen after defeating No. 7 seed Florida 81-78. Though they were not in my bracket, I was inspired as I celebrated their success. Others, however, view their success from a very different seat in the sports arena.
Hemal Jhaveri, race and inclusion editor for USA Today’s Sports Media Group wrote, “March Madness loves a Cinderella story, and this year, it’s Oral Roberts University... Part of the joy of March Madness has always been watching smaller schools upset powerhouse programs, as kids from regional, unknown colleges and universities get their moment in the sun... And yet, (here it comes folks!) as the spotlight grows on Oral Roberts and it reaps the good will, publicity and revenue of a national title run, the university’s deeply bigoted anti-LGBTQ+ polices can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. As a private university and under the banner of fundamentalist Christian beliefs, the school is free to impose whatever standards of behavior they see fit, even if those standards are wildly out of line with modern society and the basic values of human decency. Now, as Oral Roberts gains national attention, the focus shouldn’t just be on their very good men’s basketball team, but, on their prejudiced teachings and moral regressiveness.”
I’ve said often that this cultural calamity we find ourselves in is nothing new under the sun. It’s not about right vs. left or politics for that matter in any sense of the word. This is about right and wrong, good and evil. This means that the solution is not to be found in government or economics. The solution to a spiritual problem is to be found in the word of God! The afore-mentioned column ends with this line, “It’s always nice to root for the underdog, but in this case, there’s very little to actually cheer about.” I suppose that you could argue that it depends on which team you are rooting for. And I’m not talking about basketball here, ladies and gentlemen!
Jared Whitley at Townhall.com this week shared a great perspective revealed in one of my all-time favorite author’s writings. He writes, “A masterful piece of religious prose disguised as satire, C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters” is a series of messages from senior devil Screwtape to his protégé Wormwood on how best to corrupt mortals. Originally released during World War II, its tight 175 pages provide charming, timeless wisdom. In an addendum released shortly before the author’s death in 1963, the devil Screwtape outlines how the term democracy can be warped into destroying excellence, first in the halls of education then to society at large to make sure everyone stays “equal.”
He continues, “Screwtape tells his fellow devils “The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be ‘undemocratic.’” Screwtape hangs a lantern on all of this, saying, “It is our function to encourage the behaviour, the manners, the whole attitude of mind, which democracies naturally like and enjoy, because these are the very things which, if unchecked, will destroy democracy.”
Screwtape even notes that Hell has “philological experts” intent on the “corruption of human language...” Well let’s see, did Lewis have us pegged or what?
It’s encouraging in moments like these to remember that Christ followers have always faced adversity and always will. Remember Paul calls this walk of faith a good fight. Listen to the challenging words the Apostle Paul, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
C.S. Lewis saw it coming and so do we! Foul or no foul, we are still in the game and do I have some good news for you... We win!
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council, who writes a weekly column published in The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.