Thursday, June 08, 2017

Thad, Bob, And An Apparent Shortage Of Salt

I was caught off guard over the past two days with the sudden departures of two long term and prominent collegiate coaches. Thad Matta was dismissed as the men's basketball coach at Ohio State and Bob Stoops yesterday resigned as the football coach at the University of Oklahoma. Usually such departures occur while the school year is still in session and often right after the end of the respective seasons. Both Matta and Stoops had enjoyed a great deal of success in their programs. Matta and the Buckeyes had been to the Final Four twice and Stoops and the Sooners had won a national championship. Both left as the winningest coaches in the histories of their universities. And I'm typing in red tonight in honor of the two prestigious institutions which they represented up until this week.

What I found fascinating about the these twin stories which are unrelated in some ways but absolutely intertwined in others, is the comments left by readers on the websites chronicling the stories. An unscientific estimate is that half of the comments left, anonymously of course, ripped into the two coaches for being not much more than mediocre at their craft. Now, these two were considered over the years as some of the best in their business and were compensated with million dollar contracts. I doubt any detractor leaving those comments could claim anywhere near the expertise or the success of Stoops and Matta. But that wasn't the most ironic part to me. The commenters turned on each other and were often brutally vicious ..... to complete strangers. Many of those leaving their thoughts were simply jerks, no matter which stance they took, from my neutral vantage point. Jerk may be too kind of a description and I say that knowing it may put me in the same category of those of whom I am being critical.

In all honesty, I feel a bit guilty for reading the comments in the first place. I know nothing about the commenters and they know noting about me. I would say hiding behind the cloak of invisibility which is the Internet allows the world to see our less admirable qualities. I would be surprised if anyone read Paul's words in Colossians 4:6 before they stated their opinions about the coaches and subsequently about each other:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Many of us, and I did say us, should read that verse everyday. It used to be our conversations were only with people in our sphere of acquaintances or those whose paths we might cross at school or work or in public places. Not anymore. The tone of communications in our culture today is horrible. Sports. Social issues. Politics. Religion. Can't we even disagree with brothers and sisters in Christ without resorting to ridicule, especially in public forums? Does the admonition of Paul apply to me if nobody can identify me? I confess I know this mainly because I evidently spend too much time on the Internet, particularly Facebook. Last night's blog for me was about Van Morrison and how he is allegedly not easy to like. And yet, I only was repeating what I had heard from people I've never met who may also never have met Van Morrison. Feeling sheepish, I went back and re-wrote parts, trying to make it more objective from my end. In Matthew 5, Jesus said we are the salt of the earth; what a blessing! But He follows that with the warning that salt that's lost its saltiness is worthless; what a condemnation! Paul ties in gracious words with salt but by the world's dictionary, salty language would be abhorrent to our Savior. We shouldn't talk like the world and yet we often do. The Scripture's definition of gracious conversation  should be our overriding determination of how we speak.... even when no one knows who we are. 

Applicable quote of the day:
“Ridicule is a terrible witherer of the flower of imagination. It binds us where we should be free.” 
― Madeleine L'Engle

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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