The epic struggle of badminton normally centers in backyards. There dad tries to get the net untangled and up – all while not breaking any of the support stakes… but the Olympic sport has nothing to do with set-up and everything to do with hitting birdies at 200mph. That is unless you are playing doubles round robin – then you may choose to lose. And in badminton there is no need to feign competitive spirit – after all, no one else in the world knows how to play, we are still setting up our nets – or giving up and going to Nelson**. So Olympians can hit the shuttle cock into the net again… and again… and again… But at some point the rest of the world catches on to treachery. So to defend the integrity of the sport four teams were sent home from London to set up their own nets (details).
**I love the shuttle cocks at the Nelson. Larger than life, they are remains of a giant’s badminton match. And in my mind they are the photo I would take of Kansas City. Sure there is downtown or the Royals or Liberty Memorial or the fountains at the Plaza – but huge birdies are perfect. It is my hope that the Badminton World Federation will host a tournament on the grounds… of course they would need volunteers to set up nets…
Playing to lose. It goes against every grain of our Olympic spirit – which we hold unwavering from couches across the world… where it is a little easier, with cookies and coffee in reach, to preach. And we raise our message beyond minton-gate. Our reaction to Phelps was wonder and awe in 08, but after he “lost” the 200m butterfly… How did he not train with such intensity for this Olympics? No wonder he got silver in the 200m Butterfly. Rather than celebrate his second place finish, Bob Costas asked, “What went wrong?” and “you’re not quite where you were in o8”. I first I was asking the same things, but as the questioning continued I began to realize my own hypocrisy. In my own life results are not shown on scoreboards, but I know in my heart I do not always do my best…
Sometimes it is easier to just grab some food, rather than challenge the obstacles ahead.
Which brings me to Chick-fil-a. Dan Cathy, the founder’s son, took a stand against homosexuality – which lead to a typical reaction of call for a boycott (I was a little startled by the continued escalation. A boycott I could understand, but nutty mayors threatening to block the chain – toss out the constitution? – and the plans for a “kiss day”). Which brought the expected counter of support and the plans for Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day.
So on Wednesday masses went to dine at Chick-fil-a. The media showed up and reported lines out the door, parking running over into other lots. Chick-fil-a would announce “recording setting” sales. This prompted the McDonalds sign above. Still, I was troubled by the plan: is the only Christian response a “buy”cott?
If Christians want to make a radical, all-in statement – a stand that would define Christ to the world – is “eat mor chikin” the answer?
I have heard more than once that this issue – the issue of homosexuality – is the battle of our generation. Well, following Christ, we know how to fight. Rather than striking off the ear, we heal. Rather than condemn, we serve. Rather than kill, we die.
The road to the cross is not easy. It is easier to become the Christian version of Olympic couch potatoes. Ranting as society continues to lose.
Sometimes I think Christians play to lose. Rather than bring out our best, we resort to judgment. We promote what we are against rather than what we are for. And in this we do not follow the example of Christ – who did not throw stones. Instead we join the long tradition of the Pharisees. The tradition that relies on anger and violence and control. The tradition that has litmus tests of actions… The tradition that still relies on the law, because it can not believe the cross capable of covering such sins.
Of course no one espouses this theology. But our actions declare it when we will not extend grace to all.
And I fall into this trap. It is difficult to love everyone. It is difficult to love mean people (much more the shooter in Aurora). And yet the path of salvation is laid out before us. Laid out for us to lead other down. We do not lead them through judgment. Or condemnation. Instead we take up our cross. Not that we would bring salvation, but to demonstrate Christ – we sacrifice ourselves for others.
So what is the Christian response? Maybe it is a “buy”cott. Only in this act we would not buy lunch for ourselves. Instead we would buy for our neighbor. We would buy for our enemy. Rather than judgment, with each meal we would declare that Christ had come to save.
In this we would celebrate communion.