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Saturday, February 8, 2020

Super Bowl Blues


Super Bowl Blues

My despondency over the Super Bowl has nothing to do with the 49ers losing—I figured they wouldn’t be able to handle Patrick Mahones. No, it was the entire event, culminating in the decadent halftime show. Two pieces note the contradictions and subliminal sadness that increasingly characterize this great American event.
The first states the obvious that apparently is still not obvious to most Americans—the normalizing of porn culture. “The Super Bowl Halftime Show Didn’t Empower Women, It Debased Them” opens with:
Musical artists Jennifer Lopez and Shakira set out to model “female power” for young girls who shared their Super Bowl halftime stage. They did it by pole dancing, grinding and booty shaking like strippers in a club….
And then later:
Making oneself a sex object benefits no one except the artists and their pocketbooks. Sexualizing women is a multi-billion dollar industry that doesn’t care about its negative effects on girls or women. It ignores the depression and eating disorders. It turns a blind eye to drug use and trails of broken relationships stemming from a damaged sexual identity. It doesn’t care that girls hate their bodies because they compare themselves to an ideal forced on them by pop culture.
The second piece looks more broadly at what this year’s Super Bowl says about our culture and concludes,
If the Super Bowl is the last great community event holding America together and we put it on a shrink’s couch for psychological analysis, here’s what we have…. It turns out we’re all afraid of getting older and dying. We’re grasping at straws to find some sort of common bond that holds us all together. We’d all love some way to atone for the wrongs we have done, and if we can’t fix the things in our world that are broken, we’ll probably just distance ourselves from them and wash our hands of responsibility. And maybe, just maybe, there’s the hope of agape, the hope of a love that will act on us when we cannot achieve it ourselves.
In short, the Super Bowl, that a glorious and glitzy celebration of American culture, reveals afresh our desperate need to encounter the one who described himself as meek and lowly of heart, in whom we can find rest for our troubled souls.
Why the Jewish Jesus Rocks
It’s increasingly hard not to link to David Brooks, who increasingly brings his extolled wisdom to bear on specifically Christian themes. In this case, it is Jewish and Christian themes as he waxes eloquent in this piece: “Jesus Is a Jew: The ineffable becomes intelligible in Israel.” From the end:
Jesus is inherently mysterious—a lion who is also a lamb. But he is also intelligible. And that’s because he lived an actual life in an actual historical context. Through the Jerusalem lens you see what a maelstrom that context was, with mud and sticks and stones and spears and insults and prophecy flying in all directions. You see Jesus up to his waist in the muck of it all. And yet you also see the powerful and ultimately triumphant word of God….
Those Gospel ‘Contradictions’
I will admit to being one of those Bible preachers/teachers who has explained many apparent contradictions in the Gospels as literary devices of the authors to drive home a point. I may have to reconsider that approach. Philosopher Lydia McGrew certain has questions about it, which she explains in this Christianity Today interview, “Yes, You Can Trust the Four Gospels. Even When They Conflict.” It is based on her new book, The Mirror and the Mask: Liberating the Gospels from Literary Devices (DeWard Publishing).
I Recognize that Face
I don’t know if I agree with “Facing Up to Facial Recognition: Clearview AI is the latest milestone in recognition technology. We should embrace it, rather than fear it.” But we should start thinking and talking about this more openly, for the technology makes it possible for us to be more accountable to one another in society, which is both a blessing and a curse.
Most Redeeming Super Bowl Commercial
Despite my grousing, there were moments when America’s better self was on display, as with this New York Life Insurance commercial.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli

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