Mike Cope's blog

Saturday, November 01, 2003

"Hello. My name is Mike. And I'm a Grisham addict." I'm looking at my shelf full of Grisham books that our family has enjoyed reading. It hit me yesterday that they kind of all run together in my mind now. Yesterday I was trying to tell someone what The Runaway Jury was about (since he was thinking about going to the movie). Halfway into the explanation, it hit me that I may have been recounting The Summons, perhaps with pieces of The Partner, the Brethren, and The Testament thrown in for good measure. A few years ago I got to interview John Grisham for Wineskins magazine. I have appreciated how this devoted Christian man (who has been on international mission trips) brings his faith to his writing. I just read Bleachers. No lawyers, no trials, no chase scenes. Just high school football. As former players of Coach Eddie Rake come back to Messina to await his death, you get to peek in on the culture of communities where football is king. Perhaps a fictional version of Friday Night Lights, a NY Times best-seller about West Texas football. While most of the people in the story are former players who had their two years in the limelight or are the adoring fans who made them princes and kings, not everyone shares their view. Here are the blunt words of the former girlfriend of Neely Crenshaw, the All-American QB, who had his number retired: "It was silly. Grown men crying after a loss. The entire town living and dying with each game. Prayer breakfasts every Friday morning, as if God cares who wins a high school football game. More money spent on the football team than on all other student groups combined. Worshiping seventeen-year-old boys who quickly become convinced they are truly worthy of being worshiped. The double standard--a football player cheats on a test, everybody scrambles to cover it up. A nonathlete cheats, and he gets suspended. The stupid little girls who can't wait to give it up to a Spartan. All for the good of the team. Messina needs its young virgins to sacrifice everything. Oh, and I almost forgot. The Pep Girls! Each player gets his own little slave who bakes him cookies on Wednesday and puts a spirit sign in his front yard on Thursday . . . ." Well, as a football-lover, that seems a bit extreme (though it does expose some of the insanity that often exists). BUT, I have often wondered what would happen if some people took their faith as seriously as they take their devotional to the BIG GAME. Why do people who arrive late for their church's assemblies manage to get to the field half an hour early? Why do those who sit quietly on the back rows yell at the top of their lungs at the stadium? Why do we tend to care more about a teenager's athletic ability than about his (or her) spiritual development? Well, you see where this is going! Maybe I'm just bitter this morning because AHS lost to our cross-town rivals last night!

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