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Bearing Witness to Our Culture of Violence (Fourth Witness)

I grew up in the south. In my Texas days, University of Texas (UT) and hook’em horns were Saturday’s passion; on Sundays, we watched Coach Laundry and Roger Staubach lead “America’s team.” Later when I moved to Tennessee, we followed a different UT, University of Tennessee, but we called them “Big Orange!” It was hard not to get on board the football craze as a boy of the south. But for me, the Friday night lights have faded.

This fall, I gave up football. I simply can no longer reconcile my passive participation in the gridiron gladiators with following the Prince of Peace. Now I suspect that this is going to really irritate, and potentially offend, many, so I ask you to let me bear witness.

I must begin, or continue, by confession. Over the years, I have cheered on the Bears in Chicago and, more recently, the Chargers here in San Diego. I have celebrated the big hit along with the QB sack. Similarly, I have found myself being entertained by Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” or Clint Eastwood in “Unforgiven.” But over time, the guns on the screen seemed closer to theones on the streets. And I found myself having difficulty separating the semi-controlled violence of the football field from the violence of the barroom or the bedroom.

The bottom line — for me — is that I cannot implicitly condone an entertainment culture of violence. So my witness is to not participate. Each and every person needs to come to his or her own conclusion. But I wonder, if our movies were Pixar films, like “Toy Story” or “Up,” and if our city communities tried to outscore each other in reducing poverty or homelessness, what kind of world would be dawning.

Advent points to the coming of Christ in glory. As we live into Advent and our Lord’s coming, how do we become ever more followers of the Prince of Peace? How do we lean into the prayer of our Lord, “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven”? My imperfect witness is to no longer participate in what feels like a culture of violence.

What will be your witness?


This concludes Bishop Mathes’ Four Weeks of Witness.

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