Jon Shields in the WSJ on Manute Bol’s “Radical Christianity”:
Bol’s life and death throws into sharp relief the trivialized manner in which sports journalists employ the concept of redemption.
Not just sports “journalists”, really – but we’ll come back to that.
In the world of sports media players are redeemed when they overcome some prior “humiliation” by playing well. Redemption then is deeply connected to personal gain and celebrity. It leads to fatter contracts, shoe endorsements, and adoring women.
Yet as Bol reminds us, the Christian understanding of redemption has always involved lowering and humbling oneself. It leads to suffering and even death.
It is of little surprise, then, that the sort of radical Christianity exemplified by Bol is rarely understood by sports journalists. For all its interest in the intimate details of players’ lives, the media has long been tone deaf to the way devout Christianity profoundly shapes some of them.
It’s not just true in sports, naturally. The media treats the sort of faith Bol had – he spent his entire NBA fortune building hospitals in the Sudan, and spent his last years raising money through means most people, much less stars, would find humiliating – as a vaguely scary curiosity.
Read the whole thing.