Daily Theology and their Octave of Theological Reflection on Sexual Assault and Higher Education. Two posts down and six more to go this week!
By Brian Romer Niemiec
As I wait in breathless anticipation for Thursday night’s first NFL game (I have Antonio Brown in one of my fantasy leagues) I was asked a very disturbing question by a friend of mine at dinner this past weekend, “Brian, do you think it is morally acceptable to be a professional football fan?”
Now, I know you are thinking that I need to find new friends. And you may be right. After all, in one holiday weekend I went to the Boston College/Maine game, yelled at the TV screen Saturday night cheering on Notre Dame, and sped home from the airport Monday so my Ohio State loving wife could see her Buckeyes run away from Virginia Tech with the help of Cardale Jones and the acrobatic Braxton Miller in the second half. I also spent far too much time checking my fantasy teams when the NFL doesn’t start for another three days.
My friend’s question should not have stuck with me through my football heavy weekend, but here I am writing about it this week. His question has stayed with me because, well, he did make some good points…
- Money – A quick Wikipedia search told me that the NFL rakes in $11.2 billion a year. More than any other league in the world. That, of course, doesn’t include the money that exchanges hands through gambling and other peripheral football activities. With the United States and the world facing problems with immigration, migration, poverty, war, and environmental degradation 11.2 billion dollars could probably be put to a lot better use.
- Domestic Violence – It’s not just the high profile cases of the last few years, and the leniency given by both the league and the law, but it is most importantly the macho cultural attitude that surrounds some players and is embraced by young men everywhere. NFL players set an example for young men and women to a degree almost unprecedented in current society. For many, these men are their biggest role models, and they will go to great lengths to look and act like their idols. Are we really comfortable with how some members of the NFL act out in society and on the field?
- Gambling – It’s not even week one in the NFL, but I have already seen too many commercials advertising fantasy football gambling; whether it be by season, week, game, or player. The amount of money and number of players in these games will only continue to grow in the next few years. As more and more people try their luck, what happens to the families and children of these gamblers when their luck finally runs out?
Now even after all of this, I’m still a huge football fan, and my fantasy team is going to destroy Ellen Romer Niemiec’s, Matt Keppel’s, and Fr. Matt Janeczko’s. However, I am now more uneasy about the professional manifestation of my favorite sport, and I will be on the lookout for these effects in my parish collaborative.
My only worry now is that there will be other sports that I love which will also come with moral quandaries. What could possibly be next? Golf, my second favorite sport (hint: golf courses can use up to 1,000,000 gallons of water a day. I’m looking at you California)? To quote Winnie the Pooh, “Oh Bother!”
By Brian Niemiec
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I had far too much time on my hand, so I started to read the New York Times at my parents’ house. Bad idea. I ended up feeling rather depressed about the state of the world. War in the Middle East, Ferguson, MO, corruption in Iraq (and everywhere else), domestic violence, and the depressing articles went on and on.
As I was reading this bleak picture of humanity, I realized how easily this explains the indifferent and gloomy selfishness that pervades our society. There is an overwhelming amount of pain and suffering going on in the world today, and we are exposed to all of it thanks to instantaneous and comprehensive media and social networks. No wonder apathy reigns in American society, and events and issues that should move us to compassion often make us shrug our shoulders and bury our heads in our own little worlds.
Yet, my new-found interest in newspaper reading was in stark contrast to the Thanksgiving season and the readings from the first Sunday of Advent. We have heard for a number of weeks now about the coming again of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of all creation. These readings which are filled with hope for the future will continue to dominate the Sunday readings until we seamlessly transition from the second coming of Christ to the infancy narratives later on in the Advent season.
Our most popular posts from the last week:
From our newest contributor, Ellen Romer, the “Hidden Hemorrhaging” in violence against women.
With sexual violence affecting so many, women and men, how much more can we do in parishes, high schools, universities, anywhere at all, to reach out to them and do whatever we can to help them heal and to prevent the hemorrhaging from happening in the first place? I don’t have all the answers, but I know I have to begin with these questions.
Standing up to the Domestic Violence from Matt Janeczko:
Partially because it is Valentine’s Day, and partially because it’s never a bad time to provide resources to victims of domestic violence, what follows are two links to .PDFs to domestic violence resources. Please read them, download them, and distribute them widely. Print them out and put them wherever you can. The first link is to a resource sheet: Domestic Violence Resource; the second to a smaller 3×5 resource: Domestic Violence 3×5 Resource. Read the rest here.
And a guest post from Sara Knutson, rethinking Confirmation through encounters and meeting spaces.
One of the students on a recent retreat wrote this on his evaluation: “I feel like a changed Catholic.” I wish I could ask him more about what he meant, but I think he felt that sense of being met, and felt changed by it.
Crying and vomiting are not uncommon occurrences when taking someone home from a raucous night of drinking. I was maybe 16, so I hadn’t frequently driven home a lot of drunk folks from parties, but this wasn’t new to me either. I tried to calm Erica* down, realizing alcohol can make people emotional and hoped that any puking would happen once we had arrived back at my house. What I did not expect was through the heavy sobbing would come the whisper of ‘He raped me.’ I had older siblings, so I knew what to do with folks who were drinking. THIS was new. THIS I had no idea what to do with. I didn’t know what to do with the feelings of panic, protectiveness, heart breaking sorrow, anger and the desire to just get home and put her to bed that completely flooded me. I was definitely too young to deal with this; but so was she.
Now that the Super Bowl has passed, human trafficking has largely faded from view. What is more, on a day to day basis, we can forget (especially those of us who do not confront it head-on), the heavy cost paid by women and men in situations of domestic violence.
Growing up, the idea of domestic violence was something that resided around my periphery: it was something that happened over there, requiring neither discussion nor attention. Quite frankly: it was much easier that way. And then, after working in a public health hospital and multiples parishes, having countless conversations with those whom have been touched by domestic violence, I can’t, in good conscience, not call it for what it is: a problem that the Church hasn’t sufficiently addressed in the past, or quite frankly, now either. While I don’t know nearly enough to offer advice, what I can do is try to pass along resources.
Partially because it is Valentine’s Day, and partially because it’s never a bad time to provide resources to victims of domestic violence, what follows are two links to .PDFs to domestic violence resources. Please read them, download them, and distribute them widely. Print them out and put them wherever you can. The first link is to a resource sheet: Domestic Violence Resource; the second to a smaller 3×5 resource: Domestic Violence 3×5 Resource.
These files refer to Boston-area resources. Please email email@example.com if you have similar documents for other cities and towns. We’ll repost them as able.