Friday, October 19, 2007

August 1962 - Football and Salvation

Richard Beck has started an internet meme on his blog here. He begins it with a reference to me:

"Steve in his comment to my last post, tells a story from his faith journey when he realized that there were Christians beyond the borders of his faith tradition. I have a similar story. But before I tell it, I'd like to try to start my first internet meme.

There are some psychologists who suggest that our personality and worldview is influenced by and symbolized by evocative childhood memories. Primal memories often loaded with emotion, good or ill. Some have suggested that these early childhood memories affect our theological beliefs."

Then Richard requests we reply to his post with links to our stories on our own blogs. He says

"So, here's the meme. Tell a story on your blog (or here if you don't have one) that you consider to be a primal theological memory in your life. The rules:

1. This should date from childhood to adolescence.
2. It should be a memory that you think symbolizes or has directly affected your theological development. And this could be theological movement forward, backward, sideways, or just different.
3. Encourage others to share their memories."

I have another memory to relate. It was August of 1962 and I was not quite yet 12. We were sitting in the car outside the gym watching senior high school football players emerge from the building. It may have been that we were waiting for them to finish so that we junior high kids could go in and get our uniforms. We had Junior Highs in Arkansas and I was a 7th grader and so the football adventure was just beginning. I recall the star fullback walking out and possibly my Dad commented about him. The young fellow would go on to rush for over a thousand yards and the team would go 8-4. It would be the best year for the Pocahontas Redskins until my youngest brother, then 2, would, as quarterback and safety, lead them to the State playoff semifinals 15 years later. My Dad loves his family and the Lord and just behind that he loves sports. He was leading the state in scoring for this our home town 7 games into his senior season before an ankle injury took him out the rest of the season. At this point he was 32 and could have still shown those football players a thing or two except that a collision that involved an asleep-at-the-wheel trucker ruined Dad's right knee two years earlier. Even now, all these years later that incident still has effect. He had a hip replacement recently and is due for new knee when he can get around to it. He has been quiet about it, but he loved us so much that he endured great pain to pitch us batting practice growing up and even play a little basketball.

Sitting there in the car, Dad began talking about spiritual matters and his desire to teach everyone the truth. I can't remember specifics. That is something he did and does often. He may have said something about desiring that all those healthy young men be taught the truth and be saved. That's part of the gist. It was a heady time for the churches of Christ. We had been growing rapidly for several decades. Not sure where I got this but my impression is that there were 16 congregations in that county of 12,000 people at about that time. And we were beginning to make a splash in the culture. Pat Boone had another hit song that summer, it was about Speedy Gonzalez. This was before he transitioned to a more charismatic style of Christianity, eventually identifying with an ascendant evangelicalism.

It was a great time to be alive. Well, for most everyone, their youth was a wonderful time. Life was so immediate and analog. John Glenn circled the earth 3 times. The Telstar satellite enabled the first live transatlantic broadcast very close to the day I'm thinking about. And I was becoming a big boy, going to high school (grades 7 to 12 in the same building) and was going to play football and march in the band. Guys were talking about girls more. That mystery was beginning to beckon as it never had before.

Its hard to not project back my present feelings to that moment so I won't elaborate too much. But I'm pretty sure I remember feeling some pity for these fine young men and discomfort or puzzlement at the justice of it. And I wondered at my good fortune at being in the right spot to get the right teaching. For sure, I have replayed that scene in my head often in the intervening 45 years. So it was important whatever my first impressions and however my memory may have augmented the situation. It must've been significant in my life and develoment because after so many years a conscious vestige of it is still with me.

What's yours?


Art said...

I came to you from Richard's blog - I thought you might want to know your facebook link is broken.

Steve said...

Thanks for informing me about this. I asked my son home from college about how to do it right and he couldn't figure it out either.

Jeni Allen said...

Hi - thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. How do you know James Wiser? I know him from Harding and our HUE program.

I think I'll have to come back to your site when I'm more awake, to read your posts. Looks like you've got some great thoughts!

Steve said...

Hi Jeni! James was the first person to make a comment when I started my blog back in 2004. Turns out he lived in Knoxville when he was about 8. He knows several from our town when at Harding, like Jennifer and Robbie Thompson. Another friend of his and Harding grad goes to our church, Shaun Morgan.

Jason said...

You know James and Shaun? Small world. They're both friends of mine from college.

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