On Professional Sports in the Kingdom

One of the purposes of this blog is to imagine what the world will look like as the the kingdom of God advances and the earth is reclaimed for King Jesus. This is another way of asking what God intends for the world.

In the realm of work, this question is essential because it establishes the reason a job exists in the kingdom of God. Answering that question correctly with regard to one’s job can bring a clarity of purpose and solution for other problems that typically arise in the workplace.

is In the movie, Moneyball, the Oakland Athletic’s general manager, Billy Beane, is pondering what he is trying to do in building a winning Major League Baseball team. He is in fact revolutionizing the game through the use of analytics in an effort to allow teams with less money to compete with teams with much larger payrolls.

But in the midst of despair Beane tells an associate, “Baseball doesn’t matter.” The statement is a shocker because by this time in the movie, the viewer is pulling for Beane to succeed and cannot help but ask, “Why does baseball matter?”

It’s a question that could be asked of any professional sport. Players are paid millions of dollars a year; they are idolized, and commercialized. Why? It’s just a game, right?

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Kingdom Hero: Theodosius I

Vipava Valley in Italy

Theodosius I , a/k/a Theodosius the Great, was emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 379 A.D. to 395 A.D. The Byzantine Empire succeeded the Roman Empire in the east after Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire, founded Constantinople. Constantinople would become the heart of Christendom and one of the great cities in history in part because of Theodosius I.

Early in his reign, Theodosius became gravely ill. During that time Theodosius was baptized. Upon recovering he declared himself a Christian who embraced the Nicene Creed. Throughout the rest of his life Theodosius would be a devout follower of Jesus.

Theodosius protected the Church by convening a council which confirmed consubstantiality-the doctrine that the Father and Son were of the same substance-as orthodox and condemned Arianism, which claimed Jesus was created and not coeternal with the Father, as heresy. Since that time, Arianism has never made a serious challenge to orthodoxy in the Church.

Theodosius also protected his people from the cult of paganism. Constantine had ended the persecution of Christians and protected the Church, but he permitted pagans to continue their pagan sacrifices. In 391 A.D., Theodosius closed pagan temples and prohibited public pagan worship. Paganism was never revived in the empire after that.

Theodosius was a man who sought God in all that he did. By 394 A.D. a usurper named Arbogast had arisen in the western part of the empire, set up a man named Eugenius as emperor in the west, and was threatening civil war. On September 5, 394, Theodosius’s army clashed with the army of Eugenius in the Vipava Valley in Italy (see pic above). Theodosius’ army suffered heavy losses.

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Reading List for Early Christian, Medieval Travel Journal

In keeping with GSB tradition, here is reading list for the upcoming Early Christian, Medieval Travel Journal on which the GSB team will embark later this summer. I am reading or have read all of these.

If it seems like an odd mixture of books, it’s because the subjects of these books will be featured in one of the three cities we visit: Rome, Florence, and Ravenna.

So, here they are, in no particular order:

1. St. Francis of Assisi, G. K. Chesterton. I bought this book last year because I wanted to read more Chesterton, but it left me with a new appreciation of Francis of Assisi. This is a short book focused more on the person of Francis than the facts about his life, but the facts can be obtained from Wikipedia. Chesterton succeeds in making the reader feel at the end of the book like he knows Francis.

2. The Life of Constantine, Eusebius. Yes, Eusebius . . . the Eusebius of Ecclesiastical History fame. He was Constantine’s pastor, and Constantine confided in him. This book, more than any other I have read, gives the reader a true sense of the greatness of the man who became the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire.

3. Justinian’s Flea, William Rosen. I admit this book is in the list more for its entertainment value than its relevance to our tour. The book is a page turner about the plague’s impact on the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Justinian. Ravenna was the western capital of the Byzantine Empire at the time, and Ravenna has one of the most famous mosaics of Justinian, which we will see in Ravenna.

4. The Life and Times of Savonarola, Pasquale Villari. This book is a monster at 775 pages in the 1888 version I am reading, but it is well worth the effort. Savonarola was a reformer, a visionary, and a prophet. The Lord used him to reform Florence the way Calvin would reform Geneva fifty years later. Savonarola called out the Catholic Church for its corrupt conduct a generation before Luther would call it out for its corrupt doctrine.

5. Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe, Judith Herrin. This book is a history of the city of Ravenna with a focus on its glory years as the western capital of the Byzantine Empire. It’s a good introduction to an important city in Christian history.

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Announcement: Upcoming GSB Tour

I am formally announcing our upcoming GSB tour which will take place later this summer. This tour has been scheduled before, but the pandemic caused us to cancel the last two years. So, anticipation has reached a fevered pitch.

The destination: Italy. Specifically three cities: Rome, Florence, and Ravenna. As always, we will focus on the the Christian history in each city and the contribution of those events to the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth.

In Rome we will have a day devoted to the Apostle Paul and another to Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, both personal heroes of mine. We will descend into the Christian catacombs and explore the remains of the capital of the empire where the Gates of Hades did not prevail against the Church.

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The Death of Roe v. Wade

I have to admit, I didn’t think I would see it in my lifetime. I had hoped, and hopefully done my part. I sued an abortionist who perforated my client’s uterus while in the act of killing her unborn baby. I represented a pro-life protestor wrongfully arrested for protesting outside an abortion mill. I have functioned as legal monitor for pro-life protestors who were working the sidewalks outside abortion clinics, and I have voted pro-life for forty years.

From the first time I read Roe v. Wade in law school in 1986, I thought it was a tortured, result-oriented opinion. If a first year law student could see that, why did it take 50 years for six Supreme Court justices to see it?

The truth is that many more have seen it than have admitted it, but as C.S. Lewis described it, we have been creating men without chests, i.e. men without the virtue to guide their intellect or emotions. That is not to say those on the Supreme Court now are any more virtuous than those in the past. More likely, Evangelicals have simply been successful in making the fight against abortion a key component of the Republican platform, and the party has finally thrown Evangelicals a bone, and it is a very big bone.

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