In my mind there is a difference between a pro cyclist who has decided to stop doping and race clean and one who has been caught doping. What the consequences should be for those who have admitted doping I don’t really know, but I do think there is an element of scapegoating when a rider is punished for what a system encouraged and allowed to persist. In every recent confession, if they are true, the suggestion and pressure to dope came from team management. Yes, there should be consequences, but I’m not sure sacrificing individuals changes or makes amends for a culture. Others know far more than I do about this so I may be wrong.
I am still moved by the work Lance Armstrong has done for Cancer patients, and the incredible charity work Levi accomplishes through Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo. These efforts are still heroic to me. We are, after all, people of redemption and hope.
There is also a lesson here on the power of money in sport. I don’t think we have seen anything like this in women’s cycling, which is just as exciting and, it would appear, much more pure.
There is an odd moment at the apex of the first peak of a roller coaster where you transition from the lift hill to the plunge of the first drop. It is a betwixt and between moment when time moves both too fast and too slow. This time of year always feels like that moment to me. It is full of anticipation and excitement with a tinge of anxiety and fear. Part of me wants to climb out the back into the days of summer, but with children milling around the house on my day off I can’t wait to make the drop and charge into the school and church program year. Spiritually, I think it’s important to pay attention to these push-pull moments and be fully present in them. Part of our faith as Christians is centered around transition moments when what was is no longer, but what is to come is not yet. We can encounter God in powerful, unprotected ways in these moments. Part of Christian faith is living always between the last supper and the crucifixion, between the lighting of the Paschal candle in the darkened church and the blazing proclamation “Alleluia! Christ is Risen!”
Many of us have a tendency to hold our breaths in these transition moments, especially at the top of real or metaphorical roller coasters. Can we relax into these thin spaces? Before the sigh, or even the scream, let yourself be breathed by God.
July 22nd was the feast of Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ most important disciples and the first apostle of the resurrection. Mary became an ardent follower of Jesus after he healed her of seven demons (commonly interpreted as a serious illness) and therefore healing is central to the celebration of the feast of Mary Magdalene. Many people are searching for a Christian response to the horrendous massacre in Aurora, Colorado. I believe we find the answer, at least for those of us who don’t know people involved, in Mary Magdalene’s themes of healing and reconciliation.
Healing and reconciliation are about reaching out to the other, about loving your neighbor as yourself. Our call to be sources of healing and reconciliation does not only apply to our individual relationships but also to our expectations of society. I keep returning to the question of gun control, specifically assault weapons and ammunition. I’m not opposed to gun ownership (I love target shooting and grew up around hunters), but I don’t see the 2nd Amendment as protecting an individual right to own a weapon that can injure and kill over 70 people in 90 seconds. Likewise, as an observer on Twitter pointed out, if I ordered 6,000 Sudafed pills (which can be used to make methamphetamine) the government would investigate me, so why not for 6000 bullets? Sometimes bearing Christian witness to healing and reconciliation in our society means limiting (as opposed to eliminating) some individual liberty for the sake of not imperiling our neighbor. We may not completely eliminate tragedies like the shooting in Aurora, but we can act proactively to limit their scope by supporting an assault weapons ban. Sometimes the most important healing is preventing future pain for our neighbor.
I appreciate that some of you may disagree with me and I welcome dialogue with you. Regardless of where any of us fall on the religio-political spectrum may we all remember God’s command: Thou shalt not kill.