Monthly Archives: January 2012

Hal Hugemouth: Super Fan … Who Needs Him?

At the end of my first full year as a sports editor in Ridgecrest, Calif for The Daily Independent, I wrote my first ever commentary using the same headline as this one. And sadly, in 18 years nothing has really changed.

I realized this while sitting in the stands at the varsity basketball game Friday night at Mountain View Christian School where the Saints were taking on the Lincoln County Lynx. My stepson attends school there and while not a member of the team, enjoys going to support his buddies and his school. So we joined him.

Super FansBut the nonsense this post covers started far earlier than that during the JV game. As you may have guessed by now, a few unruly parents were digging on the officials a little more than they should. They complained about calls, whined when the officials didn’t see it their way and in general displayed a lack of any sportsmanship that you’d expect to see at a Christian school game.

But what really got my goat was when one guy in the crowd decided to cross the line and start attacking an opposing player, screaming at the top of his lungs, “Oh, are you gonna cry now?” So here we are, some guy in his mid-to-late thirties at best, more than likely in his forties, has degraded himself into not appreciating what his son is doing in the game but attacking a kid his son’s own age. My only thought is what his reaction might be if i stood right in front of him and taunted his son in the same manner. Bet he wouldn’t like it very much now, would he?

I’ll grant that the officials in the JV boys game had some pretty poor mechanics, and the ones for the girls varsity were only a few stapes better. But the two guys working the varsity game were very good officials.

So at this point you may be asking yourself, “What qualifies Allen here to be judging officials?”

Well, I have a few games under my belt. I played ball competitively from the time I was eight until I was 20, I coached for over 10 years at high schools and colleges, acted as an athletic director for three or four and covered the game at levels from junior high to the NBA for more then 8-1/2 years as a sportswriter. Oh yeah, and I officiated some 300 games at the rec, prep and college levels. So yeah, I feel like I have a pretty good basis for my comments.

Aside from the sheer abrasiveness of their comments, these fans were just truly ignorant of many of the game’s rules. It seemed like the less they understood, the louder they got. And when they didn’t work, they’d accuse these men of all but throwing the game. When you can’t be right, attack someone else’s credibility. It works in politics, so why not in a high school gym?

I know that in several football programs I use to cover they had started a program where parents were invited to attend a one-day class to learn the rules of the game and how to conduct themselves in a more appropriate fashion. I watched as that program did wonders to increase parents’ knowledge of the game and decrease the harassment and ignorant comments spewing from the stands.

It’s a class that these parents, supposedly Christians, desperately need.

Hal Hugemouth still lives. Let’s just hope some folks see fit to show him another town to move to.

What’s past is prologue

I got labeled as a bigot this week.

And as I look at it, I believe I was labeled incorrectly. But then again, I received my label courtesy of the crowd I run with and what we’ve chosen to believe.

I highlight that word as it will be the central focus of this entire piece. See, as Christians we have chosen to accept the free give of salvation from Christ and to live our lives for Him. We have chosen to set our standards a little higher (hopefully) than the world around us, a world that is most definitely at odds with God and His plan for the place.

But I got labeled a bigot because I pointed out a flaw in a recent post by friend who is a lesbian. She was asking people to buy Girl Scout Cookies in response to a YouTube video a girl scout put out regarding the fact that the nationwide group for girls is now allowing transgender boys into their troops. They are also allowing boys who want to be girls into these groups, prior to any gender-changing surgery.

And they are doing so in secret, not allowing parents the opportunity to decide for themselves if they want their daughters in that environment.

I pointed out the fact that these parents had a right to know who their children were dealing with. That they, like the transgender and wanting-to-be-girl boys and their parents, should have a choice. And for that, I was slapped with the label of bigot.

To quote Dr. Peter Venkman (aka Bill Murray of Ghostbusters 2), “Do you know how weird it is out there?”

It’s so weird that the people who demanded to have a choice to practice their own beliefs, to have whatever sexual preference they want or to change and mutilate their bodies into something it was never intended to be, got that choice and are now demanding that no one else get the same privilege or courtesy.

But hey, they are repeating what they think is OK, what they’ve seen and had done to them. They are only doing what Christianity did to them first.

Yeah, it was Christianity as a whole who decided to focus on forcing people to believe what we do. To tell them how wrong they were and ignorant they were of the God of the universe. To focus on what they were doing wrong and not on how much their Heavenly Father loved them.

We sent off armies during the middle ages to force whole nations to change to our faith.

We tried to make them believe what we believed, to deny them the choice that we had made ourselves to follow God.

And now, when they choose to try and deny us the choice of whether or not have our children hanging out with transgender children, gay school teachers or anyone who is not what we think are proper for our kids, we get offended and ask, “How dare they?”

We set the example and it isn’t going to change over night.

We have to start setting the example again. And again. And again.

Christianity has spent so much time and energy turning God’s message of love and deliverance into a monologue of fear and oppression that it will take a long time to change. It will take lifetimes of tolerance and love. It will take consistency beyond measure.

And when I say tolerance, I don’t mean acceptance. Trying to change your sex or taking on a gay/lesbian lifestyle is wrong in God’s eyes, period. But we must focus and remember that while God hates the sin, He loves the sinner.

It is not our job to effect whatever consequences or ramifications someone has wrought due to their neglect or ignorance of God’s law. It’s our job to inform and love, without prejudice, regarding their choices in life.

God will take care of their judgement. He doesn’t need out help with it and He certainly hasn’t asked us to take over the job. We have more important things to do.

I lost a friend yesterday because they couldn’t see that I hadn’t attacked their choice, but rather was attempting to defend the right by myself and others to make choices for ourselves. But despite the fact that I had defended her right to choose to be a lesbian on countless occasions, I can’t blame her. Because it was likely a knee-jerk reaction to what she has experienced from a number of my brethren.

And I hope that my actions – past, present or future – do not cause that same predicament for you.

Strength in numbers

It’s really no different than any other day, but the start of a new year tends to throw people into a state of introspection. All it really does it cause an increase in calendar sales and scribble marks on checks, assuming anyone really uses those anymore.

But as I was thinking of a few things I’d like to get done this year, I became aware that KEEN-17 TV in Las Vegas had stopped broadcasting on Cox Cable due to the high fees that had to be paid. The reason: Funding. Big surprise there, right? Maybe not, but when you start to consider the numbers involved, it seems odd that this should be the case.

It’s estimated that there are some 350 Christian churches in the greater Las Vegas area, more if you count the ones that follow other faiths. But for the purpose of this discussion, we’ll just stick with the ones that should have a vested interest in a broadcast endeavor of this nature.

So the question is: What could these 350 churches do together that could impact the city of Las Vegas? And at what level would they have to be committed?

To start, we need to do a little number crunching. As a former athlete and sports writer, I’m a statistics geek at heart. So it quickly occurred to me that if every church committed to give KEEN-17 just $100 a month, that’s $35,000 and the station’s daily operating cost of about $1,000 a day would be easily covered and then some.

Now think about that for a second. $100. It isn’t that much really. If a church has any tither’s at all, it’s likely that at least one of them is giving $100 a month. I mean, that’s barely enough for a family of four to go to the movies twice a month in this town, and that’s BEFORE soda and popcorn.

So if the 350 churches of Sin City were to come together as one on just ONE point, what a huge impact the group could have on the population they say they are so desperate to reach.

But really, couldn’t these churches give $500 a month as a group to five ministries that could change the city big time? I think they could.

So let’s say the first $100 is going to Christian television. Done. How about we target a few more needs of the community and places where people of faith ought to be focusing their attention? Feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, providing shelter for the homeless and reaching out to those with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Catholic Charities is currently the biggest outreach to the hungry in our city. Christmas Day my family and I took up the challenge of helping them prepare their holiday meal for the homeless as well as filling grocery bags for their daily program. We spent a few hours there, did some good work and had a great time.

The organization provides about 1,400 bags of groceries a week to people in need of food to feed their families. They get some donations from the USDA and then a discounted rateĀ  from a local food chain. I saw what goes in those bags and while it certai9nly helps, it would be tough to get by on just that as a family. And I’m fairly certain there are more than 1,400 families in need in Las Vegas.

So what is another 20% of our $500 went to Catholic Charities? Not a bad idea.

I don’t know right off who provides clothing and shelter for the needy in Vegas, but I’m sure someone does. And if they don’t, then $70,000 a month to handle those task ought to go a long way, if not get the project started in earnest.

So we’re left with a final $35K to reach the lost. And brother, there are a ton in this place. A city like Vegas doesn’t get the nickname Sin City for nothing, and it certainly doesn’t help when the city promotes the motto “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” So what to do?

Entertainment of various kinds just might be the trick. Bring in some big name Christian bands once or twice a month, fund some major theatrical productions, anything that gets the message of Christ out to the masses.

Currently there is an organization called OneVoice that is attempting to do just this. Eddie Conover leads this group, offering small productions with a big-time flair in such offerings as “The Las Freakshow” (a Halloween alternative to the typical fare of that season) and a reboot of “Godspell”. he is also working on this season’s production of “The Passion Play”. $35K for a year would be enough to shoot this ministry into the stratosphere, but getting that on a monthly basis would allow it to do things that would rival some of the major theatrical productions that line the strip’s many stages.

So that’s what 350 churches could do if they simply banded together.

But think of this: Each of those churches likely has at least 100 members, meaning there are at least 35,000 Christians that could take up the fight on their own. Some pastors and church boards may not see the value in making such a commitment, but what if even a portion of the members themselves did? The possibilities are endless.

One of our big issues in the United States today is that we battle over just how much government should or should not be helping the needy. I don’t believe that God ever intended that to be the job of government, he intended it for the church. The church should be striving to serve those needs, reaching out and showing the love of Christ to those that are in need – both physically and spiritually. But as we hear the statistic on tithing repeated over and over (90% of the tithes come from 10% of the congregation), the government has little choice but to try and do something. And because they are so worried about themselves and the next election cycle, they rarely get even the simplest of tasks accomplished.

Those guys wouldn’t last 10 minutes stuffing bags at Catholic Charities.

Christians, it’s time to ask your church leadership exactly what they are doing with the money that they are entrusted with. We all know what the needs are, and as such we are accountable for what happens out there when we don’t take actions to correct it.

Changing Las Vegas for Christ is a numbers game. The questions is, are you ready to play?

%d bloggers like this: