The lead news story here in Alabama has to do with Harvey Updike, Jr., a Dadeville, AL resident charged with poisoning the 130-year-old trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn. It seems that Updike, a Bama fan, was fed up with Auburn’s Heisman-winning, national championship season and decided to take matters in his own hands by striking at the heart of the most iconic locale on campus. No less than 12 minutes of last night’s local half-hour news broadcast focused on this “tragedy”. (Seriously, the words “tragedy”, “grieving”, and “mourning” were used. Perspective, people.)

The national sports media has been focusing on Albert Pujols’ self-imposed deadline for a contract extension with my beloved St. Louis Cardinals, a deadline that passed without a new deal for the slugger commonly acknowledged as the best player in the game today. The Cardinals still have an exclusive negotiating window with Pujols after the season, but this increases the probability that Albert will hit the open market as a free agent this fall, making him available to any club with pockets deep enough to sign him. The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Angels, the Dodgers and (gasp!) even the Cubs are rumored to have interest. Cardinal Nation is understandably distraught.

But the same dose of perspective is necessary here. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted reading all about these contract negotiations, hoping that news would break that the Cards and Pujols had agreed to a long term deal. It’s just hard to get worked up over a ball player turning down a $200 million contract to play a game, even if he is your son’s favorite player and the face of your favorite ball team. It won’t be “tragic” or a “travesty” if Pujols decides to don pinstripes next year when the Yanks offer him a boatload of cash. (Now, Pujols in a Cub jersey? THAT would be tragic. Just kidding.)

In the mail yesterday, I received a free copy of Rich Stearns’ The Hole In Our Gospel. Stearns, a former corporate CEO and current President of World Vision, argues for a holistic gospel that most evangelical Christians fail to emphasize, a gospel of good news for the poor, the orphaned, and the forgotten. By asking the question “What does God expect of us?”, Stearns presents a whole gospel that moves us beyond altar call “pie in the sky by and by” forms of Christianity to a vibrant engagement with the world to live the Kingdom of God in the present.

If you want to know what “tragic” means, read The Hole In Our Gospel.

  • Children die each day because they don’t have access to clean drinking water.
  • An entire generation in Africa is being orphaned because of the HIV / AIDS pandemic sweeping across the continent.
  • Young girls and women continue to be exploited, forced into the sex trafficking industry by false promises of security and provision.

Now, that’s tragic.

Sorry for being all “preachy” here, but I’m just convicted that a dose of perspective goes a long, long way sometimes.

This entry was posted in Books, Gospel, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Tragic

  1. Ashleigh says:


  2. Randy Harvell says:

    Our Little world view is the true tragedy

  3. Jane Reneau says:

    I sort of see what you are saying, and agree, but I don’t know that it necessarily means people lack perspective simply because they are saddened by the vandalism of a special place. I don’t think we should spend time ripping our hair out and “mourning” but…we can shake our heads and wish it had not happened while knowing MUCH worse things are going on in the world that deserve our attention, action and prayer.

    I guess until you know what is going on in a person’s heart, you can’t claim they lack perspective… And the sad truth is none of us are ever going to fully have it 100% of the time.

    So are people’s lives more important than old trees? You bet! No comparison needed! But I may still see a headline in a newspaper and think, “Man, I wish ole Harvey had not poisoned those trees.”

    • Jason says:

      Jane, thanks for the thoughtful response. And I agree with you. I think the tone of my post was maybe a bit “harsh” and that’s my fault. (What can I say? I’ve been reading through the Minor Prophets lately! Those guys can really preach!) While I’m not an Auburn fan, I agree that an act of criminal vandalism is a serious offense and needs to be treated as such. But it’s wrong of me to come across so judgmentally towards people (although I still think some of the “grieving” and “mourning” language is a bit extreme in this case).

      But I guess what I was really trying to point out is our culture’s infatuation with entertainment, celebrity, sports, etc., matters that garner so much of our attention and conversation. And one of the critiques of American Christians today is that we aren’t terribly concerned with global issues of injustice and oppression; we’d rather watch Dancing with the Stars or go the mall. I think that is the underlying point I was trying to make with the Toomer’s Corner story or the Albert Pujols story or the Super Bowl or the Oscars coming up on Sunday.

      But I totally hear what you’re saying. And I agree with you. I think I needed to clarify my “perspective” from this post. So thanks!

      Also, I’m not entirely comfortable being the “perspective police” because I have spent WAY too much time reading reports about a certain St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who is going to have season ending elbow surgery soon (AGGHH!!!) What can I say?

  4. Jane says:

    So true, Jason! I am with you on the entertainment issue. It may sound extreme but I think all of that is an intentional distraction of the Enemy. If we think all of that stuff matters it will take our focus off what really does. I have to remind myself of that regularly!

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