Sunday, July 15, 2012


I know we're all consumed with Bain-Departure-Date-Gate, but did anyone see the lead story in today's New York Times sports section, a story that for a while was also featured prominently on the online front page? The huge story (more than 5,600 words) is about Ryan Hall, an American Olympic marathoner who -- literally -- regards God as his running coach:
After finishing second at the 2011 United States half-marathon championships, Hall went to drug testing, a standard procedure. Asked on a form to list his coach, he wrote: God.

You have to list the name of a real person, a doping official said.

"He is a real person," Hall responded.
Hall attends an evangelical Christian church in California where faith healing is regarded as a real thing; Hall's wife, also a runner, is reported to have overcome an injury in part through prayer.

Hall's fellow parishioners really believe they see supernatural phenomena in the church:
At Bethel Church, God's presence is felt in a number of ways, including what is said to be the appearance of feathers from angels' wings and the manifestation of what is called a "glory cloud."

Hall said he and his wife had experienced a glory cloud on New Year's night, likening the phenomenon to fireflies or the flashing of tiny fireworks. Others say it resembles gold dust. He had seen a YouTube version of the glory cloud and was somewhat skeptical, believing that it might be simply a cascade of dust from the ceiling of the church. His skepticism faded when he saw for himself.
(The link goes to a YouTube video that, to me, seems to depict the release of some glitter up in the rafters. this skeptic agrees.)

Hall also trains for marathons based on the Bible, or at least his interpretation of it:
Hall said that God spoke to him regularly, giving him training plans, even a race strategy for the London Olympics.

... Hall has also found biblical reinforcement for his training. He takes one day off a week, just as God rested on the seventh day. Every seven weeks, for restoration he runs only once a day instead of twice, an allusion to Exodus 23:11 and the admonition that farmers should leave their fields fallow every seventh year.

At night, he rubs his legs with anointing oil, another reference to Exodus and the belief that the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Hall bought -- but did not immediately use -- a weighted vest for uphill running, an idea gleaned from Judges 16:3 and Samson hoisting the doors of the city gate of Gaza on his shoulders and carrying them to the top of the hill facing Hebron.

In spacing three days between his most arduous workouts, Hall refers to the Holy Trinity and the time that Jesus spent in the tomb; for him, this period represents resurrection, completeness, new life.
Here's the thing: Jere Longman, who wrote this story for the secular godless atheist gay Jew commie liberal East Coast elitist New York Times, present every bit of this with absolute respect. There's no sneering. There's no contempt. There's no dismissal of what Hall's doing.

Can you imagine Fox News treating a passionately atheist athlete -- or a devoutly Muslim athlete -- with this kind of respect? It would never happen.

This is why I utterly disregard the right's whining about widespread liberal bias in the mainstream media. The difference between the "liberal media" and the conservative media is that the "liberal media" will often show respect to people who are politically or culturally to the right, whereas the conservative media will never, ever do the same. There are only two kinds of people in the right-wing media: good people and evil people. The notion that someone might have a belief system that deserves respect even if you don't share it would never occur to anyone on that side of the fence. Even if someone thought it, certainly nothing of the sort could be published.


Ten Bears said...

Jesus frackin' a Christ, sounds to me like they were just having good sex.

Victor said...

I purposely skipped that article.

I really can't stand these Jesus-freak athletes, and I knew the NY Times would treat him with respect - they always do.

I hope Te'blow' stays the NFL mediocrity that he is.
But Jets fans are in for some major religiosity. If Sanchez throws an interception, these religious loons will see it as a sign, and call for 'St. Timmeh of the Meadowlands' - or, will it be "Times Square Timmeh?"

And I, for one, hope the Knicks don't match Jeremy Lin's Houston contract.
Let that other Jesus-freak kneel and pray and show-off his faith in the heat and humidity of The Bible Belt - and leave us NY Knicks fans to watch Felton as our Point Guard.
Now, Felton may be very religious, too - probably is. But I don't see him ostentatiously showing off after every bucket.

As for this guy, with God as his "coach," I hope when, or even better, if, he crosses the finish line, several dozen Muslims and less JC-Freaky Christians finish ahead of him. Maybe even an Atheist or Agnostic or two from Europe.

You want to be religious?
Sit down, or kneel, pray to your heart's content - but STFU about it. And don't flash your faith like some newbie lottery winner with oodles of singles in a feckin' strip-joint.

The rest of us don't give a feckin' shit.
Only the rest of the ostentatious, god-bothering, holier-than-thou, buttinskies, do.

So, go to your nearest church, and prance, and pray, and kneel, and speak-in-tongues, handle snakes, or juggle chainsaws, or do whatever other shit you and your fellow flock-freaks do.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Why did the Times run this story? Why is it news that some athlete has these crank beliefs and prays all the time? So what?

BH said...

Amen - so to speak - Philo. IMO, it's at bottom the same American jock-derangement syndrome that deified Paterno and insulated his loyal assistant for decades.

merlallen said...

Biblical Angels didn't have wings, why is that none of these people have any knowledge of what's actually in the Bible?