It’s Superbowl XLVII!! I’m not a huge sports fan like some people I know (it’s literally a religion to them), but I enjoy the Superbowl: the food, the over-the-top ads, the hype, the team spirit and the half-time show. It hasn’t been declared a holiday yet, but it should be. Admittedly, I try to keep perspective as this is only a sporting event. It’s not the end of the world if your team loses (but emotions run high!)
The pre-show always has interesting stories about the teams and the players and this year was no different. I just watched a human interest on O.J. Brigance who contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) after playing for the Baltimore Ravens alongside the impressive Ray Lewis. It’s also impressive that Baltimore management has decided to let O.J. work for them as a director of player development. To be clear, because of ALS, O.J. is completely paralyzed including the ability to speak. He can show some facial expressions, but his main form of communication is through a computer where he can select text to speak with or relay Email/chat using data.
What didn’t impress me about all of this is the angle of the story on O.J., and I know I’m going to risk sounding like an asshole here as no one dares to question the disabled and those who champion their disabled friends. Ray Lewis, O.J., his wife, and parts of the media all give lip service to “God” for keeping O.J. alive and functioning. I’m looking at the TV screen and seeing an oxygen tank strapped to a wheelchair connected to a computer–where exactly is this god?
A god didn’t save O.J. Brigance, medical technology did. If you want to say his faith helped, sure, I understand the placebo effect. I also know there is such a thing as the “human spirit,” metaphorically speaking. Humans are amazing in their adapatations to bad circumstances and often come out on top (albeit temporarily) despite ALS or in the case of Christopher Reeve (who did not attribute his ability to function to any god) a paralyzing accident. I posted a screenshot below you can click on to enlarge showing the stupidity of what some believers thought of Christopher Reeve not attributing any of his success to a god. This post is from a forum on Catholic.com.
Ray Lewis, admirably, stood by his former teammate in the video wearing a shirt that simply read, “Psalm 91.” I posted it below (from the NIV found at BibleGateway.com), but I’ve posted this one before because it’s a bunch of religious bullshit and a lot of Christians love to quote it. In the Psalm there are references to resting in the shadow of God because he will protect you from essentially everything! It’s too bad the biblical author doesn’t mention ALS, apparently God will do it all except for this disease (pestilence doesn’t seem to count, I guess it only refers to the plague). …Unless we go back to the old fallback of O.J. not having enough faith to heal himself, which is a cruel statement.
I’m tired of the gods getting the credit for human effort against nature. There is no cure for ALS and it does eventually lead to death. Will people give credit to god when O.J. eventually passes on? It’s a horrible disease robbing those inflicted of their lifestyle, their dignity (who wants someone dressing you and taking away your waste?) and your ability to play sports or whatever you actively like to do. Medical technology and the team of doctors involved should be credited for O.J. Brigance being alive and able to work for the Ravens and yet nothing. We have it all backwards when these stories are taped for TV and replayed again and again about individuals fighting back against the limitations of certain diseases. Applaud the individual, but then applaud the science keeping the individual going. If it weren’t for medical science, Mr. Brigance would have been dead by now.
SIDENOTE: And don’t give me that bullshit excuse that God is guiding the hands of the doctors and scientists. There’s no evidence of that.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”