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"I can't do what only God can do"

Here's an interesting interview with Steelers' safety Troy Polamalu on "faith, fatherhood and football."

Good to see large space given to an open discussion of his involvement in Greek Orthodoxy:

In order to properly meet Polamalu where he lives, this is the requisite, the grounding force that gives meaning to everything he does, every play he makes. Polamalu's evident gratitude to the one who made him is marbled throughout our talk - from his training regime to his travels to Mount Athos, a monastic site in Greece, a place he calls "heaven on earth."
When asked, "How would you define the spiritual struggle you referred to earlier?" he answers,
It's the struggle of good and evil, and with that comes the struggle with greed, jealousy, materialism, sexual morality, pride, all these types of struggles that we face every day, in every second of the day.
Yet one thing seems missing to me... the gospel. Not that I expect him to be an evangelical, but there is no reference to the Lord Jesus, to the Cross, the resurrection, or salvation through Christ. God, church, and various monastics rate mention, but not the Lord Jesus. When asked, "What is your greatest wish for your child?" he answers...
Without a question, my greatest wish would be for him to understand the spiritual struggle and to be a pious Orthodox Christian. That's what I want for myself, as well. Sometimes parents want their children to be what they never were. And that's one thing that I am gracious for Paisios to have: that he's able to grow up in the Orthodox church around monastics and priests that I was never able to experience as a kid - to grasp that, not take it for granted and really culture that.
Hm. Should he know and love the Lord Jesus, and the salvation which comes by grace through faith in Christ and his atonement? Maybe that's just unstated and understood, but it's nice to be clear about that!

Still... it's good to see this interview, and to hear a football player say,

"Football is part of my life but not life itself. Football doesn't define me. It's what I do and how I carry out my faith."


Jeff Burke said…
I've been puzzling over how to best comment on this one. Forgive me if I am not clear. Your commentary on TP's comments betray your bias about how best to express these most precious spiritual touch points, just as his answers to the questions betray his bias. I don't know TP, but I expect that as an Orthodox Christian he is more interested in getting others around Orthodox monks and priests (to use some of his words) than he is in expressing a formula for coming to salvation since he probably knows that one comes to faith within the confines of the Body of Christ. If one reads his words within his Orthodox context one would see that he is saying a mouthful. The issues that he mentions all involve the Cross, the Christ (as well as the Father and the Paraclete), as well as his understanding of what/who we are being saved from. He knows that implicitly encouraging others to be around spiritually minded people (like the monks, priests, etc.) will not only let them hear about Christ but actually see Christ as well. There is a richness about the things that he wants for his son within the Orthodox Church that can only be experienced within the church. He could hit all of the points that you mention, and wax eloquently about his faith, but the words would ultimately fall short. This points to a difference of perspective between the church of the east and the church of the west.
Sandy said…
I think I understand that point, and certainly allow for that motive on his part. I certainly can't view his statements in a harsh way, for often we just want to get people near Christ before we present the good news of what his death and resurrection mean. We don't always have the venue and opportunity to actually go into the gospel with others. It's just I think there's may be a danger in the sacramental traditions -- for lack of a better term -- that there can be a trust in and a presentation of the church (and her monks/ pastors / popes) almost to the exclusion of Christ himself. At least that is what it looks like to outsiders. Is that unfair? I hope not. All I know is, for example, I just scanned the first chapter of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians -- just in first chapter alone he mentions Christ by name no less than sixteen times. Paul said, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain." He is Christ-saturated. I just figured -- orthodox or not -- a believer might somewhere along the way mention the Savior by name. But again I can't judge his motives and who knows what might have been edited out. I'd certainly love to see more football players of his level of seriousness.

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