Flagrant 2


In professional basketball, a personal foul — contact with an opposing player not allowed by the rules of the game — is a violation and results in either free throws or possession of the basketball by the opposing team. A flagrant foul is a personal foul that is excessive or violent and could injure a player.

There are two levels of flagrant fouls. The first level, deemed less severe by the referees, results in a technical foul — free throws and possession of the ball by the opposing team. The flagrant 2 is the most serious, results in immediate player ejection and may also bring further suspension by the League office.

No dirty tricks, the NBA is saying. Basketball is not going to sink into violence. Players are to play by the rules, which admittedly allows some contact, but they aren’t to deliberately hurt anyone either by intentionally trying to do so or by playing so rough, that’s the inevitable consequence.

These flagrant foul rules came into the league a few years after Boston’s Kevin McHale close-lined Lakers forward Kurt Rambis and threw him on his back as he was going up for a lay-up. As I remember, McHale was called for a foul, received no technical, and was not ejected from the game.

Professional hockey used to be known more for the fights on the ice than any actual skating and scoring, but their league also took action and has done much to clean up the game so that it is growing in popularity.

Schools are beginning to call a flagrant 2 on bullies. No more purposeful, intentional, harmful bashing — physically or emotionally — of another student. The damage is too great and the repercussions are unacceptable.

The problem, however, is that the flagrant 2 is a penalty, not a prevention. Yes, in sports and perhaps in schools, the penalty may act as a deterrent. That would seem to be the case in hockey, and fewer players are being thrown on their backs these days in professional basketball.

But the flagrant 2 does not address the heart of the matter — the heart. Bullies of any stripe in any venue don’t care about the rules. They only care about not getting caught.

How else can we explain a professional football coach paying players to go out and hurt athletes on opposing teams? Rules don’t matter to guys like that, so no flagrant 2 ruling is going to change a person like that.

What will?

A heart transplant.

Chuck Colson, who died on Saturday, is proof of what a new heart can do. He was involved in the greatest political scandal of US history, and ended up serving jail time because of it. But in the midst of the finger-pointing and cover-ups, he found Christ, and the world began to see what a changed life looks like.

No, Mr. Colson didn’t turn his life around. His personal flagrant 2 didn’t set him straight or even scare him straight. He actually entered prison as a Christian, and as God so often does, He used what appeared to be the lowest point of Mr. Colson’s life to do something of greatness.

It was in prison that Mr. Colson came to understand what life was all about and what his purpose was for. A year or so after his release from jail, he founded Prison Fellowship. The change in this man’s heart began to have widespread affects, not just in the lives of the inmates who had the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ but in the Church as it came face to face with the responsibility to reach beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone to our neighbors we’d rather flag with a flagrant 2 and be done.

Mr. Colson has given the Church far more than we may realize today. I suspect his legacy will be among the great Christian thinkers. Well, it already is.

“Precious in the sight of the LORD
Is the death of His godly ones” (Ps. 116:15).

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Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm  Comments Off on Flagrant 2  
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Harry, Harry, Harry


With the final Harry Potter movie at last in theaters, much talk has once again turned to how the stories about a boy wizard should be understood. Apparently there is a die-hard group clinging to the claim that the Potter books represent a threat.

It seems there are two main criticisms. One claims that these stories about wizards advance the cause of the occult. A second claims that Harry behaves in such unrighteous ways, and receives the approbation of his elders in doing so, that he is no role model for young people.

I’d like to consider each of these more closely. Does Harry Potter advance the cause of the occult? I’m no expert on the occult and have no desire to become one, but I do know that the description of sorcery and witchery in the Bible is not in Harry Potter.

In the imaginative books, wizards have power but must learn to use it and control it (hence the school for witchcraft and wizardry). What is it the young people learn? How to fly their brooms, how to make their magic wands do what they want them to do, how to mix potions for desired magical transformations, and how to defend themselves against evil spells.

The students are not taught how to bring up the dead or how to acquire more power from a spirit.

As it turned out, the more the accusations were leveled at author J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter, the more Christian leaders spoke up to say the idea was false that the books advocated the kind of sorcery the Bible condemned.

Ted Olsen, Christianity Today‘s online and opinion editor, put together an Opinion Roundup on the subject.

One of the most quoted supporters of the Potter books is Christianity Today columnist Charles Colson, who, in his November 2 Breakpoint radio broadcast, noted that Harry and his friends “develop courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another—even at the risk of their lives. Not bad lessons in a self-centered world.” Colson dismisses the magic and sorcery in the books as “purely mechanical, as opposed to occultic. That is, Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don’t make contact with a supernatural world. … [It’s not] the kind of real-life witchcraft the Bible condemns.” [emphasis mine]

Even a less than supportive review in World magazine drew the same conclusion as Colson did:

Still, [World] magazine notes that Rowling’s witchcraft bears little resemblance to modern wicca. “A reader drawn in would find that the real world of witchcraft is not Harry Potter’s world. Neither attractive nor harmless, it is powerful and evil.”

Interestingly, Rowling herself weighed in on the controversy:

In a quote from a CNN interview: “I have met thousands of children now, and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, ‘Ms. Rowling, I’m so glad I’ve read these books because now I want to be a witch.’ They see it for what it is. It is a fantasy world and they understand that completely. I don’t believe in magic, either.”

Certainly there are pastors and others in Christendom who have spoken out against the Harry Potter books — I heard of another just last week. However, I have yet to hear anyone explain how books written as pretend, with no connection to genuine occult activity, still manage to teach the unsuspecting about the sorcery condemned by the Bible.

That logic is inescapably bad. I can only surmise that someone holding this view cares little for the actual meaning of words or the context in which they appear. Or that they have not read Harry’s story and have closed their ears to all reason.

I’ll look at the second major objection to Harry another day.

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