Back when I was a kid we wandered the neighborhood far and wide. Sometimes my parents knew what I was doing, sometimes not. I certainly didn’t have them accompanying me on all my adventures.
Today we worry about our kids. If they’re only walking down the street we feel the need to keep an eye on them. The world seems full of dangers we weren’t aware of 30 years ago.
Thirty years ago we worried about communist bombs and missiles. Now we worry about terrorists blowing themselves up in our midst.
Even college campuses aren’t safe. After last Spring’s Virginia Tech shootings we wonder if we need to send our kids to school in a kevlar vest.
Iowa State University’s president announced last month that the athletics department would be allowed to engage the services of a chaplain — or a “life-skills assistant” — as long as the counselor was a volunteer, did not favor one faith over others, did not promote religion over nonreligion, and did not make use of any state or university funds.
The department’s plan to appoint such a counselor drew criticism from more than 100 Iowa State professors, who declared in a petition that the post would violate the constitutional ban on state establishments of religion. In a written statement, the university’s president, Gregory L. Geoffroy, said that the counselor’s work would be closely watched, and that athletes would be questioned about it.
Whoa. Can you imagine that? A state school allowing someone as dangerous and pernicious as a chaplain on campus? Well, maybe not quite a chaplain. That’d be playing with fire for sure (“Here, kiddie, want to try my assault weapon?”). They’ll settle for a “life-skills assistant.”Maybeeven a life-skills assistant can bring a harmless smidgen of spirituality (left safely undefined so as not to injure the easily tainted youngsters). At least some people will keep a close eye on the “life skills assistant” (modern surveillance equipment is readily available on the internet, and remarkably affordable). Who knows? Maybe they’ll pick up somje useful life-skills in the process.
So what are Christian athletes (I’m making an assumption that a majority of the athletes seeking a chaplain are Christians – they may not be, but surely some state school has a a majority of its “religious” athletes as Christians) to do, if they want a chaplain and Big Brother thinks they can’t handle it? I can think of a couple of options.
First, these athletes might decided that a thin veneer of religion on the top of sport doesn’t make much difference. They can pray in their own locker and go bash people’s heads (or try to whup them in some other sport) without anyone in the audience (except for Big Brother who has a presence in the locker room to keep a leash of the “life skills assistant”) knowing anything about it.
Or they could decide that the goddess of sport (is that Nike?), like mammon, cannot be served alongside the real God so easily. Maybe they’ll have to go to a school that believes a real chaplain – someone clearly outed as a representative of a particular god – is a good thing, not something comparable to having Osama bin Laden on campus. Sure, most of those schools don’t have leading sports teams, and aren’t stepping stones to the pros. But athletes are used to sacrificing. Maybe they can handle it.