Beyond Race

In 1989 tennis player Michael Chang won the French Open.  The crowd cheered the Chinese-American player until….

The crowd cheered the young man as he held high his hard-won trophy in front of TV cameras until he publicly thanked “the Lord Jesus Christ” for his victory.  Some in the crowd went silent, but others whistled, booed, and hooted (“Thanking Jesus gets too Specific for fans,” Kate DeSmet, The Detroit News, July 1, 1989).

Well America is not that far fallen; perhaps were farther.  When “The Voice” contestant Trevin Hunte was asked to say a few words before he was to find out if he was leaving the show, he simply said, “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for getting me this far.”  I didn’t hear any boo’s or gasps or even an appreciable lack of cheering.  He didn’t get kicked off the show that week. I certainly thought he would the next week for what columnist Kate DeSmet identified in 1989 as the public faux pas of thanking the wrong person for the victory.  But he didn’t.

So maybe we are not as far gone as a country as I thought, but then again maybe were farther gone than I ever thought. Jamie Foxx at the Soul Train Music Awards November 8, 2012 came out to a wildly cheering audience saying that it’s like church in here.  Then he went on to comment: “first of all giving honor to God and our Lord and Savior Barack Obama.” Not only was there no quieting of the crowd or audible booing, there was even louder and more raucous cheering.

You know where this is all going to fall out?  On race:  “I am opposed to what Foxx said because he is black and I am white.”  Interestingly enough at the 1989 French Open virtually all the spectators were white and the athlete was not, and it was a black man on “The Voice” who openly, boldly thanked his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on national TV.  This is not a black and white issue.  This is faith versus unbelief; praising versus blaspheming.  It’s cheering one and booing the other, and let me tell you: it matters which one you do what to.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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