Another question from last week…

September 25, 2009

Don Martin told me that if he were in Vinebranch last week, he would have asked what Paul would say to someone like Muhammed Ali, who in the ’60s refused to serve in Vietnam for religious reasons. Leaving aside difficult questions associated with Vietnam and Ali’s Muslim faith, Don’s question is to the point: Paul would say that our ultimate allegiance is to God.

As Don says every Patriotic Sunday, “We salute the flag but kneel at the cross.” Likewise, St. Paul would want us to appreciate the difference between a conditional and an absolute loyalty. When they are in competition, our choice is clear—even when it means accepting difficult consequences. Regardless of the merits of Ali’s action, no one can say he failed to accept the consequences: he believed in his cause so much that he was tried and convicted to five years in prison (although the conviction was overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court) and had his boxing license suspended.

2 Responses to “Another question from last week…”

  1. Bruce Maynes Says:

    In 1988, while we were living in Saudi Arabia, we happened to sit next to Muhammed Ali and his handlers. This was during the Haj. (the trip to Mecca required of all Muslims once in a lifetime)

    We chatted with the handlers and learned that Ali can no longer even communicate. He suffers from the same thing that afflicts many boxers. He was hit in the head enough times to cause dementia. They said the onset began before the Vietnam situation. So, who knows how much Islam influenced him or how much of Christianity remained.

    Ali was somewhat aware and his handlers were very pleasant and open.

  2. brentwhite Says:

    Interesting… You happened to sit next to a living legend? There aren’t many bigger celebrities in the sports world. I’ve read that Ali has Parkinson’s now. Apparently boxers are very susceptible to that because of all the punches in the head. I remember when he lit the torch at the ’96 Olympics, he could barely move. His face was completely expressionless–except, as I recall, he had tears in his eyes, which was pretty moving.


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