Posts Tagged ‘Angelina Jolie’

Sermon 02-08-15: “Basic Training, Part 5: Forgive Us”

February 19, 2015

Basic Training Series

Forgiving others—and sometimes forgiving ourselves—is among the most difficult things we’re supposed to do as Christians. As I discuss in this sermon, we struggle with it, in part, because we refuse to accept that our relationship with God and with one another should be based on grace, not merit. We don’t deserve the many gifts that God gives us—the gifts of life, eternal life, love, and material possessions.

Sermon Text: Matthew 6:9-15

The following is my original sermon manuscript with footnotes.

Do you feel sorry for Pete Carroll? I sort of do. In case you don’t know, the coach for the Seattle Seahawks had his team poised for victory in last Sunday’s Super Bowl. While the Patriots had taken a late four-point lead, the Seahawks were on the Patriots’ one-yard-line with less than a minute left in the game and one timeout. Meanwhile, they have the best running back in the business, Marshawn Lynch. They had three chances to hand the ball off to Lynch and let him bust his way over the goal line to put his team up by three with seconds remaining.


It seemed so easy to win at that point except… What did they do on second down? Instead of handing the ball off to Lynch, quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass, which was intercepted at the goal line. Game over. The Seahawks managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. For someone like me who was mildly rooting for the Seahawks because I always root for the NFC team, plus the Patriots are—you knowevil, it was frustrating to say the least. Read the rest of this entry »

Jolie’s theologically significant choice

May 28, 2013

Years ago, Saturday Night Live produced a sharp parody of a prescription drug commercial aimed at women—touting a solution for some female-specific health problem. I don’t remember what problem or product the parody was spoofing, but I remember the commercial’s best punchline: When it was time to offer disclaimers and warnings about scary-sounding side effects (which sometimes make the remedy seem worse than the disease), the very sympathetic female announcer said, “Latrevia [or whatever it was called] won’t cure all your problems; after all, you’ll still be a woman.”

The reason that punchline worked is because it correctly discerned a subtle message underneath many of these appeals to women: “Because you’re a woman, there’s something wrong with you and your body.”

angelina-jolie-people-magazine-cover.jpgFor some reason, I thought of this parody when I heard about Angelina Jolie’s announcement a couple of weeks ago to have a preemptive double-mastectomy. I say “preemptive,” of course, because she doesn’t yet have breast cancer. Based on state-of-the-art genetic testing, however, her doctors believed she had an 87 percent chance of developing it.

I promise I’m not passing judgment on the rightness or wrongness of Jolie’s decision. And who am I, anyway—with my Y-chromosome—to even offer an opinion. I know I’m treading on thin ice, believe me.

But was her decision “brave,” absent any sign of cancer, as magazines as diverse as People and Christianity Today agree that it was? How do they know what was right?

And why isn’t the answer as clear to me?

One thing’s for sure: I don’t like this “Her•meneutics” column in Christianity Today. Guest-columnist Sarah Thebarge, a breast-cancer survivor, asks:

What if all of us women had the courage to shed the external things we’ve used to define ourselves and accept ourselves and each other for who we are instead of what we look like?

I can’t reconcile these words with our Christian hope for bodily resurrection, which I just preached about on Sunday. Contrary to Thebarge’s suggestion, “who we are” is not some intangible, spiritual part of ourselves—a soul—separate from our bodies. We are instead bodies and souls together. On the other side of death and resurrection, God will put us back together again.

And why will God do this? Because God happens to love the “external things” (Thebarge’s words) that make up our bodies. He isn’t willing for us to be “shed” of them—not eternally, at least. Jesus came not to save “souls but ‘wholes,'” as N.T. Wright said. As with all of us, Angelina Jolie doesn’t accidentally have the body she has. God gave it to her for a reason. What we do with our bodies, therefore, matters greatly to God.

And for all I know, God called her to sacrifice part of her body for now—so that she’ll avoid an early death and continue to love and support her many children. But that doesn’t change the fact that what she loses matters to God—even if, in Christ, the loss is temporary.