By Bob Hiller –
Well, Pete Rose is out. He’s caught. What we all kind of suspected, has been proven now with factual evidence. Arguably one of baseball’s greatest hitters, and certainly one of its hardest working and most aggressive players, has been caught cheating. We already knew he bet on games as a coach. But, this week we come to find out that the reason he hustled so much on the field wasn’t for love of the game, but to make sure he covered the spread. What makes it worse is how he lied about it to everyone for so long, how he raked the names of his accusers through the mud, and how he played the victim card the whole time. The truth is that Pete Rose gambled and cheated. He’s out of the Hall of Fame for good and banned from baseball. Sin has its consequences, and Rose now lives with his exposed to the world. He’s done for. He’s disqualified. He’s out.
So, I wonder, how should we as the church respond to this? Given my time on the internet this week, and judging by what I have seen in the actions of my brother and sister web-loggers, the only right response for the church is clear: blog the truth in love. That’s right, let’s spill our self-righteous opinions about Rose all over the internet! Let’s let everyone know why we think this happened, how we saw it coming, and how we should be different. Make sure you analyze this thing from every possible angle to demonstrate you are above what is happening to Rose. Get to blogging!
For such efforts, here is a good rule of thumb, dear Christian blogger: before piling on someone whose life has just shattered in front of you, make sure you let everyone know you aren’t actually piling on, just speaking the truth in love. That way, you totally avoid giving the wrong impression that you are somehow judging. Rather, by blogging about him, you clearly show you love him. Say how concerned you are for his family, his friends, his team, heck, even his church for good measure. But (and make sure you use that word “but”) then be sure to take this opportunity (i.e. when all of a man’s most secret and shameful vices are front page news, much to his shame) to fine-tooth comb his views on competition, teamwork, and, if there is time, his theology. Far from piling on, you’ll just be reminding us that you were never a really big Rose guy anyhow, and he was never really on your team in the first place.
Perhaps we should expose a few of his other sins as well. After all, his celebrity got the best of him. He was careless with the platform he had been given. He had marvelous, game changing talents. When he went around the country to sign books and give talks, people were interested and captivated. His game was amazing, his stories fascinating. But alas, having an audience and gaining celebrity status is wrought with temptation, if not a sin itself. So, remind us how you kind of saw this collapse coming?
I know, I know, blogging about a guy seems a bit harsh since the law has already carried out its consequences for ol’ Pete. He will be prosecuted and found guilty by the courts of baseball. His disqualification is complete and he knows it. But, don’t you think blogging about it will help in the prevention of future catastrophes like this? After all, blogging will help remind all of us that gambling in baseball is a sin. Good thing we can take to the internet with our Bible verses and righteous indignation, otherwise no one would have figured that out. This way, people will be able to see how much better our life and doctrine are than Pete Rose’s. Why go to your room and silently pray for a shattered man when you could pontificate about his sins when he isn’t even party to the conversation? That sort of action can only produce a healthier, happier, more sanctified game for the kids.
I know, it seems ridiculous to blog about someone else’s sins within hours of his collapse. But, if you have been upset with Rose for a long time, if you’d already cast judgment and made your mind up about him, then watching him fall really just gave you an opportunity to press “POST” on that pre-written blog in your head. It does have to feel good finally getting the opportunity to have your opinion vindicated, especially when he has no leg to stand on. Whew, what a relief.
It does seem to be a bit wiser and more loving to just shut-up about it, to pray in your closet for this broken sinner, to talk face-to-face (not on Facebook) with your real life brothers and sisters who are troubled over the news. It does seem a bit more biblical to start examining our own planks. Obviously, the blogosphere, while good for exchanging ideas and discussing and debating various issues, is a lousy platform for pastoral counseling and dealing with people’s personal sins. But, then again, keeping to yourself about the sins of others (that are really no business of yours) doesn’t bring a lot of blog traffic your way, so never mind. After all, nothing boosts your own blog celebrity like talking about the failures of some high-profile celebrity (or using that failure as a catalyst to attack his theology). Just ask TMZ!
Yes, yes, I see the irony in the fact that I am ranting about bloggers in a blog rant. My hypocrisy is not lost on me. I too am coming from a holier-than-thou position against so many holier-than-thou bloggers out there; I get it. Maybe what is needed then for you, for me, for ol’ Pete Rose, and anyone else you might be able to think of caught in their sins this past week, is not another blog about them, but rather shutting our computers off and praying for God to have mercy on us all…because we are all so gloriously ruined. I just pray, for Christ’s sake, He remembers those prayers when calling us to account for the words we’ve blogged in love. Who knows, we might be surprised by grace still…