Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Is Jon Kitna a Fanatic?

David Flemming has written in ESPN, The Magazine that Detroit Lions quarterback, Jon Kitna, is a fanatic. Flemming is not talking about the game of football but rather about Kitna’s faith in Jesus Christ.

I know that several of you that read this blog are not into professional football. Allow me to bring in a little football context before we reflect.

Jon Kitna is a 34 year old professional athlete from Tacoma, Washington that played at Central Washington University before embarking on an 11 year professional career with three NFL teams including the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals. I have been a fan of his since he entered the league because he is a strong Christian and because he is a gutsy, courageous football player. Few players from small colleges make it to or succeed in the NFL.

Detroit is an historic NFL franchise begun in 1930. They have a proud tradition but have been on very hard times in recent years posting double-digit losses for the past 6 seasons. Kitna predicted/promised the fans of Detroit that they would win at least 10 this season.

He now has the Detroit fans excited about Lion football and he has his formerly depressed teammates believing they can succeed.

Flemming however raises several questions/points that that hold a prominent place in our culture.

Kitna’s presence and influence has resulted in at least 20 teammates making decisions to follow Christ. Several players from the Lions and whatever team they’re playing gather at mid-field for prayer following games. Every Lion practice ends with about 30 players huddling and shouting “1-2-3, Jesus”. Kitna leads a Bible study in his home every Monday night.

Flemming concedes that in part Kitna’s faith as well as his personality probably has had a positive impact on team morale. But Flemming also believes that it makes for a hostile work environment for those that don’t want to be Christians. And, Flemming says that Kitna is a fanatic because Kitna often prays during the game, has never used a word stronger than “fudge” on the field and tithes 10% of his salary to God.

Kitna says, “My first responsibility to this team is to be a quarterback. But my priority in life is to be a man of God. I don’t use my faith maliciously, to damn or to judge people who are not Christians.” Kitna believes in and everyone agrees that he practices, “hard work, responsibility, temperance and selflessness.”

Obviously I’m a Christian and I’m biased in favor of Kitna’s beliefs and behaviors. However, when I imagine working in an office or on a professional team with a majority of, let’s say Muslims, if they were hard working, responsible and selfless I think that I would be fine with their practice of their faith. If they wanted to pray, or quote the Koran or hold studies in their home or have voluntary prayer gatherings during the day or week I don’t think that would be a problem.

Our culture is uncomfortable with the practice of faith in public. Our culture contends for a private practice of faith. Yet this call for privacy is relatively new. The entire history of our country has not only allowed but promoted free expression and practice of faith in public. Yes, there are those who are obnoxious and irritating about their faith. There are also people who are obnoxious and irritating about politics and sports and business and money, etc. Part of being a mature adult is learning to deal with and cope with obnoxious people.

Okay, that’s my reflection. What’s yours? How do you see it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

he seems pretty courageous to me. also a good role model in a time when we don't have so many.