Monday, June 25, 2007

Did I just hear that?

Strange happenings while watching the NASCAR race on TNT yesterday. Kyle Petty, driver of the number 45, was TNT's in-race commentator. During the warm-up lap TNT made his mic live—and caught him praying over the radio to his crew-hardcore evangelical style prayer. That was cool and came as no surprise—the Petty family is known for their faith—they will not even participate in the Busch series (NASCAR's second tier national circuit) because of its sponsorship (Anheuser Busch.)

The TNT announcers remained respectfully silent during Kyle's prayer. After the amen, they asked their questions.

Fast forward a couple laps and Kyle Petty is caught up in a wreck. TNT again makes his mic live. And what do we hear, loud and clear? Kyle Petty screaming: What the f**k was that?

TNT apologized for the language.

Sigh. The NASCAR forums are all abuzz—mostly agreeing that it was hilarious that one minute Petty was praying and the next minute he was lobbing the F-bomb. Indeed, in spite of myself I had to laugh. In truth, I don't what to make of it. Christians should behave differently—but Christians also get caught up in the emotion of the moment. And while the bible warns us to guard our language, I don't think it singles out swearing for special treatment. (It singles out swearing as in "taking oaths" for special treatment, but not as in cursing.) In other words, offensive language can be constructed even if one uses only the most proper of the King's English.

And, as I have written before, the Christian preoccupation with the phrase Oh My God is unfounded. Yes, it may be a silly utterance. Yes I understand that we should not take the Lord's name in vain. Prove to me, however, that OMG is an example of such. R. C. Sproul once wrote about going to a lunch with a group of Christians and when the waitress asked if anyone wanted to see the wine list the lady hosting the group pompously scolded her that "we are Christians, we don't drink alcohol." From memory, Sproul wrote something along the lines that he wanted nothing more, at that moment, that to order a scotch. I kind of feel the same way about OMG. I am tempted to say it in front of people whom I have heard characterizing it as taking the Lord's name in vain just to start an argument.

Kyle Petty should, of course, apologize. Maybe he already has.

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