Remember the Alamodome
THE BRIDGE BUILDER
by Geir Engoy –
Cross Cultural Ministries
An old battle cry last summer took on a new twist.
The preamble was that San Antonio’s professional basketball team had just clinched their first NBA championship. Referring to them as the “cowpokes,” some big city sports journalists had a hard time accepting this provincial winner.
Turns out that David Robinson’s broken leg a couple of seasons ago became the Spurs’ luckiest break (pun intended). Because of his injury, he was out of the team for the better part of a season and the Spurs ended up with the worst record in the league but also with the top draft pick. They chose Tim Duncan, who was the unanimous #1 pick out of Wake Forest. Duncan has attained superstar status in record time and this past season, his second in the NBA, he hoisted San Antonio’s first championship trophy aloft.
Sports franchises often have cute nicknames, as well as catchy names for their arenas. Those who are familiar with American history will understand where the “namers” came up with the name for the Spurs’ domed arena, commemorating other important events in that town.
But, be that as it may, it is still located, in the estimation of writers from certain big cities, in the hinterland. Can anything good come out of San Antonio?
This type of incredulity, or envy, is nothing new. Isn’t it where the money is located? Isn’t it in the big and important population centers where ideas are interchanged that grand thoughts appear and championship feats take place? Before anyone was puzzled by NBA greatness to emerge from San Antonio, TX, the spiritual and intellectual elite of Jerusalem looked down their noses at the peripheral town of Nazareth. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Many people still seem to have a hard time recognizing anything of quality from “Hicksville.” Ethnocentrists find redeeming value in other cultures only to the degree that those cultures measure up to their own. Their own position becomes the measuring rod for the validity of the others. Nothing inherently wrong in this stance, of course; you will find it in cultures all over the world and throughout history. However, once it is brought into the open, this ignorance must be amended. Westernized Christianity, for example, has been running out of fuel for quite some time. Much of western culture may have found its foundations in the Bible, but the current climate between Western and non-Western societies is one where the roles have, by and large, been reversed. There is greater Christian growth and more Acts-like manifestations among Christians in the non-Western world.
In a society like ours where ‘tolerance’ at all costs (!) has relegated the zeal of Christian witness to only stressing the first letter of that word and the last of the English alphabet over and over, the Good News is emerging stronger and stronger from “backward” places. That’s where people daily risk their lives for the Good News. Those believers may be located in the hinterland and be referred to in less than flattering terms, but they are willing to take a stand in the face of the kind of adversity which we can only imagine.
To those who take the trouble to peer underneath the surface appearances of the kaleidoscopic humanity in our neighborhoods, what comes out of San Antonio or Nazareth will be no surprise. Repeatedly throwing us off balance, God delights in manifesting himself through forms and from places we consider beneath him. The stable under the Star of Bethlehem appears in many updated versions today. Look for them in your neighborhood. We do well to pay them regular visits.