Football, anyone? I don’t normally spend much time watching NFL games, but when the playoffs roll around I usually give the games a try. Typically, I watch the first quarter and then move on. This past weekend, though, we saw games elevated to the level of life lessons. The games themselves were close, tense, and full of great subtexts and individual stories. From these stories came the life lessons: Would Atlanta fold under adversity, as they often did in the past, or would they dig a little deeper and prevail? (They prevailed Sunday, holding off a fourth-quarter surge from the Seattle Seahawks to win 30-28.) Would this be Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis’ last game ever? Bad boy Lewis—once indicted for murder and the father of six children by four different women—now says he is a Christian. So the Ravens’ overtime victory Saturday over a Denver Broncos team that a couple of years ago dumped evangelical darling Tim Tebow provided fodder for theological speculation. I’ve got no opinion about all of that. All I will say is that they were both great games, fun to watch.
Golden Globes disappoint. I am, on the other hand, a fan of (good) movies and television, so Sunday night’s Golden Globes disappointed. Julianna Moore won for her portrayal of Sarah Palin in the dishonest made-for-TV movie Game Change. The banal and pornographic Girls also netted a couple of awards for the show’s creator and this week’s hipster “It Girl” Lena Dunham. And then there was Jodie Foster’s surreal, narcissistic speech upon her acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille Award. On the other hand, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, and Argo received some well-deserved attention, but even these winners failed to acknowledge (in the case of Les Mis) the fundamentally Christian worldview beneath that story or (in the case of the other two) the heroes from which these stories drew inspiration. All in all, the Golden Globes show this year was—with apologies to Seinfeld, which won a Globe in 1994—a “show about nothing.”
Adoption shortage. Vladimir Putin’s decision to prevent Americans from adopting Russian children worsens a shortage of children for adoption. According to the U.S. State Department and reported in USA Today, “Adoptions by Americans from abroad are plummeting to a 20-year low after peaking at nearly 23,000 in 2004.” In 2011, the number of adoptions from abroad fell to 9,319. The number of U.S. kids being adopted is also falling. In 1971, the U.S. had 90,000 infant adoptions. In 2007 that number was less than 20,000. The only good news is that more children are being reunited with their birth parents. But the main reason for the far fewer adoptions is a decrease in the number of Americans wanting to adopt, and the high cost of adopting. The number of children waiting for adoption has fallen 20 percent since 2004, to 104,236, but that’s still five times the number of annual adoptions. Most of these kids are in the country’s (broken) foster care system, and will simply “age out” and start living on their own before being adopted.
Homosexuality and sin. According to a survey from LifeWay Research and first reported by Religion News Service, 37 percent of Americans view homosexuality as a sin, down from 44 percent a year earlier. “The culture is clearly shifting on homosexuality and this creates a whole new issue: How will America deal with a minority view, strongly held by evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, and so many others?” asked Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research’s president. Interestingly, the number of Americans who do not believe homosexuality is a sin remained nearly the same, at 43 percent versus 45 percent a year earlier. There was an increase in the percentage of those who said they were unsure of what they believe. What that tells me is that at least 18 percent of Americans are on the fence and influenceable on this issue. One other interesting statistic from this survey: Those who identify as “born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian” are the most likely to say that homosexual behavior is a sin (73 percent). Conversely, those who never attend religious services are the most likely to say they do not believe homosexual behavior is a sin (71 percent).