Wood He Be Well?

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Wood He Be Well?

“What the hell were you thinking?” Jay Leno asked Hugh Grant when he was caught in an embarrassing sex scandal. The same could be asked of Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton and anyone else who risks losing a successful career for a sexual dalliance.

Wood’s press release in the aftermath of his public humiliation was remorseful, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart,” but he also registered a complaint, “personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.”

I agree with this to a point, but it is time we seize this teachable moment to remember what it means to be a well person and then to aim higher.

The Hebrews aimed for shalom, generally translated in English as “peace.” But shalom actually refers less to the cessation of war than to wholeness and wellbeing. To achieve shalom means to arrive at a balanced, healthy and whole life.

Unfortunately, our society has decided that a compartmentalized life is acceptable. Most of us know little about Tiger Wood other than his extraordinary golf game, which was the product of a determined father and Tiger’s single-mindedness. When Michael Phelps swam his way to sports history at the Beijing Olympics we learned that for years he’d lived a monastic life consisting of swimming, eating, swimming, sleeping, swimming, listening to music, swimming and watching TV and then swimming some more. One might say that though Phelps is a wildly successful athlete, he actually lives a partial life not a fully human life

Accepting a compartmentalized life doesn’t make it healthy because to be a whole person requires the development of body, soul, mind and spirit. The ancient Greeks called this complete life “arƒªte,” a word used to describe the person who has reached their fullest potential in every area of life. Fame, wealth, awards, career success, aren’t the exclusive measure of such a life, because achieving arƒªte means becoming a well rounded, fully developed person in every way physically, mentally, morally and spiritually.

Drive by the gym and you’ll see people attentive to their bodies. Attend a typical worship service and you’ll see folks attending to their spiritual life. Visit a library and you’ll see people attending to their intellectual life. How many of these people think they should be attentive to their whole person spiritually, intellectually, physically, morally and relationally?

When President Clinton admitted his indiscretion with Monica Lewinski his defenders made the case that his personal life was unrelated to his professional life. We grant fame and positions of responsibility to people known to be living an immoral life. We fast track academically challenged athletes through college and into professional careers without requiring them to meet normal standards because they excel at their sport. As a result a high performing millionaire might also be illiterate.

The Greeks and Hebrews assumed that achieving less than a full, complete and balanced life leaves one with a sense of incompleteness. Does this not describe most contemporary humans? The businessperson who achieves a successful career but loses a marriage, the artist who reaches fame but is inattentive to spirit and soul, the academic researcher whose scientific breakthrough will save multiple lives, but who has no friends or relationships, all these are examples of partial lives, outstanding in one aspect of life, totally deficient in others.

During this Christmas season I’m reminded of a provocative statement by art historian Hans Rookmaaker who said, “Jesus didn’t come to make us Christian; Jesus came to make us fully human.”

Christians are as guilty of compartmentalization as anyone else. Jesus has been portrayed as primarily interested in our souls, when in fact Jesus offered an abundant (whole) life that he said would transform his follower’s minds, souls, spirits, relationships and morality. Tiger Woods and anybody else for that matter can ask and receive forgiveness from God, but God also expects such a life to be under new management. This is what Jesus meant when he said, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” When put in charge, God will move into every area of our lives and change us. God’s aim is to make fallen humans, fully human.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in December 17, 2009 by | No Comments »

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