a speck in the eye of the tiger

11 12 2009

eye of the Tiger?

There’s nothing the tabloids love more than a squeaky-clean celebrity beginning his fall from grace. And Tiger is beginning to fall. The pedastal is rocking, the ex-girlfriends and (alleged) mistresses are finding their way to a pay-check on US TV, TAG Heur have already removed his image from their website. Apparently a naughty golfer is bad for business in the world of expensive watches. Maybe Gillette will even shave him off the worst razor adverts ever.

Of course there’s an argument for saying he put himself up there, he chooses to market himself on his image, so when it turns out to be a bit of a sham, or at least a little exaggerated, we have a right to point and laugh. Is there? Should we rather laugh at ourselves for (yet again) being taken in by an image, a brand – especially if any of us thought we’d buy a TAG Heur “because Tiger Woods advertises them, and he seems like a nice guy”.  He’s just a guy, a guy thrown into the world of the super-rich, where money and girls (and drugs…) are thrown at you, where your every move is watched for signs of cracks (or crack?). The pressure is unimaginable. Though of course, he can expect little sympathy from us, mere mortals, because he is very rich. And presumably, a bit dull, because he plays golf all day.

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the cream of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the tiger

eye of the tiger

In a strange kind of lyrical reversal, this classic 1980’s song by Survivor sort of sums it up, except the tabloids are the stalkers, the tigers seeking their prey to devour, watching Tiger with the eye of the tiger.

We don’t need to get involved. We don’t need to feed the tiger that hunts the Tiger. Every time we buy the magazine, join in the conversation, jump on the pedastal-tipping bandwagon, we reinforce the values that say that it is ok. It’s dog-eat-dog, he’s had it good, let’s bash ’em whilst we can. No. There is another way. And it involves more puns.

Jesus said something like “before you point out the speck of dust in your brother’s eye, take out the plank of wood from your own”. I have no particular affection for Tiger Woods. I cannot stand golf. Golf courses take up valuable land that could be run on. But I do believe that Jesus was onto something radical here. He was obviously part of a judgemental culture too.  A culture that liked to judge and point and make themselves feel better by pointing out the shortcoming of others. And in our culture, it is not just the religious who are the Pharisees. Everyone is at it. If we join in, we become them. If we ignore it, we allow it to grow. Do we want to be the Pharisee loudly praying on the street corner, mocking others who are ‘worse’? I would hope not. But so easily we are.

May we, when living our ordinary everyday lives and looking at those living extraordinary everyday lives, may we be the ones who remove the plank of wood from our own eye first, before pointing out the speck in the eye of the Tiger.

(This does not apply to cheesy 1980’s rock songs from Rocky films. There is no plank here.  Sit back and enjoy!)




5 responses

11 12 2009

Spot on! Isn’t it so sad that some of the most judgemental cultures I have come across are found in Churches, and possibly in other religious congregations too. If only we loved each other more and accepted and respected each others points of view and differences then maybe we could start to have an affect on the rest of the world.

I really don’t understand why Jesus has stuck with us and not abandoned us. He must love us so much and we must cause him so much sorrow and pain.

11 12 2009
Edge of the fairway

Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
All those ladies of the night!
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful one-iron?

So I found this plank in my eye and assumed it was a bad thing. Something to be thrown away. But then I thought about it some more. Maybe the planks we remove may be of more use than just helping us to see more clearly? A good thing, perhaps? I could use a plank to fix a hole. Or to float on water. To walk across a lawn without damaging it. To stoke a fire.

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. The night is a bad place to be. Yet something of the night is in my genes. I think God gives us all a language of our own. And it’s our planks which can speak most eloquently for us and connect us to those who we may be a blessing to. Maybe we are not really called to speak in tongues, sexy gift though that may appear to be, but called to speak in the language of hopelessness, emptiness, childlessness, brokenness, sinfulness…?

The judgementalism and finger pointing is probably never going to disappear. But it feels like a bigger sin when crowing emanates from the smug ones who claim to represent ‘the church’. It’s easy to forget that the only difference between us Christians and the Tigers of this world is that he has been caught behaving inappropriately (allegedly), whereas, because we don’t have the same scrutiny applied to our shadowland lives, no one knows what we are all really like. So we probably haven’t been caught out yet and may continue to get away with it. Only God sees what we each get up to, and He probably wishes He couldn’t. Fooling ourselves that we are the good guys in this world is as futile as reading recipes to the starving or fiddling your golf handicap.

Sometimes when you’re in the bunker, the sand gets in your eyes. Maybe Tiger’s downfall will be the thing that comes to define his life and maybe it won’t. His marketing brand seems shot to pieces, but so was Kate Moss’s not so long ago. She’s doing okay. If this experience fires Tiger up to win even more golf tournaments, the world may think that’s a good thing. He may get different and cooler sponsors. If it fires him up to mend his marriage, maybe that’s a better thing. I hope so. If he freefalls out of the sky, maybe that will be okay too. A man is not defined by his golf world-ranking alone. But there will be a lot of pain and hurt and confusion and misery and sadness whichever way things play out from here. When you’re in the thick stuff, there are no easy shots.

Wearing our scars on the inside out, like Jesus did, so that people can see us for where we’ve been, what we’ve done to ourselves and what has been done to us is scary. We aren’t very good at it. Most of us don’t do it. Jonathan Aitken’s Christian life makes much more sense since his well publicised descent from high office. His frailty makes him human. His language now translates in ways that were unimaginable before. But he wasn’t willingly shamed, he had to be exposed first. Then he repented and then he connected and then he could begin to make a difference. How willing are any of us to not only take the planks out of our own eyes, but to then hold them up for inspection and use them to start building a bridge? Our planks are part of us. God can use them.

Sometimes, I think a Christian is reborn to sing the blues. But we’re more practised at delivering a rap. Which is why we’d prefer it if Tiger was made to walk the plank and ‘the church’ could get on with being holier than the unholy. Allegedly.

12 12 2009

Planks a lot Edge, deep thoughts. The idea of using our planks to build bridges (rather than bash people with them!) is a good one.

One question – how can ‘we’, as those aware of the plank/speck thing and inside the church, be a part of changing how ‘they’ (the media, people who buy Heat, ‘normal’ people!) think and act, without becoming the holier-than-thou Pharisees again. Is it just by acting differently? Is it about challenging how others act? Because its all very well doing that in the church, where people may well generally agree (though do it anyway), but how to change the ‘outside’ world? I guess mainly by ensuring we are in the outside so it is not outside at all, and not outside of our sphere of influence.

12 12 2009
Edge of the fairway

A good question. I wish I had an answer for it. Martyn Joseph once said: “So unlike the holy to end up full of holes”. And he also said: “I believe in the light but I don’t know what to write.” Ditto.

23 12 2009

Is it just me or did my admiration for Tiger Woods’ golf skills have nothing to do with his private life?

As a Christian I hope and pray that his life problems, marriage etc is resolved and any hurts are put right but can’t we admire someone for the gifts that God has given them – without expecting perfection! As above none of us are perfect! It’s not to excuse wrongs but maybe our first instinct/reaction with people should be to help – practically or spiritually in any way we can. The ‘using the plank’ comments are quite profound.

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