Thursday, August 11, 2016

Powers That Be

“Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?    Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times...” (Matthew 18:21-19:1).    This is the curious advice we get today from Jesus as reported by Matthew. 

I’m tying Lord, oh I’m really trying (not really Lord).   But I just cannot forgive Commissioner Rodger Goodell and the NFL for the outlandish 4-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.   According to one ESPN account: “The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued a one-sentence rejection of requests by the National Football League
Players Association and Brady to reconsider an April decision that found that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acted within his powers by suspending the star quarterback for his role in a scheme to doctor footballs used in a January 2015 playoff game.”

Perhaps what riles me the most is that Goodell “acted within his powers.”  That’s the rub: power!   Jesus acted against the powers of his day and so did the men, women, and children following him and railing against the injustices of the Roman Empire. 

In the Introduction to his 1998 book, “The Powers That Be: Theology For A New Millenium,” Walter Wink states: “All of us deal with the Powers That Be. They staff our hospitals, run City Hall, sit around tables in corporate boardrooms, collect our taxes, and head our families.  But the Powers That Be are more than just people who run things.  They are the systems themselves, the institutions and structures that weave society into an intricate fabric of power and relationships.  These Powers surround us on every side.  They are necessary.  They are useful.  We could do nothing without them…But the Powers are also the source of unmitigated evils.”  Wink gives many examples.  Jesus and the Gospel writers do as well.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is a famous quote attributed to Lord Acton who lived in the mid-1800s.   This English Lord might have been quoting our own Lord who witnessed absolute corruption and suffered absolute punishment.

When one “acts within his powers,” one should be obligated to bear in mind that justice should be paramount.  Apparently, Goodell was deaf to this obligation.  He wielded his power unjustly and arrogantly. That’s my humble opinion.

I realize my oblique comparison of Brady to Jesus is over-the-top ridiculous.   Hey, what can I say!?    Football season is getting close; Brady will be gone for about one-third the season; and my sons and grandson are wicked ticked off.    I guess as a deacon I’m obligated to tell them all: “Forgive Goodell 77 times."  Until pigs fly.

Deacon David Pierce


  1. I find the illustration offensive and the text anything but uplifting. Sorry, Deacon David, but, in my opinion, this is not good.

  2. Elizabeth, I ask for your forgiveness.


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