YOU are one of THEM!

Earlier this summer my friend, Stephen Jordan, (who recently broke the 5:00 mile!) and I walked over to Starbucks to get something to drink and catch up on life.  The moment we walked in the door I was greeted by a glorious aroma and John, my favorite Barista, who wasted no time reminding me that the my Philadelphia Flyers had lost in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  You see, John is a die-hard Washington Capitals fan and I may have made a passing comment or two (or ten) when his beloved Caps (a heavy favorite) were eliminated in the  first round of the NHL playoffs. So, I probably deserved his friendly jabs and jibes.

After a few minutes dissecting some of the highlights of the playoffs and talking about our hopes for next year John looked up from the drink he was preparing and said with conviction, “I am just glad Philly didn’t win it this year, your fans are @$$%*!!*$.”

It’s no secret, of course, that Philadelphia sports fans have a infamous reputation for being… Ummmm, how should I put this? Enthusiastic! Yeah, yeah… enthusiastic.  In recent years, even I have been embarrassed to call myself a Philly sports fan in light of some of the true stories, making headlines, which usually feature an over zealous or just plain stupid Philadelphia sports fans.  John wasted no time. He began building a case, story by story, to convince me that Philadelphia sports fans are… not the nicest (or smartest) people in the world.  As John started making his opening arguments I began to feel like the defendant in a strange and overly caffeinated episode of Matlock. While continuing to make drinks from behind the bar he went through a heartfelt litany of examples to substantiate his claim.

Exhibit A: A Phillies fan/parent who apparently gave his 3 year old a son beer.

Exhibit B: Most of us have heard about the 17 year old Phillies fan that ran onto the Citizen Bank Field and was then tasered by a Philadelphia police officer.

Exhibit C: Flyers fans booed Vice Presidential candidate and “Hockey-Mom” Sarah Palin in 2008 at a Flyers/Rangers game.

Exhibit D: In 1999 Phillies fans booed the first U.S. hand transplant patient, who threw out the first pitch with his transplanted hand. When the ball dribbled across home plate he was then booed.

Exhibit E: At the beginning of the 2010 season, Matthew Clemmens,”Pukemon”, gained infamy for  intentionally vomiting on an 11-year-old girl at a Phillies game because the girls father repeatedly asked Clemmens and his friends, who were totally drunk, to stop cursing and being obnoxious.            **Although Clemmens is a Phillies fan, I would like the record to note that he is from New Jersey not Philadelphia.

Exhibit F: Susan Finkelstein allegedly offered sex in exchange for 2009 Phillies World Series tickets. She eventually got lucky, by not getting jail time in the case.

Exhibit G: Violence during Eagles’ games became such a problem that Philadelphia installed a court, judge and jail inside Veterans Stadium.

Exhibit H: Eagles fans boo newly drafted quarterback Donovan McNabb because they were disappointed that the franchise didn’t select RB Rickey Williams. McNabb and his family still are upset at the incident.

Exhibit I: In 1968, Eagles fans boo and then pelt a man dressed as Santa Claus who was part of a halftime ceremony. Stories vary on the legendary incident.  In 2003, the same man was asked to appear in the same Santa suit at a Sixers game. He was booed again.

Exhibit J: Eagles fans, including soon to be governor Ed Rendell, pelt the Dallas Cowboys and head coach Jimmy Johnson with snowballs at the Vet.  It was later discovered that may of the snowballs had batteries hidden inside.

Exhibit H: in 1999 Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending neck injury at Veterans Stadium. Philadelphia Fans cheered as Irvin lay injured on the field.

Exhibit I: The Phillie Phanatic’s (Mascot) head was stolen during a charity event at the Wachovia Center. After an investigation the head was finally  returned and its abductor was charged.

John was finishing his closing arguments and a lull arose in drink orders. He peered up at me from behind the espresso machine and he said to me, “…And YOU are one of THEM!  How does that make you feel?”

The prosecution rests your honor!

I thought to myself, “Guilty as Charged!”

I shared with Steven, on the walk back to church, that my conversation with John (about being associated with crazy Philadelphia sports fans) was a great lesson.  As Jesus followers/”fan”atics we are representing way more than just a church or merely other Christians with our actions and behaviors (although this is still important).  In my experience, each of us have a group of  people that we encounter (regularly or maybe only once) who watch our lives and our actions (the good and the bad) and closely associate it with the message and ministry of Jesus. Some people who have questions about what it means to be a “Christian” are looking to see if our behavior is congruent with the transformational message of grace and love offered by the Savior.  Scripture says we (our lives) are to be Salt, Light, to live as Ambassadors, smell like a a sweet fragrance, and to offer it (our lives) to God and others as a “living sacrifice.” With Gods’ help we are called to live with this intention, not because we are merely “supposed” to but in view of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

What do you think? If you call yourself a Jesus follower do you believe you have a responsibility to act differently from the world? Do you think that how we handle our failures can be just as much of an example as never failing? More so? I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “I love Jesus, it’s Christians I can’t stand.” Do you feel like this is a sentiment shared by most people?

If you are a fan of The Ordained Barista would you do me a favor and get TOB delivered right to your online reader? all you need to do is click on the coffee mug at the top of the page and pick a reader! I recommend Google reader but they all work mostly the same.  As I try to get my work in front of publishers my “platform” (including blog subscribers) becomes an indication of sustainability.

Thanks for your support and “Stay classy Philadelphia!”

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  • tony babcock

    If you call yourself a Jesus follower do you believe you have a responsibility to act differently from the world?

    I guess the simple answer to that for me is .. YES. To me, true repentance is the example of a heart changed. The living example of someone who has turned away from sin, and bad behavior, to a new way of life. The person who no longer swears at every turn. The person who was cheating, or a slave to addiction, and has changed at the level of the heart. The person that was self centered to the extreme who now looks to think of others first. I have heard that true humility is the seeking out of Gods will for us. I wish that I could say that I was a better example of this, but I am working on it.

    Do you think that how we handle our failures can be just as much of an example as never failing?

    I feel this is more so the case then how well a follower handles success! I have learned so much more through failure and witnessing how other followers handle failures. Watching someone give thanks to God for what he has during a battle is totally inspirational. Watching a follower of God with a terminal form of cancer pray and give thanks to God for another day, and turn around and say a prayer for me going through a “rough time”(my problems paled compared to his) when he was sitting there dying with hours to live. That is something that I will never forget. A follower of God who whispered a prayer for me as he was dying!! What greater witness is that? It sure changed the world that I live in now. The playing field is no longer the same.

    I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “I love Jesus, it’s Christians I can’t stand.” Do you feel like this is a sentiment shared by most people?

    I wont dare speak for the masses.. but I personally love this sticker.

  • The Ordained Barista

    Tony my friend,
    Yeah, I’m with you. I think our actions in the difficult times speak way more than in the easy times. I can’t imagine what it was like to have someone in so much pain want to pray for you! That is one of the best stories I’ve heard in a while. I love that bumper sticker too, it just makes me a little bummed.

  • Eric Garner

    Barry this article is my favorite. I am going to a late client meeting tonight for work and lately I have noticed my attitude slipping in the negative direction inwhich I wouldn’t care how I acted; but after reading this blog post and the encouraging words in it, I will not let myself slip. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  • The Ordained Barista

    Yeah. And if you mess up… God is still good! It’s less about being perfect and more about the heart being transformed! It takes a lifetime… I think! Thanks for the encouraging words and the comments!

  • Matt @ The Church of No People

    Barry, thanks for commenting on my blog! I really can’t wait until I’m packing my own weight in souvenirs for my kids. ;) And I thought I knew that Philadelphia was a town of “boisterous” people, but really? Wow.

    I think as Christians, we come off the worst when we act like we’re absolutely sure of everything, and then we don’t even live up to our ideals. That’s worth a “boo.”

  • The Ordained Barista

    Hey Matt,
    Thanks for the comment. I agree. The trick is how do you communicate that there are some things, not all, that you really believe to be “the truth” without coming off as “Holier than Though” or insensitive. I think relationships are a good start but not always the case. Great topic of conversation!

  • Elaine Babcock

    Hello Barry,

    You don’t know me, but I am Tony’s wife and I have been listening to him talk about this blog and then today we got a package, so I had to come visit.

    It’s funny that I read this particular entry today as it tied into what our pastor was talking about when reading Genesis 34-the story of Dinah. The discussion included about going out amoung others who are ungodly or participating in ungodly activities and how no matter how strong a person you think you are you can get sucked down into the mire with everyone else. Can we as Christians be fans of teams or even of life activities where the ugliness can be great? We can and we can be the example of how you should conduct yourself whether you are diehard or just passing through. But we also must guard against getting so wrapped up in being an example that we forget how to be humble and accept that but for the grace of God go I.

    BTW Tony said thank you for the shirt and book :o)

  • The Ordained Barista

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I hope one of these days we can meet. I have always looked up (figuratively, not literally) to Tony as an athlete, soldier and talented artist.

    I love your feedback on the life activities that we should or shouldn’t be associated with! I think half the victory is just realizing that there is a tension involved there!! I am the most afraid of my life when these things go largely unnoticed! Elaine, thanks again for the great comment and the kind words! I look forward to connecting sometime soon!


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