Baseball, The Texas Rangers, and…The Scott Brown-Todd Friel Discussion

It is not often you have a moment that clearly illustrates something that you have said. For those of you who don’t know, I am a big fan of the Cleveland Indians. The teams back in the mid nineties played at the same time I was in late junior high and early high school. Ever since, I have enjoyed listening to the baseball game on the radio in the evening, or on a Sunday afternoon [especially along side of a grill barbecue]. I even had a chance to see a game when I was in undergrad at Concordia University Wisconsin, because there was a whole week of snow early in the season in Cleveland which wiped out one series with the Seattle Mariners and threatened to wipe out another with the Anaheim Angels. Hence, they moved the series to Milwaukee which has a domed stadium, and I got a ticket to see one of the games five rows back from the field, at the cut of the grass on the third base side for only $10.00!

Anyway, last night while I was listening to the game, as I usually do, the broadcasters for the Cleveland Indians radio affiliates announced that a fan had fallen out of the bleachers at a game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics, and, as a result of falling, had a heart attack, and died. My mind immediately raced back to about a year ago when the Indians were in Dallas to play the Rangers, and another fan fell out of the upper deck, and was injured. Also, my mind immediately skipped to something I wrote earlier when I was pointed to an exchange between Scott Brown and Todd Friel. I wrote:

Also, let us take the example of a railing around the roof of the house [Deuteronomy 22:8]. The question is, “How big should you make the railing?” Just like the issue with the size of the corners of the field, we must ask what the author intends to do by this text. In this text, it is quite direct, as he says that it is to prevent people from falling off. However, what happens if someone climbs over the railing, and ends up falling off? The point seems to be that the railing is to protect innocent life, and that the height of the railing needs to be sufficient to prevent people from *accidentally* falling off the roof.

Now, with our understanding of the illocution of these two texts [to provide for the poor and to prevent accidental death], we can transfer those intentions in today’s culture. For example, do we only give our last little chunk of change to the poor, or do we set aside a generous amount each month to help those who are starving to death in places like Somalia? Do we make sure that we are careful to inspect the safety of things like amusement park rides, or buildings so we make sure that there are no [or very few] accidental deaths?

However, if one were to suggest these things, would it be right to object, “Where do you find the careful inspection of amusement park rides in scripture?” No, it would not, because such *is* found in scripture, but its relationship is to the illocution, not to the locution.

However, I would also add that you won’t find anything in scripture about a certain size railing around the upper deck in a baseball stadium. Therefore, it seems like Scott Brown, if he was consistent, should be willing to defend the Texas Rangers if this ever comes to trial. The Bible doesn’t mention fences around the upper decks of stadiums, just like it doesn’t mention Sunday schools or youth ministries. Hence, according to Scott Brown, he must not even know what railings around upper decks are, must less say that the Texas Rangers should shoulder any blame for them not being high enough! The scriptures are sufficient for society, right? Just the simple ambiguity of the phrase “It’s not found in scripture” is enough to get the Texas Rangers off the hook.

The only thing I can think of is that someone might say that youth ministries are not necessary to obey the command to teach, while a railing is necessary to keep someone from falling off. However, the answer to this was given on one of the forums on ESPN this morning. Someone suggested that a net be put between the upper deck and the lower deck to keep people from falling off. That would certainly fulfill the requirements of the law in Deuteronomy 22, and hence, the fence itself is not necessary. Why? Because the issue is what the intent of the law in Deuteronomy 22:8 is in relation to what we should do, or, to put it into speech act theory terms, what should the perlocution in our time be to the illocution of Deuteronomy 22:8?

Again, the ambiguity of phrases like “Biblical,” “that’s not found in scripture,” and “the sufficiency of scripture” can be used to get rid of anything you don’t like, so long as it reflects a difference in time between the Bible and today. The idea that youth groups, Sunday schools, or railings around the upper deck of stadiums are actually applications of the Biblical commands to teach and protect human life from accidental death is completely ignored. And yet, if we do not understand the relevance of the language of scripture to our modern society, we will be in danger of having to impose Ancient Near Eastern Hebrew culture onto modern day American culture.

None of this is meant to be personal against Scott Brown. I am sure he would be as stunned as I am at the death of this man, and agree with me that the law of Deuteronomy 22:8 should be applied to hold the Texas Rangers accountable for this, and that steps should be taken to prevent something like this from happening in the future. The problem is that his arguments against Sunday school and youth groups make it impossible for him to do so consistently.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: