Saturday, February 18, 2012

Honor and Humility in the life of Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin, the Harvard educated, Asian-American, basketball phenom who makes public proclamations about his Christian faith, is all the rage right now. There are a variety of questions his success raises, yet surely the most unique (or esoteric) analysis must go to David Brooks who takes a Straussian spin on the New York Knicks point guard. In yesterday’s Op-Ed, Brooks uses Lin’s sudden fame as an opportunity to discuss the possible tension between Greek Magnanimity and Biblical humility:

“The modern sports hero is competitive and ambitious. (Let’s say he’s a man, though these traits apply to female athletes as well). He is theatrical. He puts himself on display. He is assertive, proud and intimidating. He makes himself the center of attention when the game is on the line. His identity is built around his prowess. His achievement is measured by how much he can elicit the admiration of other people — the roar of the crowd and the respect of ESPN….The religious ethos is about redemption, self-abnegation and surrender to God...The odds are that Lin will never figure it out because the two moral universes are not reconcilable.”

Brooks doesn’t buy Lin’s argument that he is motivated to excel for the sake of God’s glory, but the Christian synthesis of magnanimity and humility has a long pedigree which goes back as far as Aquinas. Either way, it should be a good topic for conversation when you’re having friends over for the Knicks game.

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