Pastor’s viewpoint: April 16, 2016
I’ve just seen the ad for a new movie about Jesse Owens, in which he said, “There is no black and white; there is only fast and slow.”
James Cleveland Owens was born Sept. 12, 1913. in Oakville, Alabama. He became “Jesse” when a teacher misunderstood “J. C.” His father was a sharecropper and his grandfather was a slave. Jesse went to Ohio State University where he was a star sprinter, and he is remembered for one week in 1936, at the Summer Olympics in Berlin where Adolf Hitler was determined to prove the superiority of the “Aryan” race. Jesse crushed his plan with four gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the broad jump, and the 4X100-meter relay! James Cleveland Owens died March 31, 1980, of cancer.
Paul wrote to the church in Philippi (3:17-4:1), “Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.”
Maybe you said, when you read the first paragraph, “I remember Jesse Owens!” But do you remember Helen Stephens? After all the turmoil over a black man who won four gold medals, there was a similar controversy over a woman who won two gold medals in the 100-meter dash and the 4X100-meter relay in the same 1936 Olympics. The Germans lost the relay after one of their runners dropped the baton and claimed that Helen was a man. She was too fast to be a woman. Only after a physical examination did they finally admit she was indeed a very fast woman.
Adolf Hitler lost and made excuses; lots of people do. Jesse and Helen won, because they believed there was only fast and slow.
Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland and Bold Springs United Methodist churches, a marketplace chaplain, and with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.