63 responses to “Thank you, Lance Armstrong (an ode to liberation theology)

  1. Wow! I’m glad you were able to make good come from Armstrong’s lying, bullying, and cheating. I’ve read a lot about Armstrong (although I’m no cycling enthusiast), and I know he didn’t do it alone. Those around him supported the fraud and allowed it to continue. Armstrong is such a total jerk. Did you hear how he recently had his girlfriend take the blame for a car accident? Well, thanks for introducing me to the concept of liberation theology!

    • You’re very welcome! And I did see that about the car accident. It reminds me of the guy from “Wolf of Wall Street” — at some point, cheating and lying defines who he is. Oh, and if you want to understand more about liberation theology, just search for it on our blog…we have a lot of posts related to the theme. Thanks for reading!

  2. I think with most experiences like this, regardless of what exactly the experience is, offers so much room for us to learn about ourselves and society. Good for you for seeing a positive outcome in your own personal life.

  3. Saint Pope John Paul II condemned Liberation Theology because Liberal Catholics left God out of it; and used it to push the liberal agenda which has ruined my diocese; whose liberal nuns leased their empty buildings out to HHS Dept.’s STD Clinic that gives Condoms to 12 year olds w/o parental consent; accompanied by an 18 year old peer or pimp & two Diocesan Bishops & US Papal Nuncio don’t do a damn thing: namely close it down. It has run from 1995-2015. Their Family Planning Clinic gave out “Preven” a postcoital, post-rape 72 hour after the rape; abortion-pill. That Family Planning Clinic in that HHS Dept who were leasing from the CSJ’s in Nazareth MI ran from 1995-2003. I got banned from Mass in my City for 6 years, for writing a Open Shaming Letter to the Editor in the Kalamazoo Gazette.

    Now, just as 2+2=4 you know that 12 year old boy is being used for sex. Tacit Sex Trafficking in the Kalamazoo Diocese & no one gives a damn. Lent 2015 will come and go. Rice Bowls filled: but those kids have never heard of the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST FROM A NUN, PRIEST NOR BISHOP IN MY DIOCESE!

    I think Pope Francis gives good homilies; but lousy off the cuff remarks; on airplanes. He’s a long way from being a demagogue, to me.

    Only in God do I worship.

    • Thanks for reading! The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by later Pope Benedict, wrote a rather harsh critique of the Marxist themes in liberation theology back in the early 1980’s, which John Paul II approved and continued to argue throughout his papacy. However, today, liberation theology is much broader than the marxist roots whence it came. I’m very sorry to hear about your experience of your diocese over the past 20 years, but, personally, I define Liberation Theology as something different from the general “liberal catholicism” that you mention. It is a theological and personal orientation towards the “least of these” in society, and it is always founded in the good news of Jesus Christ. And Pope Francis, I’ll agree, speaks rather confusingly and contrarily sometimes. But he’s a very far way from being a demagogue…especially since he has no political power!

      • no, Lemond is pretty inspiring – coming back after getting shot, riding as a way to over the pain of abuse. A better story than Lance, though livestrong was a good thing.

  4. I understand why you and many others are angry. It seems like Lance Armstrong definitely lied about his abilities.Still, I wouldn’t disparage the bracelet. Livestrong is a legitimate charity that still donates money to cancer research. Lance Armstrong is no longer associated with them.

    • Very true! I was using the bracelet more as an example of the movement, but you’re right in that they’ve moved on and distanced themselves from him. Thanks for reading!

  5. Reblogged this on A Girl, Her Bike, and Their Journey and commented:
    Let me start of by saying I am by no means perfect, nor do I subscribe to one specific theology (don’t believe in division). I do believe in a higher power than ourselves. I say God others have other synonyms for the same. No judgment by me. Be this post made me stop and think this morning. It made review my thoughts on how I view others and give them power in my life. Also it reassured me that the kindness I try to extend to all is not in vain. I have not seen the documentary/ movie yet maybe out of fear of losing my faith in man/woman. To not disappoint is to not be human. We are all weak. Maybe I can’t let go of the hope and pride I felt when I watch a fellow person triumph their struggle. Maybe I like to believe that god works in mysterious, sometimes unexplainable ways. We humans tend to forget that we are all human. Faulty in some way. Ones faults no greater than another. Or maybe God used the weakness of one to empower countless others to do good. How many people has LiveStrong helped? Millions. I’m not condoning his actions, morals, or motivations. I just think that we have to look at the ying and yang of things. I believe strongly in the duality of things. There is always something good in something bad, as there is always something bad in something good. We can’t have on and not the other. Lance made terrible mistakes but which one of us mere mortals hasn’t on our personal journeys? We will never forget but I think that we were told somewhere to forgive those who trespass against us. Let’s dwell on the good of the situation and not give power to the negative. I lost someone very dear to me because of the most unbiased, uncaring of diseases, Cancer. I’m sure that money and awareness raised by LiveStrong in someway helped keep my 7 year old goddaughter here with us until she knew our hearts and minds were capable of accepting and dealing with her absence. So to Lance I hate the bad you have done but I do recognize the good that came from your weaknesses. We all have our roads to take. May your choices be well and if not may you find forgiveness on your way. Thank you author for giving me something to ponder this morning.

    • Thank you for this very thoughtful reflection. I like to see the good emerging from the bad not as yin/yang so much, but, like you said, the mysterious, unexplainable actions of God. That God will listen to those who pray and work for good, despite the fact that they’re being controlled, manipulated, and deceived. I like to think that Lance truly wanted to help people with cancer, despite himself, and that God worked through that desire as well. I wrote about this last year, in a blog titled “Finding the Face of God in Auschwitz.” In it I talk about that, in all the horrors, in all the pain, the question must transform from “why God” into “where God”–it’s not a matter of figuring out why God “allowed” things to happen, but of finding where God moved amid the tragedy.

      Armstrong’s case is not even a miniscule fraction of the tragedy of the Shoah, but the same theology applies, as you reminded me today! Thank you for reading!

    • I don’t know if I buy everything that you’re talking about Yin and Yang (I’m not personally into all of that)…. however… I think you are completely SPOT ON about how we are called to forgive. I have a soft spot for the culprits of the world. Not that the victims of any circumstance don’t deserve to be protected and cared for… but there are enough other people who feel passionate about showing compassion and sympathy/empathy for victims, and that is good and well. But almost nobody wants to help the culprit… or show compassion to the guilty.

      I’m totally in love with the “love the sinner, hate the sin” mentality. And just as quickly as someone is condemned for their actions… somebody needs compassion. I’ve screwed up in large ways and wronged others a number of times in my life, and I have also been hurt a number of times by others. Having had the experience of being the “bad guy” … it helps you to have more compassion for both sides. We’re all bad in one way or another; Lance just had the misfortune of being presumed flawless… and what a tall pedestal that is to fall from!

      • I appreciate your comment, but all you do have to do is watch the 24-hour news cycle to find people feeling compassion for the culprits and the guilty. I wish Lance Armstrong mercy and grace under God’s eyes, and hope that he finds peace, but no, there are NOT enough other people who feel passionate about the victims. There are plenty of people who talk about compassion and justice, but there are few who act on these words.

        But, like you say, everyone, everyone needs compassion. I won’t disagree with you there!

    • Imperfection, as we all have, is one thing. Years of manipulation, deception, and violence is something else. Thank you for reading!

      • No, not really. Imperfection encompasses everything that is not perfect. We’re not talking about degrees of imperfection. It’s a pass-fail situation.. and we all fall short of perfection equally.

      • I think that’s a theological debate you’ve started there…I could go back to the Reformation to try and answer it, but it might take a while.

      • I wasn’t talking about theology. (although I do recognize that some of my verbage did smack of Christian-ese)

        I wasn’t referring to Salvation when I said “pass-fail situation”, and I know that I used the phrase “fall short” … but I really was talking literally. If there is one fault, then there is not perfection. (but rather; imperfection) If there are 99 faults out of 100 issues… also qualifies as imperfect.

        Perfect: completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible.
        Imperfection: the state of being faulty or incomplete.

      • Fair enough! I think I would argue that, in the case of human imperfection, our ability to visualize “perception” is completely dependent upon our own imperfection. Thus, we are indeed imperfect, but saying that we are doesn’t really address the situation. It’s like saying, “we are all human,” a statement which has the tendency to negate the ramifications of serious harm. People who train child soldiers are not the same degree faulty as mothers trying to protect their children from becoming those same soldiers, despite the fact that both groups of people have flaws. A drastic example, but a helpful one for this discussion!

  6. I am a Muslim, and yet I find this very beautiful and true. There are so many times in life when we idolize, and idealize, certain figures, forgetting that they are human too, and forgetting that there is something much greater out there. It is important to always be looking at both sides of any story before embracing it wholeheartedly, and this is something we’ll always have to remind ourselves of.

  7. Very successful cricketer yuvraj singh suffered from cancer too and armstrong gave him hope n strength. He once again came on the field. Sometimes you want some kind of inspiration to move n armstrong definitely provided that!

  8. Very interesting take on the Lance Armstrong phenomenon. It’s definitely not unique to him; there are plenty of great idols like him who end up falling, though maybe not in such a spectacular way.
    It’s one thing if Armstrong had just been a cyclist and simply wanted to win without any of the media stuff, but Armstrong clearly basked in it. I think that hypocrisy is definitely what got to people the most. He didn’t defraud people in a way that did them permanent injury, like say Bernard Madoff did, but he did cheat his admirers in a real way.
    The only aspect of the whole Armstrong thing I didn’t like was how indignant Piers Anthony got about it, but that might just be because he’s a prick himself.

  9. This is such an insightful read. I was amazed at how righteous Lance seemed against his haters. I wonder if he’ll ever learn humility.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  10. While I dig the premise of your post, your understanding of doping in cycling seems a little off… First, everyone in that era doped. Everyone. Second, Lance didn’t find a doctor, the team and Lance had a doctor.

    Put simply, the UCI had a $10,000,000 budget. Each team threw millions at beating that budget and the testing. While much has been made over his “cheating”, the only thing Armstrong did better than anyone else was not doping as much as others did. He kept it under control while others sought the advantage and took it too far. This is why he didn’t get caught and the others did… It took a whole new way of testing and frozen pee to catch Lance. They called it micro-dosing. Little mini doses that the body could metabolize before tests.

    • Firstly, thanks for reading and commenting! I would have to disagree: micro-dosing alone does not explain the years of evading the anti-doping measures. It also does not explain or condone the years of deception, of malice, of pressure on others to dope, of fraud.

      I do think you’re right, though: in an atmosphere where doping became necessary to survive against juggernauts like Lance, he obviously did it the best. His system, developed with Ferrari (so it seems, before and after Ferrari was officially with the USPS team), was a marvel of modern science and Armstrong’s own incredible athletic ability. There is, of course, no way to prove all of it convincingly. Armstrong will only ever tell versions and partial truths, and his teammates only knew, and will only tell, so much. Knowing the damage pathological deception can do to a psyche, I imagine even Armstrong does not quite know all the facts perfectly well at this point.

      For my part, I will always continue cycling, and owe a good part of that to his inspiration in his last few years on the Tour. Part of the reason I wrote this post is because I have no choice but to be thankful to him for part of my love of cycling, and I hate that I cannot see him as the person I did any longer. It was a post about Lance, sure, but it was also a post about my own idealization and idolization of celebrity.

  11. I enjoyed your post (found on Freshly Pressed…so congrats) despite the ‘fact’ that I am agnostic ~ undecided.
    I’m ‘following’ you.

    • Thanks so much for reading, and I’m glad you’re following us now! Agnostic-undecideds are more than welcome to the conversation 🙂

  12. Reblogged this on All Start No Finish and commented:
    I am not reblogging this because I agree with the anger or the views of the author… but because I think the comments/responses were really wonderfully interesting and some were very insightful.

  13. This is probably my new favorite thing I’ve ever read on WP. It was actually a white guy who introduced me to Liberation Theology when I was in high school, and it’s shaped my life ever since. This is so fascinating. I never had thought of the Lance Armstrong debacle so deeply. I had been disappointed and angry, but… Anyway, thanks for writing this! Beautiful. Beautiful.

  14. Thank you for a very insightful story about lie, deceit and forgiveness through accepting the our Lord Jesus Christ. Our society should learn better about who to idolize and who not. And we shall never forget that we are just as imperfect as Armstrong. Only God can help us to overcome this.

  15. I agree with you completely, because been in places that there are no hope, for the person involved or the family. I’ve heard many people say “God, let me die so i won’t have to endure this pain”

  16. Pingback: Liberation theology on the NYTimes front page | Episcopal Cafe·

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