SOUDER: Oldest degree of ‘madness’ marches on

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March Madness is consuming us, but think about the madness of 2000 years ago.

By Chuck Souder

Well, sports fans, this is it: March Madness is officially upon us. And, with apologies to Andy Williams, for fans of college basketball, this is truly the “most wonderful time of the year.” Especially for those of us cheering for one of the local red teams (Louisville, Indiana and even Western Kentucky), excitement, hope and anticipation are in the air.

Unfortunately for the large percentage of the local population that cheers for the blue team, this year the color of your team’s uniforms matches the feelings most of you are having. But hey, you can’t win it all every year, right? (Unless, of course, you are UCLA in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, but I digress.)

By the time this goes to print, UofL will have already played its first tournament game, and IU and Western will be playing theirs. And though the prospects for WKU aren’t quite as good, barring the always-possible upsets, both Louisville and Indiana figure to be playing for a little while longer – with  many pundits even picking them to face each other for the national championship in three weeks.

If that happens, you can know for sure that the “Madness” of March will reach a fever pitch around here.

Of course, as I have noted before, the NCAA Tournament doesn’t have a corner on the ”madness” market. As I wrote about at length in my last column, the way many in our federal government approach financial matters can only be described as “mad” – not as in angry but as in “stark raving crazy; void of any sense or connection to reality at all.”

The more I learn about the direction our country is headed, the more I feel like the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s 2010 sequel to Alice in Wonderland, when he asked Alice, “Have I gone mad?”
“I'm afraid so,” she replies. “You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

Well, I’m not sure about all the ”best” people, but it does seem like the inmates are running the asylum. Things that once would have been thought of (quite rightly) as beyond the pale are now politically correct.

I remember growing up and hearing about some “mad” event that happened in another country and then hearing the grown-ups around me console one another by saying something like, “Yes, that’s really bad, but nothing like that will ever happen here.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that I can think of that now is beyond the realm of possibility of happening in our once-great land. A column making the rounds on the Internet, titled “Founded by Geniuses but Run by Idiots,” highlights some things that would have once fallen under the category of “that could never happen here.”

Some of the anonymous author’s observations include:

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally – you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If you have to get your parent’s permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school but not to get an abortion – you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor or check out a library book but not to vote for who runs the government – you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If the government wants to ban law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than 10 rounds but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new anti-American leaders in Egypt – you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If, in the largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas but not a 24-ounce soda because 24 ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat – you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If an 80-year-old Caucasian woman can be stripped-searched by the TSA but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched – you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more--you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is cute, but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable--you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If children are forcibly removed from parents who discipline them with spankings while children of addicts are left in filth and drug infested homes – you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

If the only school curriculum allowed to explain how we got here is evolution but the government stops multimillion-dollar construction projects to keep a rare spider or bird from evolving to extinction – you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.

Madness, it seems, abounds – both on a small scale for local sports fans, and on a somewhat larger scale for observers of the national political scene. However, in the far grander scheme of things, some 2000 years ago this time of year was the context for a “madness” that dwarfs either of these.

On Sunday, a popular, miracle-working Jewish rabbi entered Jerusalem to great fanfare and was hailed as the Messiah. By the end of that week, the same crowds who had sung his praises were now screaming for his death, a request the governing authorities granted.

Then, just 3 days later, there are credible claims that this rabbi is alive again. It sounds unbelievable, even crazy.

At our church we are going through a sermon series about the last week in Jesus’ life titled “Ultimate Madness.” And, when you think of it, God’s plan – from a human perspective – does seem rather crazy. A holy God’s sacrificial love for a chronically unholy people doesn’t fit nicely in our logical human minds.

Jesus’ giving up the wonders of heaven to become a man is hard to comprehend. That he allowed himself to suffer the most excruciating kind of death imaginable to pay for the wrongs that we have done is, well…unimaginable.

But that’s the story. Because of his great desire for a restored relationship with us, the God whose rules were broken paid the penalty on behalf of the offenders. In doing so, he had to endure ridicule, humiliation, and pain – physical mental, emotional and spiritual – that we can’t even imagine.

Hard to believe? Yes. Crazy? Absolutely. Compared to the “normal” craziness we experience in our everyday life, it just might be the “Ultimate Madness.”

As I said before, there isn’t much that I think of as beyond the realm of possibility anymore. UK losing in first round of NIT? A UofL-vs.-IU championship game? God loving us so much that Jesus came to die for us?

It could happen.


Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org. Find other columns by Souder at www.SentinelNews.com/columns.