In a recent video segment for HuffPo Live 321 scholar Marc Lamont Hill talked to Urban Cusp founder and theologian Rahiel Tesfamariam, media journalistic Jawn Murray, ESPN’s Jason Page, and HuffPo Entertainment Editor Christopher Rosen about why athletes and artists thank God for winning awards.
Hill half-jokes the practice might be cultural, since he’s noticed that more blacks do thank God for awards than other races, at least as it relates to music or film/TV. In sports, it’s pretty common across the board. He also notes that thanking God occurs more often when a personality has “hit rock bottom” or is attempting a comeback.
Tesfamariam believes God would be pleased with the thanks he receives, as it publicly acknowledges what God has done. “We can’t ever really make sense of goodness and judgment in human terms in the same way that God does in divine terms,” she asserts. For his part, Murray just thinks thanking God should be saved for “church appropriate” wins. (Hill sites Three Six Mafia’s Oscar win for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” as a church-inappropriate God-thanking.)
Though the video is lighthearted, it’s interesting to examine why it’s so off-putting to thank God for accomplishments that may be perceived as “not God-ordained.” When a sports team wins an important game and the player thanks God either for the win or for being with them as they played, some argue that those statements insinuate God wasn’t with the others or didn’t want them to win. When musicians thank God for their parental advisory-bearing album’s Grammy wins, people quip about how God doesn’t support the content.
But these thanks are less about God’s intent or performance and more about the person’s belief system. If she believes her faith causes her to have confidence in her eventual success, when she accomplishes a goal, she also believes her faith and her God deserve credit for that success.
What do you think? Should rappers, athletes, and actors stop thanking God for their wins if their songs or performances aren’t “church-appropriate”?