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Posted on Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 9:20 a.m.

A faithful response to Brady Hoke: Christian faith requires that we extend hospitality

By Darcy Crain-Polly

It’s the talk of the town, from the regular lunch folks at Knights to the coffee hour at my church. And that’s just the locals. 

ABC, CBS, and Fox Sports, ESPN, Sports talk 1050 AM, 97.1 FM, are all tuned in and offering opinions, predictions and criticisms as well. The sports world is talking about our city after yesterday’s announcement of University of Michigan’s new head football coach, Brady Hoke

If there’s one thing Ann Arbor is passionate about, it’s U-M football, so there’s no surprise that opinions are passionate. I’ve heard accolades and accusations of David Brandon, support and skepticism for the newcomer Hoke. Tomorrow is the first press conference, his first introduction to Ann Arbor. What kind of welcome will Hoke receive?

One of the tenants of the Christian faith is hospitality. We are to model the radical hospitality that Jesus showed during his ministry. He dined with the outcast and welcomed the least, giving them seats of honor at the table. Many of them changed their ways and decided to turn their life around. Some of them didn’t, but they regardless of the outcome, they were welcomed, and that was what was important for the gospel writers to record, the hospitality Jesus proclaimed. In other words, welcome with warmth even if you don’t know how the relationship will end.

I wonder what hospitality is perceived by our new coach as he participates in a press conference tomorrow at 1 p.m. Does he feel welcome here? Does he hear our support or only our skepticism? Our opinions are not going to sway the decision of David Brandon, but they could certainly make or break how Ann Arbor is perceived in their welcoming of their new coach.

I’m a football fan, too; I know we’re battered and bruised. I know that coaches are not beloved over night that they have to prove themselves. But no one should have to earn the right to treated with hospitality. As a person of the Christian faith, I must not only believe that but practice it. Whether or not you support Brandon’s choice, Ann Arbor has invited Hoke to be a part of our family. Hopefully we can tuck our opinions in our back pockets long enough to show him the warmth we have to offer. Let us show the best of our Ann Arbor hospitality.

Darcy Crain-Polly is the Associate Minister at the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor.



Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

Thanks for your comment, Ahmed.

Ahmed Chaudhry

Fri, Jan 14, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

@Macabre: I think it can be argued that many Christians throughout history are responsible for building that part of society that is civilized and intelligent. Don't be a pessimist.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

It's articles like these that remind me how far Christians need to travel to become part of a civilized and intelligent society. Thanks for the reminder, Darcy.

Stephen Landes

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

I was a bit skeptical when I chose to read this piece because I didn't know what kind of "response" to Coach Hoke was appropriate as he hadn't said or done anything yet. However, after reading the piece I find I agree with it. I have two comments: 1) Where were all those Christians when Rich Rod came to town? Very good question. Apparently they were not in evidence. I hope we have all learned a little something from that experience and will be more ready to accept anyone new to this community. 2) I don't believe there is anything more important to write about: We express Love (as defined for us by Jesus' example) best in the little things that we do when no one is looking than in the big things we do when everyone is looking. So, paying attention to little things like hospitality, consideration, care, is really more important than anything else. You cannot do when necessary what you have not practiced minute by minute.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

In a social situation, it's always risky to bring up the subject of religion. It can be even more risky to bring up a certain sport which has evolved over time into a secular, yet highly evangelical religion. Inside numerous dual-faith households, one religion dominates both Saturday and Sunday afternoons while the other holds forth for a time during the morning on one of those two days. Congregants of American Football practice their faith fervently, maintaining a Holy Roller's enthusiasm. As a result, they often feel passionately attached to the lead pastors, who guide and uplift their extended flocks from sideline pulpits in an annual quest for end-of-season rapture. This will become clear when a key play either turns out very well or else goes badly awry, as many frenzied members of the flock react at once by speaking loudly in tongues.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

What a silly article! Aren't there more important issues for Christians than welcoming a football coach? How about those persons who suffer daily from poverty, joblessness, domestic violence, etc.? How welcome are they? Talk about twisted priorities; football, indeed! It IS just a game afterall. Maybe you should write a "sermon" on idolatry!


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

shadow...thanks, you are correct. GO BLUE!


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

@ rushville rocket, I was quoting the article writer's use of the words "battered & bruised" to poke fun at how ludicrious it sounds to apply such descriptions to passive football fans who are used to having everything handed to them and can't deal with adversity in an adult fashion. Carry on.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

Darcy, I couldn't agree more. But I do have one question: Where were all the hospitable Christians (and others) 3 years ago when an "outsider" was brought to Ann Arbor in the same position? I would argue that he needed our warm welcome far more than Mr. Hoke does. While I completely support the return of Brady Hoke to the Michigan family, the truth is the family will never grow if you never allow it to.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

A new local group "Athiests for Hoke" will show him courtesy, civility, and support. the dog


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

Very well said Darcy. I agree wholeheartedly. We should all welcome to the community and think very positively of Brady Hoke and his family just the same as we would of any newcomer to our area. I think the Michigan football community and fanbase would be MUCH better off if everyone embraced this kind of positive mindset. There's been way too much negativity floating around the last 3 years. Go Blue!


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

"ShadowManager".... battered and bruised? Get real. Yes, as UM fans we have experienced humility in the last few years but every loss offers the experience of humility. Every 4th down non-success does as well, etc. As long as we learn from that humility and be stronger supportive fans, the experience is positive. Unless of course you have been banging your head against the wall for three years :-)


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 11:17 a.m.

Humilty is also a Christian virtue. I feel that the hefty dose of it that the RR Era has bestowed in the "battered and bruised" UM football fanbase should be well-remembered for a long time as well. The last shall be first, etc. etc.

Darcy Crain-Polly

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 11:10 a.m.

Andy, Yes I agree that it is likely a common tenant of all faiths to extend hospitality. However, I do not consider myself adequately informed in any faith other than Christianity, so I did not wish to speak on their behalf. I certainly did not mean that non-Christians would not have a "seat at the table," it is simply a phrase from the language of communion that implies all are welcome and respected. I apologize if the tone seemed exclusive, it was certainly not my intention.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 10:51 a.m.

There are the same or more percentages of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Evangelicals, Mormons, Scientologists and Heavens Gate members (if they were around) that would extend the same hospitality. Kindness and compassion is an endearing human trait, not one based on a particular faith. People of all levels of kindness can be found throughout all the available faiths. One particular faith does not guarantee an outsider a seat at the table over another.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 10:50 a.m.

Common decency alone would demand hospitality. That and you don't want Zeus Xenios breathing down your neck.


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 10:45 a.m.

"Smart" you obviously do not pass the test... Excellent perspective, very well said, and a must-read for all of those "M" fans who do nothing but toss around the skepticism card. I do not know Brady Hoke personally but he has my support, my cheers on game days, and I trust he will lead our young people down the right path to success - whether that be on the field, in the classroom, or in the game of life. Go Brady! Go Blue! Go Darcy!


Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 10:12 a.m.

I think you could have wrote something more useful for Christianity then writing about "having to" show hospitality to someone who is going to have their backside kissed and worshipped like a god around Ann Arbor. Do your really think there are Christians out that that wouldn't offer a seat at the dinner table to a popular millionaire major college football coach. I know I sound mean spirited but a lot more thought could have been put in this article on what we as Christians must do.

Heidi Koester

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 : 8:18 a.m.

Loved your article, Darcy. As usual, you present a valuable perspective.