I didn't come of age in the 1960s, but I am old enough to understand the lingo of that decade when I hear it, like "good vibes." Plus, I'm a Beach Boys fan (especially of the underrated "Sail On Sailor" era).
Everyone knows about "Good Vibrations," right? I mean, it's one of the great radio songs of all time.
This brings us to the strange opening of a Baltimore Sun story the other day, as the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers prepared for another round in the NFL's most intense rivalry. This game, however, was framed by an on-field tragedy -- a scary back injury -- that touched players on both squads, with teams that view each other as respected rivals, not hated enemies.
The headline: "Ravens wish speedy recovery for Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier."
The key word there is "wish." Now, pay careful attention to the wording in the lede:
To Ravens players and coaches, hardly anything compares to preparing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But they hit the pause button Wednesday morning on their intense rivalry to send some good vibes to an injured Steelers player.
The key term there? That would "good vibes."
So what actually happened, in that Ravens meeting as the team started work to prepare for this crucial showdown (which the Ravens lost, in yet another nail-biter in this awesome series)?
This is the rare religion-and-sports case in which we can turn to ESPN to find out. The headline on its story noted: "Ravens begin team meeting by praying for Steelers' Ryan Shazier."
The key word there is "praying." Here is the overture:
The Baltimore Ravens still talk about their hatred for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But there is a mutual respect for their biggest rival.
The Ravens opened their team meeting on Wednesday morning by praying for Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who remained hospitalized for a second consecutive night while doctors monitor his back injury.
"Our thoughts are with him, our prayers are with him," coach John Harbaugh said. "We have great respect for him."
Shazier was injured in the Steelers' 23-20 win over the Bengals on Monday night, when the crown of his helmet hit into Bengals receiver Josh Malone's hip area. He immediately reached for his lower back and was removed from the field while being strapped to a board.
Later on, there was this:
... Serious injuries like the one to Shazier goes beyond bragging rights.
"You pray for a person like that," Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "You never want to see that happen to anybody, no matter what team he's on. We're all one family -- the NFL family -- at the end of the day."
Now, I should stress that -- later in its story -- the Sun story did include a reference to the team's prayers. So the sequence was "wishes," "vibes" and, toward the end of the report, there was the dangerous word, "prayers." The question: Are "vibes/wishes" and "prayers" the same thing, for religious believers? Why change the actual word that was used by the people being quoted?
Yes, that was a strange little twist in a story -- but not as strange as the following one on scripture and Shazier tribute cleats.
During the game, many players signaled signs of support and concern with messages on their shoes. When I was watching the game, one faith-centered message caught my eye because it was so explicit. A wire report noted:
Among the more than 20 players expected to wear the cleats is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose black cleats have Shazier’s jersey No. 50 on them with the hashtag that has become popular to honor their teammate, #Shalieve.
On the inside heel area of the left shoe, a message is displayed, saying: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Now, that happens to be a direct quotation from one of the most famous passages in the New Testament, as in the opening of First Corinthians, Chapter 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, [a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; [b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
However, something rather strange happened when this part of the story appeared in a UK site called BuzzNews (an obvious take on BuzzFeed). Among the strange typos and tweaks in this aggregation mess, it's interesting to note what happened to the biblical quote -- INSIDE direct quotation marks:
At the inside of heel house of the left shoe, a message is displayed, announcing: “Love bears all issues, believes all issues, hopes all issues, endures all issues.”
Are we talking political issues, perhaps? Ah, the joys of slap-dash online "news."