What do the Dallas Cowboys have in common with the Washington Redskins, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Jacksonville Jaguars? None of them is playing in this year’s Super Bowl.
What else do they have in common? Their owners own superyachts that are making the news these days.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has already brought to Miami his 357-foot-long superyacht Bravo Eugenia, which is rumored to have cost more than $250 million. It has two helipads and a large spa that includes a sauna, steam room, massage room, plunge pool, and state-of-the-art gym.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder owns a 305-foot-long superyacht with something no other superyacht in the world has—a twelve-seat, two-deck tall IMAX theater that added an extra $3 million to the final price tag. Falcons owner Arthur Blank has a new 295-foot superyacht; Jaguars owner Shahid Khan owns a 312-foot-long yacht that charters for over $1.2 million a week.
Paying $720,000 to go to the Super Bowl
Sunday’s big game is a welcome distraction from the coronavirus crisis, which has now surpassed SARS in the total number of people infected and caused the World Health Organization to reconvene its emergency committee today.
The Super Bowl is also a positive diversion for the sports world as the investigation continues into the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and eight others. His wife Vanessa made her first public statement yesterday, writing that “there aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now.”
But the Super Bowl does remind us that economic distinctions are very real in America today.
The average price of a ticket to the game is $8,940. A villa rents in Miami for as much as $15,000 a night. Or you could consider a vacation package for two with private jet transportation to Miami, a suite at the Ritz Carlton, and four days sailing the Caribbean on a private yacht, all for a mere $720,000.
Viewing the opposition as “downright evil”
It has always been true that some people have more than most people. And that class distinctions lead to cultural polarization.
But you can make the case that such polarization is becoming more dangerous as it escalates today.
A study published last year found that just over 42 percent of Democrats and Republicans view the opposition as “downright evil.” Some 20 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans think “we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died.”
When asked “how much do you feel violence would be justified” if the opposing party won the 2020 presidential election, 18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said such violence would be appropriate on a scale ranging from “a little” to “a lot.”
What explains such vitriolic, polemical polarization?
An important explanation for cultural divisions
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat points to Christopher Caldwell’s argument in Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties as an important part of the answer.
Caldwell begins his analysis with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an effort to rectify the tragic racial injustice that has been systemic in America throughout our history. However, according to Caldwell, reformers who produced the Act also developed “a structure of judicial and bureaucratic supervision and redress that gradually expanded into a rival constitutional system.” This movement evolved to advance groups claiming equality rather than the protection of citizens enjoying liberties.
According to Douthat, Caldwell sees “the debates over feminism and gay marriage, transgender rights and immigration” as following “the lines of this constitutional division.” In this view, “the new constitutionalists are constantly discovering new rights and empowering courts and bureaucracies to enforce them.”
The rights to abortion and same-sex marriage are examples of this “steady subsequent advance of cultural progressivism.” “Old constitutionalists” resist such “discoveries” and the seismic cultural changes they have produced.
The cultural ruptures created by this “constitutional division” are deep, systemic, and emotional. Pro-choice advocates claim they are defending women’s rights and lives; pro-life advocates claim they are defending millions of unborn children. LGBTQ advocates claim they are protecting a persecuted minority from bigoted oppressors; advocates of biblical sexuality claim they are defending moral positions that are historically orthodox and culturally foundational.
Opposition is an opportunity
This is not the first time God’s people have been required to defend unpopular truth at personal risk. In fact, those who stand for biblical morality in our fallen world often find themselves in the minority.
From Abel to Noah to Moses to Daniel and the prophets of Israel, God’s faithful were “tortured” and “suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment” (Hebrews 11:35–36). Some were “stoned,” “sawn in two,” or “killed with the sword”; others were “destitute, afflicted, mistreated” (v. 37).
Paradoxically, opposition to our faith is an opportunity for our faith. When Christians pay a price to follow Jesus, others see the sincerity of our sacrificial commitment. And we discover the degree to which he is not just our Savior but also our king.
Pastor Paul Chappell notes: “The devil doesn’t persecute those who aren’t making a godly difference in the world.”
Are you willing to be persecuted today?