Second Acts & Fat Loss

  Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote "there are no second acts in American life." Fitzgerald was probably wrong when he wrote those words. He's certainly wrong today. All you need to do to see how wrong Fitzgerald was is turn on your television. Two years ago, sports broadcaster Marv Albert pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges stemming from sexual encounters in a Virginia hotel room. Prior to his arrest, Albert was NBC's top basketball announcer, and considered by his peers and fans alike to be the best play-by-play announcer in the business. But Albert's reputation didn't stop NBC from firing him after he pled guilty. Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC sports, called Albert's firing "something we had to do." This past June, NBC quietly rehired Albert, assigning him to less important broadcasts. By last month, Albert's restoration was complete. NBC returned him to his old job, and Albert will be at the microphone for all of this season's National Basketball Association broadcasts. In the calculations of his employer, Albert's expertise and popularity with fans outweighs the disgrace of having pled guilty to sensational assault charges against a woman. Albert isn't the only person making a comeback. Less than a year after a scandal that made her last name synonymous with a sexual act, Monica Lewinsky has re- emerged as a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig Diet Centers. The ads feature "before" and "after" photos of Miss Lewinsky, along with a testimonial that proclaims "I haven't felt deprived on this [Jenny Craig weight loss] program—at all." And unlike Albert, who expressed some regrets for his conduct, Lewinsky is back without expressing the slightest remorse. Her restoration prompted Los Angeles Times television writer Howard Rosenberg to call it "a shame" that Lewinsky is "profiting from the infamy she attained when helping put the nation through enormous agony...." Rosenberg cited Lewinsky and Albert as proof that "the U.S. is either a very forgiving or forgetful nation in which fame tends to assume a life of its own if it exists long enough." He's right. Fame is the supreme quality we seem to admire, even if the person is famous for all the wrong reasons. Albert's and Lewinsky's public restoration shows how little Americans care about the need for repentance and remorse before restoration. We no longer require people caught in scandal to prove they are truly sorry for what they did, much less pay a meaningful price. Instead, all we require is that they keep a low profile for a period of time before re-emerging, good as new—exactly what Albert and Lewinsky did. The World War II martyr and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer had an expression to describe this kind of bogus restoration: cheap grace. Restoration without repentance doesn't change lives or behavior. What's worse, it blinds people to the need for true repentance and amendment of life. That's a problem, because God isn't as lenient as Jenny Craig. If our neighbors are going to understand what restoration really means, we have to teach them. They need to know that there are second acts with God. But the curtain only rises after we've repented.


Chuck Colson


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