Lord, don’t we love to call others culpable. Even when there’s no skin off our nose, we enjoy the chance to put the onus on folk who might possibly be responsible for any sort of misfortune.
Sometimes people deserve it, of course. But sometimes things just happen.
Consider the now-infamous “Blackout Bowl.” A power grid serving half of the Superdome in New Orleans went out just after halftime of the Super Bowl game on Sunday night, leading to a 34-minute delay while the people in charge of such things diagnosed the problem and brought the lights back up as quickly as the gigantic electrical system could be recycled.
The power had gone out right after the Baltimore Ravens had taken a 28-6 lead on an electrifying kickoff return. The near-immediate loss of electricity led some to wonder if the San Francisco 49ers were responsible for the outage, perhaps sending a water boy downstairs to sabotage the system with a strategically placed splash of Gatorade.
The delay did seem to short-circuit the Ravens’ momentum: once power was restored, the 49ers found some added wattage and staged a shocking comeback that came within five yards of a potential victory.
The likelihood of San Francisco subverting the power system was always minimal, at best, so participants in the blame game soon turned to Beyonce, whose special-effects laden, high-energy halftime show left some observers feeling drained. Reports emerged claiming that the woman-power performance had blown circuits twice during rehearsals, but Superdome officials insisted that the extravaganza had operated on its own generator.
Without a clear culprit lurking in the shadows of Super Bowl night, investigative reporters shifted the blame to officials in charge of the Superdome, uncovering documents expressing concern about the power grid that were raised months ago, and expensive repairs that were ordered but not made.
Do that many people really care? Something got overloaded and the lights went out. Sometimes that happens. It doesn’t have to indicate a conspiracy or incompetency. Any system is subject to failure.
In this case, the temporary blackout meant that those of us who switched to Downton Abbey at 9:00 p.m. missed less of the game than we would have otherwise. And, many people hosting Super Bowl parties may have gotten an early reprieve when guests decided to head home during the blackout.
Humans have been playing the Super Bowl of guilt-avoidance ever since Adam incriminated Eve for giving him a piece of fruit, and faulted God for giving him Eve. Eve then blamed the serpent, and the serpent, as Joe McKeever once pointed out, didn’t have a leg to stand on.
Perhaps we’d do well to check out our own legs before investing more energy in the game of blame, whatever the subject.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.