Be Angry. Don’t Sin.

August 29, 2014


Be Angry. Don’t Sin.

Last week I encouraged you to remember with specificity the good things the Lord has done for you. Today we return to Psalm 4 and continue to learn how to suffer well.

In the midst of his trouble and grief, King David says to himself, “Be angry, and do not sin.” (Psalm 4:4) This can be a confusing verse, because in most of Scripture, isn’t anger categorized as a sin?

For example: “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:2); “Anger resides in the lap of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9); “Do not associate with one easily angered” (Proverbs 22:24); “You must rid yourselves of […] anger…” (Colossians 3:8)

So if the Bible defines anger as a sin in many places, how can David say, “Be angry, and do not sin” without contradicting God’s Word? Here’s a principle to remember: the ‘biblical acceptability’ of your anger depends upon the law which you’re angrily defending.

Think about it this way: how much of your anger last week was a result of you angrily defending the law of God? Were you angered by injustice and political corruption? Were you angered by Christians being persecuted? Were you angered by the weak being exploited?

Sadly, that anger doesn’t last very long. Frequently my anger is a result of me angrily defending another law – the law of me. I get angry when someone changes the channel, when they add something to my schedule, or when they request I give up something to serve them.

The same principle applies to anger and suffering. Most of the things you suffer from are angering to God: bodies weren’t designed to break, people weren’t created to betray, and governments weren’t established to abuse. Suffering in a fallen world should make you angry because suffering almost always correlates with God’s law being broken in some way.

But all too often, we’re angry because the suffering inconveniences our little kingdom. It robs us of money, time, comfort, and pleasure. We’re not grieved and angry in unison with God; in fact, in many cases, we’re angry at God for allowing such things to come our way.

So when suffering enters your door, you should be furious. But your anger should be motivated by the law of God, not the law of self. It’s much easier for me to write that than to live it, but Christ provides abundant daily grace for our anger problems.

For a deeper discussion on how to be good and angry at the same time, check out my curriculum by the same name: How to be Good and Angry.

God bless

Paul David Tripp


What are some current events that should anger you as a Christian?
How can you translate your anger into Christ-exalting action?
When are the most common occurrences of your anger?
What does your anger reveal about your heart?
How can you seek help for your anger?

He Will Hold Me Fast

August 18, 2014

When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Saviour loves me so
He will hold me fast

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight
When He comes at last

-Ada Habershon (1861), Matt Merker (2013)


August 15, 2014

Chiggers are not insects. They’re a type of arachnid, like ticks and mites. And they aren’t bloodsuckers. But the irritants they inject into the skin drive people crazy with itching. The Ohio State University Extension Bulletin on these creatures begins, “probably no creature on earth can cause as much torment for its size than the tiny chigger.”They typically lurk in wet, weedy, brushy areas — which she swears she doesn’t have — but the symptoms and lack of a visible foe do scream “chigger.” And there’s a wedding coming up, so let’s not have any scratching of the bride.

Race Baiter

August 15, 2014

“He (O) will race bait continuously to divide the country among black/white and Hispanic/white lines in order to implement his Marxist based agenda.”

Saviour, like a shepherd lead us
Much we need Thy tender care
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us
For our use Thy folds prepare
Blessed Jesus
Blessed Jesus
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are

We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us
Be the guardian of our way
Keep Thy flock from sin, defend us
Seek us when we go astray
Blessed Jesus
Blessed Jesus
Hear, O hear us when we pray

Thou hast promised to receive us
Poor and sinful though we be
Thou hast mercy to relieve us
Grace to cleanse and power to free
Blessed Jesus
Blessed Jesus
We will early turn to Thee

Dorothy Thrupp

Dear Walmart

August 7, 2014

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Last night I was inspired to send out a couple of Walmart-related Tweets:

Today, my unhinged outburst prompted a mildly disapproving message from one Mr. Inferior Walmart Employee:

[Note: I edited this email by breaking it up into smaller paragraphs, adding some punctuation, and removing a few extraneous sentences that accomplished nothing except further communicating the author’s contempt for me.]

Hey Matt!

First of all, f**k you very much. I happened to see your Tweets hating on Walmart employees and sucking corporate Walmart’s c**k so I thought I’d get in touch and tell you what a f**kstick you are.

I work at Walmart because there aren’t very many options. If there was something else for me to do I’d do it, but Walmart comes in and eats up all of the other jobs and leaves you no choice.

I have no problem admitting that I put very little effort into my job because I have ZERO incentive. The pay is sh*t. You’re treated like sh*t. I have to supplement my income by being on government assistance because the corporation I work for would rather buy PRIVATE JETS for its CEO then provide a DECENT WAGE to its employees. Awesome! Thanks Walmart!

Its hilarious that you feel superior to Walmart employees when I have MORE EDUCATION THAN YOU and am more skilled than you. Instead of worshipping greedy corporations like Walmart why don’t you write something exposing the fact that Walmart exploits tax loopholes and refuses to pay its employees a liveable wage?

Hey you always like to talk about how much you love families… well why don’t you put pressure on Walmart to pay its employees enough so we can start families and support them? I would marry my girlfriend if I had the financial means instead of these poverty wages. Why don’t you write a blog post about that? Oh but that doesn’t fit into your whole act I guess, does it?

F**k Walmart and f**k Matt Walsh.


“Inferior” Walmart employee

Dear Inferior Walmart Employee,

Hi. Can I call you Bob? The name you gave me is kind of a mouthful.

Thank you for your insightful reflections, Bob. You raise some interesting points, yet I can’t help but feel slightly confused by your hatred for one of the only organizations in the world that would actually pay a salary to someone like you.

I should explain that when I say “someone like you,” I mean someone with an abysmal, self-entitled attitude, who is proud of making no effort and providing subpar service to customers. You seem to think that you should only perform well if you’re paid well, but the unfortunate reality is that you will only be paid well when you perform well. This is a concept called “earning.” To “earn” literally means “to receive as return for effort.” So, if Merriam-Webster is any judge, you haven’t earned anything. You confess to your lack of effort, which means you confess to the fact that you aren’t even earning the minimal salary which you’re currently collecting. You are one of Walmart’s charity cases, and you should be thanking them, not sobbing about those villainous CEOs who “buy private jets.”

I don’t know much about the CEO of your company, Doug McMillon, but a quick Google search tells me he’s a relatively young man who started at Walmart as a seasonal employee in one their distribution warehouses. Now, I’m not saying that you can become the Big Cheese of Walmart one day, but I am saying that you work for a company with lots of money, lots of different kinds of available positions, and lots of opportunities for advancement. An ambitious person would take advantage of that fact. A small, pathetic person would sit on the bottom of the food chain and wallow in envy as better men and women surpass him. What kind of person would you like to be?

Oh, but this is all a pipe dream, isn’t it? Fine, prove me wrong, Bob. Go to work for the next, say, six months, and absolutely pour your heart and soul into your admittedly minor duties. Go in there clean shaven, shirt tucked in, eager and willing to work. Take on extra hours when you can. Fill in for people when they’re sick. Contribute during staff meetings. Smile at customers. Just do these extraordinarily basic things for a few months and then come back and tell me what sort of promotion you’ve been offered — because I guarantee they’ll offer you one.

The great thing about working retail or fast food is that it’s exceedingly easy to separate yourself from the pack. I was almost always an assistant manager or shift leader at all of my customer service jobs as a teenager, purely because I came to work sober, I rarely called out, and I displayed a moderate level of competency. What I’m saying, Bob, is that you are currently at the bottom only because you choose to be there. Sorry.

No company on Earth, no matter how much you whine or cry, will ever say, “Hey, look at this salty, lethargic, mean spirited non-contributor! Let’s pay him a six figure income and hope that he repays our generosity by magically becoming a decent employee!”

That will never happen. Well, unless you get a job in government.

But Walmart is at least paying you something — and something is infinitely more than you appear to deserve right now.

Of course, Walmart isn’t the be all and end all, Bob. You say that “there aren’t very many options” and “Walmart eats up all the jobs,” but have you ever actually, you know, looked? I take it from your email that you have a college degree (which doesn’t necessarily make you more educated than me, or even more educated than your average woodland squirrel, but that’s beside the point) and, although you wish to start a family, you are currently unmarried and without any dependents?

If this is true, then you’re golden, Bob. For goodness sake, man, you can go anywhere and do anything. No jobs? NO JOBS? Are you kidding me? That’s crazy talk.

I suspect that by “no jobs” you mean “no jobs that will send a recruiter to my front door, hand me an enormous salary to do nothing, and physically pick me up and carry me to the office every day.” Yes, that kind of job might not exist (again, unless you work for the government) but that still leaves, like, thousands and thousands of other options.

In the past when I’ve fielded emails very similar to yours, I usually just present a few counterarguments and leave it at that. This time, though, I want to try something different. I want to offer some actual help:


I went to and did a bit of research for you. My very focused search for any job, in any category, anywhere in the US, yielded a veritable buffet of employment options.

From the first page alone I can see that they’re hiring production supervisors in Iowa, general sales associates in California, tire salesmen in Ohio, and maintenance workers in Florida, among other things. So that’s at least four jobs right there.

I did a little more digging and found this interactive map detailing the fastest growing industries in the nation’s most populous metro areas. Have you thought about Salt Lake? Beautiful city, gorgeous landscapes, low cost of living, and they’ve got job growth coming out the wazoo (to use a very technical economic term). has an interesting write-up on US industries with the most job growth in the past year. Have you thought about getting into the wholesale lumber supply game?

Bob, have you even paid attention to what’s happening in North Dakota? They have so many jobs over there, they can hardly give them away fast enough. Just this past March they stood up and said, “Attention, America. We have 20,000 unfilled jobs out here. Who wants one? You can have two, if you like. Anyone want two? Two jobs a piece. Anyone?”

You might not like the average salary of a Walmart employee, but you should check out the average salary of an oil rig worker. I’m talking about 100 grand, dude. Yeah, it’s physically demanding, but you’re a young guy, aren’t you? Go let off some steam, drill some oil, and make some serious bank.

Get it together, Bob. The world is your oyster. If I was single, childless, and working low level retail in a shopping mall somewhere, you better believe I’d blow this popsicle stand and go wherever the opportunities are. Seriously, Bob, what are you doing? This is no way to live. Sleep walking through your Walmart shifts then coming home and trolling bloggers on the internet while you stew in jealousy and whisper curses at phantom rich people? You’re better than that. I’m glad that you want to get married, but I’m pretty sure your girlfriend wants a man who has a slightly more comprehensive five year plan.

I don’t know about Walmart’s devious exploitation of these tax loopholes, and I don’t care. The government collects about 3.5 trillion dollars a year in taxes, so excuse me if I don’t stay awake at night worrying that they’re losing a few bucks here and there. At some point we have to elect people who can figure out how to run a country on, oh, I don’t know, say a cool trillion or so. If we don’t then we will continue on this unsustainable path until our glorious American empire collapses into rubble, like so many before it. When that happens, I can guarantee you that historians 500 years from now will not look back on the ancient USA and say that we were ultimately undone by “tax loopholes.”

Now, as far as livable wages, I’m happy to report that Walmart does provide thousands of them. But not everything can be a living. You can’t make a living scowling at customers and angrily punching things into a cash register because that kind of performance just isn’t worth very much to your employer. Be more valuable to them, make more money.

Pretty simple.

Or think outside the box, Bob. Take a chance. Sweat a little. Pursue a different path. Invest your time and energy into something worthwhile.

Now get off my website and go make it happen. Next time I’m vacationing in North Dakota maybe we’ll cross paths on the street. You can tell me about all the dough you’re raking in and I can tell you about how ticked off my wife is that I forced her to vacation in North Dakota.

Then I’ll tell you that it’s been a long trip and we need food, some toiletries that we forgot to pack, oil for our car, a bottle of Advil, a case of beer, and access to a wide selection of every other item we might possibly require at prices that can’t be beat.

And you’ll, of course, point me to the nearest Walmart.

See you then.



Cellphones at Dinner

August 6, 2014

In the summer of 2011, when Twitter was just entering the mainstream and the iPhone 4 was all the rage, a particularly tech-obsessed friend invited me to lunch for my birthday. I liked my friend (obviously) but generally tried to avoid eating with him. His smartphone use approached the pathological, and I never relished a meal spent fielding waitresses’ pity-smiles while my pal scrolled through his phone with one hand and shoveled sushi with the other.

Nevertheless, I was new to D.C. and appreciated the gesture. So we agreed to meet up on one strict condition: for the duration of the meal, he wouldn’t touch his phone. No e-mails. No Foursquare check-ins. Not a single Instagram. (“That is literally my one birthday wish,” I remember impressing on him. “One hour without the phone. You can do it. Really.”)

By the time the waiter brought our water, he’d already checked Twitter. And far from feeling slighted, I was vaguely bemused: like two-thirds of Americans in 2011, I didn’t even have a smartphone — so the whole thing struck me as almost humorous, like a parody of socializing.

Three years later, however, that situation isn’t particularly absurd. Well over half of all American adults own smartphones. One-third of them use their phones during dinner, that most fundamental of social encounters. And a mounting pile of evidence suggests that my bad birthday lunch, far from an absurdity or a one-off, is increasingly the norm. Our smartphones are hurting our relationships — and that’s hurting us.

“Even without active use, the presence of mobile technologies has the potential to divert individuals from face-to-face exchanges, thereby undermining the character and depth of these connections,” reads a disturbing new study from researchers at Virginia Tech. “Individuals are more likely to miss subtle cues, facial expressions, and changes in the tone of their conversation partner’s voice, and have less eye contact” — just because a cell phone is physically present.

The smartphone behavior of U.S. adults, per Jumio’s 2013 Mobile Consumer Habits survey. (Jumio)
Researchers and tech-watchers have long understood that the chirping, insatiable temptations of our little screens change the way we interact with other people “IRL.” In the past couple years, a mountain of studies have demonstrated that cellphone use makes us more selfish, more easily distracted and more stressed. A survey last March suggested that nearly 9 in 10 people feel that their loved ones neglect them in favor of technology on a weekly basis. A smaller-scale observational study suggested that, when parents and young children dine together, parents frequently pay the most attention to their phones.

“Parents on smartphones ignore their kids,” headlines blared — reflecting, perhaps, a growing consciousness of (and discomfort about) the subtle ways our smartphones blind us.

But despite this frightening body of research, it seems we’re only just beginning to understand the depth and the reach of the problem and are starting to grasp for solutions to solve it. This new paper from Virginia Tech is concerning because it confirms that the mere passive presence of cellphones cheapens in-person conversation, even when we’re not looking at them. And in modern life, of course, cellphones are passively present pretty much everywhere, from the office to the bathroom to the dinner table.

Researchers theorize that our phones now function not merely as communications devices, but as a kind of social cue — a prompt to think about e-mails and tweets and the number of likes on that Instagram you just posted, taking your attention away from the people in front of you.

Perhaps that sounds a little abstract; “attention” is, after all, an ambiguous and subjective term, right up there with “trust” and “selfishness” and “pro-social behavior” — three other traits that phone-use has been shown to impact.

But there are nagging hints that “attention” can translate into very tangible harms. Over the weekend, for instance, a New York restaurateur took to Craigslist to complain that selfish, cellphone-wielding patrons had hurt his business and inconvenienced servers. After comparing surveillance tapes from 2004 and 2014 and timing the customer interactions in each, he claimed to have noticed a distinct change: Patrons now take nearly three times as long to order, and twice as long to finish their meal, because they’re photographing their food, taking selfies, and otherwise messing around on their phones, he wrote. As a result, the business has seen an uptick in bad online reviews relating to long wait times and slow service. (These are, of course, all unproved anecdotes — The Post could not verify the substance of the post, as it was posted anonymously and has since been deleted.)

“We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there,” the post concluded. “But can you please be a bit more considerate?”

Chef Spike Mendelsohn, who would like diners to get off their phones. (Photo by Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
Some restaurants have not been quite so diplomatic. Late last week, Applebee’s — the world’s largest casual-dining chain — filed a trademark for something called “No Tech Tuesday,” which is rumored to be in anticipation of a program of the same name. A restaurant in New Jersey briefly fined customers for using their phones. Even D.C., a town where people are rarely far from their Blackberrys, has lately gotten in on the anti-smartphone action: Last week, celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn opened a Dupont Circle speakeasy that prohibits photos.

“Don’t be on your phone,” Mendelsohn told Washington City Paper. “You have the rest of your life to be on your phone.”

If all this new research is any indication, however, you might be better off pocketing your device — even when you don’t have to. As I said to my friend at that fateful birthday lunch (… multiple times, with decreasing good-humor): Is whatever thing you’re looking at on a plexiglass screen really that much more compelling than the living, breathing human in front of you? Power to you, if it is. But if it isn’t? What a sad, self-defeating waste.

-Washpost, Caitlin


August 6, 2014

Moochers electing looters to steal from producers.


August 5, 2014

Caffeine is a central part of most Americans’ daily routines — from the morning coffee to the lunchtime soda to the post-dinner square of chocolate. And while the substance occurs naturally in more than 60 plants, not all of the caffeine consumed is natural. Much of it is synthesized in pharmaceutical plants overseas.

Murray Carpenter, author of “Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts and Hooks Us,” explains there are two ways to obtain the pure powdered form of caffeine.

One way is to extract it from a product in which caffeine naturally occurs, such as coffee or tea. The other way is to synthesize, or make, caffeine from urea and other chemical precursors.

Carpenter says the U.S. imports 15 million pounds of synthetic caffeine powder each year; most of it is blended into soft drinks.

“That’s enough to fill a freight train 2.5 miles long,” Carpenter says.

“If you look at a can of, say, Coca-Cola, and you think, ‘Where did the caffeine in this Coke come from?,’ more likely than not, it came from a pharmaceutical plant in China.”

Synthetic caffeine is not new; the process for making it was developed by German chemists in the late 1800s. But it wasn’t until the 1940s when synthetic caffeine became an industrial-scale product, Carpenter says. Now, most of the caffeine we consume in products that don’t naturally contain the compound is synthesized.

In the three years Carpenter spent conducting research for his book, he traveled across the world to see some of the places where we get the majority of our man-made caffeine. He approached pharmaceutical plants in China, India and Germany, but no one would give him access to what went on behind their walls. But he wasn’t surprised; Carpenter says the caffeine part of the pharmaceutical industry is “pretty opaque.”

One of the plants on his journey was the largest synthetic caffeine plant in the world; it’s in Shijiazhuang, about two and a half hours southwest of Beijing. There too, Carpenter was not allowed inside — so he stood outside the “kind of run-down industrial park,” instead.

Even without being able to see inside the plants, Carpenter says the experience was “a bit of an eye-opener [as to] where our caffeine comes from,” especially since FDA regulators often don’t inspect caffeine production plants.

“When they do, sometimes inspections have revealed pretty horrendous conditions,” he says. “The pharmaceutical industry has mostly been off-shored in recent years. Many of our largest pharmaceutical plants are now in China and in India, and FDA regulators have a hard time inspecting these plants.”

But while conditions may be less than ideal in some plants, Carpenter says it’s highly unlikely the caffeine synthesized there could be dangerous.

“It would take an awful lot of impurities to really cause significant harm to human health, unlike some other pharmaceutical products,” he says.

“Either natural or synthetic caffeine could have impurities associated with it, and these could be harmful to your health, but if the caffeine is pure caffeine, either synthesized or naturally extracted, its effect on your physiology should be exactly the same.”

While the revelation of how caffeine is made and where a significant amount of it comes from may shock consumers, Carpenter does not predict people will stop drinking their beloved caffeinated beverages.

The average adult in the U.S. consumes 200 mg of caffeine each day, the FDA reports. That’s the equivalent of two cups of coffee or four sodas. And 90 percent of the world’s population consumes caffeine in some form.

In the 1950s, Carpenter says, Americans consumed twice as much coffee as we do now, but we drink five times as many soft drinks now than they did then. And an increase in the options for caffeinated beverages will most likely continue to fuel the demand for caffeine in the future.

“The consumption of caffeine emerged independently on at least three continents. In Central America, people were using it in chocolate 3,000 years ago; In Asia at the same time, people were learning about tea. People learned about coffee in Eastern Africa 1,500 years ago. I think there’s a natural, human tendency to gravitate toward caffeine and I think it will always be part of our diet,” Carpenter says.

“I think it’s a really fascinating compound and I think we consistently underestimate the role that it plays in our lives.”

-WTOP, Rachel


August 5, 2014

When CrossFit denied our request to cover the 2014 CrossFit Games, we decided to look into the organization’s long history of bullying anyone who dares to ask the hard questions—or look too closely.

When will CrossFit’s attacks on the media and researchers end? Photo: Ammentorp Photography

You do not cross CrossFit. As many in the media have learned, the company behind the fitness craze is not afraid to retaliate—through its enforcers in “informational weaponry,” Russell Greene and Russell Berger; its massive social-media following; or, if all else fails, the courts. I knew because I’d read about it and had seen their work on Outside’s Facebook wall. But it wasn’t real to me. It is now.

Outside has been a focus of CrossFit’s wrath since we began reporting on the injured-participant-led backlash in 2013. But I first became Greene’s target when I reported on a story about CrossFit’s new rival, the NPFL (now known as the NPGL). In the story, NPGL founder Tony Budding said he wanted to create an event that was more spectator-friendly than CrossFit’s flagship competition, the CrossFit Games.

Greene took offense to that line. “Tony’s statement that the CrossFit Games aren’t a spectator-friendly sport is completely false, and deserves critical analysis,” Greene wrote. Fair enough. We’d pointed out that “some would argue that the CrossFit Games have been a huge success, selling out tickets, drawing a half-million viewers on ESPN, and winning title sponsorship from Reebok.” The story wasn’t about taking sides, but about informing readers of the NPGL’s existence and what it planned to do.

I suppose I should’ve remembered that encounter when I applied for a press pass to this year’s CrossFit Games. Held annually since 2007, the Games are what makes CrossFit a sport rather than a training regimen. To get to the finals at the StubHub arena in Carson, California, individual CrossFit athletes and teams must make it past open and regional competitions. About 100 men and 100 women face off in a three-day strongman-style competition (think: overhead squats, burpees, and rowing), where CrossFit dubs the winners “Fittest on Earth” and hands them a check for $275,000.

I’d spent the past two-and-a-half years reporting on obstacle racing, a sport whose meteoric growth was greatly fueled by CrossFitters looking for a place to test their strength. I wanted to see what a straight-up CrossFit competition was like. Instead, my press pass was denied.

“Outside Online has published headlines and articles about CrossFit and the CrossFit Games that lead us to question Outside Magazine and Outside Online’s editorial intentions,” said the email from CrossFit Press, which arrived after we reached out to Greene. The email listed four Outside articles to which CrossFit had taken offense: a report on a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study that suggested CrossFit has a 16 percent injury rate, a report on the subsequent lawsuit between CrossFit and the journal (published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association), the NPFL story, and another story digging deeper into injury statistics.

No mention was made, however, of the stories we’ve published trumpeting CrossFit’s stars like four-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning, pointing readers to the regimen’s best boxes, or even promoting CrossFit-inspired training plans. Outside has covered all aspects of the fitness trend since it began.

With that in mind, we asked CrossFit to reevaluate its decision. CrossFit is important to us and to many of our readers. We were eager to cover the games. Again, we were rejected. This time, our email didn’t even elicit a response.

Denying our press pass is like the NFL writing, “Dear ESPN, We can’t let you cover the Super Bowl, because you covered the traumatic-brain-injury concerns of NFL players.” By CrossFit’s logic, every major media outlet in the United States should be blackballed, from the New York Times to USA Today, because we’ve all covered CrossFit injuries. Deadspin must certainly be on CrossFit’s s*** list after publishing this gem about the NSCA debacle:

It exposes the fitness company far more effectively than the NSCA study ever did. In the lawsuit, all of CrossFit’s neuroses emerge, as does its inner asshole.
The press-pass rejection not only made CrossFit look thin-skinned, it also made it look like the company has something to hide. And barring journalists from something is about the best way to ensure they’ll pursue a story. On Thursday evening, I bought a $50 pass to Friday’s CrossFit Games and went to see the competition for myself.

StubHub Center, where the event is held, is composed of several venues. There are soccer, tennis, and track stadiums, as well as a tent village where vendors like Badass WOD Wear and nonprofits like Barbells for Boobs hawk their goods.

When spectators walked into the soccer stadium on Friday morning, their eyes lit up. They actually said, “Wow!” The place had been transformed into the world’s biggest box, with THE 2014 REEBOK CROSSFIT GAMES printed across end zones and 15 metal trusses cutting the field in half.

I took photos of at least 10 people against that backdrop. They came from all over—Pittsburgh, Florida, Atlanta, Minnesota, Mexico. Most of them seemed to follow a dress code. Booty shorts for the ladies, nylon board shorts for the men, T-shirts repping their respective boxes, and minimalist Reebok CrossFit shoes. The stadium floor was empty, although the Jumbotrons showed a competition taking place: a relay run with competitors tethered together.

Perhaps Greene feared we’d find the games weren’t spectator-friendly. That’s because they aren’t. Not even to avid CrossFitters. Friday’s first two events—the relay run and an erg-jump rope-run combo—were held in the driveway outside the soccer stadium, where few people could tell what was going on.

Some spectators even considered climbing the palm trees lining the road to improve their vantage point over the thousands of others trying to get a glimpse of their friends and favorite athletes. “I’m a huge Rich Froning fan,” a 28-year-old CrossFitter from San Diego told me when I asked why he came to the games. “He said this might be his last year as an individual” competitor. It was tough to catch a glimpse of his hero, though, behind two solid rows of standing people.

“Why didn’t they do it in the stadium where people can actually see? I paid $200 to see nothing!” said an athlete from Utah as she stood on an empty Pelican case used to house the camera filming the event. She wasn’t mad about it, though; she came for the experience and to support friends who were competing. In that way, she was like everybody else there.

The CrossFit Games are like a religious gathering cum high-school track meet, where everyone in the stands (or on the street) is either a zealot or knows a competitor. “This is like a Mecca for CrossFitters,” a Canadian CrossFitter told me.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being at a religious gathering/high-school track meet. In fact, that’s what makes the CrossFit Games—and CrossFit itself—special. It brings people of diverse backgrounds together to celebrate health and fitness. I met three generations of people at the games who might as well have been wearing kettlebell halos; they were the nicest sports spectators I’ve ever encountered, happy to talk about the event and the people close to them who were competing. Just like my mom at my high-school swim meets.

CrossFit should embrace its special community. The rabid attacks on media outlets and researchers suggest that CrossFit is insecure with itself. New competition like the NPGL should energize CrossFit rather than scare the organization into harassing reporters who introduce its rivals. As for that NSCA lawsuit, CrossFit should take a page out of its own book and relearn the art of the spin.

Back in 2005, CrossFit founder Greg Glassman knew how to handle a press that questioned his methods. Just before Christmas, the New York Times published an article about CrossFit’s propensity to induce injuries, including rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that can lead to kidney damage. Glassman’s response: Embrace the danger.

CrossFit had already rolled out a mascot named Uncle Rhabdo, a clown “whose kidneys have spilled onto the floor presumably due to rhabdomyolysis,” the Times reported. Glassman also wrote an article titled “CrossFit-Induced Rhabdo,” in which he “soberly explained the circumstances of the six CrossFit-related cases he knew about, outlined ways affiliates could lower the likelihood of injury, and announced he would add a rhabdomyolysis discussion to his weekend seminars and to the website,” Inc. reported. PR crisis met head-on. Crisis averted.

Sometime over the past nine years, CrossFit, the sport of strength, got weak.

The tiniest amount of criticism sets its enforcers off on a rampage, and it’s affecting CrossFit’s most devout adherents. You’ve got a great thing going, CrossFit, with amazing people in your ranks. Bring back the old CrossFit that faced controversy with honesty and humor. Even better: Heed one of your own favorite sayings and HTFU.