Friday, October 26, 2007

God in the post-season

I found this prayer on a Red Sox fan's blog:

Our Father, who art at Fenway…Baseball be thy game. Thy Kingdom come, Playoffs need to be won, On Earth, then on to the Cask ‘n’ Flagon. Give us this day, a perfect Papi, And forgive us our losses, As we forgive those, Like Bill Buckner. And lead us not, into desperation, But deliver us from any losses. For thine is the Power, And the Glory, to beat the Indians, Forever and ever…. Yankees suck!

And here is a quote from the movie "Bull Durham" that I found on another blog:
"I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it didn't work out between us." 'Baseball Annie' Savoy, Bull Durham

Sports always seem to bring out a pseudo-faith in people. As Boston College was marching down the field in their attempt to pull out a "come-from-behind" victory against Virginia Tech, you could see people in the stands with their fingers crossed praying to the god of "come-from-behind" wins.

You could see the same in the World Series game in Boston. As the Red Sox neared their final "out", you could see fans in the stands with their rally caps on and their eyes toward the sky. They too were praying to the god of "come-from-behind" wins. Only, they were praying that the Rockies would not come from behind and win. They were praying that the "god of all sports" would protect their lead and help them win Game 2 of the Series.

These, of course, are the same people who say they "don't believe in God." They are the same people who mock faith and describe themselves as "intellectual" rather than "religious." New England is notorious for their colleges and universities. They pride themselves on being "well-read" and culturally progressive. Faith in God is not in-style up there unless, it seems, you are watching "the game."

Why does this happen in sport? What is it about competitive athletics that makes people flip-flop between atheist before the game and pseudo-believer during the 9th inning or 4th quarter? It's a fascinating phenomenon to me.

The theology hidden under this kind of action is interesting. It's sort of a "Santa Claus" view of God. This kind of understanding of God breeds prayers like: "God, though I haven't acknowledged your existence either with my actions or my words, just this once, would you help my team win. P.S. If you do, I promise to be good this next year." Translation: "Santa, please give me this toy and I promise not to be on the "naughty" list again next year."

This theology also reveals a secret knowledge of God's presence. Sometimes even the most devout atheist will find himself/herself shooting up desperate prayers to a God which they have outright rejected most of their life. They don't want to admit that they secretly hope that He is there and listening.

The irony is that these folks default back to "unbelief" as soon as the game is over. If "God" came through for them and helped their team "come-from-behind", then they simply deny God's involvement and chalk up the win to the skill of their team. If "God" doesn't come through for them and their team loses, then they put it down on their running list of proofs that God is not real and does not exist.

To me, this phenomena is evidence of two things: 1) that the heart of humanity is selfish when it comes to who we want God to be 2) that God is indeed so real and present, that even atheists can't help but cry out to Him in their time of need*.

*[by "time of need" I mean things like the Red Sox in the World Series or B.C. going undefeated]


At 5:08 PM, Blogger ballofdirt said...

Hey Mark,
I agree with your blog. I have actually grown to hate the passion (not the people) that people have for these games because it seems to be first before anything else in their lives. It becomes all consuming to the point that wives, children, and even jobs suffer from the lack of attention. The secular world even has a name for it "football widows". I wish people had that same passion for the God. I don't even see it in many church worship services. I love worship and not because the music is great or the songs I like are being played. I love worship because it is one of the times during the week that I can gather together with believers to praise, worship and glorify God. Could you imagine that same passion you see at a football game in a worship service where the passion was all focused on glorifying Jesus Christ? Or that passion focused on reaching the lost and sharing the Gospel with them? Or that passion focused on serving others in and out of the Body of Christ? But rather sports come before God. Sports and the athletes are the idols put before God, and so much is coveted - the life styles, the money, fame........- and that is only three of the 10 commandments. And as for the atheists ....... don't even get me started! :-)


Post a Comment

<< Home