Sports and religion

th-18I first want to thank all of you who responded to Monday’s Catch with your kind condolences over the Angels’ elimination from the playoffs. And to those, like my wife, who think this is way too much attention to pay to a stupid game, I will point out that God made us this way. He made us all gamers to a certain extent. Competitiveness is part of human nature. Paul talks about runners running races to receive a prize as something that is simply a part of life. Sports are a legitimate escape from the difficult realities of life, and, like any other form of entertainment, they give us a break from the daily “grind.”

Even more so, I believe games are a way of seeing life and learning things about ourselves we might not see any other way. I happen to think baseball is the sport that is richest in these real-life takeaways — principles we see in the microcosm of a game that apply to the much bigger arenas of our existence. Why else would there be so much literature on baseball (I once heard that it is over twice that of any other sport).

As my good friend Michael O’Connor wrote in the opening sentences of Sermon on the Mound, his own contribution to that treasure trove of baseball literature, “I believe in two things. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creator of heaven and earth, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the one and only Source from which all life flows — and baseball. Everything else is just sports and religion.”

So many of you wrote to me in order to ease my pain. Many commiserated over the disappointment they share over their own local teams, the Montreal Canadiens, the Edmonton Oilers, the Detroit Tigers (at least this year), the Carolina Tar Heels, and those perennial wait-until-next-year Chicago Cubbies.

I conclude today’s thoughts with a quote from John, a Philadelphia Phillies fan:

The Royals are clearly catching “fire in the bottle.” So, John, listen to your dear wife and just move on. At least your team made the playoffs. Mine ended up in last place for the second year in a row. And, at least both of our teams have won it all in recent years. Thank the Lord we’re not Cubs fans!
I will pray that your time of mourning comes to an end – soon.
In all seriousness – thanks for the good laugh today!

And that’s really what this is: a good laugh, with some real life surprises thrown in. You can find God at work in anything, if you take the time to look.

Will we ever know how complex and delicate these lines are with which He holds us and our faith together and draws us to Him? What are these ties that bind? Will we ever get to the end of them?  — from my Foreword to Michael’s book

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6 Responses to Sports and religion

  1. Carole in Midland says:

    My friend, Sandy, sent me this beautiful Word for the Day that I think sums things up quite well:

    To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything God has given us – and God has given us everything. (Thomas Merton).

  2. KaT H. says:

    Glad you are “on the mend”! I like the analogy of baseball being a lot like life: Lots of UPS and Downs 🙂

  3. Tim says:

    I have to say I haven’t had much sympathy or empathy for you and your baseball. My boys grew up watching the Cubs and are die hard Cub fans. I should right a blog concerning the guilt associated with doing something like that to two perfectly normal boys. It’s just that the cubs were always on tv!
    It’s one thing to follow a less than stellar baseball team but to drag two young boys into the fray is almost unforgivable.

  4. Tom Gilbert says:

    You and I are completely aligned on this topic. Except that I am a dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox fan. Last year glory and World Series Champs. This year AL East Division dweller chumps. Here’s my take on life and baseball:

    Thanks for all you and Marti do. The Catch is great ministry (and with the baseball theme an additional metaphor!)

    Peace and joy,

    Tom Gilbert

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