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Thy game be won?

[ by Charles Cameron -- a theology of little things, sports and wars included ]
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Let’s start with Tim Tebow, and phrase the issue this post raises as a question:

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The headline of a TMZ post, God Is Saving the Broncos … Says Colorado Pastor, clearly suggests that God takes sides in sporting events.

Pastor Wayne Hanson — who runs Summit Church in Castle Rock, CO where Tim’s dad often speaks — tells TMZ God is actively intervening in Denver Broncos football games … and aiding Tim on the field because of his strong faith.

Hanson tells us, “It’s not luck. Luck isn’t winning 6 games in a row. It’s favor. God’s favor.”

Pastor Hanson adds, “God has blessed his hard work.”

We asked Hanson if Tebow would be winning games if he wasn’t such a strong believer — and the pastor replied, “No, of course not.”

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Tebow himself, if I’m reading my news correctly, realizes that his God might have as much to teach by having a sports team lose as by having it win, hence his prayer as quoted above — “no matter, win or lose…”

And that level of subtlety would also be present in the sports theology of Notre Dame, if (once again) I’m not mistaken:

The team is unapologetically Catholic. Before every game, the Fighting Irish participate in a Mass overseen by one of the team’s two appointed Catholic priests, a tradition dating back to the 1920s. At the end of that ceremony, each player receives a priest-blessed medal devoted to a Catholic saint—a different saint every game for four years. Also during the pregame Mass, players can kiss a reliquary containing two splinters that Notre Dame believes came from the cross of Jesus. “Most of the non-Catholic players are Christian, so when you tell them these splinters came from the actual cross of Jesus they are humbled to reverence,” Doyle says.

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I appreciate that combination of prayer for what one hopes and surrender to what happens, it’s way less heavy handed than supposing you can gauge Divine Providence by the results at the end of a game — or a war.

One Huffington Post writer was moved to ask: If Tim Tebow Were Muslim, Would America Still Love Him?

That’s an interesting question, roughly analogous to “If Tim Tebow had a losing streak, would America still love him? And God?

And if God does routinely show preference for one team over another by granting them victory, what are we to make of these two examples?

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It seems the universe scales quite happily from tens of billions of years (or more) to femtoseconds (or less), and from almost a hundred billion light years (or more) to the Planck length (and I’m not so sure about less) — and my own tiny worm of a lifeline has given me “experiences” of a car rolling over a center divider and landing upside down, some moments of breathtaking beauty, times of bordeom, rapid eruptions of anger, the rock of early electric Dylan and the Baroque of Bach’s Matthew Passion. And I have causally picked my nose, almost without knowing I was doing it.

Who’s to say a God, ground of being, Great Mystery Power, or simple unaided universe can’t “purposefully” do Big Bangs and enormous time lags while gasses and galaxies and solar systems are formed and dissolve, flashes of lightning, inspiration and insemination, reproductions sexual and asexual, lives long and short, painting by El Greco and Vermeer, horrible puns and ugly Oscar ceremonies, mu mesons and mitochondria, prayers answered, hung up on in disgust, or unheard on account of it’s the Lord’s Day of Rest — grasses, feedlots, cows, milk, beef, methane…?

Depending, of course, on your definition of “purposefully” — since the purpose may be no more and no less than the unfolding of what is.

Whatever it is (or isn’t) that encompasses all this, it’s in little things as surely as big ones — and thumb wrestling, too. So there you have it: my theology of little things.

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2 Responses to “Thy game be won?”

  1. Charles Cameron Says:

    Someone on FB pointed out in response to this post that the Tebow business is a tiny bit old by now. That’s correct, but in responding to his comment I found myself explaining that the post above is not really about sports, it’s about war.

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    I wrote:

    the post’s foot in the present day is the Dalai Lama quote, from this week’s Shambhala SunSpace, the Tebow references are earlier, from 2012, and the Hizbollah piece is earlier yet, dating back to 2008. The question of whether God takes sides in wars, which is what the various sports are standing in for, and the bit I’m really — but with British reticence — interested in here goes back at least to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural…

    Talking about games, in other words, is a sandbox in which certain questions that also relate to war can be discussed, without “militarist vs pacifist” issues arising.  

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    Besides which, the games / war analogy is a fascinating one, dating back at least to the time of Plotinus…

  2. carl Says:

    The dominant liberal establishment mass media (thank you Mike Rosen) hates Tim Tebow.  They hate him of course because he is demonstrably religious, he plainly states what he believes, he doesn’t much care what the writers and talking heads think and he won’t be influenced by what they say.  There aren’t many people, especially younger people, who are like that.  They can’t get at him, and boy they don’t like that.
     
    So they try to get at his fans, which is what that whole Huffington Post was about.  It was one of the “Aha!” progressive pieces of thinking that purports to expose the dark side of the Americans by showing the malign in the most innocent of behaviors.  From the dominant liberal establishment mass media’s viewpoint, it has two big advantages.  First, it furthers the belief that the Americans are evil.  They love that one.  Second, it establishes them as being morally superior for recognizing the evil.  They love that one even more. 

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