When I was in high school, I used to get a kick whenever a player from the opposing team would step to the foul line, bless himself—and miss. While I was borderline irreligious by then, I suspect my glee came in part from having been raised in an evangelical environment that was decidedly anti-Catholic. My church found a way to campaign against JFK without losing its tax-free status.
Unlike Michael Vick, who claims that abusing dogs was a way of life when he was a child and so he never gave it a second thought when he became an adult, I have reflected on my past and hope that after more than six decades I am an accepting person, that your religion or race or gender doesn’t matter to me. Well, race and gender.
I remain conflicted about religion. I’ve read about the dark side of so many “devout” people that my cynicism has grown exponentially. I still can’t believe that given all the highly religious people in Congress that we would need a code of ethics. I learned my ethics in Sunday school and still practice them.
The latest mixed message occurred recently in a professional football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins. In the second half of the game, a Pittsburgh player, in tackling a Miami player, knocked him unconscious. It was immediately evident that something was wrong. The victim wasn’t moving. That’s never good.
Within minutes, if not seconds, a group of Steelers joined in prayer on the field. I understood.
But then I reflected on the situation and it made me wonder.
Would Jesus play football?
Here we have a very violent game in which the object is to stop the opposing team by knocking down the person with the ball—and not gently. (Remember Darryl Stingley?) And so these men participate in this violent game, and when someone is hurt, they pray.
There’s a big contradiction there. The story of Jesus is not one of violence. He was not competitive in any sense of the word. I don’t think he’d even play a friendly game of touch football with the apostles.
Thus, I question the faith of those who would pound their fellow man into unconsciousness—and then pray for his recovery. Doesn’t compute.