Sunday Schooling

In honor of the completely irrelevant pre-season win by the Browns last night, a reposting of a musing on the popularity of those competing Sunday activities…

Predictably, we see reports
Of godly, fundamental sorts
Complaining that we worship sports
Instead of god

It happens once or twice a year
When tournaments or playoffs near
And empty pews are cause to fear
The other squad

The Lord commands for all to see
To “have no gods ahead of me”
Which clearly makes idolatry
A mortal sin

Their future hanging by a thread,
They claim that fans have been misled
They know, if they went head to head
They wouldn’t win

It should not surprise anyone to find, on CNN’s Belief Blog, a report on christian churches coveting the fanaticism of… well, fans. Sports fans. Apparently, idolatrous worship of real, live athletes is getting in the way of worshipping imaginary beings.

“That’s … one of the major things I decry in my book,” said Tom Krattenmaker, author of “Onward Christian Athletes,” who’s based in Portland, Oregon. “The lack of that sort of prophetic distance from sports or the willingness to critique sports, the lack of setting priorities so that the worship of God is more important than this idolatrous relationship with sports.”

Sports worship, of course, predates christianity by centuries, but that doesn’t fit the narrative:

“There have been changes… in Christianity, particularly in evangelicalism over the years, and as sports has increased its popularity and increased its ways of invading our lives,” said Shirl James Hoffman, author of “Good Game: Christianity and the Culture of Sport.”

“Instead of exploring creative ways sport might serve true religious purposes such as spiritual growth and enrichment, the Christian community has seized on sport as a tool of status enhancement, advertising, and evangelism,” he says.

Maybe it’s because I have the Onion News Network on TV right now, but I’m tempted to think that this report recognizes the absurdity, and simply hangs it out there.

Sport is huge in human history. What an incredible achievement, to reach a point where we have comfortably met our immediate and future needs to an extent that allows us to compete with one another, not for food or shelter, but for sport! This, more than religion, is the marker of humanity. As Friedrich Schiller put it, “Man… is only completely a man when he plays.”

I know many people who find sports obsession to be silly. Perhaps. We can probably reach near 100% agreement that other people’s sports obsessions are silly. But in this particular war over weekend activities, I know which side gets my support.


  1. Freerefill says

    Sport is an evolutionary byproduct. All, or at least most, animals engage in sport of some form or another when they’re young, especially predators. It teaches them the limits of their physical capabilities, it sharpens their wits, it allows them to explore their bodies.

    The only difference between us and them is that their athletes do it for survival, ours do it for multi-million dollar contracts.

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