“And Jesus wept…”

 Die-hard football fans already know this, I’m sure, but the New England Patriots failed to reach “Perfection,” as color commentators had labeled it, instead falling to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl tonight.  For this post, I’ll resist the temptation to decimate the use of “perfection” to describe overpaid athletes.  I have many problems with professional sports, notably among those problems is hero-worship, and the sick amounts of money thrown at a game in salaries, advertising, etc.

Today, however, being the biggest game of the season, takes this show of capitalistic prowess to a new level.  This level happened to be above the call of God, according to one Phoenix-area church.

In battling a sore throat and overall fatigue this weekend amounted to sitting around, and relaxing with a movie or two.  By this evening my wife and I had mostly recovered from whatever bug we’d caught, and we elected to go to church, as we often like to do.  Our regular church–an older, cathedralesque building in downtown Phoenix–has service at 5p.  A closer church, known as “The Evangelical Church” to we who judge its musical selections, also has mass at 5p.  A closer church than that, known as “The Money Church” for its thoughtful pitch for donations by lowering a screen in front of the crucifix and playing an appeal from the bishop, had mass at 6p.

By the time we aroused from our lazy state our only option was the 6p mass.  We’d had a small fill of Super Bowl advertising, so we flicked off the tube and headed out.  After a short drive we arrived in the empty parking lot of the church, apparently closed for the Super Bowl.  The doors to the church were locked.  A few people began to trickle into the parking lot, all dumbfounded by the locked doors.  The only official answer from some people working in a back office was “It was in the bulletin last week.”

I was disappointed, and not surprised that the “Money Church” had been closed for the biggest marketing event around.  Money is the name of the Super Bowl game anyhow.  A fellow pulled up to our car, as we were pulling out.  “Is there mass?”  Says the dark-haired, goateed man in a four-runner.

“Doors are locked, man.  It looks like we can’t worship today.”  I answer.

“Because of the Super Bowl? That’s ridiculous.”  He says.

“I agree.  Peace be with you.”  I say.

“Peace be with you.”

I decide to take a shot at the “Evangelical Church” and the doors are unlocked.  A few people are still mulling from the 5p service.  I stay and spend my spiritual time for a few moments.  A janitor even lets us stay a few minutes alone in the church when everyone else leaves.  It’s nice to have silence.

Tecmo

Tecmo Bowl was a Nintendo favorite, and it could be turned off.

A famous episode of the Simpsons animated series shows Homer, the father, listening to a football game during church.  He even stands up and screams “Yes!” after a touchdown…the reverend of course thinks it’s a confirmation of his message.  Similar scenes are popular in television series pitting church versus football.  I have a hard time laughing at the sitcoms that exploit that battle because there is no comparison in value, to me anyway.  Viewing a game is on a different plane than a spiritual experience, not to mention an affirmation of one’s beliefs.

Even if a person is nonreligious, and cares not for church, think about this:  church, in its purest state, should be a place where context is given to scripture, and Wisdom is thus extracted.  Ideally some lesson is learned within that hour hearing scripture and analysis.  So then viewing a game, is then competing with the chance to gain Wisdom and understanding.

The fact a church has knelt to a commercial industry is indicative of a certain decline.  And with that decline, and the devaluation of Wisdom, comes an even larger gap between man being occupied or entertained, and man being fulfilled.

In the grand scheme our sports mean nothing, save for a time of entertainment or withdrawal.  Regardless of one’s religious beliefs it seems there is no argument for a complete envelopment in meaningless activities.  Why would someone choose sports over self improvement?  When the self they’re improving doesn’t matter to them.

Unfortunately Wisdom is not as desired a jewel as it once was.  It seems folks don’t care to maintain the gift of discerning right from wrong, or pure from corrupt.  People seem to shun introspection, and they loathe honesty.  And until one learns to invest in his or herself, it’s hard to expect them to get off the couch and live.

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