Father Dwight Longenecker
Lesson Eight: Good Sports Are the Worst Sorts
The demon Slubgrip's previous adventures were gathered and recorded in Fr. Longenecker's Lent Book, The Gargoyle Code. Written in Screwtapian style, Slubgrip instructs his protégé Dogwart, while trying to keep tabs on his own 'patient'—all while the tempters tumble through Lent to Easter Day.
Spectator sports is the topic today, slime strings, and the emphasis is on 'spectator.' You may remember that some eons ago our patients were entertained with 'bread and circuses.' This was a fairly successful attempt by some of our hosts to keep the masses satiated with free food and blood sports in the amphitheaters so they would not turn their attention to the corruption of their leaders and the decay of their society.
Unfortunately, gladiatorial games complete with dismemberment, disemboweling, and torture are off the menu. For some reason the hairless bipeds have become a bit squeamish. Of course, there's still plenty of dismemberment, disemboweling, and torture of the wholly innocent in the abortion industry. It's a satisfying posting, but a bit of a doddle. Not much of a challenge really. The human souls in that battleground are almost too easy to pluck.
I'm also sorry to say that the most entertaining aspect of the old Roman games—throwing Christians to be devoured by the wild beasts—is simply not accepted. Oh, we still have a bit of fun here and there with Christians being imprisoned or shot or tortured, but it's not right out in the open like it used to be. The bloodshed happens all too quickly now. A bomb in a church here, a machine gun attack on Christians there.
But I am getting off track. This is Pop Cult 101, and our topic today is sports. Like entertainment, this subject is tricky, for once again, the enemy has all the best weapons. All we can do is re-formulate what he has created. For some inexplicable reason the enemy has created the hairless bipeds to enjoy playing games. Believe it or not he likes to see them play. There is very little that disgusts our Father below more than this strange and infuriating behavior of the enemy. He could have created a serious and dignified species. Instead he creates these vermin who play games. I must confess I cannot understand it. Twelve grown men will chase a ball around a field for two hours getting muddy and cold and then come in all hearty and cheerful exclaiming what a good time they've had. Or nine women will bat a ball across a net at each other for hours and call it a good 'fun.' What about this other ludicrous past time in which four of them will whack a little white ball across the lawn trying to put it into a hole in the ground?
The result of all this is most displeasing. The brutes get together in 'teams.' They learn to listen to one another and make disgusting acts of discipline and self-sacrifice for the sake of 'the team.' Furthermore, they become physically fit. They breathe in far too much fresh air. Most disturbingly, through these ridiculous games they seem to rise above themselves somehow. They transcend their selfishness and even the worst of them learn how to be 'heroes' and to 'overcome their difficulties.'
It's maddening. And just like the enemy to be sneaky. He's always trying to insinuate some 'lesson' or some kind of 'wisdom' into their most ordinary activities. First he gets them playing games, and just when you thought it was a foolish, but harmless past time you find he is sneaking in some moral or some 'higher motivation.'
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. His latest book is Catholicism Pure and Simple. Visit his blog and sign up for Faith Works! his free, weekly newsletter on the practical practice of the Catholic faith here.