What the Body of Christ Can Learn From Fantasy Sports

Buster Posey – photo by thedigitalstory on Flickr

A few months ago my family and I were out at some pizza joint and there was a baseball game on the TV. Being San Francisco, the Giants were playing someone and up stepped catcher, Buster Posey. Now for those who now me, I am not simply a huge baseball and Oakland Athletics fan, but I dislike the San Francisco Giants something fierce. I know, I know, I live in San Francisco, how can I not support the hometown team? Sport allegiances as in musical tastes, sometimes you just like what you like.

Anyhoo . . .

As Posey stepped up to the plate, my eyes were glued to the screen and I found myself hoping he would rip away. And then without thinking I said to my middle daughter,

Hey honey, Buster Posey is up. He’s on my fantasy baseball team, so I hope he gets a hit.

Without looking up from her plate, she responded,

Dad, please never again say that out loud in public.

Well played young one, well played.

Now I do not want to overstate the fantasy sports metaphor as there are many problems with it, but as I have jumped into fantasy sports this year for the first time, I found myself watching the game differently. For those who have no idea what fantasy sports is, each year fantasy teams are formed from all of the players in the league. Fantasy teams are not just made up of players from the same real life teams, but are an amalgamation of the best players from all of the teams. What this means is that no longer can I solely root for my own favorite team, but I must also hope that players on other teams also do well. What fantasy sports forces you to do, if you want to succeed, is to acknowledge that there are some positives aspects about all of the teams. It might only be one batter or one pitcher, but still, you need them to do well no matter what team they play for . . . yes, even if the team is the dastardly New York Yankees.

I wonder what would happen if we applied this same kind of lens to those things that we church folks so easily demonized every day. The ways we so easily and wholeheartedly dismiss certain types of churches, styles of worship and denominational traditions might my not be so easy to do if we could, not only acknowledge that there are parts of all of these things that meet someone’s need and someone’s spiritual growth, but also hope those aspects do well.  “Success” in faith, which I believe is about being prophetic, pastoral, priestly and poetic in the world, will only be achieved if we engage in these things together. We will never agree on all aspects of the faith, between or within church families, but are there not a few aspects of faith that we can find pockets of common ground and mutual encouragement?

I think so.

Bruce’s Friday Five v4.13

My Friday Five is somewhat of a mishmash of stuff I have recently seen around the interwebs, some of which I actually kept track of and others, I just remembered upon the writing of this post. Enjoy.

ONE – For years friends have been given me flack for liking the movie Titanic. Whatever. You are dead inside ;-) So yeah, I went to see the 3D version this past week – by myself, thank you very much – and Leo and Kate haven’t changed a bit . . . it was just as good, just as scmalzty and just as fun as the first time. If you are one of those who poo-poo the whole Titanic phenomenon, take a read of this recent post by Dana Stevens about her Titanic conversion.

Titanic isn’t subtle or tasteful or novel—if those are the only qualities you prize in movies, this one’s brushstrokes will probably be too broad for you—but it’s indisputably big and bold and beautiful. The movie’s themes—which go beyond star-crossed love to include class conflict, the ephemerality of human existence, and feminist empowerment through nude modeling—seem to swell up in recurrent waves, like leitmotifs in an opera. A soap opera, sure, but an opera nonetheless . . .

And just remember, “I’ll never let go . . .”

TWO – For those of you who love comics, here is one to add to your list. It’s called Angry Little Girls and the creator is Lela Lee. Her books including, Angry Little Girls in Love and Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls that chronicle the life of one angry little girl, Kim, as she interacts with unsuspecting friends have spawned a little cult following for Lee. PG-13 for sure, but oh so good.

THREE – Last night I participated in my very first Fantasy Baseball Draft. For years I have been a baseball fan and die-hard Oakland A’s supporter and I think that my hesitancy in playing fantasy baseball is that I now have to root for players for who play for other teams . . . even those from the dreaded Yankees and the Red Sox. But like they say, “It’s not personal, it’s business” and I am out to win the inaugural season of the Presbyterian Baseball League. Also, went to my first game of the year and overheard this classy heckler.

FOUR – out what song she was going to work on next with her piano teacher. After the third time of her have to remind me that even catchy songs like Bruno Mars’, The Lazy Song, might be inappropriate – dad really should listen past the first verse – we dove into the world of child singers. The whole child singer on youtube was a little overwhelming, but we did find some great young voices out there: Vasquez Sounds’ cover of Lenka’s The Show, Alexa Goddard’s cover of Whitney’s Greatest Love of All, Kayla Stewart’s cover of Bruno Mars’ It Will Rain and Maddi Jane’s cover of Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts were just a few. Oh, and we most certainly did not watch over and over and over this gassy parody of Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA . . . yes, I said gassy.

FIVE – Lastly, here are a few churchy things that I would love for folks to check out. An organization that has been fighting for equality and justice for LGBTQ folks in the Presbyterian Church (USA) for decades, The Covenant Network of Presbyterians is searching for a new Executive Director [job posting]. If you didn’t read my blog post from this week, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA is undergoing an intensive process of reflection and would love your feedback on this ONE PAGE SURVEY. And lastly, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area on April 21, 2012, The Pacific School of Religion, where I am an Adjunct Instructor, is holding a very cool event called Sacred Snapshots:

In one day, you can try anything from drumming, to Taize, to Tai Chi, to dance. Try poetry as a spiritual practice, sing gospel or chant mantras, walk a labyrinth. Learn about Buddhist, Sikh, or Hindu meditation. Join Christians for prayer and devotional song. Study the Quran. Experience Shabbat. Immerse yourself in 12-step spirituality or yoga. Develop a shamanic journey practice. As Rumi says: “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Come and find your way.

That’s about it for now. Thanks for joining me this Friday. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you around the interwebs. In the meantime, take a listen to Maddi Jane’s cover of Jar of Hearts.

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