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 v8.2

1/ONE – Recently my wife and I have gotten seriously hooked on Rev., a dramedy from the BBC. Rev. is one of the best church based shows I have seen because it is clear that whoever is advising them knows what it is like to pastor a small urban church today. From the neighboring “hip” church that tries to take over the dying church to the struggles of the pastor to have any friends, the humor is both stinging and hilarious. Season 1 is free on Hulu or you can pay to view on Amazon. h/t: Erik Dailey

2/TWO – As many of you know, I am a huge baseball fan. This year I jumped into the fantasy baseball craziness and it has a been a ton of fun. So with football season coming up, earlier this week I wondered aloud on Facebook if there were any fantasy football leagues looking for another team. And woohoo, Rachael Eggebeen stepped up and set up The Presbyterians United Fantasy Football League. If you are interested in joining the league, you will need the password, so please contact Rachael via Twitter or look at one of the early comments this FB Update.

3/THREE – I just stumbled upon this story from 2009 about interned Japanese Americans during World War II, At Manzanar, fishing was the great escape. From the article, As the Manzanar National Historic Site prepares for Saturday’s 40th annual pilgrimage, a commemoration of what was endured during the war, and as the region welcomes thousands for the opening of trout-fishing season, the detention facility is being fondly remembered by some as a secret fishing lodge. Powerful and inspiring. h/t: Norb Kumagai

4/FOUR – Continuing with the fishing theme . . . last week the family spent time out in “the nature” camping at Clear Lake State Park. During our time we did a good deal of fishing, playing Settlers of Catan and trying to take refuge from the heat. As part of our fishing adventure, I had to get some intel on the local fishing tactics. One of the sites that I stumbled upon was CatfishEd, the local catfish expert. Lots of good advice, but the best part was the dough bait recipe that includes the line, ” If you can stick your head in the bucket and inhale without barfing then you need to season it some more.” No we did not make the dough bait . . . nor do we catch any catfish.

5/FIVE – If you have bought my new book for your kindle, thank you so very much. How is this for a cool app: I can now sign it via KindleGraph . . . socially redeeming, far from it, but being able to “sign” a ebook is pretty darn geekyfantabulous.

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.