WWJP? Baseball.

[Photo by gregor_y]

No offense to you football, basketball, cricket, shuffleboard, spelling bee and hockey fans, but let me tell you why baseball, the greatest sport IN THE WORLD, would be the sport of choice had Jesus had the opportunity to sign up for T-Ball as a child.  While each of the above mentioned sports may carry some of these traits, I dare say no other sports weaves them together in the way the national pastime does.

  • The Mascots // Angels, Padres and yeah, why do you think that the team fro, Tampa Bay are now known simple as The Devil Rays. - Jesus likes them.
  • The Team // Baseball  is a unique team team sport in that there are so many working parts that make up the team: starting pitchers, pinch hitters, closers, power hitters, base-stealers, etc and each player has a unique skill set. I dare say the 25 player roster has more diversity player to player than football’s 52 player squad - Jesus likes communities that bring all their gifts together for the common good.
  • The Individual // In baseball, ones individual contributions and skills can both take over a game as well as be part of a team.  Each person plays a particular role on the team, but if need be a player can carry a team for a game or two at a time pitching a shut-out, hitting a couple of home runs, making a game saving defensive play, etc. - While this can go wrong sometimes when a player tries to do too much, in the end Jesus liked Peter, he tried to much, but also carried the disciples through time of struggle.
  • The Utility Player // Not everyone can be great at all things, maybe not even great at one thing, but many can be really good at a great many things. Utility players are a crucial part of a team’s 162 game season: outfield, infield, pitcher, catcher, you name it . . . there are a few folks who can do it all.  Bert “Campy” Campaneris was the first to play all nine position in one game.  - Paul, all things to all people.
  • The Long Haul // Spring training followed by 162 games in a season allows a team to start with a clean slate each year while requiring them to think with the Big Picture in mind. – Hope and perseverance, hope and perseverance.
  • The Nuance // While some think Baseball is boring to watch on TV or in person, the nuances of the game, if open to seeing them, make every pitch and every play an exercise in imagining the possibilities and seeing a glimpse of grace. - Sorry literalists, but I think Jesus likes a nuanced approach to scripture, faith and sports.
  • The Bodies // Short, tall, thin or chunky all are welcome on the diamond. – I have got to believe that Jesus would get a kick out of the husky reliever, the slight base-stealer and the behemoth of a power hitter.
  • The Beauty // Some of the most beautiful sights in sports: The 6-4-3 Double Play, the Suicide Squeeze, hitting the cut-off, OBP, The Diving Stop, the Triple Crown, the Perfect Game and the Screwball. - Jesus like beautiful things.
  • The Movies // Best Sports Movies EVER: Bull Durham, Major League, For Love of the Game, Field of Dreams, 8 Men Out, The Babe, A League of their Own, The Natural, The Bad New Bears, The Sandlot and the ULTIMATE DOCUMENTARY, Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns.

And one last thing. I do think Jesus would pick sides when it comes to teams fandom. I suspect he would root for small market teams like the Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins over teams those teams that shall not be named, but rhyme with New York Hankees and Boston Bread Box.

Okay, I’ve made my case. Feel free to push back and defend your sport of choice.

This is a remodel/update of my post from 2007.

Five Reasons to “Animate” Your Church’s Adult Education Program

Tony Jones recently posted some info about a project that I am part of, the new Animate Faith Formation Series, from SparkHouse. I have already been compensated for my part in the project, so my gushing over the project is not so much about sales as it is about hoping people take advantage of this resource that I am truly proud of.

From what I can tell, the folks at SparkHouse wanted to bring together seven of the greatest Christian thinkers in the universe in order to create an adult formation curriculum that was, not only theologically solid, but engaging and thoughtful. As the tagline reads:

Seven leading Christian voices.
Seven big conversations about faith.
All you need is seven weeks.

As it would turn out the seven greatest thinkers were already booked, so they scraped together seven other folks who have been known to flap their gums about God, faith and life:

And over about six months we wrote, procrastinated, wrote, submitted, re-wrote, gathered, critiqued, re-wrote and finally recorded our thoughts on God, Jesus, Salvation, Spirituality, The Cross, the Bible and Church. The results of our efforts can be seen in this first of many teaser videos:

YouTube Preview Image

Here are five quick reasons why I think you should order it today:

  • We invite rather than instruct. While we each give our perspective on faith, these are not offered in order convince anyone of anything, but rather to present a compelling reason to think about each topic and then explore what this means for each person.
  • We were allowed to be ourselves. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but we were each encouraged to bring our own stories into this project and the process. The danger in this kind of openness is that our personalities and styles might not always jive with the hearer, but the potential for folks to hear a genuine invitation to conversations about faith hopefully comes through.
  • We modeled what we encourage. Part of the process was to engage with one another through a script read-through and workshop. Gathered in one room over two days, we each read, critiqued, received and eventually left with a better message than we could have developed on our own. This mutuality and respectful exploration was an important part of this project and we hope this same kind of interaction will take place for the participate in the series. And in case you were wondering, YES this was a tad bit intimidating.
  • Not everyone will be happy with what we say or who we are. There will be some who will try to place the seven of us into some theological box from which we are collectively destroying Christendom and perverting the Gospel with our false theology in word and deed. And while there are times when I WISHED for that kind of power, rest assured that I stand proudly with these folks, not because I agree with everything that is said, but because we have each entered into a liberating journey to make faith real in a world where too often Christianity is experienced as anything but freeing.
  • It just looks awesome. Okay, I have to admit that when I was told that there was going to be animation, I thought to myself, “Cool” and immediately hoped for some Speed Racer version of myself. Well, not only is the artwork and graphical layout great looking, after previewing my own segment, folks will be moved by how the animation helps fill and form the words and thoughts that are trying to be expressed. Also, the journal that tis part of the series is one of those rare “workbooks” that people will keep on their bookshelves, not as a reminder of a moment in time, but as a way to look back on their journey of faith.

So, thanks to Tony Jones, Paul Soupiset and Team and the rest of the SparkHouse crew for their vision, leadership and support during this project. It was a blast. For more information about the “voices” of Animate including bio’s, links and trivia, click HERE and here are the various Social Media  links of interest: FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

 


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