The following blog is a discussion about the civil religion of baseball. The spark for these writings is the book “The Faith of 50 Million”.
Back in the last century during the 80’s our little family enjoyed living in California. On an adventure up the Pacific Coast Highway one year in April we visited Candle Stick Park in San Francisco to catch the Giants for the second game of the season verses the Dodgers. My two ladies were a bit wimpy on this day and began complaining in the second inning that it was too cold. I tried to explain that this was Candlestick Park and the wind and cold were a big part of the experience. I was not able to convince them, however, and we returned to our warm car after the fifth inning. Our experience at Chavez Ravine was much more pleasant as the Dodgers play in Southern California where the sun was always shining through the smog. (Environmental controls have since cleaned up much of the smog.)
More recently, there was an ugly episode involving some San Francisco Giant fans who beat up a Dodger fan (or maybe it was the other way around!). This was a horrible incident marring the image of the religion of baseball. Musing on this recent sad tale I realized that not one of the other major league stadiums made announcements that no Giant fans would be allowed in their stadiums. Most folks recognized that the brutal little gang did not represent Giant fans.
The ability to separate the evil from the masses is the thought that brings me to the present. As I sit at my computer the country of France is praying, ‘que Dieu nous aide’ (God help us!) because a minority of despicable, twisted, sadistic people have distorted their own religious teachings in order to spread terror around the world. One response for the rest of the world to this terrorism is to continue to open our arms with compassion to those most adversely affected by the terror. Why? Our humanity demands it. Our faith advocates it. Finally, this response will prevent the terrorist from achieving the victory they so want.
I am hearing a lot of righteous language being bantered around about stopping the stream of immigrants in order to keep Our Country safe. Very similar language was used at the beginning of WWII to justify imprisoning thousands of United States citizens in ‘internment’ camps in the desert simply because they looked like the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor. That action is a moment of disgrace in our history and repeating this action similarly today would be doubly disgraceful.
Before we repeat past mistakes I hope, as a Nation, we step back from our fears and prejudices enough to hear the words of our Holy Scriptures speak to us. In our Mosques, Temples and Cathedrals, if we listen we will hear similar languages from some ancient words to guide us in the present.
In the Christian scriptures Jesus tells us that we receive him when we receive a stranger. (Matthew 25:38)
In the Jewish holy writings we read that (we) are to love those who are aliens, for (we ourselves) were aliens in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19)
The words of Islam in the Koran state, do good-to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (4:36)
It’s just a guess on my part but I think the religion of baseball got this one right. I hope we get it right as a Nation filled with diverse religious traditions and continue to welcome the stranger and in so doing prevent terrorism from winning the war.
See you next time.