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Does “God” Really Care Who Wins?

February 4, 2013

Last night I was treated (along with several million of my closest friends) to a dramatic Super Bowl that was at times very exciting, at other times very sloppy, but interesting throughout. Though I’m not a Ravens fan I spent nearly a decade living in Baltimore and I was happy for the joy all of my Maryland friends would be experiencing as time ticked away. In the interests of full disclosure, I should also say that I am a huge football fan and I will watch as much of it as they put on television.

As I watched last night’s postgame coverage (and, to be honest, much of the coverage in the weeks leading up to the big game) my interest was continually piqued by statements about “God,” and the role of faith in the outcome of events. Even more interesting to me was the continued quoting of biblical passages by Ravens’ personnel, including, “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31),” and “No weapon that is fashioned against us will prosper” (Isaiah 54:17). At every turn the Ravens’ players and even their head coach would have us believe that the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible was in their corner as they overcame that threat to humanity known as the San Francisco 49ers.

Last night all over the world and even here in the United States, thousands of people went to bed hungry and some of those suffering even succumbed to death as a result of their searing hunger. As time ran off the clock and secured a Ravens’ victory, human trafficking still remained one of the most pressing global concerns. And, of course, there’s the global AIDS pandemic that, as far as I know, God refused to make a dent in while we were sleeping. In the light of this evidence, it’s extraordinarily difficult for me to believe that “God” (however one defines that term) cares one iota about a game played by millionaires who are paid by billionaires in the wealthiest country in the world. Or, to say it another way, if there’s a God who cares about football when much of the world is suffering, that deity is only to be held in the highest of disregard.

So today, let’s just say we enjoyed the game and (if our team won) that we are happy about the outcome. Let’s not invoke the God of the Bible as a talisman or lucky rabbbit’s foot. I don’t think “God” really cares who won.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. W. P. permalink
    February 4, 2013 3:07 pm

    I totally agree with you, Christopher. That transcendent life force/source we label “God” loves all his children equally, we human beings. God does not take sides.

    However belief is very powerful. It’s why in medicine placebos work cures. It is belief (or “faith”) that emboldens an individual or team or even a nation onto victory, whether one’s cause is righteous or not. And it’s that shared belief that creates a shared group consciousness which in turn creates the awareness of being “in the zone” or “of one mind” and invokes a sense of God’s presence in their shared endeavor.

    A rabbit’s foot (or any talisman) works simply because of the belief/faith/intent one imparts to it. “Your faith has made you well” — or in this case “Your faith led you to victory in the Super Bowl.”

  2. David Jacobson permalink
    February 5, 2013 10:14 pm

    As someone who isn’t a football fan (as in, I’ll watch it on someone else’s TV but not usually on my own…), I’m glad that you, a football fan, wrote this.

    It seems to me that, sometimes, football fanaticism attempts to create a family of brothers and sisters united for a cause that is similar to (albeit a parody of) the Church. I wonder if the Christian players occasionally get confused about which “brothers” they are among, and their prayer language begins to reveal that.

    There is a related topic that I haven’t seen dealt with much: how does the Church get its “fans” as excited and prayerful about things that really do matter? Tens of thousands of fans in Baltimore celebrated the Ravens today in a parade. Are there no worthy victories in trafficking, hunger, or homelessness won by God through the Church? And does the fact that such a thought seems absurd a sign of the difficulty of the true battles or our apathy toward them?


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