A Little Thursday Afternoon Theology

Christus_Ravenna_Mosaic.jpgIn life there are two topics one should never discuss in polite company: Politics and religion. Well, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone willing to refer to the blogosphere (god I hate that word) as polite company so it seems kind of odd that this is the first time that RSBS has managed to stray into such contentious territory. Apparently there are quite a few baseball loving Catholics out there.

Now, I don’t think that either Jeff or myself have attempted to hide our obvious political and religious leanings. Even our nonstop chatter during last year’s election season didn’t bring about quite the same amount of vehement commentary as did my friend’s entry yesterday.

But, despite the risk involved with wading back into that fray, I have to say that I think he hit it right on the head. Why should the Tigers not play their home opener on Good Friday at 1:05? As one commenter noted, there’s basketball on Christmas Day and some sort of sporting event pretty much every other day of the year. Why not Good Friday, too?

Here’s how it breaks down. I used to live in New York City and on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, half the city didn’t show up for work. But you know what, they all took personal days. The hundreds of thousands of Muslims who live in this country receive no preferential treatment during Ramadan when they are fasting from sun-up to sun-down. Have you gone 12 hours without eating or drinking while trying to work a full day? For a month? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Why should it matter if the Tigers play their game at noon or 7PM? If you want to go to church, do like the millions of people in this country who aren’t Christian and make that choice and the accompanying sacrifice.

Here’s the theology part of it. The Jesus of the Bible took almost sinful delight in ridiculing the Pharisees and their incredibly strict interpretation of Abrahamic law. At every possible opportunity he poked holes in their ostentatious piety and continuously pointed out that he had come to show a new way to god. It was no longer about rigid doctrine and observance of the law. Instead, Jesus focused on a personal relationship that also prescribed personal choice. It wasn’t about showing up for services. It was about showing who you were in your daily life. The freedom from orthodoxy meant that religion became a personal choice and free will took over from blind observance of laws and traditions.

And that leads us right back to the decision that Tigers fans will have to make in a little over a week. Do they go to Good Friday services or go to the game? For some people, that might be a really tough choice. But you know what, you’re going to have to make that decision for yourself. And that probably also means you’re going to have to make a sacrifice. But when you think about it, that should sound kind of familiar.



  1. redbirdchatter

    Well said. Churches (especially traditional) are seeing their memberships errode. They are squeezing and seeing the faithful slip through their hands. Guilt and rules no longer work. The churches that are thriving are the ones that do focus on the personal relationship with God and how to grow as a person. I don’t believe people go to hell for choosing a game over church. Especially, if you are going to church out of compulsion instead of real joy or gratitude for the sacrifice made.

  2. Elizabeth D.

    I was raised Catholic, but it’s not really my thing to say the least. I’m “exploring” but I am plenty content with Redsoxism. Anyway, the church has no right to dictate the Tigers’ playing schedule. There is such a thing as the first amendment, which barely applies here lol.

    Maybe baseball needs an amendment. Separation between church and baseball. Although, Christy Mathewson would of had something to say.

  3. Lissi

    The church should not be meddling with baseball schedules. Is it probably a bad choice for the Tigers? Maybe. But it’s their choice. I am very christian, not catholic, but christian. This is not the church’s jurisdiction. It’s baseball. You choose what you want to do. For me, it is actually better to have it at 1:05 because then it’s probably over by the time Baptist services start at 7:00 or so. Maybe earlier so we can eat too. This is no joke it is fact: You put Baptists together there needs to be food.
    The Tigers are in no way disobeying God by having the game then, in my opinion. I don’t really know a whole lot about Catholicism and its traditions so I don’t know if there is like a time on Good Friday when you aren’t allowed to do anything but the Tigers aren’t a Catholic Institution and should not be forced to make their decisions based on Catholic doctrine.
    Honestly I usually don’t agree with y’all on your political posts and things but today you are absolutely right.

  4. trolleydodger

    I don’t recall them moving Game One of the 1965 World Series. For those who don’t remember, that was when Sandy Koufax refused to pitch, because it was Yom Kippur. Instead, Don Drysdale got the mound instead of the ace, and after giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings, he came up with one of the best quotes I’ve ever come across: “I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too.”

    I won’t pretend to know how Good Friday compares to Yom Kippur in terms of Catholic doctrine, but it doesn’t get any bigger than Yom Kippur for us. People crucified (pardon the expression) Koufax for his decision… until G-d favored him with complete-game shutouts in games 5 and 7, and a series ERA of 0.38, giving up just one run in game 2.

    My point is that the Tigers need a lot of help in their rotation, and may eventually have to start plucking people from the stands. If they choose you, you’d better hope you skipped Opening Day, so that you can throw a shutout like Koufax.


  5. AJRoxMyWhiteSox

    Yet another great post by one of the RSBS guys. You hit it right on as well, Allen. I wish most Catholics thought more like my friends who honestly don’t care when the game is played, whether they’re Tigers fans or not. They’ll do what’s right by them, which is what people in Detroit need to do. They know what’s more important, and that’s what they need to focus on. Not what a professional baseball team plans.

  6. phillies_phollowers

    Baseball IS my church :O) Go there every Sunday… Seriously, I agree; people need to lighten up. I was raised Catholic and even forced to go to a Catholic school (eekk!) but I grew up and made up my own mind about these things. I am pretty sure that even if I go to games on Sundays or holidays, God will not strike me down. As long as I am living my life in a positive way and not hurting other people, I think I am good to go. :O) Of course, I’ve been wrong before…ha!!


  7. Jane Heller

    I honestly don’t get this whole issue. Haven’t there been baseball games played on Good Friday forever? In my lifetime, anyway. And Trolleydodger makes a great analogy to Yom Kippur. Bottom line? People should have the freedom to make the choices that are right for them, and baseball in Detroit should go on as planned. (Jeff: I loved your fire and brimstone!)


  8. dhacks

    Nice essay on religious tolerance, but as a practical matter, all thirty teams are playing on Good Friday and there hardly seems to be a genuine religious controversy in Detroit – just a private concern (MLB) appealing to a wide customer base amidst a few hand-wringing individuals.

    A generation or two ago, the private concern might best appeal to that Detroit base by scheduling around traditional Catholic rites and customs, but again I see that as more a function of business than “religion”, and have no objection to it. It makes sense for private institutions to respect prevailing custom, whether that be in Lahore, Detroit or Tel Aviv. Gives the world some of its charm. Detroit just doesnt have a predominant orthodoxy to cater to anymore. Play ball!

    Oh, and I hate the word ‘blogosphere’ too – too close to bathysphere 🙂

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