Friday, November 14, 2014

Praying In Sports

I started to write this, I remembered that I'd actually written about it once before, not that long ago. It's kinda long and rambly, and not exactly what I wanted to say today, but if you're really interested, you can read it here.

Anyway… Somehow, in our Talmud class yesterday, we found ourselves talking about people who pray during sporting events. It's a pretty easy target — most people I know, religious or not, love to pick on people who do this. "Do you really think that God cares about the outcome of a football game? Doesn't God have bigger things to worry about?"

Actually, I do think that God cares about the outcome of a football game.

Now, if you know me at all, then you know that "God cares" is a metaphorical term for me. I don't mean it literally. I don't believe for a moment that God cares about things the way that you and I care about them. I don't believe in a God who has a personality, preferences, moods, or even an independent, verifiable existence, while we're at it. But, in a symbolic, poetic way, I do believe that "God cares" about certain things. It's not all that different from if I said, "Mother Nature cares if you litter." You would never think that I meant that in a literal, human-ish to kind of way, but you'd probably understand what I meant by it, more or less.

Well, whatever you mean if/when you say "God cares," then it's probably fair to say that God cares about everything. God is, pretty much by definition, unlimited. Infinite. Encompassing all things. If God cares about anything, and God cares about everything. Do we really think that, literally or metaphorically, God has a limit on attention span or bandwidth?

I think it's pretty ridiculous to claim that praying can actually affect the outcome of a sporting event. I think it's pretty ridiculous to imply that God takes sides in these things (well, maybe, maybe not). But, as a devout non-literalist, when I ask for things in prayer I'm trying to express a need. I'm trying to express my sense of dependence on something, or some One, outside of myself. I'm trying to remind myself to be humble about what I accomplish, and to not take what I have for granted.

And, I'm pretty sure that I can do all of that, even during a football game.

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