Religion and the Sports Metaphor

Sometimes when we are having our lively debates here on this site, I’m reminded of a Sports Illustrated article I read several years ago.

A sports writer was asking a veteren baseball pitcher about competing when near the end of his career.  The writer asked, “Tell me about your state of mind when that powerful rookie hitter Smith comes to the plate.  Smith has homered off of every pitcher he has faced.  When he comes to the plate, digs in with that confident swagger and looks out at you like you are as old and tired as dirt, what are you thinking?” 

The old pitcher slowly replied, “I thinkin’, ‘Kid, you got no chance.  No chance.’”

It seems like all of us are like the old piticher.  On the topic of religion, we have looked at it from the bottom up and the top down.  We have opened the door and peered inside.  We each know our positions inside and out.  Anyone who wants to take us on has no chance.

Someone told me that according to the World Chrisitian Encyclopedia there are 33,820 different Christian denominations in the world.  One would guess that each of them is confident their version, and only theirs, has found the Christian truth.

The other great religions of the world seem to have many branches and bitter disagreements just like Christians.  

Knowing we are absolutely right about our views on religion is as much fun as throwing a great fastball.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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25 Responses to Religion and the Sports Metaphor

  1. Wanna B Sure says:

    “knowing we are absolutely right about our views on religion is as much fun as throwing a great fast ball”, (until the game is over.)

    • entech says:

      When that one great scorer comes to mark against your name.
      It matters not who won or lost;
      But how you played the game?

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Good one. right and true, and a solid confession of a higher power . I have always thought that the “comes to mark against your name” part has a bit of a negative flavor to it. Of course, it could mean to mark pro or con.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wanna 12:27 I think David might have been referring to the scorer at the officals’ desk at a sporting event. He did not actually say, I’m just guessing. :)

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            context my friend, context.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            double entendre?

          • entech says:

            Actually I was wondering who the scorer might be. Could it be the good god Mazda of the Zoroastrians or the good God of the Marcionites? “The One” of the Hindus, or, perhaps the God of Abraham there are so many contenders and I have only mentioned a few that remain extant.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            To accept or reject any or all is up to each individual, as is the risk / reward.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 11:53 “risk/reward” It seems like in this new brave world of computers, we should be able to reduce the risk/reward formula. If every god had a web page, we could register and find out what our score is there. Then, we could choose our god without taking chances.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Now you’re just being silly. You can find info on any of the gods, (small g) , (or the lack of any) on the internet. Anyone can take their plick. Choose any one, multiples, chaos, nihilism, or atheism. Choose one who will do your bidding, or make yourself your own god, then throw that ball,— or dice.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 1:05 “…choose one who will do your bidding….” The question I would have, and it has never really been addressed by the believer folks, is this: With 30,000 some variations in Christianity, plus thousands of other gods and threads within those faiths, what percentage of believers in the world choose their faith by objective analysis of the truth? (That is, they did not simply adopt the faith of their parents or culture, pick one that suited their predetermined bias’, but, chose the ONE true faith.) It would be my view that, if a person or being, arrived on earth for the first time and surveyed the faith practices being followed, he would report back to his supervisors, “They seem to believe anything that makes them feel secure and approved of.”

          • entech says:

            So life is just a gamble? Not a very satisfying concept, sounds as if you are reducing it to pure chance; just what the materialist is berated for!

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Didn’t say it’s a gamble. Play ball , shoot dice, or whatever. That is your choice. Of course, there’s default.
            I have shared my confidence. You don’t accept it, or like it? I have done my due diligence.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; could you provide the source and documentation for the # 30,000 “variations of Christianity” , and the criteria used to arrive at that number? It sounds remarkably high. Thanks.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 1:07 World Christian Encyclopedia, 33,820 denominations. I got this from a relative and have not checked it out myself. It seems high to me as well. The number does not really matter. If there is more than one, such as two, it makes the case that the choice of which one is arbitrary and based on what benefits the believer.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            “Denominations” is not variations. Ethtnic and cultural divisions have been a large contributing factor, as are variations of rites and rituals. None of which affect the centrality of the Faith. Ya don’t see da lutefisk suppers in da German Luteran Churches. Even IN the Catholic Church there are several sub-groups. None of which alter the foundational teaching. (Again rituals, and custom). Thou attemptest to maketh a mountain out of a mole hill.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 3:03 I’d agree in that using the term denomination would imply a corporate entity or at least some formally adopted set of beliefs. But, it seems to me, that in the eyes of the faithful, there is a BIG difference between, for example, (a.) those who think abortion is murder vs. those who do not, (b.) those who think being a practicing gay is a moral issue and those who do not and (c.) those who see hell and Rob Bell does versus those who see it a Albert Mohler does. These differences at the retail end of the theological chain appear to be so great that the followers of one group make judgements about the heaven-worthiness of the others. To say this is a mole hill is saying that going to heaven or hell is really unimportant.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I’m glad you said “Heaven worthyness”. No one in the various denominations consider those not in their own particular denomination not worthy of Heaven. Yes, there can be disagreement and accusation of “error”, but even error does not prevent Heaven. For those where error has grown to full blown heresy, they have self removed themselves from Christianity. Even if they call themselves Christian, their heresy reveals the obvious. I am reminded of a couple grops that maintain that they are “Christian”, yet their teachings show otherwise. They have self-excommunicated themselves from any affilliation with the Church Universal. I am sure they also are included in the 33,000 that you mentioned.
            You yourself have admitted that there is great difference within the Atheist community. I can understand this. I could say that I am the tallest, most brilliant, and most handsome Norwegian alive, but the evidence would prove me wrong.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Joh; to complete a thought, regarding “error”. I could (but won’t) document several instances where error in a denomination was in evidence. A couple of them were very serious (bordering on full blown heresy). These groups were confronted as to the error, (you could call it tough love). A couple of these were across denominational lines, so it wasn’t an “in-house” situation. The error persisted, as did the confrontation . But in time, the confrontations took effect, the errors/heresy admitted, and removed. They have been joyously recieved back into the Christian community. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case, and those who continue to maintain the heresy remain outside of the Christian community.
            I can see why you use the term “retail end”, as your view of what church is is greatly distorted, as is your understanding.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna–3:56 “…you view of what the church is is greatly distorted, as is you understanding.” Certainly, I do not know your view of the church, as your view is obviously quite sophisticated. The part I think I know is the retail part of it. The retail part ultimately pays for the opposite end of the church, the ivory tower end. Maybe we could call it the factory end. If the funds from the retail end does not pay for the goods at the factory, it has to change its product or close. The mainline denominations have been losing two percent a year. I think I see the style of worship changing. My guess is the one by one they will first change there outlook on gays. Then, they will start to lighten up on judgement and hell.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Jon; Thank you for exposing just what an Atheist thinks of the Church.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 2:02 “…what an Atheist thinks of the Church.” I was not writing about what I “think” of the Church. I was writing about reality. That the Church operates in the same way as a market driven business, or, as a voter driven political party is simply self evident. I’ve never seen God provide money to keep a denomination in business after its flock has decided to go somewhere else.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; I understand your understanding, and your reasons for it. This is a much too multi faceted subject to wrestle with shallow comments and observations, so I leave you to your devices.I am sure you will impress yourself.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 1:37 You are correct that some topics, religion being one, politicis being another, are difficult to discuss in these short exchanges. When you think about it, the same could be said for most every discipline. Unfortunately, the world we live in seems to be more and more about communication with messages that are like the ones on billboards, “TURN HERE”.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            …and that tells us something about today’s society in general.

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