I'm back

Just when I thought it was time to administer last rites to my blog, all the technical snafus of the past few weeks have disappeared.

I'm just back from a week in Red Sox Nation, and after seeing repeated commercials for the Sox, urging me to keep the faith, I was ready to write a piece on baseball and religion.

But Scott Stossel beat me to it, in this weeks Ideas section of the Boston Globe. (Actually the Commonweal review of "Still We Believe" a documentary on the Sox came first, but Stossel's piece is better.)

He quotes from the Commonweal review:
"Red Sox suffering is a cathedral of loss and pain. It is holy . . . "The Red Sox remind us that life is a trial; that it raises hopes only to crush them cruelly; that it ends badly."

Then he adds a theological discourse on the Sox:

For the vast majority of us, believing the Sox can win the World Series requires believing in something that we have never seen -- just as faith in God requires a belief in the unseen.

In the meantime, the suffering of Red Sox fans is purifying, soul-deepening. Shared failure -- repeated failure, epic failure -- bonds us as a region. As the Sox slog through the dog days of summer and into the fall, we (like Angry Bill) know that they will fail -- we expect them to fail -- while at the same time we hope and believe that they will not. And when, one way or another, they do fail, redemption will be deferred yet again. But endlessly deferred redemption provides, paradoxically enough, its own kind of reward. It tests our faith and marks us as spiritually stronger than other fans for whom entrance into heaven is a far cheaper thing.

A true Sox fan, Stossel ends on a note of hope.

Maybe this finally will be the year. After all, Johnny Damon really does look a little like Jesus.

For the unitiated, Johnny Damon, the once clean shaven Red Sox center fielder, has alternated between the Jesus look and the all out Caveman Johnny look all year long.

Still, my favorite theological reflection on the Red Sox comes from Chris Bohjalian's collection of essays and columns, Idyll Banter. On the passing of Ken Hallock, an 81 year old life long Red Sox fan, he writes:

But he was aware without question that to root for the Red Sox--to root with knowledge and passion and patience--is to root as an act of faith. It is to love people who you know willl disappoint you, but to forgive them and love them just the same. It is to know people are human."


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