Sportianity: Sports instead of Jesus

Sports as religion?

Sports like religion?

Though I would mostly disagree with the claim that sports are literally a form of religion, as some scholars would attest, I certainly believe that sports – specifically professional sports – have characteristics of and fulfil some religious functions.

Myths, legends, ritual and tradition, sacrifice, sacred sites, ineffability, and community. These words conjure up thoughts of experiencing religion just as much as they do of sports.

I’m curious if Christians are aware of and if they should participate in the “religion of sports”.


Following a team: the stats, scores, and players (and their twitters’), being glued to the TV, Internet, or a smartphone (yes, there’s an app for that) for the latest information on trades, rumours, news, prospects (reading the paper and sports magazines works too), wearing a jersey (or something more extravagant), regularly attending games (often with a rather high ticket price),

making an event or a whole day out of a game and the traditions/rituals that come a long with it, having a sense of belonging, ownership, friendships and community built around a team, and an emotional connection.  All these things, and more, are the ways that people invest their time, money, and energy into sports or a specific team.

None of these things seem inherently bad.

But, as a Christian, I question whether professional sports are taking too much our time and if it is a god – how much do these things mean to us?

I question whether we should be proud of, cheering for, and supporting organisations that: spend (tens or hundreds of) millions of dollars on players salaries, commodify people (athletes), promote violence or suffering of self for ‘winning’ (though making money is actually the goal of the organisation), as well as promote the sexualisation of women, the achievement of stardom, and the ethic of winning above all else.

What do you think?


To note: I’m very much in favour of sports on a local and/or amateur level.  Fitness is important and there is plenty of fun to be had!  I love playing intramural hockey and ultimate frisbee.

A Response to “Lady Gaga vs. Religion?” (From: Jesus- meetpopculture)

For the original post from “Jesus-meetpopculture“, click this link.


Gaga has certainly amassed an immense fan base, and has, as you say, a ‘religion’ (I’d say she certainly preaches a gospel) based on inclusivity, tolerance, peace, and love.

There are certainly positive associations with Gaga’s ‘religion’ (e.g. inclusivity), along with other that aren’t too terribly positive.  But the negative ones (e.g. sexualization) aren’t articulated too often in popular circles, which I would say is a commentary on society/popular culture as a whole.

I find it interesting that you ask the question whether or not Gaga has created a ‘religion’ or a ‘non-religion’.  I’m not sure whether you addressed if her ‘religion’ was actually non-religion in your post, but I would say that it is certainly not non-religion.  Her persona/message – a gospel if you will – is full of religious qualities: outlining a belief system, including narratives/symbols (her own or stolen), and promoting a certain lifestyle.

Peaceful Future T-shirt graphic

She, as you say, envisions a future with a more peaceful religion for the younger generation.

Jesus too, includes poor people, women, Samaritans, lepers, children, prostitutes and tax collectors – outcasts – not only to listen to him, but he invites them into the Kingdom of Heaven.  This can easily be seen as a gospel of inclusion.

I would also say, strangely, that Gaga, when envisioning a more peaceful religion, echoes Jesus’ message in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).  Specifically when he teaches his: “You have heard that it was said…  but I tell you…” message.  He contrasts the ‘old’ ways and teachings: “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy”, with “Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” (Matt. 5:43-44)

In these two ways, Gaga shares similarities with Jesus.  And if Christianity is the by-product of followers Jesus, I’ll be fascinated to see what ends up with followers of Gaga…

Of course, there is that whole thing with Jesus dying, resurrecting, and being the Son of God… that helps with establishing a lasting following.

—-

Many Christians, myself included, struggle with the problems of religion, in the same way that Lady Gaga does. (I like the interview a lot, I also like how she separates the church from religion, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation)

Lady Gaga: a good Christian? Or a great Christian?

After viewing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” music video (dir. Francis Lawrence) for the first time, I’m not sure of how to precisely describe the experience.  It was artistic, full of imagery, and sexually explicit.

Beyond Gaga’s characteristic “†” and a brief crossing of herself while dancing, my curiosity of how this video was directly related to the “Christianity” part of “Christianity and Popular Culture” was only satisfied when professor Harris informed us that Gaga is a self-proclaimed Christian.

But seriously.  Gaga.  A Christian?  

This Gaga?

 

 

 

Or This Gaga?

When seeing images like these and scantly clad in her music videos, I question how “Christian” she actually is.  American Christian values promote modesty and censorship of sexual content, especially in movies and on television.  I struggle with labelling Gaga a Christian because much of what she produces could be considered soft-core pornography.

In my search of a quote to confirm her Christian-ness, I found Gaga’s thoughts on religion in an interview with Larry King.  (Interview clip)

“I’m very religious, I was raised Catholic, I believe in Jesus, I believe in God, I’m very spiritual, I pray very much. … At the same time, there is no one religion that doesn’t hate or speak against or be prejudice against another racial group or religious group or sexual group.  And for that I think religion is also bogus.  So I suppose you could say I’m a quite religious woman who’s confused about religion.” – Lady Gaga

Never once does she say she’s a Christian.  Her struggle with being religious and hating the bad things religions do, is something that resonates with many people – myself included.  I wonder though, if she’s playing a part.

In the same way, Johnny Cash was a musical legend (which Gaga is in the making), and he embodied being a: rock star, country boy, folk hero, preacher, poet, drug addict, rebel, sinner, and saint?  I thoroughly appreciate what he has to say for himself:

“I’m still a Christian, as I have been all my life,” … “Beyond that I get complicated.”

and,

“I am not a Christian artist, I am an artist who is a Christian.”

In the “Bad Romance” video we see Gaga wanting the love of the world (the music industry and/or fame), struggling when taken, offering herself up, her ‘baptism’ into that world (drinking the vodka), and forced to dance in slavery.  We see her overcome “the man” and literally burn him.

But we also see images of her weeping – a terribly sad and repentant Gaga?

In “Judas” we hear:

Jesus is my virtue/And Judas is the Demon that I cling to

Therefore: Gaga is both fond of and despises religion.  She preaches a gospel of extreme inclusivity.  She, “Dream[s] of and envision[s] a future where we have a more peaceful religion, or a more peaceful world.”

If Gaga purported herself as a Christian – already believing in Jesus and God, promoting peace, and loving others – would she be a good christian? or great?

Better thinking

After watching a splendid sermon entitled “Anti-Intellectual” by Michael Krause, in Southridge Community Church’s UnChristian series, there were many things I agreed with and was intrigued by.

One such thing was a quote (turns out, so says the internet, that it’s rather popular… I’ve never heard it) by St. Augustine from his “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” written in 408 AD. (His meaning of the word literal is different than what you’re thinking):

“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens and the other elements of the world, the motion and orbit[s]… about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such and embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.”

Now, there’s probably a lot of things I could follow up with after this quote, but I think it’s rather obvious that since the 5th century there have been plenty christians who’ve done such disgraceful and dangerous things.  Least of these things would be the Kirk Cameron Banana video.

I’m just going to keep things simple and in thought with the sermon.  I apologize if these things are rather redundant.

  • Scriptures are not to be treated as science textbooks.  Therefore, don’t give the creation story in Genesis 1 a timeline of 7 “earth?” days (or a timeline at all – St. Augustine would say it all happened at once).  Giving it such a timeline is similar to agreeing with the Sun rotating around the Earth as written in the book of Ecclesiastes.  On this topic Galileo says:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

  • The primary role of scripture is to describe the redemption of the universe through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and through the spirit filled community of the Church.
  • To in-errants, theologically, the age of the Earth is a matter of indifference.
  • In reading Genesis 1, one must engage with the history of the ancient world – especially the text of the creation myths of other cultures, engage with systematic interpretation of the genre of literature that Genesis 1 is, and engage with all that modern science has validated.

Nearing Michael’s conclusion he states that Genesis 1 both is and is not history, its definitely not science, and is primarily theology.  Disagree with this because of better thinking, not less thinking.