The internet has given us a world where information is hard to escape unless you really make an effort at it. Most days I find myself absorbing as many audio and visual signals as I can stand. Usually those feeds are clogged with finance, history, science, politics, and a bit of local news. Today it’s just chock full of the NCAA basketball championship and opening day of baseball season.
While I’m not actively taking any steps to avoid those things, my level of interest can best be expressed by a long, gaping mouthed yawn. It’s not that I hate sports in general. I don’t spend nearly enough thinking about them to be that bothered. I’d describe my attitude towards them as one of abject disinterest.
That disinterest carries the day most of the time – except on days like today. When everyone assumes everyone is a fan of something and every conversation turns on the Local Professional Baseball Team or Collegiate Basketball Program of Choice. On days like today, my disinterest is elevated to something more monumental in scope and scale.
Despite that, mostly I smile and nod at what feels like appropriate intervals… because being in polite society implies that you’ll spend a great deal of time listening to things in which you have no interest. The fact is, in addition to the lack of interest, I lack the specialized vocabulary and background information to speak on the subject in any intelligent way. I can only assume that since so many seem determined to live and die with their team, there must be something to it. I realize that in this one case, perhaps I’m the one who’s the extreme outlier – though that may just be part and parcel of my long standing personal feud with major social conventions. Regardless of the why, however, it’s simply that the part of a fan’s brain that gets tickled by a grand slam or a long three point shot, doesn’t get my neurons sparking in the same way.
I almost wish it did… if for no other reason than it would make these “big days in sports” feel a little less torturous than a slow death by a thousand cuts.
There’s something that’s been bugging me for the last few days. It’s one of those things that most don’t consider a topic for polite company and I’ve swung from one side to the other debating whether this was the right place to even bring it up… or whether I should bring it up at all or just let it be one of those questions that agitates me quietly forever in the back of my head. Since I use this site as a platform for pretty much every other flavor of controversy, I don’t suppose religion should be more off limits here than any other topic has been in the past.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m not exactly what you’d call religious. I’m not sure I can even get away with describing myself as “spiritual,” as many people seem to prefer these days. It’s not exactly that I’m anti-religion, but I’ve never quite been able to accept faith as the ultimate evidence of things not seen. I’ve always liked my evidence to be something a little more corporeal. Despite that, I’ve always had a healthy level of curiosity about world religions and have a tendency to pay attention when they are discussed academically.
This past weekend I heard a theologian argue that we can’t really blame God when something bad happens. In the next breath, this same panel member argued that we should praise God for all the good things that we enjoy in the world. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where my train of thought came off the rails. It seems to me that if we’re going to worship an all knowing, all powerful deity that is responsible for every good thing that happens, the very nature of an omnipotent God demands that He also be responsible for bad things when they happen. To think otherwise suggests a divine duality – one god responsible for all good things and another responsible for only bad things. That’s a pretty problematic concept to tinker with when the world’s major religious groups are pretty well established as monotheistic enterprises.
After writing that last paragraph, someone is sure to argue that I just don’t like religion in general or Christianity in particular. Because I know my own mind, I can say that’s not exactly true. I’m fine with religion and with Christianity (as long as they’re not being forced on anyone at the point of a sword)… what chaps my ass is hypocrisy. If someone of faith had the stones to go on national television and simply say “sometimes God just lets bad shit happen” I think I’d be fine with it, but to absolve your particular deity from responsibility because it doesn’t fit with the traditional narrative that God is Good requires a level of mental gymnastics that I’m not comfortable carrying out.
Although I’m not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination, it seems to be that if there is a God and He is, in fact, all powerful and all knowing, then we’re doing Him a disservice by only giving Him accolades for the happy accidents of life. Sorry, but if He wants the credit when things are going well, He’s going to have to share in the blame when it’s gone to hell in a handbag, even if it’s only because free will was His idea in the first place. How’s that for a controversial stance?