Tuesday, March 29, 2005
God Going for the Gold
By Rev. Dr. Hobart J. Crusenberry
Noticeable at the 2004 Olympic competitions:
1. No Olympic athlete from any country other than America ever mentions God (or any other godly being).
Can you imagine, say, a Muslim track-runner from Somalia giving a post-competition interview in which the Muslim credits Allah for helping him beat the "crusader infidels"? Would there then be a furor of protests by the jingoistic American announcers about "religion" being brought into the Olympics?
Have you ever heard a Chinese athlete claim that he lost a competition because Buddha had not planned he win a medal?
Can you imagine a weightlifter from India claiming that Shiva helped him cross the finish line ahead of all the Muslims and Christians? What would be the outcry then by America's evangelical ministers when they found out that Shiva is often represented by a penis and that three-foot high, stone, phallic statues representing Shiva are all over the place in India? The Christian god beaten by a "penis-god”? The horrors!
2. Only black American athletes mention God.
Why is this? Are white American athletes, unlike white American politicians, ashamed to admit that they believe in a giant, unseen "tooth fairy" god who hovers in the sky above each venue and who diddles in athletic competitions? The so-called "God-of-the-Gold?"
3. Only black American athletes kneel down on tracks, fields, etc. and "pretend" to talk to this powerful unseen, godly being hovering in the sky above the venue. We know where the athletes think this God is; they often point upward to show us non-believers where this God is.
Why do these black athletes do this only after they win an event, not after they lose an event? After losing are they ashamed their mojo doesn't seem to be working?
What if all athletes prayed after the competitions?
Can you imagine, say, a shot-putter from Iraq spreading down a blanket on the field, aligning himself to the east and then bowing repeatedly to an unseen Allah?
What if a judo-contestant from Israel put on a kippah (yarmulke) and tallit (prayer shawl) and began swaying and nodding toward the east as the Jew chanted the Shema?
Meanwhile a Chinese would be lighting a stick of incense, nodding three times to an unseen Bodhisattva, clappin’ his hands three times, and chanting a mantra to Buddha-Amidaha?
What if the pagans disemboweled a chicken before and after each event and publicly studied the entrails to see who the gods had ordained to win?
And, I ask: Do these black athletes pray similarly when they know there is no camera watching them? A Zen paradox: Does it still count as prayer if no camera is watching?
Are the black athletes ignorant of (the mythical) Jesus's "Sermon on the Mount" in which Jesus admonished his listeners about praying in public? Don't the athletes read the Bible? Don't they hear about the Bible in their church? It seems they do not. Here quoted:
Matthew 6:5/6 "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the 'hypocrites' are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy father, which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Their praying in public brings back memories for me.
During the forties and fifties, as I grew up in Southwestern Virginia, a steady stream of local fire-and-brimstone preachers visited my "unwashed" father at our isolated, ramshackle house in Rocklick holler. I assure you that these preachers always had to arrive unannounced and uninvited; otherwise, my coal-miner father would have chosen that evening either to go fishing or to go to a local beer-joint.
During these visits, always-- it seems-- during the warm, humid twilight summer evenings, I'd sit fascinated on the front porch with my father and these proselytizing preachers. While watching the "lightnin' bugs" and listening to the crickets and Whip-o-Wills, I'd watch my father being "sermonized" by these visiting preachers. As we all swatted at mosquitoes and no-see-ums, the preacher's exhortations seemed to go on and on. Despite their railings though, the preachers seemed to make little progress against my father's stoical, but usually polite iconoclasm.
Clutching their well-worn Bibles, and frothing at the mouth with their church's "gospel," each preacher hoped to drag my father (and later our entire family) into HIS church. There, the preacher would "save my father's soul," whatever that meant. (It is worth noting here that each minister told my father that ONLY his, that minister's, church and religion could save my father. Each assured my father that all the other churches were worthless.)
"But, Brother Crusenberry," they'd finally plead in frustration, "don't ye want t' get down on yer knees hyar 'n' pray t' Jesus t' save yer soul?"
By this time a couple of hours or more would have passed and we'd all be covered with bug-bites and scratching furiously. The preacher would have by this time threatened my father repeatedly with visions of Hell and descriptions of countless-souls like my father writhing in the eternal, fiery, sulphurous stench of damnation. The preacher would be covered with righteous sweat, and beginning to look a bit desperate. Daddy on the other hand would still be sitting there in his favorite rocker, looking nonplussed.
At the invitation to "get down and pray," my daddy would always ask slyly, a hint of a smile on his face, "Preacher, don't we have t' find a closet first t' pray in? Remember Mathew 6: 5/6?
Didn't ye bother t' read yer Bible? Well, uhhhhh, we don't have a closet, but we could crawl up under the front porch where no one could see us. But then hit's pretty dirty and lots of spiders, maybe even a snake or two under there, so I ain't a'gonn’ under there. But unlike me, yer "saved," so ye probably have no fear of going under there by yerself.
Hit's either that fer ye, er be one of them thar hypocrites Jesus talks about who prays in public."
I don't ever remember a preacher crawling under our front porch to prove his faith. At my father's death in 1975, daddy still remained a member of the "unwashed heathens" doomed to roast in the apocalyptic Hell. I look forward to being with him there someday, complaining about the heat and all the Christian ministers there with us.
Back to the Olympics:
On the other hand, it is noticeable that none of the Muslim athletes has credited their wins (or losses) to the will of Allah.
No Asian, mostly Buddhist, have credited their wins (or losses) to the influence of Buddha or their prayers to Buddha for a medal.
Most frequent statements by these black athletes:
“God gave me that extra push at the finish line.”
“God intended that I win this gold medal.”
“God did NOT intend that I win this race”
Why do these athletes bother to train for these competitions? Won't God take care of their running techniques and speed? Isn't it an insult to God to train for the competitions, knowing that God can do it by Himself/Herself?
If God predetermines the race, how does God prioritize the prayers of the athletes, all praying to get the Gold?
If God predetermines the race, is that really fair to the rest of the competitors?
If God predetermines the winners, how come He/She wastes the athletes' time by allowing them to compete in events in races in which He/She has already picked some other winner? How come God doesn't just go ahead and announce the winner before the competition starts?
4. I have another, final, big question: If the count of gold medals is equal between the two leaders, United States and China, does that mean that God is running neck-to-neck with Buddha-- even on God's home turf? Does that mean Buddha will have the home-field advantage in Beijing in 2008 and can be predicted to whoop God's divine ass?
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