World Cup and Religion

Right now I am sitting in my parent’s basement in front of double computer screens and discovering that I liked football a whole lot more than I realized. I came down here after finding that no channel on my parent’s limited cable is showing any World Cup. I was hoping to watch it on ESPN, live feed, some kind of game cast. I mean, we can do that now, with technology and wires and signals and satellites: bring the World Cup from winter months in South Africa to blazing hot summer in Colorado. Of course, I forgot one minor detail: cost.

So, since I can’t seem to find a free version to watch the World Cup, I’m listening to it. Uruguay scored early in this match against South Korea and then it seems fairly back forth–though South Korea is a little on the less involved side. I’m listening to commentators tell me what is happening in this knock out game. Come on Uruguay! No, no! Not Choo Young! In the box….. oh, thank God! Over the net. Whew.

It’s a silent sort of reverie as I listen to a match that I cannot see. It’s infuriating, also, because I am so visual and it is not the same to listen to a World Cup match which comes but once every four years. Once again, frustrated by money and greed–that cable is so expensive because CEOs clearly don’t make enough money as it is without ripping off the little guy. (there’s no bitterness here)

At the same time, I was reading a manuscript from a friend. I just read a chapter on sacrilige, and the bizarre realization that knowing Jesus may make us more and more sacriligeous according to the typical church rules. And this is something that is dear to my heart. At work on Wednesday, I was talking with some other tellers, banks and a service manager about the World Cup. Uiche (oo-chay) is pulling for the US and Nigeria, and he gets ticked when someone texts him updates of the games: “God! Don’t they know I’m DVRing it? I’m going to watch the —ing match when I get home! They’re ruining it for me!” And then he proceeds to tell me about the time he played in a championship soccer game when someone knocked him to the ground and called him a n_gger. So he waited until that kid had the ball, then slide tackled him, heard his arm snap and then the collar bone too as the jerk went to the pitch and then Uiche stood over him and said with a menacing glare “who’s the n_gger now?” I could have hugged him, but instead I clapped my hands and laughed.

I know, I shouldn’t have laughed at that. Uiche was taking revenge in a childish (and dangerous) manner that would have earned him a penalty had he not been able to disguise the tackle as a defensive move for the ball. But it was such a good story! And you know what’s funny about all this? It happens to me all the time. I know more about some people’s sex lives at work than I care to know about my best friend (when she gets married). And I hear more about Chucky’s arguments with his girlfriend than I hear about the Steelers.* I know about Jessica’s monthly income, how she barely pays her bills and the minimum on her credit card. Or that another girl used to be a hard core drugg addict before waking up in Mexico one day and freaking out: “Where the hell am I?!” and looking at the person in bed next to her: “Who the hell are you?!” And at that moment, she thought it might be a good plan to turn her life around.

These are the people I hang out with. On Tuesday night I went out with a customer from work, and we sat at coffee for over two hours. He’s not a Christian, he doesn’t know anything about Jesus but that he’s usually depicted with a beard in a dress with a powder blue sash. He dropped the “f” word pretty casually throughout our time together and then talked about Picasso and Dali, and his incredible frustration when people treat each other with a lack of respect. Slayden and I had an argument about why it’s a big deal for me to date a non-Christian. And [South Korea Scores! NO!] Amanda recently told me I should try a Jaeger Bomb, (Red Bull with a shot of Jaeger, yuck. I hate Red Bull). Do you see this? These are my friends. They swear (a lot) and they are sleeping around and they tease me for my decided innocence, but they also talk to me. They want to know me. They want to be known. And some days, I’d rather be with them than my “Christian” friends.

I don’t fit into the church so much anymore. I was at a bridal shower on Thursday, and though I had loads of fun, I so don’t belong there. I was too comfortable with discussing many things that Christians think are taboo (things that shouldn’t be!!), and I was too outspoken (especially for a sweet Christian girl–no wonder she’s not dating anyone, can’t keep her mouth shut, she’ll run all over a husband), and I was too in love with knowing the world and telling them about Jesus. It’s this awkward tension. Christians are, after all, my family–my brothers and sisters and elders and betters. And I do belong with them.

But being sacriligeous–knowing the people of the world as I do–has created such love in my heart that I cannot imagine leaving them. And I cannot imagine that Jesus would call me to dismiss the love of the empty, wandering, confused and betrayed not-yet-Christian for the sake of my saintly perfect Christian friends who have closed in against the world and hunkered down as though this is the Cold War and a nuclear holocaust is imminent.

So I think, I’m going to call Slayden and see if he wants to go to the pub to watch the World Cup. Because internet radio just isn’t doing it for me.

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*this is only a significant comparison if you understand what it means to be a Steelers’ fan with most of your family roots in the great city of Pittsburgh.

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