I was thinking about Cosby's question to me about what I thought about the difference between 3rd world and Western christianity. (Cos, I have been thinking about it a lot.) It got me started thinking about baseball.
I use to love baseball. I was 8 years old and I started watching baseball with my father who was a SF Giants fan. They were playing the Dodgers, who just moved to Los Angeles. Sandy Koufax was pitching and I was hooked on LA. Very low key game but there something about baseball that I loved. It seemed an everyman sport. Black and white television didn't show the beauty of the Candlestick park nor the uniforms. But a few years later, watching my first game in Candlestick was incredible. LA vs SF, a double header. Koufax vs Juan Marichal and Don Drysdale vs Billy O'Dell. I saw Maury Wills, Johnny Roseboro, Frank Howard, Willie and Tommy Davis, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepada, the Alous, Jose Pagan, and I was in awe. Maury Wills stole 3 bases. I walked down to the Dodger dugout and got Maury's autograph before I got run out of there by the guy who was selling CrackerJacks. I wanted to be, Maury Wills, a base stealer. I studied him and memorized his stats. (Later, I met a woman who was married to Maury's son.)
I bought baseball cards which came with a free piece of chewing gum. I studied them, I looked at the pictures every weekend and evening. Even in the off season, I thought about baseball. I played in the street with a bat that I had and a ball that my neighbor had. We all had gloves. We made up games like Indian Baseball, three flys up, and others. It was very organic.
I played little league a couple of years later. We played at the K-8th school down the street. The teams had matching t-shirts with the sponsor's name on the front. Ours was the little grocery store down the road. A few years later we got full uniforms and they built a stadium, it even had a concession stand, where they sold hot dogs, seeds, soda pop, snow cones, Wrigley's gum, and not much more. They put in lights so we could play at night. It was pretty cool. I was selected to play in the All-Star team my last two years. It started turning into a big deal. It was then that I saw that the game was beginning to change. It started to become more about the stadium than the game and a pocket full of sunflower seeds.
I saw Roger Maris hit his 61st home run on television! But I wasn't impressed with Mark McGuire or Barry Bonds beating the record, so pumped up on steroids, they looked like the scientifically altered guys that Rocky Balboa fought against from Russia or Nazi Germany. Big deal!
There is an intrinsic power and authority in baseball when it is left to the purity of the game. There is a naked truth when it is played in vacant lots or in the streets with the kids from the neighborhood. It is easy to replace the game with the buildings, statistics, professionalism. When the game becomes an event it loses the power.
I think 3rd world christianity is still about Christ and not about church buildings. I was at a service once when the electricity went out. It was a morning and sun was shining but we didn't know what to sing because the projector didn't work, the band was out of business, and the microphone didn't work. Finally someone sat at the old piano and started playing, They will know we are Christians by our love.
I got an email a while back from someone who asked why I don't like the church (I have gotten a few) and I replied that it isn't the church I am against, it is people who are more interested in that which powers the building than that which powers our soul...