God is always on the side of the big battalions.
A friend reminded me of this quote recently as we “tweeted” about the idea that God might actually “take sides” in a football game. Or for that matter, any of the myriad of contests, skirmishes, wars, etc. which we deem so important.
I’ve written on the relationship between college football and religion many times before, most recently here. The key to understanding that last post is that it was intended as pure, 100%, unadulterated parody, designed to poke fun at the very idea that God is a Crimson Tide fan or that God and football mix together in any sort of significant way. If I, uh, I mean “we,” actually took that one seriously, Mike the Redneck would have one helluva personal faith crisis on his itty-bitty hands, poor lil’ feller.
But, as Flannery O’Connor once reminded us, this is the “Christ-Haunted South,” dadgummit, and nothin’, includin’ logic, has ever stopped us from manglin’ such distinctions. Why, we can mix God and mashed potatoes if we take a mind to it, and miscegenate till the cows come home. Back to the barn, so to speak. Which they always do…eventually.
This week has seen one NFL player follow through with the logical progression of the notion that “Jesus is both my BFF and my QB” and blame God for his game-losing dropped pass.
Closer to home, Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik, when asked to comment on his team’s stunning come-from-behind victory over the Crimson Tide in last week’s Iron Bowl, referred not to Xs and Os, but to YAWEH. “God is good,” he said, and that his team “has so much faith.” After his post-game sermonette, I turned to Eyegal and said, “Only in the South.”
Earlier this season after another close victory, Chizik, on his team’s success, called it “a God thing.”
Nothing wrong with that, per se. I’d like to think that “God is with me” each day in the eye exam lane, “blessing the work of my hands.” However, my success there, I think, owes as much to my years of preparation and my ongoing efforts to maintain competency as it does to any sort of supernatural superintendence.
I really don’t know what Coach Chizik means by his “God Talk.” Evangelicals in the South, often at the prodding of their pastors, feel compelled to play the “God Card” in such euphoric moments. Most of the time I just let it roll off of me, like water off an Oregon Duck’s back, and move on.
But this time it got me to thinkin’ and mullin’ over whether or not God really is an Auburn Tiger after all. I mean, really, it’s going on a week and I’m still at a loss to explain that particular outcome.
If He is, then maybe this “pay for play” palooza really is “the devil be messin’,” as Cam Newton said, and not simply two secular institutions (the NCAA and FBI) investigating into whether or not current rules and laws were bent or broken during his recruitment.
But if, and I do mean if, those investigators eventually discover a money trail between Auburn and the Newton family (as apparently there was about to be between them and Mississippi State) will that be “a God thing” too? Hmmm?
I guess what I’m urging here is a little bit considerably more caution about what we attribute to God. I tend to think He’s a bit busy over larger injustices to worry about dropped passes and Iron Bowls, won or lost. Call me a Deist (and some of you will), but maybe we should return to the days when God was a bit more distant, and inscrutable, and not merely the 350 lb Big Ugly lined up next to me wearing the same uniform.
That said, congrats to the Auburn Nation for a spectacular year thus far and good luck the rest of the way.
But if God is an Auburn Tiger–I quit.
UPDATE: Despite Cecil Newton’s shopping his son to the highest bidder, Cam is still eligible to play–for now.
God, er, I mean the NCAA, has spoken.