Monday, October 17, 2011

4 For 4

MSRP is my shorthand for Music, Sports, Religion, and Politics, 4 topics that are of great interest to me, and 4 topics I enjoy sharing with others through my writing. The problem with such seemingly disparate categories is that I can usually only address one area per blog post, and on some level, that cheats you, the Loyal Reader.  On a particularly inspirational day, I can combine two areas into one post. There are many days when religion and politics mix, sports and music, politics and music. Rarely can a blog post allude to 3 of the 4 elements.  It therefore seemed impossible that I could find one discussion topic that combines all 4 elements of my MSRP blog, but today, the stars have aligned. 
The singing of God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch at Major League Baseball games combines music, sports, religion and politics.  I can exhale.

God Bless America became a staple at ballpark during the 7th inning stretch after 9/11, but the song’s connection to sports predates those uber-patriotic days.  As any Philadelphia Flyers fan could tell you, Kate Smith’s rendition of the anthem before Flyers’ games in the 1970s meant a guaranteed win for the Broad Street Bullies.  God was blessing America, and by extension, Dave Schultz, Bobbie Clarke and Bernie Parent as they beat up their opponents in the Spectrum night after night.  God loves a good hockey fight, and can you blame him?

As a song, its link to the topic of music is clear.  It is our most singable anthem (it competes with The Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful), and whenever someone mangles The Star Spangled Banner in public, the conversation invariably moves towards full-throated calls for a switch to God Bless America as the national anthem.  It is quintessentially American – simple, loud, and proud, just like us.  Remember, we’re a nation that thinks 9-9-9 is the perfect governing philosophy.  The easier the better, and God Bless America is easy to sing.  Even Roseanne Barr couldn’t ruin it. 

God Bless America has one other quintessentially American quality: it puts religion front and center.  Yahweh Bless America and Allah Bless America just don’t make the cut in these parts, for obvious reasons.  L. Ron Hubbard Bless America lacks a lyrical quality.    And now the song that combines music, sports and religion has to become political.  For that trick, God Bless the Values Voters Summit, held about 10 days ago, and in particular, Bryan Fischer. 
Bryan Fischer of the conservative American Family Association knows why there hasn't been a "Muslim attack" since Sept. 11, and he shared his knowledge with us, not on stone tablets, but during a speech:

"By God's blessing, we have not been hit by a Muslim attack since 9/11," Fischer said. "I suggest that in part, we have Major League Baseball to thank. You remember that the week after 9/11 Major League Baseball converted the seventh inning stretch from the singing of 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' to the singing of 'God Bless America.'"

"Now 'God Bless America' is not just a song, it is a prayer. When we sing that we are inviting God to bless America, to stand beside her and to guide her through the night with a light from above," Fischer said.

"So for one brief, shining moment every night, Major League Baseball has converted our stadiums into cathedrals in which tens of thousands of ordinary Americans lift their hearts and voices as one and ask God to watch over and protect the United States," Fischer said.

"Ladies and gentleman, I think that those prayers have been heard and they have been answered," Fischer said.

Music – song God Bless America
Sports – Baseball’s 7th inning stretch
Religion - God
Politics - Value Voters Summit

You can tell I’m pretty proud of myself working all 4 into this post.  Anyway, here is my take:

May I suggest that anyone who believes that they understand how and why God answers some prayers and not others is a charlatan? Pretending to understand His purpose through an analysis of worldly events is a fool’s game. Where does it end? Is the opposite true? If one of your parents dies of cancer, even though you prayed with sincerity and humility that he/she survives, what does that say about you and your virtue in the eyes of God? What does that say about God?

Did God want the Flyers to win more than the Montreal Canadians?

Fischer’s point is direct: If we pray to God more, or if more of us pray to God, our nation will not be attacked.  Osama bin Laden asked his followers to pray that America was attacked.  Were his prayers answered?  Maybe we didn’t pray with the right words.  Maybe our actions angered God to the point where our words of prayer could not save us.  There are more Muslims in the world than Christians.  Maybe the Christians just need to get louder, and hope that the Muslims don’t start singing a pro-Allah song during halftime of a futbol match.

Maybe we have no idea.  Maybe Fischer is preying upon the religious right for political gain. 

The Lord works in mysterious ways. Let’s leave it at that.


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