Saturday, September 27, 2014

Thou Shalt Not Have Strange Gods Before Me

We've talked about America's creepy obsession with sports before. The non-stop trou-dropping over Derek Jeter's imminent retirement has called the issue to mind again.

First, let me deal with the inevitable accusations that I'm a hater. I actually like the Yankees. There aren't any major league teams around here, so I pretty much had my pick of teams to follow over the years.

Second, I don't have anything against Derek Jeter. Granted, there is this:

But that isn't really a problem with Jeter. It's the overall problem that I'm talking about in this post.

People tend to blow off the First Commandment. The typical thought process is "Hey, I'm not bowing down to a gold calf or anything, so I'm ok."

That's a pretty restricted view of what worship is, I think. If you look at this whole phenomenon surrounding Jeter's departure, it's about one half-step down (maybe) from burning incense in front of an image of Caesar. It's pretty shameful stuff.

Let's recall some words from The Master:

For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.
Matthew 6:21

When you watch the time, resources, expense, and energy that is being poured into the rituals of Jeter's farewell, take a moment to think about where those swept up in such euphoria have their treasure. It's not a golden calf. However, if we consider this adulation and reverence given to a baseball player and contrast it with what is offered to The Almighty, doesn't it seem a bit creepy? Consider the words of the Liturgy of St. James:

Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and with fear and trembling stand. Ponder nothing earthly-minded, Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and with fear and trembling stand. Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for the King of kings and Lord of lords advances to be slain and given as food to the faithful. Before him go the choirs of Angels, with every rule and authority, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, veiling their sight and crying out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

I'm sure Jeter could demand that kind of respect.

God? Probably not so much, and therein lies the tragedy of our time.


Atticus said...

Don't I know it. Derek Jeter was an extraordinarily durable athlete and a very productive player. But he was also a product to be sold and a willing participant in the sales. Nothing wrong with that, but there is a point when it becomes unseemly and calls to mind the issues you and Keith Olberman raised. (That clip of his Jeter rant was the first I have ever seen of him.) Hell, the Yankees are even selling his "game-worn" socks for $400.
I caused some controversy on NDN when I mocked the cult of personality but it was also something of an inside joke since my dear wife is a Yankee fan and I am not (in fact, I care little for any professional sport nowadays), so it was fun to tease her. I was genuinely surprised that anyone found that television commercial anything other than pure bunk to sell colored salty water. I'll bet that was Derek's first time on River Avenue or 161st Street in the Bronx.

The larger issues remains. Thanks for addressing them.

Throwback said...

I had missed the NDN thread until it was mentioned later.

On the narrower topic of Yankees lore, I don't even regard Jeter as the best Yankee of my lifetime, which is weird, and I'd think more Yankee fans would stop and ask themselves "Wait, is he really any better than _____?"