Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'll believe the Republicans want to return to a Christian nation...

when candidates tackle what I consider to be one of the most egregious lapses in faith, morals, and religious observance in contemporary America. If they are serious about re-establishing Christian parameters for conduct in this nation, they should insist that there be no professional sports -- or any other business, for that matter -- conducted on Sundays. It is the Sabbath, after all. The whole network of athletes and coaches, announcers and camera crew, stadium employees, bar owners, bookies, and more are, in fact, working on the day when we are not to toil but to give thanks to God.

When I was a child in the 1980s, many businesses were still closed on Sundays -- and not just Mom and Pop stores, either. As a Catholic schoolboy, I took the third commandment quite seriously: even when I did not attend Church, I knew that I was supposed to and felt appropriately guilty about it. The situation in 2011 could not be more different -- not just for me but across the nation. The NFL is its own Sunday ritual, one that requires almost no physical or moral effort but that does include continual solicitations. Call commercials the television version of passing the collection plate. The NFL-goer's duty, then, is not tithing to enable the work of the Church. Instead the imagined male viewer now has a moral duty to buy basic cable and the NFL channel--not to mention team paraphernalia and sponsors' products. What's most disturbing is that the collection plate is no mere analogy: Christianity has actually been hired to add its moral force to market culture.