Once again, I find myself fighting against a rising tide. Or, if not in actual combat, at least out of step with it all.
It seems that sports and religion as social forces in American life take wildly divergent paths these days. To no one’s real surprise, high level collegiate and professional sports are winning. In a nation where those identifying themselves, religiously, as “not really anything” has risen from 10% to 20% since 1990, those identifying themselves as “sports fans” is up from 30% to 60% over the last half century.
Just as I start to care less about spectator sports in general, the rest of the nation passes me, heading the opposite way. I am more religious, not less. I do not remember the last time I watched an entire football game, do not record them and could totally care less about college or professional basketball. I still feel something for the Rangers of Arlington, but I usually do not attend games and just as often fail to watch or listen to broadcasts.
I do go to church each week, being the preacher and all. I do read Scripture and various devotional helps each day. I do give to my church. I do not use any of the post-modern excuses for poor attendance, failing devotional life or “helping on other ways,” instead of financial giving.
And, this evening, a few minutes ago, I left the little church my grand-daughter attends, having taken her, stayed with her and now ferried her home. The “Youth Meeting” on Sunday night is small. This week the whole group were two Middle School Hispanic boys and my grand-daughter. The Youth Minister, who doubles as the Worship Leader, brought a short devotional study on knowing God. Then, he broke out the kid’s homework for school tomorrow. He was still helping the two boys with their homework when I had to take my grand-daughter home. She was finished with her homework, a prerequisite laid down by her parents, so that she could have an extra ten minutes at Youth Group.
This is what the Youth Minister (part time at the church, full-time employee during the week at a counseling clinic and a Ph.D. student half way to this dissertation, married, father of a son) does with the kids who attend on Wednesday and Sunday. They sing songs, have a Bible Study and then do their homework. I would like to say these young men get a big push on education at home, but it isn’t true. One of the boys had to be encouraged to take out his homework at all.
“I don’t want to do this one,” he said, sniffing at a geography assignment. “I don’t think she (his teacher) likes me.”
“You do your work,” the Youth Minister told him. “You do your work and the teachers will like you just fine.”
Then they sat out to label and color a map of modern Africa. The assignment is due tomorrow. They were more than half done when if left.
The Youth Minister is a Caucasian. He speaks little Spanish, which is okay with the Youth group members, because they don’t either. They meet in a run down trailer house behind the small church building. I find myself wondering if the kids know what the young man is doing for them, or if he understands, fully, that is, the gift he is giving them.
And, I think it is worth the doing, In fact, I think it is more worthwhile than who wins the Whatever Bowl this year.