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Monday, March 19, 2007

Basketball and Baptist Altar Calls

Basketball season officially ended on Saturday with Awards Night.

I may have not mentioned that kids play in a league sponsored by a local Baptist Church. The church was situated next to an old public middle school that they purchased from the county nearly 10 years ago. Since then, they have used the space to sponsor many different ministries, including a pretty big sports program. The cost is low (when compared to the others in the area we live in) and since all the games and practices are in the same facility every week, very easy on us as a family. We can also be assured of a positive, Christian environment.

They close each season with an awards night which includes some good old-fashioned proselytizing. After all, the program is called Sports Ministry and their team shirts all feature crosses superimposed on basketballs. Not offensive, but VERY protestant.

The evening started with their contemporary worship band leading off with some music. And when I say contemporary I am not kidding. I enjoy contemporary praise and worship music and having been involved in the Catholic charismatic movement, I am not uncomfortable around exuberant and loud praise of Our Lord. But this music was a bit much for me. My husband turned to me at one point and asked "Are we supposed to mosh now?" And if you don't know what moshing is, well I hate to tell you, you're a little bit older than me.
Lilly said, "The music was too loud, I think Catholics are a little more quiet."Let's just say it made chanting the Sanctus on Sunday seem like a wonderfully sublime and sacred moment. I appreciated our Holy Father and his recent Apostolic Exhortation all the more.

After a longer discussion with Lilly it seems what really bothered her most is the thought that the church would feel the need to provide some sort of "cool" experience to get people in the door or keep kids interested. "Don't they know about the Eucharist? We don't need rock music in our Church because the bread and wine become the BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST! How could they not believe that?!" There were skits and personal witnesses. Lilly was just as bothered by these as well. "What was the point? Why did he have to talk to the kids about their personal problems? What does that have to do with putting Jesus first?" I think she was bothered by the appeal to her emotions. It seems that she gets that the worship due to God and what we bring to Mass has nothing to do with how we "feel" about it, or if we like the priest, or if the music is "cool". She doesn't know what to make of a service, that lacking the True Presence, is now dependent on rock music and the interesting life stories of "some guy that used to play basketball in college". When presented with a faith (without the Eucharist! shocking!) based on Jesus making you feel better about the hard things in your life, she was insulted. "Why didn't he (college basketball guy) tell them that Jesus died for their sins?" And she kept saying, "It was too loud!"

What to make of my daughter's reaction? Well, I admit to being surprised. Of course, she's been brought up in her faith and knows it well. But I didn't realize how very much "catholicness" had been ingrained in her. This post has been difficult to write as I don't feel I'm expressing Lilly's or my thoughts very well. I would love your comments and maybe I can sort it all out a little better.


mary_machado@comcast.net said...

I think you explained her thoughts very well - what a mature and thoughtful child who knows her faith.

juli said...

wow, i'm really impressed and so proud of my goddaughter. makes me feel like i need to do some more soul searching as i do tend to let "extraneous" factors affect where and how i worship. the first parish we went to here in atlanta i did not like AT ALL. it didn't feel catholic at all (there tends to be a strong baptist influence here sometimes). consequently, there was a period of time where we didn't go to church regularly until we found our current parish. and even at our current parish, there are things that REALLY bug me (like the choir bowing at the wrong time during the consecration) that i just have to force myself to ignore every week because it shouldn't matter to me. i wish i had lilly's innocence and strength of faith. funny how children can be the best teachers sometimes. and as a side note, i really would have loved to see sam's face during the altar calls.

Anne McD said...

That was beautiful! It sounds like you are doing a fine job of sharing the Faith with your daughter! She has it right on the money, when so many kids don't want to go to Mass, or refuse to participate in it because they "don't get anthing out of it." And that's because they haven't been taught what is going on for them-- I do hope my children have the insight as your daughter does as they grow!