Century Marks

Century Marks

Spirituality of play

The physical benefits of sport have long been known. Some people argue that sports also help moral development. The spiritual benefits are less acknowledged. Sports psychologist Mark Nesti argues that sport ideally involves the mind, body and spirit. Sport as a spiritual activity is best realized when it is seen as a form of play, a way of losing one’s self in the process and not focusing on personal gain alone. Sport also involves sacrifice and suffering, which Nesti doesn’t see as contradicting the notion of sport as fun. “Play can be serious—indeed it should be serious or it’s not really play” (Third Way, July/August).

Tower of power

Cell phone companies are having difficulty finding places to build new towers, so they are looking to church buildings, which means that many churches may get a new source of income. The Catonsville Presbyterian Church in Maryland, for instance, has struck a deal with a cell phone company: the company is allowed to put three antennas in the steeple, in return for which the church is paid over $1,000 a month for each antenna (NPR, July 26).

Worship revolution

Poet Christian Wiman says that “mystical experience needs some form of dogma in order not to dissipate into moments of spiritual intensity that are merely personal.” On the other hand, “dogma needs regular infusions of unknowingness to keep from calcifying into the predictable, pontificating, and anti-intellectual services so common in mainstream American churches.” Practically, this means that “conservative churches that are infused with the bouncy brand of American optimism one finds in sales pitches are selling shit. It means that liberal churches that go months without mentioning the name of Jesus, much less the dying Christ, have no more spiritual purpose or significance than a local union hall. It means that we—those of us who call ourselves Christians—need a revolution in the way we worship” (Image, Spring).

Aints go marching in

For one night in August the St. Paul Saints, a Minnesota minor league baseball team, will become the “Mr. Paul Aints.” The game is being sponsored by the Minnesota Atheists. The letter S will be covered in all Saints signs and logos around the stadium. The Saints have hosted several events with religious themes, and the club thought it would be inconsistent to say no to the atheists (RNS).

Running for God

Ryan Hall is a Pentecostal Christian and a world-class marathon runner. At the Beijing Olym­pics he came in tenth, and he hopes to do better in London. His training routine is unorthodox: he doesn’t have a coach, he doesn’t do training at high altitude as many long-distance runners do and, due to his faith, he takes one day off in seven. Hall has taken criticism for his approach, but Tim Noakes, an exercise physiologist at the Univer­sity of Cape Town, says: “The more stable you are as a human, the better you are as an athlete, and religion is a very stabilizing force” (New York Times, July 14).