Arthur Remillard sees the best of football’s warrior culture as a man training his body into subjection for the protection of the weak and the advancement of all righteous causes. And maybe it’s because I know so little about football, but I don’t see it. How does throwing a ball around a field protect the weak? How does sucking all the money from educational institutions advance righteous causes? How does making a touchdown make a man more righteous?
I’ve been interested in the idea of “taboos” for a long time—those intricate rules that overarch our society and ideas of the sacred. They can be tools to keep people from harming others or themselves. They can be used as social conditioning, arbitrarily enforcing certain behaviors as a means of control.
When I began in ministry, men took the time to advise and counsel me. There were few women, and the ones who were there were far away from the rural swamp where I served. They were in more urban areas, miles from the lectionary group where we sipped chicory coffee. It took me years to sort out that I needed to consider the source. I was dealing with different issues than the pastors surrounding me.
We live in the land of all-you-can eat buffets. We entertain ourselves, so we never have to feel loneliness. Our celebrity culture brands ordinary people, so that we can keep consuming one another, never allowing space for loathesome humanity. We keep ourselves productive so we don’t have to mourn. If we fill our lives full with stuff, food, distraction and entertainment, we'll never even have to think about the emptiness.
We know what stories do. The words bind us into a larger narrative. They give us an emotional and historical connection. They allow us to transfer important values. But they also allow us to build an intergenerational self.
Many of our institutional theologians wonder why they ought to be on Facebook. Many look at social media as a trivia game that they’d rather not play, while the basic architecture of human existence is being rearranged through our avatars.