Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thoughts Barely Related

Last night, I worked my second of four games in a Progressive Field concession stand. For those who missed it, my church is doing this as a fundraiser - 12 games, base rate for everyone who works + percentage off what we sell. The Tigers are in town this week, and I originally wasn't going to work this one because I wanted to attend as a fan...and then I realized what a copout that probably was, and I ended up working.

Our booth was right behind home plate last night. I'd leave the booth to restock peanuts out front just in time to see Pudge throw the ball back to Rogers, maybe 200 feet from me. Before the game, I watched Magglio and a few others take batting practice. The Tigers lost 5-0...Rogers wasn't his best by any means last night. If the game had even been the slightest bit competitive, I'd have regretted working instead of watching.

I made a lot of popcorn last night. I made A LOT OF POPCORN. And I got pretty sick of the smell of hot dogs. That didn't happen to me last time.

I'm actually reading a book. Yeah, it's been a while. If you want an unbiased, agenda-less take on whether America was intended to be a "Christian nation" and an analysis of the religious devotion of our various Founding Fathers, check out Founding Faith by Steven Waldman. He counters both sides: "they were all hardcore devoted evangelicals" vs. "they were all Deists." It wasn't that simple.

So far, I've learned that some of the early colonies were originally governed under some semblance of "Christian law," and that they could be as oppressive and backwards as some modern religion-based governments.

I've also learned that Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson in particular didn't mind religion so long as it actually taught virtue and influenced people to do good works. They rejected aspects of religion that inspired people to sit around talking about how right they are. Jefferson was the most critical of Christianity's "superstitious" elements, but anyone familiar with the "Jefferson Bible" probably knew that.

I've also learned that there was a lot of anti-Anglican and anti-Catholic sentiment back then, mostly because they associated those particular denominations with England's government. Washington in particular tried to curb this sentiment, mostly to unify his Continental army.

This is a great book. I highly recommend it. It shows that the early American religious landscape was much more complicated than either typical "side" argues, and that making the case that six or seven guys were or weren't devoted Christians over 200 years ago still doesn't say much of anything about how Christian our nation was, is, or should be. I think that the early history of states like Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia should be enough to convince people that maybe "Christian government" (and even then, particular denominations of Christians) isn't really the best idea, or even all that Christian.

But a lot of people won't be convinced. And that makes me saddest of all.