Sports Politics Religion

So I’ve been reading a book suggested by my buddy Wayne Hurlbert,  The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau.   It’s an old title,  published back in 1981  (the year before I graduated from high school).   Thinking about it,  I suppose most of Garreau’s theories about the nine competing schools of influence on the North American continent continue to have some relevance,  the fact that they are largely argued for and portrayed in terms of the current events of the late 1970’s to early 1980’s gives this volume a very time warp kind of quality.  It is not available for sale,  but click on the map image for a library copy.   Many years ago I read Garreau’s later book  Edge City about the dynamic communities that were springing up at major freeway intersections surrounding many American  and European cities in the 1990’s.

I find Garreau’s blend of geography and sociology quite interesting.    I honestly find most all sports quite dull.   I never had even a moments interest in football and found that I lacked both skill and interest for most every other sport out there,  although I did enjoy league bowling on a couple of different occasions in my life.   What I liked about bowling is that each player got a handicap so you were mostly most of the time competing with your own past performance rather than with the other players. Religion,  by contrast, is a subject much nearer to me.    I was mostly raised in the United Methodist Church  (my mother’s faith).    I went to a Catholic high school however,  run by the Jesuits– an order noted for their scholarship and intellectual rigor.   Academically,  it was a great place to be.  Socially, not so much so.   Over the years of my life I’ve drifted away from organized religion,   although as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that I do in fact have a deeply abiding faith in God.  I believe that God is love.

I tend to care a bit too much about politics.   To take it all a bit too seriously.   If I let myself I can get hard boiling mad just reading about some bit of political shenanigans taking place somewhere or another.  (At any given moment one of the few things one can count  on is that some politician somewhere is behaving Very badly right now.)   Getting angry,   I long ago realized,   mostly hurts the person who gets angry.   (Of course to the extent that being angry encourages one to do the real work of changing the situation that offended you,   it can be a genuinely useful force.   But most of us just rage and sputter and do no good at all for anyone.)   I continue to try hard not to say much of anything about my politics on this blog,  and ask that you try to do the same.    And if every now and then I or you just can’t help it,   I ask everyone else to please just bear with us.    And finally today my thanks to Tim Berkesch who suggested today’s words.


37 comments on “Sports Politics Religion

  1. Alan, I am glad you enjoyed the seminal book “The Nine Nations” by Joel Garreau. His concepts have proven prophetic in so many ways. Simply superimpose a chart of electoral politics over his map and it syncs up quite well. Today,. As for politics, I used to be Chamber of Commerce lobbyist and a Poli Sci Major and grad student, I understand the passions of many people in those areas. Being more of a pragmatist, and concerned about getting things done, I avoided the angry and passionate arguments, As with you, I see rage and anger as futile and prefer a calmer approach where common ground and real solutions are found.

    • More than most anything else, at this point in my life I don’t want to BE angry anymore. I am all for trying to change anything that doesn’t work, but I know in my heart, that for me, anger just hurts me.

    • I believe that without some knowledge and understanding of history it is more or less impossible to understand the present, let alone shape the future.

      • Nothing could be closer to the truth. The past although often a forgotten country is what shapes the present as will the present shape the future. So without this knowledge of what the present is a result of the future will very much be a continuation of the ills of the past. To say that what has happened in the past is not only stupid it is naive

  2. LOL, when I was growing up, back in the days when the air was clean, and sex was dirty, 3 things were taboo to discuss with girls, and you mention 2 of them 🙂

  3. I don’t believe religion however one spin it. On the other hand, everyone could learn sports. In fact, in the past twenty years, I learned most major sports in US, such as Football and Baseball. [I came from Asia where none of those sports were played when I was young.] It’s fun to watch and follow if you could find a team to follow.

  4. sport as the first word in the title … and all we get is a mere mention of bowling? I suppose one can work up a little perspiration if they keep running back to the bar for more beers … so for clarity, which nation considers bowling a sport???

    • After I read the book (Edge City) I picked myself up, and moved to where I could get a great job in an Edge City. Totally worth what I paid for the book 🙂

  5. Politics & Religion, for me the two “topics” bringing the most aggressive debates and non-friendly exchange of opinions for some reason… so I won’t go there lol I used to love watching many sports until… tv channels started to focus solely on their local competitors performance. Sometimes we don’t even really know who finishes first or who completes the podium (any sport) since the media will only speak about the locals/nationals results and/or focus on how many medals the country has accumulated… So we end up with a chart of medals comparing countries… Sports results manipulated for political propaganda…

    • I do try hard to keep all three of those topics out of this blog, though I know that sometimes I wander into political if not religious discussion. Like you, I’ve found that talking about political things with people who disagree us does tend to get into the loud and shrill and that really isn’t communication, really. I would much rather talk with people about things we may agree or disagree about, but which don’t tend to incite anger nor make too many people too uncomfortable too often 🙂

  6. I wonder if part of the reason these are so touchy is that they’re areas where so many people are secretly (or in some cases no so secretly) insecure.

    • I don’t know about that, Vince. I don’t think most people who get into arguing vociferously about religion or politics are insecure in their beliefs. Though they may be insecure emotionally.

  7. Good job incorporating 3 words with such diverse meanings (and ability to arouse emotion) in the same post.

    I was a hopeless athlete at school but found a love for running in my late 30’s and pushed myself to run ultra marathons. The lessons I learned about myself made that one of my most important life experiences.

    Your aversion to discussing politics on this blog is noted and respected, but vperriello’s comment above begs the question as to where lie the boundaries between genuine concern for what is happening in our societies and pure politics? I suspect that answer is different for each of us.

    I have a healthy distrust of organised religion and am not too enamoured with the other kinds either. Over the ages, too many examples of inhumanity, cruelty and suffering inflicted in the name of religion.

    How about some words close to my heart for a future post?

    Eccentric, independent, contrary.

    • Thank you so much, Peter. I’ve added your words to my list. FWIW, I believe that politics is ultimately what we collectively make it. While it is useful to declare this zone off limits from all things political, it is not actually a good idea to sit out the politics of wherever one is.

  8. I think it is sort of funny because I like all three: politics, sports & religion. Folks tell me not to discuss that at the bar, but where is the fun in that? For me they all fit together, I see sports as metaphors for politics and religion. We are all different; so thinkgs stay interesting.

  9. Too often I find people complaining about the polarizing effect of politics, and how they disdain such debate. I do not think that is what you are saying here, but I would make note of one thing you said about taking it too seriously. I think of politics like sports. Though the outcome is much more serious than the outcome of a sports contest, sometimes life and death serious. It’s understandable that you would become emotionally evolved, and it’s also understandable that you should want to compartmentalize it away from your blog because of how draining the exchanges can be. Still, it matters, and there are some moments which make all the rage and sputtering worth while. While I do agree with Wayne, that it pays to be pragmatic and to approach a topic seeking common ground, I also believe that one can not quietly sit by while others spread lies and hate. More often than not there is nothing you can do to change the mind of the person you are confronting, but often you can show them for what they are and give the spectators something to think about.

    • You’re right of course, Eric, that you can’t just sit around while folks spread lies and hate (and yet it seems to me as though these days so many people spread SO much of it) it can be very hard not to let replying with truth become an all consuming more than full time job. I genuinely appreciate each and every person who speaks up for truth and kindness and don’t in any way intend to denigrate their important efforts.

  10. Normally the three forbidden subjects for conversation at a ‘polite’ dinner part are politics, religion and sex. The substitution of sport for sex is understandable – people have probably got over sex as a topic for debate. The only problem is that, to some of us, these are the three most fascinating subjects in the world…

  11. I love reading old books, have found several at the university library and am enjoying different perspectives on things.

  12. Pingback: Football Pita Underwear | Libdrone's Thoughts and Musings

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