A few months ago my family and I were out at some pizza joint and there was a baseball game on the TV. Being San Francisco, the Giants were playing someone and up stepped catcher, Buster Posey. Now for those who now me, I am not simply a huge baseball and Oakland Athletics fan; I also dislike the San Francisco Giants something fierce. I know, I know, I live in San Francisco, how can I not support the hometown team? Sport allegiances as in musical tastes: sometimes you just like what you like.
As Posey stepped up to the plate, my eyes were glued to the screen and I found myself hoping he would rip away. And then without thinking I said to my middle daughter, "Hey honey, Buster Posey is up. He's on my fantasy baseball team, so I hope he gets a hit."
Without looking up from her plate, she responded, "Dad, please never again say that out loud in public."
Well played, young one, well played.
Now I do not want to overstate the fantasy sports metaphor as there are many problems with it, but as I have jumped into fantasy sports this year for the first time, I found myself watching the game differently. For those who have no idea what fantasy sports is, each year fantasy teams are formed from all of the players in the league. Fantasy teams are not just made up of players from the same real life teams, but are an amalgamation of the best players from all of the teams. What this means is that no longer can I solely root for my own favorite team, but I must also hope that players on other teams also do well. What fantasy sports forces you to do, if you want to succeed, is to acknowledge that there are some positives aspects about all of the teams. It might only be one batter or one pitcher, but still, you need them to do well no matter what team they play for -- yes, even if the team is the dastardly New York Yankees.
I wonder what would happen if we applied this same kind of lens to those things that we church folks so easily demonized every day. The ways we so easily and wholeheartedly dismiss certain types of churches, styles of worship and denominational traditions might my not be so easy to do if we could, not only acknowledge that there are parts of all of these things that meet someone's need and someone's spiritual growth, but also hope those aspects do well. "Success" in faith, which I believe is about being prophetic, pastoral, priestly and poetic in the world, will only be achieved if we engage in these things together. We will never agree on all aspects of the faith, between or within church families, but are there not a few aspects of faith that we can find pockets of common ground and mutual encouragement?
I think so.