I don’t think of myself as the typical over 50 year-old pastor. I’m pretty aware of what’s going on around me. I have interests beyond the narrow confines of the church. I don’t think of myself as a moralist … although I do hold as a high value basic respect for others. Last night has me re-thinking my perception of myself and the world I inhabit. I attended the Sunday night Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers football game.
I enjoy football. My spouse loves the Steelers. We were able to obtain tickets from a friend of hers and decided to make it an evening together. Watching a game with 71,000 fans in an NFL stadium is a dream come true. It is part of the reason I love living in this area. We’ve been to a couple of pre-season NFL games, but that didn’t prepare us for last night.
It started fine. We met some of the people seated near us. There was a good-natured give and take one might expect. We were a little bothered by the two sisters who had flown up from New Orleans for this game. They spent over $500 for tickets for this game, not counting airline tickets, hotel, food, etc. That $500 went for tickets to a football game top section, end-zone corner. Not exactly our priorities! Even having attended high school with one of the players on the Ravens team didn’t seem to justify that kind of expense. But, hey, everyone has different priorities.
By half-time, the alcohol kicked in. The man seated next to me had season tickets and an arrangement with the beer vendor. By the time half-time and the “last call” was announced, he had nearly a dozen beers on ice under his feet for he and a few of his friends. His volume increased. The language deteriorated. And it wasn’t just him. I’m generally accustomed to hearing profanity. I’m not accustomed to hearing it multiple times per sentence … in every sentence. Once, in the men’s room, someone shouted out, “Hey guys, there are children here. Watch your mouth!” Too late. The children present learned that this is how “men” talk.
As the game went on, and the “neighbor” got drunker, the game was more and more uncomfortable. Too bad, it was a good game. We stayed through overtime. The Steelers were defeated, and I had to run interference for my spouse who was all decked out in black and gold. I created as much a buffer as I could, but it wasn’t enough to avoid hearing things like, “Victory! Time to rape some women!” shouted on the ramp out of the stadium. On the streets, walking to the car, the sexually-charged … no … sexually explicit language about what one woman was going to do to her friend before the night was over couldn’t be avoided. Our way home was unusually quiet.
So, now I’m appreciating the “churchy world” I live in. At the same time … is there any doubt that this world needs the kind of care for one another advocated by the church and sorely lacking in some of the lives of the people I encountered?