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Posts Tagged ‘Superbowl

Secular Worship Services, Part Two: The Superbowl

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Seattle Seahawks Russell Willson lifts Superbowl Trophy with Confetti

Sorry to all the Denver Broncos fans out there – that was pretty rough.  The Seahawks out executed in every phase of the game.  Hats off to a humble, classy, and non-flashy Russell Wilson for his quiet leadership and on-field play.

There are two very distinct kinds of liturgies at work in the Superbowl:  The Superbowl the Game (and half-time show), and The Superbowl the Commercials.  The game and the commercials overlap at points and in many ways are inextricably linked but also diverge at points as well.  This post will cover the topic of the Superbowl the game and the next post will analyze the Superbowl the commercials.  After analyzing a number of various forms of secular worship we will then discuss what these secular liturgies mean on a cultural level, a religious level, and an individual level. 

The Superbowl the Game

In many ways sports provides for men (and women also) a pressure relief valve on their bottled up, suppressed, repressed, or unexpressed emotions.  Sports can function as a kind of surrogate intimacy to other failed or stunted intimacies – this is why some men who are entirely dispassionate in other spheres (marriage, vocation, parenthood…) all of a sudden come alive in the arena or in front of the flatscreen.

Liturgies follow formats and rhythms of expected time, space, color, and aesthetics.  In many ways, most sports liturgies follow the same liturgy:

The Pregame (Welcome, Greeting, and Sacrament)

The pregame is filled several elements that invite the sports worshiper into the liturgy to follow.  Elements of the pregame involve storylines of the forthcoming game, analysis of the players and teams involved, and perhaps also preliminary indulgence into the sacramental table of the expected food and drink (tailgating, BBQ… etc.).

The Grove at Ole Miss

The Grove at Ole Miss

There are obvious corollaries between the tailgate and the Lord’s Supper (or eucharist); both are inviting the worshiper deeper into the liturgy (game and camaraderie)  to follow as well as serve to unite the participants into community with one another.

National Anthem (Call to Worship)

This is a moment of civil religiosity where we find unity in our commonality as residents (or citizens) of the United States of America.  This can also function as a kind of call to worship for the events that are about to happen on field.  It provides a very least common denominator unity to all in attendance regardless of their team allegiance.

The Game Itself (Worship in Song, Creed Recitation, Iconography, Benediction)

The game itself is participatory in many ways.  Most teams have some sort of team song(s) – this is common also among other sports – particularly college football, soccer, and rugby.  The songs serve to unite, provide camaraderie, and a sense of belonging.  Most teams also have at least one, often more than one creed, chant, or rally cry.  It could be as simple as an idea – Seattle Seahawk’s (aka. TAMU) Twelfth Man or longer form chants or cheers like University of Florida’s We are the Boys from Old FloridaAlabama’s Rammer Jammer Cheer, or Ole Miss’ Hotty Toddy.  Many of these serve to make great the dynasty of one’s own tribe to the detriment of the rivals.  There is also highly developed iconography associated with sport.  The icons serve far more than to merely brand but serve to identify allegiance to the particular tribe.  Most teams will also have some form of a victory cheer or chant as well.  These chants function in many ways similar to a benediction to a worship service (provided your team wins).

Peyton Manning - Sad Face - Superbowl - Denver Broncos

Sports can provide great elation and crushing agony (just ask Peyton Manning).  These ranges of emotions are natural because we worship with the heart – hence, success is met with great joy and defeat brings frustration, anger, and a whole host of other emotions.  We cheer when our team scores a touchdown or wins the big game and we get ticked and want a new coach when our team goes 4-8 (#Muschamp).

Sports as Evangelism (Mission)

Sports fans want other people to be a part of their tribe.  Sports is inherently evangelistic.  It is by nature evangelistic because it is human nature to want other people to enjoy the things that we enjoy.  Hence, there is a significant missional component that is hard wired into sports, particularly the Superbowl in America.

This post is the second in a series of post on Secular Worship Services, the first analyzed The Grammys.  Up next, we will take a look at The Superbowl with respect to the commercials.  

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Written by Michael Graham

February 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Hilarious New Tim Tebow T-Mobile Superbowl Commercials

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Tim Tebow T-Mobile No Contract Superbowl Commercial

These gems were too good not to post…  You’re welcome:


Written by Michael Graham

January 31, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Culture, Humor, Video

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Best Links of the Week

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The Danger of an Unconverted Seminary

Which is your favorite?  Did I miss anything extraordinary?

1.  “The Danger of an Uncoverted Seminary” – a very worthwhile read, from a mainline perspective, on thedechristianization of the West and how seminaries ought to be adjusting to this shift.  We’ve never been more like the 1st/2nd centuries – pluralism, syncretism, and a world where the velocity of ideas was ever quicker due to new trade routes.

2.  Very disturbing Gallop Poll showing that 53% of democrat leaning voters think positively about “socialism.”  This is insanity.  People need to read history.  Also included in the poll were voters impressions of:  small business, free enterprise, entrepreneurs, capitalism, big business, and federal government.  Also, 63% of all polled (both democrat and republican) thought Barack Obama was a “socialist.”

3.  Google has been doing lots of stuff this week: “Is Google Planning to Add Storeviews to Google Maps?“;  “Google Creates Experimental Fiber Network…(capable of 1Gb/s)“; they also are launched an offensive on Facebook over their Gmail client – “Google wants to be Facebook and Facebook wants to be Gmail“.

4.  Ligonier has a huge compilation of links on the New Perspectives on Paul, from Turretin to present.

5.  Proposed Obama 2011 budget cuts could drastically reduce charitable giving from taking away line item deductions for those in 28% and higher tax brackets.

6.  A fascinating piece on First Things entitled, “Vampires and the Anthropic Principle.”

7.  First Things has an interesting info-graphic and analysis of the 210,000,000 Facebook profiles and friend networks:  “The Localism of Facebook Nation

8.  “The Government Has Your Babies’ DNA

9.  Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post writes on the fallout of the Amazon v. MacMillan.

10.  Only 4 men have been to all 44 Superbowls, here is their story.

11.  “Physicist Discovers How to Teleport Energy“:  infinite possibilities here.

12.  A very scary article from GQ about cell phone radiation and brain cancer.  The writer talked to several investment bankers in their late 30s/early 40s who have been using cell phones since the brick days… and have brain tumors.  This is not a tin foil hat, conspiracy theory article, it is cogently written.

13. Awkwardfamilyphotos.com – self-explanatory, hilarious, and definitely awkward.

14.  “The Beauty of Waves“:  series of photos from LIFE Magazine of beautiful waves.  Photography done by Clark Little.

15. Several people in the Philippines have been murdered by singing the triumphalist Frank Sinatra song, “My Way,” read the NY Times article.

16.  12 really random things you can buy on the internet (I fancy both the tanks and the giant floating hamster balls).

17. NY Times article on the ‘Shortage of Men on College Campuses.’

18.  Foxnews on proposed new government administration to study climate change.  File under:  big government and waste of money.

19.  NY Times Op-Ed chilling story on “The World Capital of Killing.”

20.  “Will the Baby Boomers Bankrupt Social Security” – CNBC article

21.  Ed Stetzer on potential upcoming shifts in pastoral ministry.

22.  Low intelligence second most important indicator (behind smoking) as predictor of heart disease.

Tim Tebow Superbowl Ad Redux

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Tim Tebow Superbowl Redux

Here is an excellent article from a pro-choice journalist providing some fresh air to the whole Superbowl commercial debate.  The article argues persuasively that Tim Tebow is good for women and not the other way around.

On a sidenote, I have never understood why liberals are big government on everything except abortion.  For whatever reason, they appeal to small government and personal liberty when it comes to this issue.  I suppose logical consistency can be sacrificed for rationalizing sin.

Tim Tebow in Superbowl Commercial

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Tim Tebow

I have been sitting on this story for a few weeks now as it was mere rumor.  However, the Denver Post and Colorado Springs Independent now corroborate that Focus on the Family has purchased a 30 second ad in this years Superbowl.

Pam Tebow had amoebic dysentery during her pregnancy with Tim.  The doctors counseled her to abort Tim but Pam and Bob would not abort Tim.  The ad will promote the obvious, life is beautiful and we are thankful that these parents chose to not kill their son.

The story hits close to home.  My own mother had shingles during the first half of her pregnancy with my older brother.  The doctors said that there was next to no chance that he would be a normal baby and their unilateral counsel was to abort him.  My parents refused.  My brother was valedictorian of his high school class and will have acquired his PhD in Materials Science this year.  He was the best man at my wedding and is my best friend.  I cannot imagine my life without my brother.

Tim’s football skills nor my brother’s academic success justify the decisions of their parents.  These men were created in the image of God, knit together in their mothers womb, and by necessity are of intrinsic worth.  If Tim had not won two National Championships or my brother been smart, the decisions of their parents were still moral.

Abortion is a stain on this country.  I honestly believe we will feel the same shame and remorse for abortion that we be feel now for slavery.  True social justice is protecting the rights of the weakest members of society.

Post-script:

I did not want to make this post to be about Focus on the Family.  I have been critical of the Christian Right on this blog before, particularly their employing of reductionistic methods that fail to understand the complexities of American culture(s).  I am also not sure if spending millions of dollars on a Superbowl ad is a wise use of funds.  I hope that the ad is well done and compelling.

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