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From Going Big to Giving Up

From Going Big to Giving Up

Feb 1 2013
Preparing for Lent at, yes, your Super Bowl party.

What does the Super Bowl assume about the way the world should be?

That sometimes we should all stop to watch the same thing and allow ourselves to be absorbed and entertained by a singular event.

What does the Super Bowl make possible?

Winner and losers, wealth, athletic drama, parties, drunkenness, exposure, shared experience, profits for pimps and sex traffickers, special access for the rich.

What does the Super Bowl make impossible (or at least a lot more difficult)?

Getting people to attend competing events.

What new culture is created in response to the Super Bowl?

Camaraderie across cultural lines and other barriers, among those who root for the same team. Collaboration among businesspeople, marketers and other teams that prepare something tied to the event. Food and other celebratory traditions. A movement to educate on behalf sex trafficking victims brought to the host city.

Doubtless you could think of many other answers to these questions, but even these few answers highlight some of the winners and losers, the blessings and curses created by the larger cultural artifact the game entails.

Community comes through as a clear theme. Few people watch the game alone. We can certainly carry into Lent that blessed sweetness of connection with others. Though at times the Lenten season may try us (for those who fast and abstain), strong relationships with others can you help refocus and persist to Easter morning.

On the other hand, the Super Bowl tends to exert a kind of tyranny over our time and attention during the sacred game. Even for those of us who spent the morning worshiping God in a church service, it may be easy to all but forget him during the throes of the game. That's one reason I plan to pray during at least a few of the natural breaks in the game, as part of a prayer event I'm organizing called Pray for the Johns Day.

It's a chance for people to ask God to change the hearts and lives of customers, pimps, and others who participate in sexual exploitation, an evil that seems to gain strength from the Super Bowl.In this year's host city, New Orleans, Free NOLA offered a prayer guide leading up to the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.

But even if sex trafficking isn't a burden on your heart, why not take the time to pray for something else?

Another reason I plan to pray is because I don't like to think there's any sphere or experience I would enter from which God would be entirely shut out. The more I tie prayer into some other, pre-existing rhythm like walking, washing dishes, or my bike commute, the more consistently I pray.

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