Spirit Daily

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The talk of town:

Attempt To Make Super Bowl Into Pagan Holiday Countered By Christian Activism

We stopped to take a look at a bit of the Super Bowl hoopla this weekend (cruising by the hotel where the New England Patriots are staying near St. Augustine, and then the stadium at Jacksonville, as well as the area where the Eagles are) and it was enough to capture the atmosphere.

This is high time when it comes to a totally secular holiday, and that's what the game has become: a holiday unto itself.

One can fret over aspects of that --  the wash of money, the Hummer limos, the idolatry of every celebrity (Britney Spears, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Brad Pitts, all in little ole St. Augustine). One can fret over the hype. But one can also enjoy the game.

Go Patriots! Go Eagles!

Nothing wrong with a little fun.

But remember, it's just that: a game. The stadium is not an altar.

The zeal and "reverence" for sports has taken a turn that should cause concern. Example: one major "religious" website carried an article Saturday morning that started with:

"Youíve got the keg, the TV with a screen the size of a billboard, and enough nachos to fill a silo. On the deck, the grill is gassed up, and youíve got 35 friends and family coming over. Did you remember to hang the sun wheel made of grain on your front door and light candles in every room to herald the rebirth of the Sun? If not, then you arenít really ready to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday -- our national midwinter pagan festival."

Our pagan festival? The writer went on to note that around this time in February (actually February 2) -- while the rest of us go through the trauma of watching Groundhog Phil -- a number of pagans celebrate the feast of "Imbolc." Some in "wicca" or witchcraft  celebrate it as early as January 29, while others wait till Feb. 3 (too close for comfort to the date for the Super Bowl, by any measure).

"Imbolc is the ancient holiday wherein one forgot winterís doldrums and looked forward to spring and renewal," explains the article. "Irish druids considered Imbolc the festival of lactating sheep, because this was the time of year when the local livestock had just given birth and were producing the milk of life. The Super Bowl is perfectly suited to be our national Imbolc, a midwinter hurrah looking forward to Spring."

Huh?

Here we have a major religious website, co-owned by ABC, blatantly promoting the re-anointing of a new major "holy-day"!

Keep vigilant, dear friends; take heed Christians everywhere!

Of course, we really don't have to declare it a pagan holiday. In some ways the sensuality and materialism that pervade the extravaganza already elevate it to that dubious category. Don't get the wrong idea: We have nothing against sports (enjoy them ourselves), but we have to be careful of the obsessive interest that now comes with it.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese noted that more American Catholics watch the Game than attend Sunday Mass.

Is the stadium an altar -- or an entire shrine?

Thank God, this year portends to be a milder half-time, and as for Jacksonville, praise God, it has been surprising out-of-town reporters with its Christianity.

The Super Bowl is not usually considered a spiritual experience, noted ABC News. But Baptist minister David Garrett ó who heads the Jacksonville Baptist Association's Super Bowl Ministry ó has approached the game as a "chance at evangelization."

This is a city, noted The New York Times earlier this week (in worried tone), where "practically every other building seems to bear the name 'Baptist,' and the local newspaper, The Florida Times-Union, features a daily scripture passage on its editorial page." The bishop of the diocese is a conservative prelate who in the latest diocesan magazine urges Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Hat's off, Jacksonville! Christians have been volunteering at the Super Bowl for years, note the reports, and by attaching themselves to -- infiltrating -- secular events, "they hope to spread their message to people who don't usually go to church to hear it. This year's Christian participation appears to be bigger and more intense, in part, because Jacksonville is a very religious community."

God bless Jacksonville! God's peace to this area where the first Catholic Mass in the U.S. was celebrated.

"We're blessed in Jacksonville," David Burton, director for evangelism for the Florida Baptist Convention, told The Times. "Even our radio personalities and TV news anchors are very much strong and bold in their convictions, which slip out sometimes. We are very blessed here, whereas you go to some other cities in the nation where maybe the Super Bowl is being played, it seems like darkness, like the evidence of Satan is heavy there."

Garrett believes the game offers a prime opportunity for major evangelistic victory. His organization recruited a couple thousand volunteers to welcome visitors at the airport, sign up as staff at the "NFL Experience," and to do grunt work at the game venue. They infiltrated the Game and had 200,000 pieces of promotional material ready to distribute! You spot their billboard along a downtown highway promoting a march for Jesus.

"Just by us being here, maybe we can set a positive example and change what happened last year," Jennifer Eliot, one of the volunteers, told ABC.

"We love our city and we love our Savior," said Garrett, "and we can serve both at the same time."

Where are the rest of us?

02/06/05

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