Faith and Sports – by Eric Jensen

July rolls around and to be honest with the reader I have not written in months. Something about the combination of never leaving my house and not having sports to watch. No, this has been a period of reading. Reading the classics as part of a summer course on early English literature. The stories of Beowulf, the tales of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton most recently (more on that later). This punctuated with spells from Richard Hugo, A.E. Housman, and Edgar Arlington Robinson, the three core modernist poets I have dedicated myself to studying this summer. However all that reading has produced very little work. I find I have the brain of the new age, I am exhausted by reading, that is not to say I don’t enjoy it. When my eye grazes the last words on the page though I just want to turn my brain off.

That’s an issue these days. Especially because escapism no longer exists in America. The troubling news of the day has seeped into every day life constantly and there is no escape from it. No sports, all music has taken on deep political meaning to me and reading has become thinking oriented. No, indeed it seems escapism in America has died and that death translates to the church as well. You can’t look at the stories of the day and not wonder, what would Jesus do?

The Answer, cry. Which is unfortunate. Which brings us back to Milton and his seminal text of Paradise Lost. When Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge, god is deeply disappointed in them. Sin fights its way into the world and finds a strong hold on earth. Which according to Milton causes Adam and Eve great pain. Now I feel I can’t go any further without addressing the elephant in the room. Milton did not write the Bible. His theology is different from what the Bible preaches but it is interesting to me none the less.

I wonder what people in the late 16th century thought of Milton’s canonizing of the Bible. In plain speak: I wonder what they thought of his spin off. To take this book that was seen as the greatest book and to throw your own mythos and theology into something seen by so many as the direct word of God. I just can’t imagine Milton being to popular.

I admire his gumption though. There are so many parts of the Bible that are left to question. It seems like only the human thing to do would be to fill in the cracks. For example, the Bible never directly says the snake is the Devil, but most Christians believe that. Paradise lost shows Satan’s backstory. It makes him seem like a sympathetic figure to me even at some points. In PL he weeps when he sees the glory of earth and questions his poor evil ways. (Side note: as I have said before I am not sure my theology allows me to believe in the Devil. If God is all loving, which I believe he is, how could he cast one of his own out of heaven and not eventually forgive him?)

Sympathy for the Devil though? That certainly wouldn’t have gone over well in the late 16th century.

Let’s end with something uplifting though. Love. Milton makes the observation that despite Eves sin after the sin Adams love grows for her even more. He scoffs at the idea of being with any other aside from Eve even though she has destroyed paradise. Theologically it makes sense. Gods love for us is undying so why wouldn’t Adams?

So long from the Sports Desk.