So good! So good! So good! So good! 11-2

won! We're the American League champs! The pennant is ours! We're in the World Series! I can't believe we did it again! Look out, Rockies - here we come!

It's a great night in Boston - and the joy will flow into Monday like bubbly from a freshly cork-popped magnum of Veuve Clicquot.

Now, many of you know I'm not a big sports fan. It's not that I root for some other team - I don't. But I'm happy about the Sox win tonight mostly because I know how happy it makes so many other people. And who wouldn't want to be around those happy people? (Well, a lot of people from Cleveland might not want to be near them!)

Truth is, as a pastor I'm a little jealous of the Red Sox and the way their fans identify with the home town team. What am I jealous of? Take a look at the opening paragraph of this post:

We won! We're the American League champs! The pennant is ours! We're in the World Series! I can't believe we did it again! Look out, Rockies - here we come!

What am I jealous of? The pronouns! All first person plural: we.

Sox fans belong to the team. No, it needs the possessive: "Sox fans belong to their team." Did I say "team?" Actually, they think they're a nation!

It's not a matter of "us and them" with Boston fans, it's all "us." Even in a slump of a dozen games or a couple of decades - it's still 1st person plural. None of us here is on the Red Sox roster and no one here has a desk in the front office, but we're all on a first name basis with Theo and Manny: we're all on the same team - our team. Yup! I'm jealous of the spirit that Sox fans have and their taking on their team's identity.

I belong to something, too - it's called the Church. Most of you belong to the same organization and as a matter of fact, all our names are on its roster. But often, we don't have the same spirit Sox fans have. In so many ways, we lack that shared identity. That's where my Green Monster comes in: not the wall, but a jealous heart.

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not looking for us to break into Sweet Caroline in the middle of Mass and I'm not going to replace our music director and the Holy, Holy, Holy with the Dropkick Murphy's and Tessie. I'm not looking for the kind of crowd spirit that requires extra assignments for the police department. But I sure would love to hear us speak of the Church in the 1st person plural - not just of ourselves but of the folks in the "front office," too.

In baseball we don't always like the trades that are made or the lineup for a particular game. The manger's decisions can be enough to drive us right up that green wall. But come the end of a Game 7, we're back to the spirit of the 1st person plural that helps us see something bigger than the gripes we've argued over for weeks, months - or years.

All analogies limp and you might think this one can't make it to first base. But what limps more is my own spirit when I see how divided we can be in the Catholic Church and the impact that has on the spirit of the team we're called to be. Generations of families and fans have called the Red Sox their team through the best of times and the worst of times - and all this for a game. I know our "team" has had a lot of rough seasons. We've lost a lot - and what we lost was more important than ball games. We lost life, faith, confidence and trust. I know it will take a long time to recapture and rebuild the spirit and Catholic identity I remember from my younger days. The work is difficult but we have no choice except to take it up. Will I see that spirit and identity again in my lifetime? I don't know. I'm not sure. But I can hope, and I do, and I pray.

I'm not a big sports fan. I'm a wordsmith, jealous not of some team's pitching staff but of their pronouns. I'm not a big sports fan, but I think that maybe there's something to learn from those who are.


  1. First off, I know you take the sexual abuse crisis seriously and understand the harm it did to the church and to countless children. Which is why it greatly surprised me you would use such a poor analogy. You wrote, "We lost life, faith, confidence and trust. I know it will take a long time to recapture and rebuild the spirit and Catholic identity I remember from my younger days". ConcordPastor, I hope and pray we are never as blind to have the trust and confidence from your younger days. What would happen to the Red Sox if we found out members of the team were abusing children in the dugout with the managers knowledge?? The team would be destroyed and we wouldn't be referring to them as "us".

  2. I must first insert the disclaimer that I left the Roman Catholic Church for the Episcopal Church, so my grounds for speaking may be challengeable, but one of the reasons I left is the fact that the home office, not on Yawkey Way but in Vatican City, consistently denied that the "we" which included me -- lay people -- should identify ourselves as part of the team. What I heard over and over again (despite Vatican II's attempt to point out that the church is the people of God) was an understanding of the Roman Catholic Church being the clergy, with lay people properly doing as they (we) were told.

    When I was Roman Catholic, I was hopeful that we were moving towards being a church where Catholic identity was as adults standing empowered to recognize each other as competant moral agents and team-playing builders of the City of God. I lost that hope as people who spoke out and tried new ways to be church were silenced, banned, or thrown out of their spiritual homes. There are a few bright spots left. Your church in Concord is one of them, and what I've heard about Voice of the Faithful encourages me to hope, but I couldn't live any longer as a second class citizen.

    The problem's not with the fans, it's at the home office. New management, organizational restructuring -- I don't know enough about baseball to come up with an apt metaphor. Let the fans on the field?

    Always your friend,


  3. For there to be a strong "we", there's also usually a "they" taking a lot of razzing (not necessarily good-natured, either).

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  5. Anonymous: I hope that if you already know that I take the abuse crisis seriously and understand the harm it did, you also know that I would never pine or hope for the return of the blind trust and confidence of the church of my youth.

    But I do hope and pray for "the restoration of trust and confidence in the church" - something we have prayed for in our Sunday intercessions for three or four years now.

    The trust and confidence I pray for is grounded in the Spirit and shaped by God's Word. It's an eyes-wide-open trust and confidence that seeks the truth, speaks the truth and lives the truth.

    I would reject the return of the blind trust and confidence of yesteryear but I am convinced that without the restoration of healthy trust and confidence, the mission of the gospel and the church cannot be advanced.

    In tolerating the abuse of the innocent and the theft of their innocence, the church has been seriously wounded itself. Some may think the church cannot recover from this - I believe it can and that it will. Some may think that trust and confidence are beyond restoring - I believe they can and will be recovered.

    The restoration of broken trust is painfully difficult for the individual whose trust has been violated. It is at least as difficult for an institution whose trust has been trashed.

    We will be praying for the healing of those who have been abused and betrayed and for the restoration of trust and confidence in the church for a long, long time.

  6. I do like the analogy between the church and the sox. They do mimic each other, although being in Boston, as much as I would like to believe the church can become again a "nation". I think that will take a long time to reach that point. There has been so much hurt and pain that need to be healed. Indeed a rather large task at hand. And I don't mean to minimize the crisis, never would I do that. I'm just trying to lighten the blog a bit and get on the euphoria that Red Sox Nation has brought to so many of us. It's nice to have that diversion. So I say lets pray for those who are in need, The folks that you have always kept in our hearts and prayers, and as for the Sox...Cowboy Up!!!!!!!

  7. As someone who has had her trust badly broken, (not by the church, but the abuse and betrayal caused me to go away from the church for awhile), I am glad that I have joined "the team" again- (and no tryouts required!)- sorry, sometimes my attempts at trying to "joke" don't really work.
    Anyway, it has been- actually, I'm not sure exactly how long since I've "been back"- 6 or 7 years? Seems like a long time, but I am still struggling, still having those hard times- BUT, my faith IS growing! I am growing and learning... one step at a time; tiny, little, baby steps, sometimes a few backwards, but it is movement in the right direction. And I am so grateful for all of the comfort and encouragement and reassurance that has been given me.
    Thank you Concord Pastor.

  8. Regina: Red Sox is lighthearted. A church trying to recover from hundreds of pedophile priests abusing their children, is not lighthearted.
    Being the victim of such abuse, I do not see how they "mimic" each other.

  9. "They"? "the Home Office?" I read some of the posts and can't help but compare these references to the way people talk about government. Or their place of business.

    The Church is we. It is me. It is every one of us. We may not agree with "management" all the time, but we are the Church.

    We can make it better. We can move forward and leave the past behind. Or we can continue to complain and feel sorry for ourselves.

    It's not some disembodied entity that makes me feel welcome at Holy Family on Sundays. That's up to you and me.

  10. I don't think those who have been hurt by the Catholic Church are feeling sorry for themselves. Just from these comments above, it's obvious people out there are still hurting. For some, it just takes longer to heal. As Concord Pastor stated above, "we will be praying for the healing of those who have been abused and betrayed and for the restoration of trust and confidence in the church for a long, long time".

  11. I am very bothered by the "lighten the blog a bit" comment by Regina. The issues are serious and the hurt is real and should not be treated lightly.

  12. I believe that we can and should presume good will and intentions on the part of those who post comments here. Sometimes a word or phrase in a comment may hit a sensitive place in another reader's heart and history in a way the writer never intended.

    I would be the last to defend carelessness in choice of words but I'll also be the first to ask that we presume good will on the part of those who comment here. This is especially true of those who have adopted an alias which enables all of us to keep track of their lines of thought. Anyone who follows Regina's comments (and I don't know Regina's real identity) would know that she is sensitive to the issues involved here. And anyone who is personally sensitive to the issues involved here might take offense at her use of the word "mimic" or encouraging our being lighthearted in troubled times.

    Somewhere in the middle, I hope we can all be grateful that we have a forum here in which the serious as well as the not-so-serious issues are discussed and that together we can help each other heal and grow.

  13. No offense was meant on my part. I believe that there is nothing more important within our church then to learn how to heal from wounds that have deeply hurt so many of us. My use of the word mimic has been misconstrued. The way in which I used the word mimic had more to do with how the sox nation pulls together, and that this is also my wish for our church. The intent was absolutely not to take away the seriousness of the crisis and the effect abuse has had on so many of us who try to heal from it.
    My meaning was to keep the issues seperate. My apologies for the way my response triggered such difficult feelings.
    Sometimes, written or spoken words are meant well, but come across differently then what is intended. I believe that is the situation here.

  14. I think the comment posted by regina was certainly not intended to minimize the sexual abuse crisis that the church continues to feel the wrath of. She was specific in stating a couple of times that it was not her intenetion to take away the overwhelming feelings associated with the crisis. And, perhaps, I am reading to much into her response but the way she has worded the "we" and "us" in her second response tells me that she too was probably a victim.
    I think that her first comment was intended to speak of both sides, and that the relation to the sox was meant to be lighthearted and had nothing to do with the abuse. I think it's all in how we look at it. I don't believe that there was any intent to hurt those who are and have been abused. Two seperate situations is how I read into it.
    Give her a break. I have read many of her responses and she is very understanding and knowledgeable with regards to other postings. Perhaps having to talk about the red sox was a way for HER to lighten the feelings within her own soul. But they are two different, and distinct rationals. I encourage you to read it through again, this time with a little more patience and understanding. I hope you too will "read into" her words.
    I too was a victim of sexual abuse, and was not at all offended by her comments.

  15. I used the term "bothered" intentionally, not the word "offended" and had carefully read the comments several times prior to posting any sort of response. This is an intense topic and we should all feel welcome to comment. You can disagree with someone yet still welcome and appreciate their opinion on the topic at hand or any other subject.

  16. I have to agree with Kathy concerning regina. I read the comments in the past and always enjoy reading what regina writes. I applaud her for using a name, hers or not, but by using it, she enables people to respond in a direct manner. I have never responded, so I'm a little new to this, but I think rather than jump on the negative bandwagon against regina, that we should all read over her comments. Just because her responce included the red sox and the crisis, and she may have chosen the wrong misinterpreted word, (mimic), does not mean she is disrespecting those who have been abused. Quite the contrary, I think she too is hurting and deserves the benfit of the doubt. We need to come together as a church family, and do it the way Christ would...include everyone that deserves to be loved. And if I am correct, and she to has been abused, I commend her ability to attempt a little humor. Wrong as it might seem to others, perhaps it is what helped her during the time she wrote it.


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