Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Vatican Olympic Team and Why God Will Be Watching in London

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianity
by Ben Howard

On Friday night, my friends and I will be huddled around our televisions along with millions upon millions around the world to watch the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympic Games. Most will have their eyes on Phelps and Lochte, maybe they'll try and catch a glimpse of Usain Bolt, or they may simply stare off into the distance pondering the all important question of whether David Beckham will or will not light the torch. But my eyes will be locked on the single athlete representing one of the world's smallest sovereign states: Tommaso Guarrazzi of Vatican City. That's right boys and girls, God finally has a home team.

For years, God, much like an NBA fan in Missouri, has been without a team to call his own. Many have tried to claim the deity's favor from The Los Angeles Angels (too redundant) to the New Orleans Saints (not saintly enough) to the Holy Cross Crusaders (ixnay on the usadescray), but none have worthy of being the Almighty's favorite.

Instead God has chosen to root for his favorite players from Josh Hamilton to Tim Tebow to every single player who ever pointed up to the sky after they did something special. But now God's behind Tommaso Guarrazzi and Team Vatican City. Take notice world!

Now all this may sound totally ridiculous and that's because it is. Tommaso Guarrazi is a member of the Vatican Olympic Team, but it's a fictional Olympic Team portrayed in the recently released Italian movie 100 Meters to Paradise. (You can read the Vatican newspapers review here).

But is it so ridiculous to think that God is sports fan? I'm not saying he has a vested interest in one team winning over another, and I'm pretty sure he had less to do with the Braves winning in extra innings than my prayers would indicate, but I think there are aspects he can enjoy.

At their essence, sports, especially the Olympics, are a showcase for the physicality of God's creation. They show us the agility, speed, strength, stamina and athleticism of humanity in its peak physical form and while that's something we don't often hold to be spiritual maybe it should be. We are so quick to spiritualize the world that we forget we inhabit a physical existence and sports are a way to celebrate the depth of humanities physical gifts.

So when you watch the Olympics in the next few weeks maybe God will be watching along with you. I wonder if he's rooting for Lochte or Phelps?


When he isn't writing about fictional Vatican Olympians, Ben attempts to divine God's rooting interests for gambling purposes. You can follow his misadventures on Twitter @BenHoward87.  

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