Friday, April 5, 2013

Let the Games Begin: The Finale of the Denominational Dominion Tournament of Championships

by Ben Howard

Two weeks ago I set the stage for the Denominational Dominion Tournament of Championships by announcing the rosters for the four teams. Now, on the eve of the Final Four, I bring you the conclusion of the Tournament. Click here for a breakdown of the teams.

Semifinal #1: Anglican Avengers vs. Evangelical Evolutionaries

PG          Queen Elizabeth II                Rachel Held Evans
SG          Desmond Tutu                       Rob Bell
SF           George Washington              Francis Chan
PF           N.T. Wright                            Mark Driscoll
C             Henry VIII                              John Piper

The Avengers start off the game slow, though that should probably be expected when the youngest player, Wright, is 64, and two of his teammates, Washington and Henry VIII, are long deceased. After shaking off the rust commensurate with being an octogenarian, a series of three’s from the excitable Tutu and the crafty ball-handling of Elizabeth 2.0 eventually spark some life in the ancient legs of the Anglicans.

In stark contrast to the slow and creaky Avengers, the Evolutionaries came out firing on all-cylinders. Bell led the team in scoring with a series of impressive drives to the basket reasserting his role as the team’s creative force. Chan tried his best to match Bell’s production point for point, while Evans ran the point with grace and style, though perhaps giving too much deference to Queen Elizabeth when playing defense.

basketball, theology, sportsDriscoll provided a bit of controversy near the end of the first half after he threw down a powerful dunk over the top of Henry VIII. Immediately after the play, Driscoll got in Henry’s face and began screaming, “Henry VIII, you are, you are what?!?” earning himself a technical foul for taunting.

The second half marked a stark contrast to the first. The enthusiasm of the Evangelicals began to wane after an inner-squad altercation between Evans and Driscoll about whether or not Evans was allowed to shoot. The discord continued when Piper loudly proclaimed that he no longer believed that Evans and Bell were part of his team and refused to pass the ball to them for the rest of the half. 

Piper’s play descended even more as he stopped playing offense entirely and simply stood under the opposing team’s basket waiting to block their shots while repeating gibberish phrases about protecting “authority”.

In addition to the team-wide meltdown, Driscoll was ejected after he earned his second technical by viciously throwing a basketball at George Washington’s face while screaming, “Dodgeball is a man’s sport!”

The composed maturity of the Anglican team allowed them to simply stick to their game plan and take advantage of the brutal unraveling of the Evangelicals. Tutu and Wright eventually offered Bell and Evans refuge on the Anglican team, thus leaving the Evangelical team with only a terrified Chan and a rabid Piper. This dramatic advantage lead the Anglican team to score the final 45 points of the game, including a series of inspired dunks from N.T. Wright.

Henry VIII sparked a bit of controversy after the game when he immediately wed three of the cheerleaders. However, the next morning two of the three were annulled when Henry found out that modern customs do not allow you to behead or imprison your wives when they don’t give you children.

Semifinal #2: Mainline Marauders vs. Catholic Crushers

PG          John Wesley                     Pope Francis I
SG          Hillary Clinton                   Dorothy Day
SF           Barack Obama                 Thomas Aquinas
PF           Martin Luther                    Augustine of Hippo
C             John Calvin                      Gregory the Great

The battle between the Catholic Crushers and the Mainline Marauders was a tense and touchy contest between two historic rivals. The Crushers played well in the first half, but had a difficult time finding enough offense to counter the relentless firepower of the Marauders. Pope Francis I (aka Air Pope) showcased a versatile, crowd-inspiring style of play that vividly showed the differences between he and his more seasoned teammates.

angel, fish, trophy, wood, basketball
The DDTC Trophy: An Angel Fish
The frontline of Aquinas, Augustine, and Gregory the Great provided consistent production, but very little flair with the exception of one rim-rattling dunk from Augustine. Interviewed at halftime, Augustine proclaimed, “That was for my mom! Thanks Monica!” Dorothy Day also provided a bit of revolutionary spark for the tradition-minded Crushers, yet they still trailed at the half.

The Marauders, on the other hand, formed an interesting blend, with the fiery, explosive temperament of Martin Luther, who received a technical in the first half for the yelling at Francis and Gregory that they were incarnations of the antichrist. Luther’s rhetoric eventually settled down a bit after Calvin took him aside to say that the Marauders were “predestined for victory.”

In addition, there was a small scuffle between Clinton and Obama about who was really the most qualified to be team captain, with Clinton arguing that the team would much rather call her at 3 in the morning than Obama. Obama responded to this criticism by hitting three straight long threes and then ferociously dunking over Thomas Aquinas. Clinton eventually conceded the point.

The second half continued much the like the first. While the Crushers were comprised by a litany of great defenses, they were eventually overrun by the forces of Mainline Protestantism primarily lead by Luther and Calvin, assisted by the irascible John Wesley.

After the game, Barack Obama was named the MVP of the game which drew a chorus of boos from the Evangelical fans remaining in the arena who thought that Obama should have been ineligible since they don’t believe he’s actually a Christian. The booing led to a small confrontation in which Luther called the fans every insult that he’d ever thought of and destroyed their very souls from the inside out dooming them to an eternity in hell. Calvin said this was also predestined.

The Championship: Anglican Avengers vs. Mainline Marauders

In one of the strangest twists in the history of fictional religious basketball, these two teams spent the first 10 minutes of the game staring at each other in confusion as they tried to decide whether or not they were on the same team. John Wesley awkwardly attempted to score a basket at one point in the game, but was unsure who he was trying to score the basket for and began to cry at mid-court.

Martin Luther, beer, drinking, steinThe awkwardness and confusion of the game ended when Desmond Tutu gave Wesley a big bear hug and told him that everything would be okay. This led to Tutu hugging everyone on the court and eventually everyone in the entire building. 

Finally, Luther rolled in a keg and the whole thing just became one big party highlighted by a stirring duet of Let It Be with N.T. Wright and Queen Elizabeth II. At one point after many beers, Luther challenged Henry VIII to a fist fight during which Henry knocked Luther unconscious. When he came to, Luther hugged Henry and declared him to be a “good friend.”

Thanks for joining us at the Denominational Dominion Tournament of Championships!


Ben Howard is an accidental iconoclast (see!) and generally curious individual living in Nashville, Tennessee. He is also the editor-in-chief of On Pop Theology and an avid fan of waving at strangers for no reason. You can follow him on Twitter @BenHoward87.

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