musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

If there is one thing that baffles me, and often drives me crazy about mankind, it’s those people who espouse fervent religious beliefs. Even nowadays, in this age of advanced scientific knowledge and greater acces to information, you see far too many people relying on their “faith” to make decisions or form opinions, believing that a “miracle” or “the grace of God” will solve a problem. Stories about “extremist” Muslims are prominent in the news nowadays, but I think the devout Christians, Jews, and Hindus are just as disturbing — and just as dangerous. Call me an atheist, call me a heathen; just don’t call me a mindless follower of some nonsensical religion.

You wouldn’t think that religion and sports would be a compatible couple, but that’s not the case either. I’ve been a baseball fan since I was a snot-nosed kid and all these years later I still follow the sport, despite the outrageously high salaries that players are making, not to mention the cost of attending games. Listening to games on the radio and reading box scores in the daily newspaper many years ago led to watching games on TV and going to the parks to see games in person. Now that I live in Thailand I’m content to check scores online each day, catching the occasional video highlights of a game. Baseball has always had it share of quirky rules and even quirkier players, but it also boasts many religious players, ones who seem to think that divine intervention will affect the outcome of the game or help them individually. You will often see Catholic players crossing themselves when they step into the batter’s box, while other Christians point to the sky after scoring a run or hitting a home run. “Thank you Jesus, that just helped my batting average!” But baseball is not the only sport where the religious loonies believe that praying is going to give them an added edge or ensure victory. You see these pitifully pious acts in football, basketball, and other sports too.

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Last week the Toronto Blue Jays were playing the Texas Rangers in the first round of the year-end playoffs when one bizarre play left everyone scratching their heads. The Toronto catcher was attempting to throw the ball back to the pitcher when the ball glanced off the bat of the Texas player who was still standing in the batter’s box. After the ball caromed off the bat, a runner on third base alertly ran home to score. Initially, the umpire ruled it a dead ball, but on further reflection he cited an obscure rule and reversed his call, allowing the run to score. That run put Texas ahead at the time, but they ended up losing the game. That was obviously a big relief to the Toronto players and fans, but obviously not a surprise to the “real” believers. One of the Toronto players, a born-again Christian pitcher named R. A. Dickey said of the controversial play, “I was thinking there is no way that the Good Lord is going to let a game end like that, no way.”

Huh? “Ya Gotta Believe” is one thing, but a statement like this is simply ludicrous. Even if you are one of those superstitious sorts that believe that there is such a thing as a “Good Lord,” do you really think that your “savior” is going to give a flying fandango about the outcome of a baseball game? Honestly, these people are delusional.

In a somewhat comical twist of irony, Dickey was the pitcher for Toronto last night and was shelled by the Kansas City Royals, losing the game by a big margin. Obviously, the “Good Lord” wasn’t inclined to help out Mr. Dickey and the Blue Jays this time around. What, he wasn’t answering your prayers? Well, if he’s not answering those calls, maybe posting something on his Facebook page might catch his attention?

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