We've long thought that there are spiritual dimensions to big sports events. In our "Naming the Days" feature for Super Bowl Sunday, we note the joy and sorrow evident in the experiences of the players and the fans. We link to a poem by the late Michael Dwinell, an Episcopal priest, "The NFL and God," in which he sees God in the pain, longing, and vulnerability evident in a game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Oilers.
This Sunday, February 4, 2018, the New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl again, this time playing the Philadelphia Eagles. The Christian Science Monitor has taken this occasion to write about the importance of national rituals, calling the Super Bowl a tradition that bridges differences as fans and viewers come together to share food, grade the commercials, and react to the halftime show.
"This one annual sporting event helps transcend the nation's widening political divide," writes the Monitor's Editorial Board. "For one day, the gridiron is the anti-gridlock." Bridging events like this one "create a unity of purpose and promote mutual affection. … They reflect an intentional community." They help people feel connected.
Unity and connections are two of the practices in our Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy. So we couldn't agree more with the Monitor's conclusion:
"The Super Bowl, like the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, is a test of the nation's spiritual literacy. These rituals foster the opportunity for friendly conversation. They fill the emptiness left by highly partisan politics. A door for love is opened. They bring out a higher longing to affirm a grander identify."