A Georgia high school football coach is under fire for orchestrating a mass baptismal service on his team’s football field before a practice session, a video of which has gone viral. If you watch the video, the scene is comical as the Baptist pastor is seen trying to dunk huge boys, and a coach, in a small galvanized tin tub. It reminds me of quarterback Tim Tebow’s ostentatious praying on the football field after a touchdown which one wit noted should have merited a penalty flag for “unnecessary and irrelevant display of piety.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mass-baptism-filmed-at-football-practice-prompts-investigation_55e738fbe4b0aec9f3558fc5)
To sum it up, I say, “What’s the point?” The issue on that football field was a practice session but the coach, being “full of the spirit” wanted to display his spirituality. In so doing he is making a mockery of a really meaningful symbol in the Christian tradition and giving late-night comedians like Bill Maher more material with which to ridicule Christianity. And this type of non-sense deserves mockery. Jesus would be turning over in his grave…if he was in one!
This is another example of the “embedded thinking” that I am focused on right now. When we are embedded in our own thinking, we lose perspective and will often speak and behave in a manner that makes even noble ideas and traditions look silly. This coach has demonstrated that spiritual fervor can easily be merely a means of displaying our “piety” and the need of making the display simply reveals the presence of the ego in the performance. The Apostle Paul would call this whole scene “a work of the flesh.”
Spirituality, like every dimension of life, is a perilous adventure for it does provide such an opportunity for us to “strut our stuff” under the guise of piety. I know. “Been there, done that” and to some degree I’m sure I’m still doing it for I am still guilty of being “human.” And if I ever become “Holy” and have “got it right,” please, please…somebody just shoot me! You will be doing me and the world a favor!
Shakespeare noted, “With devotions visage and pious action we sugar o’er the devil himself.”