2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity Takeaways
2 DEC 2019
To borrow a football term, an audible is called at the last-minute when the scheduled guest doesn’t show up, utilizing this episode instead to share some insights brought back from the 2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity. The conference took place in late October in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and this installment of CSR cites content from that event that underscore the longstanding relationship between sports and faith.
Author Gary Thomas (opening keynote) said that, “We treat our bodies as instruments instead of ornaments.”
Anthony Maranise, a Benedictine Oblate and an educator, author, and chaplain, noted that in the Rule of Saint Benedict there are three references in the prologue to running, references to strength, battle, and grappling – what we might consider wrestling – in chapter one, and, a reference to a summit and climbing in chapter seven.
Maranise cited his somewhat “radical claim of the day,” saying that, “Sportspersons have lifestyles more akin to monastics than any other demographic.”
Maranise also said that, “God’s presence is inseparable from the whole of life, including sports.”
Fr. Frank, a PhD at La Salle University, noted that in 2016 the Vatican sponsored an international conference called, “Sports at the Service of Humanity,” followed by two national gatherings in the United States.
Fr. Frank also reported that at the beginning of this year, “Athletica Vaticana” debuted – the Vatican track team, consisting of priests, sisters, pharmacy workers, and members of the Swiss Guard, and an official member of the Italian Track association.
Fr. Frank added that just six years ago, Pope Francis addressed the International Olympic Committee delegates, saying, “Sports promote human and religious values which form the foundation of a just and fraternal society.”
Pope Francis, in an address to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Italian Sports Center on June 7, 2014, said, “Challenge yourself in the quest for good, in both Church and society, without fear, with courage and enthusiasm. Get involved with others and with God; Don’t settle for a mediocre ‘tie,’ give it your best, spend your life on what really matters and lasts forever.”
Gordon College professor named Valerie Gin detailed a study, and then cited a publication based on a project called ReadySetGo. In that publication they cite the book of Hebrews, which says, “let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”
The ReadySetGo project’s publication also cites 1 Corinthians chapter 9, verses 22-26, which might be the most blatant reference to sports in the Bible. It says, “To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it. Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.”