Resurrection on the Diamond: Opening Day is my Easter

A Year in the Death 4/1/21

This Sunday, America’s 205 million Christians will celebrate Easter, a holiday that commemorates Christ’s supposed resurrection from the dead. As an atheist, I don’t believe in the Christian resurrection story. Therefore, this Sunday will be just another Sunday for me (other than the joy I’ll experience while watching my grandchildren hunt for Easter eggs).

But that doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate a resurrection. Mine just will be a different religion, holiday, and date. Specifically, today I’m celebrating Opening Day for Major League Baseball.

You don’t believe baseball qualifies as a religion? Then let me quote from the Gospel of Annie — better known as Susan Sarandon’s opening monologue from the 1988 film Bull Durham:

“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshiped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology.

You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring…I’ve tried them all, I really have. And the only church that truly feeds the soul day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.”

Amen, Apostle Annie!

If there really is a Church of Baseball (and, frankly, there’s a LOT more evidence and support for its existence than for any of the other human-created religions) then Opening Day naturally is its Easter. After all, the sport has been dead since Autumn, when the final out of the World Series was recorded.

Since then, its disappearance has been mourned by millions of worshipers like me who count the days until its resurrection in the Spring. Sure, we’ve religiously followed the “hot stove league” during this time, praying our chosen team will sign that franchise-changing free agent or complete that blockbuster trade that will bring us the holy grail that is the World Series trophy. And, yes, Spring Training was a tempting prophecy of the resurrection. But today…today the stone finally has been pulled away from the grave and the Angel (or Padre…or Cardinal…) can loudly exclaim “Play Ball!” — our Church’s version of “He is risen!”

Yep, starting today this worshiper of the Church of Baseball will begin six months of hoping prayers get answered and miracles get granted. And,trust me, I’m gonna need as many of those divine interventions as possible. Because, god help me, I’m a diehard fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

This is part of a year-long series I’ve entitled “A Year in the Death.” As I discussed in my first entry on January 1, I am going to contemplate and write about death each day of 2021. Some days, my thoughts and writings may be detailed essays. On others, they may be little more than the contemplation of a quote about death or a piece of art representing death or dying. Also, I may not share every daily contemplation with you, reserving my thoughts to my private journal. But I am committed to the practice and invite you to follow along throughout the course of the year.

President of Marathon Leadership, LLC — an organizational and leadership consulting firm based in Thornton, CO. Learn more at http://marathonleadership.com/

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