“Tom Johnson loves baseball. And he loves the [Christian] church. Both, said Johnson, a former Minnesota Twins pitcher turned pastor, are in trouble. They’ve lost touch with their past and with ordinary people. They’ve become too much of a show, their leaders too disconnected from their audience, he said. Both religion and baseball see the people in the pews and the fans in the seats as sources of revenue rather than valued partners or supporters. They’ve betrayed the people’s trust, he said, and trust is hard to regain.”
The article goes on to talk about how boring baseball has become “boring and joyless.” That’s one of the reasons I no longer follow baseball — it’s not longer a game, it’s all about algorithms and analytics. My reaction to the postponement of Opening Day — yawn.
As for organized religion, in addition to religious leaders becoming disconnected from the people in the pews, Johnson offers this pointed critique:
“‘The [Christian] church has shot itself in the foot by not adhering to the values that have attracted it to people down through the centuries — that is, caring about the poor and those who are on the margins,’ said Johnson….”
Johnson may be on to something here. Organized religion does sometimes feel as boring and joyless as baseball, with leaders who only see the people in the pews as sources of revenue. This is even true for non-Christian religions like Unitarian Universalism. All too often, I’ve heard UU leaders saying, “We need to grow our congregation in order to increase revenue.” All too often, I’ve seen UU congregations very concerned with their own bottom line, yet with little energy left over to help unhoused persons find food and shelter.
Maybe this is the real reason behind the rise of the Nones (those with no religious affiliation) — religion has become too much like baseball.