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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Texas Faith: Is it crazy to pray for your team to win the Super Bowl?


God does not take sides in Super Bowl, why should he? He, she or it does not micromanage our lives either, nor does he favor one over the other.  God is just and merciful and created a world of harmony, and gave us the free will and emotions to manage the balance within and with what surrounds us; life and matter.  Mike Ghouse

My weekly take on issues at Dallas Morning News: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2014/01/texas-faith-is-it-crazy-to-pray-for_28.html

TEXAS FAITH: Is it crazy to pray for your team to win the Super Bowl?
By Wayne Slater
12:01 pm on January 28, 2014 | Permalink
Two things Americans take seriously are religion and football. With the Super Bowl set for Sunday, here’s a question: Why do so many people pray for their favorite sports team to win? Is it just a ritual? An act of faith? Or a hedge, just in case?

A new survey finds that half of American sports fans say they believe God or a supernatural force is at play in the games they watch. That includes Americans who pray for God to help their team (26 percent), think their team has been cursed (25 percent) or more generally believe God is involved in determining who wins on the court or in the field (19 percent).

So is God the 12th man on the field at kickoff when the Broncos and Seahawks meet in the big game this weekend? The Great Odds Maker in the Sky?

The Public Religion Research Institute finds that football fans are the most likely to pray for their own teams to win. About one-third say they ask God to intervene in games. When it comes to whether God rewards religious athletes with health and success, about half of Americans say yes, about half say no. The belief that God will help religious athletes was most prominent among white evangelicals (62 percent) and non-white Protestants (65 percent). When it comes to the religiously unaffiliated, only about 20 percent feel that way.

So why do so many Americans pray for God to help their team? Or believe that God rewards religious athletes?

Do they really think God works this way? Or like Pascal’s wager, do people figure — hey, I’ve got doubts, but what if it works, what if it’s true? Why not be on the winning side?

We put that question to our Texas Faith Panel and the result was a funny, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining set of answers from some of the smartest people on matters of religion and faith in Texas. It’s not so easy as you might think. Some of the answers might surprise you.

Herewith a perfect bit of pre-Super Bowl Sunday reading.
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
An old friend fits Pascal’s wager perfectly. He did not believe in God, but went to church on Easter and Christmas just in case there is a God, and he would conclude, I want to play it safe. What we cannot earn, we want it miraculously.

Ghalib, the legendary 19th century Indian Poet is known to have said a couplet on just about every aspect of life, and he wrote:

Ham ko Maloom Hay Jannat Ki Haqeqat Lakin
Dil Kay Khush Rakhnay Ko Ghalib Yeh Khyal Acha Hay

I know the truth about heaven; mere hallucination,
however, it is a good idea to believe in pleasantries for the moment.

In the Super bowl scenario, we root for our favorite team, and when it dawns on us that our team is not doing well ‘hope’ takes over.  The average person goes into the belief-gear and expects a miracle to happen, like an interception or a fumble.

Indeed, God is the last resort for those who believe in divine intervention, and we daydream about a positive change without working for it. It’s a game of chance, and not a bad idea to believe in the pleasantries.

If neither of the teams is our favorite, our approach towards the game is different, we enjoy the competition, and we root or hoot depending on a good play rather than supporting or praying for a team.  Our sobering attitude stems from a realization that when two teams go to play, only one wins, and any team can win any time.

No matter how rational we pretend to be, emotion rules! That is the reason so many Americans pray for God to help their team win. We don’t care how much the fans of other teams are praying, we want ours to win.

When there is an interception, some of my Muslim friends scream out loud with joy “Allahu Akbar” – God is great! What should the fans of other team say? God is not great? Fortunately, we rarely blame God if our team loses.

God does not take sides, why should he? He, she or it does not micromanage our lives either, nor does he favor one over the other. God is just and merciful and created a world of harmony, and gave us the free will and emotions to manage the balance within and with what surrounds us; life and matter.

To read the other opinions, please visit Dallas Morning News at : http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/01/texas-faith-is-it-crazy-to-pray-for-our-team-to-win-the-super-bowl.html/#more-33616

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

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