Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Baseball, Church, and Writing

Just because I haven't posted writing on the blog recently does not mean I haven't been writing. I've been writing a lot lately. An opportunity arose to audition for one of my favorite baseball blogs, thinking I could make the leap from mostly church stuff to baseball. Waiting patiently for future vocational turns is not my strong suit. The time may come to share some of my baseball writing on this blog, but I'm not sure about the direction this writing is taking. Your average pastor will never become a baseball blog, but I am curious about what I have learned in my processes in writing about baseball and church.

The writing process in baseball is surprisingly similar to writing about church--preaching, congregational development, and biblical scholarship. Over the past decade, baseball has gradually developed new methods of research to understand truths about baseball. For about 100 years, baseball used very specific methods for understanding the game that did not change much. As baseball revenues and salaries have reached new heights and computer/electronic analysis moved into the game some questioned the assumptions and validity of older methods. Those who held control over the older methods of baseball knowledge struggled and still struggle (to the point of hatred and vitriol) with the new methods.

For some, the new methods of baseball analysis come with great ease, especially those who work well with statistical analysis. Information about baseball is not dependent on newspaper beat writers with large travel budgets or national commentators, or even sports networks like ESPN. Anyone with internet access and a desire to execute extensive research can make compelling arguments about many facets of the game, and I find their arguments quite persuasive. The validity of any measurement, whether qualitative or quantitative should be a priority. Are we actually evaluating what we say we're evaluating?

Sound familiar?

The church, biblical scholarship and preaching have changed because of access to information. Some people whose livelihoods or power status were based on older knowledge methods have challenged newer methods of research and analysis. Seminaries have had to change their methods some (though not all too quickly) and ordination tracks and sacramental access has shifted (though not too quickly). The common thread in developing new hierarchies and authority matrices is that control over information is crumbling (or has crumbled). It affects both the baseball world and the world of the church. Luther and his followers, colleagues and adversaries saw it with the dawn of the printing press. The authority structures are crumbling again. Feel free to deny it, or even decry it--I'm not sure it will do you any good.

What I have learned is that for all the doctrinal purists in both baseball and the church, they are still about relationships. Though it will always help to keep certain skill sets up to date and develop new knowledge bases, the world needs people who can navigate these changing times by managing their own anxiety and stay connected to people of different viewpoints. I haven't even touched on politics--and I think this is a primary issue in the current American political climate.

The fun part for me is that the opportunity to write about these topics and stay connected with you does not flow through a publication like The Christian Century, a local or national newspaper, or even a book that I write. I can connect with you--now. I am gladdened by our shared creative energy. I think that is God at work in the Spirit.

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