Monday, April 14, 2008

God, Stop Blessing The Seventh Inning Stretch

Spring is upon us. Among the millions of notable events that this change sets in motion, the start of baseball season has gained a special status with me in the last few years. I've learned new appreciation for the game. I look forward to enjoying games with my son, once he's old enough.

Unfortunately, this also brings the newfound tradition of singing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. This is one of the side effects of the 9/11 attacks. I hoped this would go away with time, but it seems to have ingrained itself.

I have two problems with this. The first is that playing this is a subtle reinforcement of Christian Nationalism, as the song itself is. What I take from the song, is that this is a Christian nation and that we would be nowhere without god. There is a wealth of evidence, outside of the revisionist crap taught by most schools, proving the former to be wrong and the latter is argumentative at best. Combine the sentiment in the song with the implied connection to nationalism in America's sport, and you have a strengthened connection between Christianity and nationalism. I'd like my sports to have a little less politics, thanks.

My second problem is that I think the song is second rate when compared to other songs that could be performed. Notably, America the Beautiful and This Land Is Your Land are both better representations of this nation, why it is great, and what is special about it. Neither has god as a main focal point, and only one actually mentions god. Both are more inclusive and have better statements of our countries values.

You'll note that America the Beautiful contains several references to god, and you might question why I believe that it is a better choice. I believe that song speaks of why America is great without attributing it to or without proclaiming reliance upon god. Instead, it acknowledges the writer's belief that we need god to help us and to guide us, especially because we have a potential to be great and powerful. The distinction to be made is that in God Bless America we are a weak country in service of god and we attribute everything to god, in America the Beautiful we are a wonderful country which may need god to keep on the right path. It also helps that I think America the Beautiful also sounds better.

Of course, I also don't think that baseball needs to have any more nationalism pumped into it. I think I'd be happiest if they were to remove patriotic songs from the regular schedule. Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a wonderful alternative.


Courtney said...

That choice of song must be regional since you're close to NYC. At our ballpark they play Take Me Out to the Ballgame for the 7th inning stretch.

I'm a Christian, so it's no bother to me anyway. I guess you would have a hard time sitting through a NASCAR race. Aside from obvious reasons, they open with prayer AND a bunch of God songs.

Dan said...

I suppose it may be a Yankee thing. I'm fairly sure I saw it during the playoffs last year.

I've actually been to a NASCAR event at Watkins Glenn, NY. I don't remember the public prayer. There was plenty of patriotism, some of which was ridiculously overblown. I think that it's a different because NASCAR still isn't as mainstream as baseball. Much of the symbolism is missing.

I typically don't mind Christians or public religious displays. I think town Nativity displays are perfectly acceptable, for example. I think there should be a line between public and religious, inclusive and exclusive. The more that one religion plays a part in something the more exclusive it becomes from other religions and their members. Baseball is considered to be a special institution in America, so I don't like seeing that separation eroded. Plus, there were far more offensive things at the NASCAR race, too.