Your Religion Might As Well Be Football

The 12th Man Never DiesAhhh Football season. The crisp feel of fall winds and the sound of drunkenness in the afternoon. There is absolutely nothing more distinctly and disturbingly American than football culture. So, you get a bunch of dudes who may or may not drink very often incredibly drunk in the middle of the afternoon. If their team wins, they get increasingly wasted and elated. If they lose they get dangerously sauced and pissed off. Yeah, that’s gonna end well for the kids.

Don’t fool yourself. Football (or any sport for that matter) wouldn’t exist in its insanely bloated capacity if weed and hallucinogens weren’t outlawed back in the day. People would probably be more into fucking and playing the electro delay sitar. Maybe there’d be porno sitar players. I don’t know. What I do know is that alcohol is legal and because of that, football culture is fucking PERFECT. You work a dumbshit job all day but hell, it’s all worth it because on the weekend you get to throw back drink after drink and yell at people who could kick the living crap out of you. There’s a reason half the ads during football games involve booze. The most hilarious part is where they imply that downing cheap beer and watching football is going to get you pussy. Riiiiiight.

Did I mention I watch football like a crackhead? Yeah, probably should get that out of the way. Half the shit I write is making fun of me when you get down to it. So why is it that I find myself getting suddenly obsessive about other dudes calculatingly beating the shit out of each other every fall and winter? I guess because of my childhood, but there’s more to it than that. Christ, I only played like one year of organized ball before I realized I hated getting yelled at like a drill sergeant. Oh, and it fucking hurt. Fun when you’re young, but you start getting bigger and damn is it painful. With all the new information coming out about just how dangerous it actually is, this particular addiction should be getting harder and harder to justify to myself, but I’m more hooked than ever. Why? Why Man? What the fuck is wrong with me? I’d say the answer has a lot to do with it being one of the few things I have in common with people. Believe it or not, writing about telepathically summoning discarnate entities through sex magick (which I do on Facebook, friend me) isn’t a super crowded world at this point. I know right? I spend most of my time feeling like I exist in a dimension I don’t remotely jibe with and watching sports grounds me. Hell, I’ve even been known to go running for the remote to throw on Sportscenter at the end of an extended acid trip. Stuff brings me down to earth easy, reconnects me to the boring world of other people.

I like their football at least, but why is it that sporting events make so much goddamn money? In middle America a college football game can regularly draw a bigger crowd than basically anything. It’s totally insane. A reunited Led Zeppelin with an undead zombie John Bonham opening for Pink Floyd couldn’t continually bring in 100,000 fans every week. Church? Yeah, good luck with that. So, why are we so addicted to this shit? What is it about the allure of finite rules and collective yelling that compels us to give people money? The main reason I bring this all up is because of a study that was conducted at the University of Washington that went viral a year back. We re-blogged an article about it, but I never got to comment, so here are a few choice tidbits to refresh your memory from the UW website:

 

“More than half of all American churchgoers now attend the largest 10 percent of churches.”

 

Those would be churches with more than 2,000 congregants, think about how fucked that is for a minute, then continue.

 

“(T)he Holy Spirit goes through the crowd like a football team doing the wave. … Never seen it in any other church.”

 

And then this priceless quote from the study’s author, professor James Wellman.

 

“How are you going to dominate the market? You give them a generic form of Christianity that’s upbeat, exciting and uplifting.”

 

How you can be a Christian and selectively edit out the passage about the money changers in the temple is beyond me (sort of what got Jesus killed right?), but Wellman’s research essentially confirmed what I’d already known. I’ve joked about it for years. Having an interest in spirituality, I’ve tried to watch evangelical sermons on occasion and I don’t get it at all. They’re not actually saying anything, but they’re saying it all over-the-top-emo style (sort of like Obama). It’s like how you talk to a dog. The words are largely irrelevant, you just intone the meaning exaggeratedly. With some of the sermons I’ve watched, I actually try and summarize the whole thing to myself after the fact and I don’t have anything to work with. It’s like sand through my fingers. Boring, boring, sand. The whole charade’s designed to provide the same sense of collective profitable release that you can get from a football game (also on Sunday mornings), but let’s face it, way more people give a shit about football.

Pathetic that this is how our spiritual practices have devolved. I’m not saying there’s no positive benefit to feeling connected to a greater whole in a charged environment. The joy of collective release is part of the reason I go so apeshit for football. Even when I’m just watching at home, there’s a thrill in knowing hundreds of thousands of people all around me are yelling inappropriate insults at the same violent spectacle. Feeling that blood thirsty connection to your fellow earth brothers and sisters can be enchanting, but it’s not turning you inwardly, which is where the spirit dwells— in the world of dreams and ecstatic phantasms. I could get freaky here and point out that this desire for collective release probably has obvious sexual implications, hinting at our desires for orgiastic escape, but I’m not gonna touch that one.

What I will do is not let the scientific atheism geeks off the hook. Oh, we’re so much better than those crazy megachurch people. Are you? Last year Bud Light started running these ads where they play Superstitious by Stevie Wonder and joke about the utterly odd crap football nerds do to supposedly help their teams onto victory. Every time it runs it brings my mind to all the supposedly scientifically rational people I’ve known who for some reason resort to what’s essentially third rate witchcraft the second a ball game enters the picture. Basic magick involves the idea that you can influence distant events with inner gestures, or weird personal rituals. So why is it that even though we don’t believe in this concept, we for some reason act as if it’s absolutely true the second we throw on a game? Seriously, sports stars are some of the most notoriously superstitious people around. We believe you can’t influence material reality at a distance with our actions, but we’ll just act as if we can because it’s a really big game and last time I wore this shirt with mismatching socks and we won. I love the part in staunch atheist Bill Maher’s Religulous where he admits that he sometimes resorts to odd internal dialogues with forces that aren’t there and what not. Why is that exactly? It’s because spiritual experience is a basic human need. Telling people to just ignore this aspect of themselves is like preaching abstinence to teenagers. You can keep them purely rational right up until the start of football season, then spooky action at a distance is obviously legit.

What’s hilarious about all this is that I do the same idiot crap. When I watch sports I sometimes find myself resorting to absolutely batshit obsessive compulsive derangement. I have to listen to this band at this moment so we’ll get the momentum going in our favor, right in the clutch. How retarded am I? I mean, seriously right, like me sitting in the correct position or standing and cheering is going to change the outcome of a game several million people are digging on.

Here’s where it gets even stranger, in one of my legit magick trances, I was basically told that nothing I do makes any difference whatsoever in these matters, which is particularly funny because it’s one area of inquiry where magick doesn’t work, and it’s how everyone uses it. Then I found myself struggling not to do some of these weird things because they told me it was pointless and now I felt stupid. I always did. Then I went through this other thing where I decided, well, since it doesn’t matter, I can do it or not do it, makes no difference. I often can’t stop myself, that’s how intuitive it is. Why do sports almost automatically bring this out in us?

How do I know they/me aren’t just fucking with me about it not working? Well, being a psychic and a sports fan, I’ve now had some odd experiences. Without getting into it too deep, let me just say that in the last couple of years I’ve gotten some Occult intel where I’ve thought to myself after the fact, okay, that could have actually made me money. Yeah, some shit that was dead on but it’s not like it happens very often and I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in psychic sports intel, as much as I’d love to. I will say this, I think the 49’ers are going to win the division over the Seahawks this year. Next year it’s ours. Not what I wanted to hear from the ether which gave it some legitimacy, but I’m not betting on it. Oh, and the Broncos are probably a good bet for the Super Bowl. We’ll see if I’m onto something.

Until then, let’s just contemplate the fact that the evolution of religion might just involve an increased understanding of how to better utilize the collective release experience that people now get from places like megachurches and football games. How can we take this persuasive force and use it as means to uplift and extend our consciousness spaceward rather than yelling at tough guys and sexually intolerant grifters? Does it have to involve booze or sobriety? No, I’m thinking it could involve neither of those things. Maybe a sound generating software that’s controlled by 5th dimensional entities which taps directly into our neural infrastructure. Maybe a collectively induced near death experience. An entire stadium smoking DMT in unison? That could work. We’ll figure it out one of these days, probably right after Sportscenter.

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  • jasonpaulhayes

    Like George Carlins bit about sports points out so well… not that I needed George to point it out to me but I’ve always liked pastoral sports not gridiron sports. It’s Baseball on occasion for me and never Football. I forget the name of the documentary but there is a great film that draws the obvious parallels between Christianity in the US and the militarization of Football’s opening ceremonies in the lead-up to war that includes booming fireworks and fighter jets flying over the field etc, etc.

    I went to a book signing for the release of Amy Goodmans book “Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back” it’s also a good read loosely on the same subject.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmXacL0Uny0

  • Believe Me

    Unfortunately, I hate all things sports. Yet somehow, you drew me in and it was a great read. Thanks for the laughs and the deep thoughts. I’d much rather drop a hit of acid with a few friends in a natural setting and connect with the universe. Too bad I’m too old for that now.

    • Juan

      Why are you too old for that? Do you have some kind of a physical condition that is keeping you from doing what you love?
      I’ll be 54 this year and one of my greatest joys is taking mushrooms out in nature with friends.

      • Believe Me

        Yeah, I’m a mess. LOL

  • Rob Lai

    Thad, old son, you got a gift. I have agreed with… almost nothing you’ve ever written on disinfo and yet I keep coming back to read your posts, usually because they piss me off and get me thinking (two states that seem inexorably linked for me).

    Like this time, see, I always just figured sports was about the hormonal human need to kill the crap out of something that’s not you, even if it is only symbolically and by proxy, and your subconscious is too dumb to know the difference between that and the real thing. But then, I’m a simple answer kind of guy. Fifteen years in retail has given me the impression that the only kind of connection human beings want with their fellow man is the kind where they cause a stone ax to connect with the other guy’s soft grey matter. But then, I don’t feel the ‘basic human need’ for spiritual experience (whatever the hell THAT is) either, so I could just be like a goldfish looking out through its bowel at the living room and mistaking the armchair for the dominant life form….

  • Calypso_1

    Porno Sitar please.

    • Rob Lai

      Also, THAT^

  • Woobniggurath

    I crave to immanentize the eschaton, via subverting the dominant paradigm, yet I have Nooo trouble embracing the NFL ecstasies. Living in New Orleans, it has never been obscure to us that football is religious. (Names are signs, right?)

    Let me just chip in also that I’m glad I didn’t have to grow up watching that ladies’ game the rest of the world calls football. If there is one thing America has truly mastered from the imperial armementarium, it is the Roman art of spectacle, and I let it fill me with awe every Sunday. (cue music, cue highlights reel)

  • Juan

    Not a sports guy AT ALL, but I enjoyed this piece just the same. Some very good insights into human psychology.

  • joe

    I think it was on Disinfo a while ago, I read a great essay by a Harvard Psychologist who was giving body to a nebulous Idea I had long before realized: Football is an acceptable venue for Homosexuality. “Give it to them hard in the Endzone” really stands out from the essay. And, you know, the whole thing with your nose in some dude’s ass? What the hell is that?
    I have never been drawn to football, myself. I tried. I tried REALLY hard. I even watched the ’93 super bowl. (Cowboys Vs. Broncos, I had $10 riding on it), but for the life of me, I just don’t understand why people enjoy watching. And the obscene amounts of money that goes into it! JEEBUS!
    Let’s clarify, though. I have absolutely no problems with homosexuality or any branch thereof, it just seems like a lot of closet homosexuals who will never be true to themselves wearing their tight pants, playing grabass and sniffing each others anus’. (Bonus: They Get PAID!) Good Times!

  • The Well Dressed Man

    While I’ve never been able to sit through a whole game, there’s a fascination in the way its meticulously territorial violence is so characteristically American. Lots of standing around, posturing, arguing about small bits of land, and exaggerated threat displays punctuated by the occasional burst of brutally micromanaged neck snapping mayhem.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      you ever seen riots after a soccer game?

      • The Well Dressed Man

        only on youtube. British violence is fascinating as well. Bronson is the new Clockwork Orange.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XqNPTIFL6g

        • jasonpaulhayes

          Bronson is a savage film, one of my favorites.

  • emperorreagan

    I’ve tried to watch football. Part of me wants the social acceptance/camaraderie I see when everyone is down watching the game together. The experiment, when I try it, never lasts long. I make it maybe 10 minutes before I’m trying to talk about something else instead of watching the game. And then I’m inevitably not invited back to the football watching parties.

    Same experience with church, really. Except as a kid, I’d sit in the pew, lose attention the first time the preacher rambled on in some prayer, and spend the entire time reading the bible instead (since I couldn’t bring anything else).

    The only collective experience that has ever worked for me is music.

    • Matt Staggs

      I found the camaraderie I was looking for at jiu-jitsu. You bond with people when you fight with them. Of course, you also get injured, so it’s not as safe as watching a football game. I’m nursing a hyper-extended elbow right now. Someone got a little too excited in the application of an s-mount arm bar.

      • emperorreagan

        Yeah, I get a little of the camaraderie in my martial arts training though it ends up being more internal for me.

        I think it’s been more of an ecstatic experience for me at concerts probably thanks to the additional substances, the chaos of the mosh pit, and the blur of faces.

  • Peet Clarkson

    Interesting thoughts, Thad. You might like to take a look at this – http://infandous.co.uk/?page_id=169

    -which is a piece exploring the question ‘What is a football club?’.

  • Earthstar

    The reason magic won’t work on sports is that most games are already rigged to some extent, intentionally or unintentionally by many people, on many levels. All things have bias.

  • John Mahziar

    Holy shit, is Disinfo turning over it’s content to stoners it finds hanging around the block now?

    • Colby

      Thad must be smokin’ some good shit.

  • kowalityjesus

    I am not entirely sure what the point of this article is, but has anyone every watched e-sports? It takes about as much inculcation as football to understand the rules, and once you do, its the ultimate battle of individuals. The greatest mind wins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE3_4CZ5GWo

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      i honestly can’t stand listening to videogame “commentators”

      the inane details they focus on, and the intensity far away from the type of intensity the actual players are dealing with.. is just too much. Starcraft is one of the worst offenders.

      • kowalityjesus

        I actually got into watching these games because I couldn’t get sound on my old computer with a destroyed audio jack. After I had become addicted and got sound back I remember being repulsed by the commentators initially but eventually settling on some favorite casters. Some of them are astronomically hilarious and good. These guys are pretty cheesy. Much like Sportscenter, the false superlative and the false dilemma are constantly invoked to increase situational drama.

  • Artemisa

    dang ! I thought the article was going to show the decline in church attendance, because people rather watch sports. Or that people watch sports religiously. Or that people think there is a connection between faith and sports. (fundie-footies) ?