What Cubs fans can show us about faith

Here’s the obvious answer: hope springs eternal.

If the long-suffering Cubs fans can’t show us hope, what can they show us about faith? 108 years is a really long time. Shoot—if Abraham had been born the last time the Cubs won, Isaac would already be 8.

Maybe so. But it’s not hope that I have in mind. It’s necessity.

In Sunday’s sermon I talked about our innate human sense that blood must be shed; that a sacrifice must be made in order for justice to be served and atonement effected.

Many in our modern world tend to think that the need for sacrifice is just some primitive impulse of ancient cultures. That God and religion are so passé. Surely, in 21st century America, we’re beyond all that mumbo-jumbo!


I submit to you Exhibit A, this statement from a Cubs fan in a recent piece at ESPN:

“[The championship drought] taps into this feeling a lot of us have that things should be fair, that people should take turns and it’s our turn to win,” he said. “It also taps into the idea a lot of us believe subconsciously that if you suffer enough, you’ll be rewarded. Cubs fans have suffered for 108 years, so it only makes sense we’ll be rewarded — not because our team is good or that Theo Epstein and the front office have assembled a winning team, but because it’s right.

Notice the guiding assumption in this statement: through suffering—through sacrifice—justice should be done. Through the “shed blood” of more than a century’s waiting for a championship, order should be restored.

The question becomes, Who is the guarantor of this reward? And why should long-suffering (setting aside for the moment the fact that a losing baseball team is pretty low on the scale of suffering) merit such a reward?

The concluding quote in the article is even more overt:

“It has been 108 years [since the Cubs last won the World Series], so it’s long overdue,” Weinstein said. “For that reason, the thinking goes, we will win. The world’s magical forces will make the world just. Every year, we’re just waiting for justice to occur.”

Ah, yes: that great savior, “The world’s magical forces.”

I know, I know—”Pastor, lighten up! It’s just an ESPN article, not a dissertation!” But guess what? These kinds of off-the-cuff statements say a lot more about people’s deeply held beliefs than do academic essays.

Many people in our day would disavow any “organized religion” or faith. But they are not without faith; they just believe in something else—”the world’s magical forces,” say.

As G.K. Chesterton is supposed to have said, “When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing. He believes anything.”

Everyone has faith. As Cubs fans can show us, the only question is: Who or what do you have faith in?

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