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It IS Cricket!

Personally, I am not a cricket fan. I prefer tennis, or even golf, having played both, and enjoyed them, touched some of their finer points and relished the competitive edge, strategic plannings, skill of execution, modes of play: it is true, more in the thought than in the performance, but nevertheless, these things were THERE!

That is one reason why it is so strange that I actually enjoyed watching the semi-final of the World one- day series, in which Australia had so bizarre a victory over South Africa, so victorious a display.

It was however dramatic, sudden, filled towards the end (and it seems my watching was in that area) with emotion, action, the unexpected, the simple, the strategic, the droll, the humorous, the imaginative ... it was something like a sport. A sport ?

Steve Waugh, Captain, was spilling out advice and counsel and craft in the newspapers, on purpose, we learned, in order to help induce the failing streak for which he looked, and so on. It is not that one was in the least impressed by the actual manoeuvres involved; personally, this sort of manoeuvre does not in the slightest degree appeal. Emotional texturing is not what appeals to me, as a form of art work in human relations, when it has this almost manipulative-seeming edge. However there was SPIRIT.

It appeared also in the remarkable batting feat of Steve Waugh which enabled a semi-final at all. Though this writer knows so little about the game that it is humorous to write a word about it, yet it appears that this sportsman was the less dramatic of the two of his name, but suddenly flowered into a bounty of dynamism and resolve which laughed at dreariness, ignored weariness and did what was needed ... with spirit. Thus the semi-final came. There was in this game a spirit of enterprise, of imagination, of thought and action wedded, of hope and endeavour, a vivid display of feeling and resolve and so on. THIS was interesting. Even cricket, to me, then began to take wings!

Sport and spirit! there is a duo. People LOVE to see the desperate, the courageous, the unexpected, the massive, the vast display of power or skill or endurance or hope or imagination or resolve. They invent heroes, and crowd in soccer matches with the same feelings of reverence which have been seen in some mass rallies of a religious kind. The singing is deep and with a certain approach to ... awe!

In such popular displays by soccer-watching crowds, there can be at times the sense of tenderness, robustness of hope, involvement, participation, expectation of a wonderful thing, that objectively has a proper focus in the just and due OBJECT of religious faith! Indeed, to my mind there is no doubt that MUCH of the sensationalistic ecstasy or empathy (what you will, the unbridled delight) which many show in SPORT and its EXEMPLARS is a diversion of a religious drive which is inbuilt into man. That is precisely why it often seems so exaggerated, the heroes so little in comparison with the degree and manner of adulation, the exploits so magnified.

It so often appears disproportionate, like the amorous advances of a man in love with love, scarcely noticing the young lady. It rises to great heights of poetry or ardour, which after marriage (to judge by some divorce figures of around 50% for one great nation, from memory) sink to the actualities of inter-personal relations, which make Prince Andrew's claim of being friends with his bride, now just married, seem rather pleasant. Surely, that is an irredeemable minimum, a sine qua non!

It would appear that many in repetitive jobs, or even worse, in jobs which harass their finer feelings, leading to artificial behaviour in front of customers, or the boss, or the foreman, or boredom not shown, are only too pleased to find something with a bit of spirit in it, imagination, reality and resolve, daring and drive. Sport is a fine field for it. So it can serve up multiplied millions of dollars to appropriate individuals who happen to have that combination of drive and skill and imagination and ... a spirit of adventure, with animation.

WHAT the spectators  want to see, it would appear not seldom, is a sense of BROTHERLINESS (shown in odd ways nowadays, by those who do well, and those who are pleased with their team mates), together with a dire sense of COMPETITION which is unmasked, direct and understood on all sides, stirring therefore to the imagination and not limited by suffocating conventions and appearances. It is reality, it is spirit they want to see. Skill - of course, as it exhibits the same. But remove that, the spirit, and the skill is a comparatively dead thing, such as was virtually mocked (in ENGLAND! no less) when one tennis player SIMPLY SEEMED TOO STRONG, without more ado... THAT was too simple. It would not do!

SPIRIT! How pathetic the denial of its existence by some of the nerdish fish who swim in the anaemic oceans which pollute so much of academia! Indeed, it is not seldom that this might appear PRECISELY what is lacking in the life of the theorist in such a case! A dull reductionist and reduced residue at times seems all that is left at the vital level, like the result of influenza, and at the level of understanding of these very things, as if blindness were in fashion, and deafness an attribute of grace.

Yet there is a vast significance in the power to surpass the apparent boundaries, to imagine where feet have not trod, or where precedent is not apparent, to change the parameters, to alter the concepts, to vary from the fashionable figures, and rise in the spiritual winds of uplift into something which is not merely innovative, though that assuredly helps, but inspiringly is fired with an input of insight, understanding and control which leaves behind the former foothills, with vision. Where it is equipped with balance and life as well, it can be a sight to be seen.

VISION! How beautiful it can be! Oddly enough, it is usually - no, let us be more careful - frequently met, at the highest levels, with bloodshed, as in Nazi Germany (Hitler and Himmler were undoubtedly nurturing a spirit of a kind ...), in re-organisation involuntarily of the oppressed 'masses' (and none more so, than those unfortunate enough to be liberated by the Communist luxuricrats), so that they might be free. The 'moral victory' ascribed by some TV toting Serbians of religious background, to the clearing of the human swamp (as it appeared) of non-Serbian Orthodox personnel from Kosovo, is a perfect example. THIS WORLD is the oyster, THIS territory is the aim. The people are to be MOVED by MORALS and TORTURED by spiritual kindness ?

What victory is this! It would rather appear, a mere machination of man, a divinely unauthorised insurgence into the lives of others with a disregard as total as that of the blind (cf. Christ in Matthew 26:52, John 18:36-37). Murder is not morals. Mass murder is not moral victory. It would appear FAR MORE A MORAL DEFEAT THAN ANY OTHER. The French Revolution for its part, freed the heads from the shoulders of many whom it liberated, and then went on to free many of the heads which had been (in the view of some) too heady, too headstrong, and needed a different base from that neck which had hitherto supported them.

But it can be beautiful. The vision of Christ is transcendently beautiful, indeed transcendentally so. His sermon on the Mount so leaves the drab draperies of tired old humanity with its artful pretences and customary avoidances of what matters most, that we find ourselves in the very realm of light, a life which is worth living, commandingly apt for man, reducing the options which would contest, to mere childish urbanity if not absurdity.

The fact that it is the truth is exceedingly important as well (see SMR Chs.1-3,6,8). That makes the vision splendid something never needing to be amended. That too is beautiful. The resurgences of inspiration are all the better when well based.

Indeed, Isaiah the prophet is filled with admiration for the very FEET of those who bring the Gospel news of HOW TO FIND GOD AND TO LIVE IN THAT VISION SPLENDID, WHICH IS THE TRUTH (Isaiah 52-53).

Spirit! (cf. SMR pp.24ff.). It is the existence of spirit which makes it non-lunacy to argue about the truth! If there were no mental membrane, no emotional fabric, no strength in man to roam and find the truth, only madmen would spend time looking for it. If the reductionist theories which act as if all the regions of inspiration and new dimensional thinking and abstract pondering past appearances, testable in the performance in due course: as if these did not exist, would only be placed next to one fact. And  this? Why, in this case, the theory that there is no spirit would itself be an insane theory, a piece of mental manipulation, an artifice with words of no value or even meaning! Thus to attack spirit in the end, is to remove the power to attack it! What cannot move to the truth may not bother to weary us with hearing that its view is the truth.

When however we look at what the real functionalities of man are, so stirred in sport and research, in novels and in political panoramas, and consider their impact and their power to perform under test (many fail and much is never admitted, as in organic evolution, the most pampered of all the races), then the poor,heartless, unimaginative, humdrum procedural pawn called matter, is not even in the race for finding the real matter in hand.

It is like proposing to a girl, and declaring: YOU are the best of the fair ones, my sweet, adorned with every beauty! and then adding this: NOT THAT I KNOW OR COULD KNOW ANYTHING. This ? THIS IS MERELY A MEANINGLESS REACTION.

She would wonder in that case, why you even bothered to open your admittedly fatuous mouth, and to which doctor you might most mercifully be led, and perhaps this too: how quickly! The passion for diminution of the human spirit to make it a mock-up of something else is never more absurd, than when that very passion moves to remove the premises on which alone, its passion could relate to truth. If there were none, then this certainly couldn't be it. If there is truth, past impression and reaction, then it is certainly not found in the denuded performance of inbuilt procedures. If truth is absolute, so that it exists without a subjectivity which makes it a mere mirror of machinations and machinery, then it must firstly, BE THERE, and secondly, BE KNOWN. The capacity to know must precede knowledge.

The human spirit is so impressed with personality! and not without reason. Our own spirits are imbued with personality, drive, understanding (or relative lack of it, as the case may be), emotion, desire, dream, imagination, perception, critical thought, comparisons, searchings, yearnings ...

Spirit! The forgotten reality of the 20th century, in its nutty headaches of plans for this and that, for controlling buyers and sellers and nations and the rest!

Small wonder sport is such an outlet, a field for discovery, has such overtones of religious amplitudes in some of it! The ONE who gives thought validity (see TMR Ch.5, SMR Chs. 3,10) is the proper aim of such exercises, and the overlooking of Him who overlooks us - but not with such neglect as the race shows to Him, rather with supervisory knowledge and judicious provisions: this is the bane of the 20th century.

This delinquency, this above all is what makes its much paraded 'advances', a horror, like that of a particularly nasty child, who is intellectually destroying the house, 'because dad does not live there', and he would not want him if he did: while in fact eating at his father's hand, and at table with him every day. (Cf. Romans 1:28-32 with II Tim. 3.)

There is not likely to be much in the way of the 21st., before the real Father again takes possession in what is called in Revelation 20, the thousand years, the millenium. A thousand years is as a day with the Lord; but this day will be such that it will provide time enough for this:

"The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" - Habakkuk 2:14.

Sport ? I love it, but love God more. Art, imagination, drive, enterprise, surprise and initiative... understanding ? Delightful, but not in some vagrant substitution for God; rather under His supervision.
I AM NOT A GOD, and I delight in the ONE WHO IS. To be given eternal life from Him (John 5:24, 6:47, Romans 6:23), through the Son of His love, and the love of His Son Jesus Christ (John 3:15-18), in a highly practical fashion, with better strategy than any sport, more imagination, more self-control, greater depth, more resolve for longer and deeper, as the Christ did what He was required to do without ceasing to be as really human as He was and had always been the divine manifestation, the word of God: this is a wonder of wonders.

The crucifixion most certainly and in both senses, was not cricket! Yet so many sport with it to this day.
It is not a mere spectacle. Christ was very slow on spectacle, to Herod the King denying it absolutely, with a well-deserved silence; to many who would crowd in to see plain, unvarnished miracle, limiting it, telling those healed NOT TO SPREAD IT ABROAD repeatedly. His spectacle was one without Broadway's costly acclaim, sportsmen's millions, without cooing crowds sending Him large cheques or the contemporary equivalent. The spectacle which made the difference was in rather another sense:

And this, this is the spectacle: