Friday, June 24, 2011

God dissed on Father's Day

Those of you who saw my Facebook status on Sunday know that I went to the U.S. Open golf tournament.  I mentioned that I went wearing clerics (Roman collar and black garb) and a GW hat.  I was able to do this because it turned about to be a rather cool day (as June days in DC go).  My buddy who invited me really wanted me to wear them...and ultimately, so did I.  My motivation wasn't entirely pious and today I will confess vanity in my intentions.  Sure, I wanted to make a good witness, but wasn't sure if a prestigious golf tournament at a posh country club with an expensive ticket  (provided by my friend) was the best setting for that.  But, I also had the notion that a TV camera might catch a different kind of father on Father's Day and I could do a little advertizing for GW Catholics!  Also, I just thought it would be fun and different. After praying about all of this, I decided to go with wearing black.

Man, did I get a bunch of looks!  I wasn't looking for this, but knew it would probably happen.  I had a blast talking to different people who came up to me and made comments in passing.  One man thanked me for helping Rory McIlroy's ball just clear the water on hole #6.  A young woman said to me that she liked seeing a priest who like golf.  But, then, she told me that she missed Mass that day.  I talked to her for a bit and eventually offered to hear her confession on the practice putting green which was vacant.  Oddly enough, she walked away at that point..!  I ran into several people I knew that probably wouldn't have happened if I wasn't wearing the collar.

The biggest realization I had about the looks I got had to do with Sunday Mass.  There were 50,000 people there at Congressional for the final round.  So, most likely, there were over 10,000 Catholics.  Current stats suggest that about 70% of Catholics don't go to Mass on Sundays, so there were about 7,000 Catholics who missed Mass last Sunday.  With as much walking around that course as we did, I probably was visible to most of them!  My thought coming away from the day, then, was that over 5,000 people saw me and thought, "I didn't go to Mass today".  This was one of the first things that that young woman said to me. I didn't intend this when I dressed for the event, but maybe God did.  He writes straight with crooked lines, you know.  Sunday Mass was probably the last thought that folks would have at the final round of the U.S. Open, but maybe it's been one of the first thoughts afterwards for some of them, who knows!

Obviously, I didn't see the TV coverage live.  But, when I got home to catch some highlights, one of the predominant stories was about something NBC did in one of its segments.  The video below is the introductory segment to the final round.  They assembled a moving tribute to the tournament and to American virtue and patriotism given that the national championship was being played in the nation's capital.  They showed golfers, soldiers, and children reciting the national anthem with inspiring instrumental music as a backdrop.  What the piece lacked was a complete national anthem.  The phrase "under God" was omitted...not just on the first playing of the anthem, but also on the second.

I have seen many video collages for sporting events, some of which have inspired patriotism.  I don't remember ever hearing the recital of our national anthem included in them, so this appeared to be a new approach.  It seemed awkward to have kids reciting the anthem (which is pretty long for a short video) with all of the images and music going on.  To me, it just seemed a bit much...for a golf tournament!  Anyway, my guess is that the anthem wasn't inserted in the piece for artistic reasons.  It wasn't expected or necessary, and again, seemed to make the whole piece too busy. 

Then, we get to the omission of "under God" and we start to see what's going on here.  Someone at NBC decided to delete a part of the national anthem that the kids had recited and that countless Americans have fought to include.  I don't think it was the NBC president or executives, although the apology they offered never included the words "under God" when they talked about deleting a portion of the anthem.  That would have been nice. Nevertheless, they wouldn't be that stupid to offend most of America, no matter what their political persuasions are. It's just bad business.  They have probably lost many viewers through this, including me.  It was most likely a rogue producer who they hired.  He (or she) decided not just to omit "under God" in the anthem, but to include the anthem in the piece for the sole reason of omitting "under God".  He wanted to make a political statement from the get-go.  The problem is - other than ticking off millions of Americans - that the omission defeats the whole purpose of the video (American patriotism).  Whatever political points he tried to score canceled out any professional points made in the video. Looks like God never straightened out his crooked lines.  That'll happen when you dis Him on Father's Day.

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