Much has been written about culture wars, and how religion figures into them. This post will begin a new category of Interfaith Reflection posts called “culture observed.” I’m writing as a swimmer trying not to drown in his own culture, rather than a dispassionate observer looking in from the outside.
Most every month the YMCA in my neighborhood runs a fitness challenge to promote good health among its members. This month’s fitness challenge is mapped out on a small, red card entitled, “Love Your Body Passport.” The passport bears a table with teeny weeny squares, each containing the description of a fitness activity, such as “get your blood pressure checked,” “get a free adult swim lesson,” and “grab a heart healthy snack.” Just being able to read the tiny type in those teeny weeny squares was a health achievement I thought merited a square, but it wasn’t listed. During the short month of February the campaign challenge is to put a star sticker over twelve of those squares, signifying completion.
I got one square checked off immediately, simply by showing up and getting my passport. Hooray, only eleven more to go! I scanned the table looking for another give-away. This one caught my eye: “Complete our Super Bowl quiz.” Now, I had no doubt that I would fail this one, because I don’t watch T.V., and I don’t follow sports, either in the newspaper or online. I just don’t follow sports, period. This year I didn’t even know who was playing in the Super Bowl. But I decided to take the quiz anyway, because I’m task oriented, and the challenge said I had to take the quiz, not pass it. So, I took it, and proudly wrote “I don’t know” for every answer.
The lady collecting the quizes took mine, incredulously, trying to make sense of the man-freak handing over the evidence of his abstinence, not only from the most sacred event of the American year, but — heaven forefend — from television, which makes it all possible. “Who are you,” asked her wary eyes beneath a furrowed brow. “What planet do you live on?”
I live on planet Tom, and I burrow in there whenever I get a new idea that strikes my fancy, which is pretty often. On planet Tom there are no watchers’ games, no winners and losers, nothing but the joy of moving about and the feel of a body in tune.