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No Future in Standup

by Tim O'Hearn

The other day the preacher asked what wouldn’t be in heaven. Somebody said football, which was not a popular answer with our Denver Broncos-loving preacher. However, the answer was right. There cannot be professional football as we know it in heaven. First of all, some teams would be hard pressed to find their players in heaven, since they are on probation for a variety of crimes. More importantly, football requires a clock, and there is no time in heaven. No clock; no two-minute warning. And everyone knows that the only important part of football is the last two minutes.

But for the same reason there could not be basketball or the other futbol, which Americans call soccer. Tennis and baseball don’t revolve around clocks, so they might be there. And cricket. But speaking of eternity, have you ever watched a cricket match? It is the closest thing to eternity, and maybe the farthest thing from heaven, here on earth.

I learned to bowl cricket in Perth, Australia. Met some great Christians there. But Australia is not known for its Christians. Instead, I went to a bank to exchange American money for Australian. I handed the teller a $20, a $5, and five $1s. He looked at them, then looked up and asked, “How do you Yanks do it?” I asked what he was talking about. He pointed out that all our bills were green, unlike most world currencies where each denomination is a different color. He said, “When you’re drunk, how do you know which bill is which?” Says something about the Australian mentality. (And I had to admit that some drunks can’t tell which is which.)

In a lot of places alcohol is not the big problem. In most “sailor towns” the big sin is adultery. In one port I had my bodyguard, whose main job was to tell the women that I already had a steady girlfriend. OK, maybe it was a half-truth. He didn’t tell them that my girlfriend was my wife back home. Maybe some of the Corinthian believers could have used him to help them.

Corinth had more problems than adultery, though. Tolstoy said, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Well, Corinth was certainly unhappy in its own way. Incest, court battles, family feuds, women’s lib, divorce. The stuff soap operas are made of; and those don’t even touch the real churchy issues.

Churches. I’m surprised someone hasn’t made a soap opera based on churches rather than hospitals. That’s where the real politics and in-fighting are today. I even heard of a church that split because one group wanted to paint the walls pea green, and the other group had some sense. Rare is the church split based on something that can be answered by the scriptures.

And the scriptures. Translating the scriptures can be as difficult as running a church. Do we use the word “immersion” or keep with the old standby, “baptism?” What is a gender-neutral term for father? How can we translate a verse that shoots holes in our favorite doctrine in such a way that it really supports it? When it comes to modern translations, it’s all Greek to me.

Some things don’t need translation, however. Music is universal; laughter is universal; and love is universal. (So is a studio in Hollywood, but that’s a different story.) But getting back to the problem with football in heaven, how can there be music as we know it? Music is also based on time. But there is music in heaven. Maybe we baseball fans will have a little competition there. If they can figure out how to sing in heaven, then surely God can establish the ground rules so that the Redskins can beat the Cowboys throughout eternity. After all, if anybody can throw a perfect spiral, it must be God.