The cliché, “The best defense is a good offense,” makes sense even to non-sports people like me. It can be applied to ball games, military combat, and I believe, it can be applied to religion. Too much defense and there is a lack of vision for scoring, whether the scoring results in a ball through the hoop, peace of mind, or spiritual growth and healing.
How do we have a strong offensive team when it comes to spiritual goals and religion?
Before we consider a few key points to help answer that question, it’s vital to recognize that we must first break any bad habits of being on the defense. That might sound simple, but it isn’t.
There will always be criticizers of truth seekers, spiritual travelers. And, we can sometimes get really good at defending our spiritual position or rebounding after we’ve been attacked. However, emphasis on defense causes us to become our own worst enemy and as a result, our own spiritual growth is resisted.
Ironically, opponents can walk off the field and go about their own life while we spend all the time defending our beliefs.
This has become apparent in some religious institutions, even the one I grew up in.
Members in declining churches spend too much time defending their rituals, their favorite passages, and ways of thinking, so much so, they score very little if any spiritual progress and experience. Unwittingly, the defensive attitude created a powerful imagined bogey-man. Real opponents aren’t even necessary and the church falls into oblivion.
Yes, we have to defend ourselves, however, defend, but move back to the offense team.
A few strategies can be taken from basketball.
Avoid focusing too much on the one-on-one aspect of offense, rather than the team aspect. In other words, don’t take things so personally. Get a world view of spirituality and remember it’s an ever-operating force allowing us to progress toward an immortal consciousness and experience. You aren’t the only one progressing spiritually and we can help one another.
Be a part of the game, instead of standing around and watching the action. Or, don’t only be a spectator. Be involved and pro-active with the goodness occurring in and around you.
Look to pass before looking to shoot. In other words, keep an eye on the opponents while yet assessing who on your team is in the open to make the score. Contribute to the best opportunities. This may require supporting another religion or a new way of doing things.
Keep your cool — don’t commit a cheap and foolish foul after making a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. When it happens, snap back into the game of life and let spirituality guide you, not frustration.
The list of key points could go on, but when I follow even these few, I notice an uptick in spiritual thoughts. I am better able to pass over mistakes made by other spiritual travelers and this in turn helps me feel as though they too will forgive me my mistakes. It can also open the door to new ideas, new options.
For example, conservative political commentator and columnist, Patrick Buchanan wrote an article on June 1, entitled, “Christian culture under assault in this country.”
Buchanan noted in his article that Saint Louis University (SLU), “will remove a heroic-sized statue of Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet S.J. from the front of Fusz Hall, where it has stood for 60 years.”
Historically, after entering the priesthood in year1827, Fr. De Smet was responsible for the establishment of many missions in America.
Recently SLU faculty and staff felt the De Smet statue became an item of controversy, representing, “a history of colonialism, imperialism, racism and of Christian and white supremacy.”
Buchanan comes across as a bit put out in his column, as if Christianity is being attacked. But that is my defensive interpretation, whereas I get on the offense team and think he has given us an opportunity to become more accountable for our world views.
I don’t have to get upset. I can strive to improve my attitude and behavior to match the evolved Christian view that all people are created equal and are equally loved by God.
I can affirm that moving the statute to the university’s art museum can’t ultimately promote or destroy Christianity. The statute only influences human beings if they let it.
I have the choice not to stereotype the university staff for being cowards, and I have the ability to appreciate still the statute of De Smet along with other artistic expressions that depict religious truths. Even more, I can use or develop my own ability to express religious truths artistically.
For example, I can craft my newspaper articles by carving out integrity, moral courage, and selflessness.