Just been doing some reading this afternoon in Destiny of the Republic, a book about the assassination of President James Garfield (half the blog readership is saying, “Wow, you really are a dork,”; one quarter is saying, “Wow, that actually sounds kinda cool,”; and one quarter is saying, “Garfield was assassinated? Betcha dollars to donuts that Odie was behind it.”). In the background, I had the preliminaries to the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race on.
As I read, I heard something that forced me to put my book down. Darrell Waltrip was giving an invocation (i.e., prayer). I was blown away as they panned across the crowds. Tens of thousands of people standing quietly, respectfully, hats off, eyes closed, as the Lord’s blessing was asked upon a sporting event. When Waltrip finished, a bagpipe quartet launched into an emotional Amazing Grace. As I watched, two thoughts kept going through my mind: “This is so cool!” and “This is on national TV?”
The opening ceremonies were concluded by a 21-gun salute followed by Taps, an excellent rendition of the National Anthem by a Blowfishless Hootie, and an awe-inspiring flyover by a B-52. Truly, one of the greatest intros to a sporting event that I’ve seen in quite a while.
I’m not sure why this all caught me so off-guard. I guess I’ve simply realized how sad it is that I should be this surprised over a prayer on TV. It just seems so non-televisiony – like it’s violating some law governing the separation between Church and Tube. Church belongs to God; television (except for the obligatory Sunday morning services and the very rare TBN show that does not worship the twin gods, Clairol and Maybelline) belongs to the other guy.
I’m old enough to remember the Billy Graham Crusades on TV (not that I really appreciated them interrupting my latest update on the happenings in the Cunningham family). I also remember the Waltons praying over their meals, something I have a hard time picturing the Kardashians or the Griffins doing. I know that it’s possible to have non-buffoon, non-bigotted, loving, caring Christians portrayed on the little screen.
Now, before I start sounding too much like a bitter, curmudgeonly old man (“Yeah, back in my day we only had three stations and they all showed the Jerry Lewis Telethon straight through the entire Labor Day weekend…and we liked it!” [said in bitter, curmudgeonly old man voice]), I realize that times have changed, that culture has changed, and that the Christian gray area has greatly expanded. I guess I’d just like to give an internet fist bump to NASCAR and Fox for reminding the nation that this is Sunday, that God still matters, and that people do still pray.
Oh, gotta go. Fox is showing a promo for their awesome new dating show “Take Me Out” where 30 ladies get to choose between various eligible bachelors. Looks fascinating. Wonder who’s giving their invocation?