Hearing someone describe the sport of cricket reminds me of Dr. Seuss’ grinch kvetching about Christmas morning chaos. “And they’ll play noisy games like zoozit and kazay, a rollerskate type of lacrosse and croquet!”
Mixing bats, balls, wickets, and bowling sounds like a sport that can’t make up its mind.
It even adds a nod to the moral universe when it explains that Rajeshwari Gayakwad, a world class player from India, bowls slow left-arm orthodox, a term that conjures priests more than it does athletes.
This means, by the way, that she spins the ball with the fingers of her left hand, attempting to trick a batter into believing the ball will strike the ground and bounce one way when it will, in fact, go quite the opposite direction. Spin bowlers rely on deception rather than speed (hence the addition of slow in the description) to strike out their opponents.
Why do I know this? I’m taking a Master writing class (veery slowly) from Malcolm Gladwell. He’s who I want to be when I grow up. The first assignment was to accept a randomly generated topic and write an article about it. My assigned topic? Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
You won’t be surprised I’d never heard of her, given my obvious knowledge of cricket. I thought—how can I write an article on this person and sport I don’t really know, or care, one bit about?
Then a funny thing happened. The more I read about her, the more interested I became in cricket. By the end of the article, I was googling world titles, country stats, and discrimination in India like I wanted to write a book on it.
I’d found commonalities with Raj. She also lost a parent very young. The feeling of responsibility that creates toward the surviving parent empowers her, while it nearly destroyed me.
She knows what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s profession. She understands far more than I do how a culture can work to hold women in their assigned places, even and especially talented, ambitious ones. Her defiant post— “I Was Told Cricket Is Not A Girl’s Game,” resonates with this woman who was told the same about pastoring.
She wants to make her profession better for the women who come after her, as do I.
A woman on the other side of the world suddenly mattered to me. Her success at playing cricket, inspiring girls, and buying her widowed mother a house mattered. It mattered because I had taken the time to learn about her, even when I thought it was a strange assignment on an uninteresting subject.
The correlations should not be lost on us.
First, there are a lot of people on the other side of the world right now in need of compassionate comprehension. The Afghan crisis is one that requires our attention, but it also requires our effort to learn before we begin to post ALL the opinions. As has been mentioned on twitter, it’s funny how many people suddenly pivoted from being epidemiologists to foreign policy experts.
That might mean listening to or reading the stories of refugees to find commonalities. Common ground brings out our compassion and our willingness to learn more. As losing a parent made me care about Raj more, so maybe discovering you share an occupation or a goal with a refugee can bridge the language and culture barriers. Driving Afghan refugees to doctor’s appointments gave me a window into how dangerous it was for them to assist the US military—and it gives me compassion and fire to do something now.
Before we dismiss the desperation of others we know nothing about, let’s delve into their stories so that we can find what makes us alike, not fear what doesn’t.
(Read some refugee stories here, for instance.)
A Foreign Language
Another correlation is quite different—it’s in the face that we in the church show others. Hold onto your pearls—those who don’t go to church find some of our language—and even Bible stories!—quite odd and disconnected to their lives. It’s like the rules of cricket. Unintelligible words and rules that they don’t see a reason to care about and certainly don’t want to run afoul of.
Pastors, leaders, preachers—how can we make our speaking about the Bible make sense, and be interesting, to those for whom it’s a foreign language about an obscure sport?Tweet
How are we creating correlations between their lives and the Scripture? I don’t mean an up-to-date illustration here and there. I mean,
how are we creating walkways between life in the Bible and life in the now in a way that makes people take notice and care?Tweet
In my monthly newsletter, I mentioned the Theology of Work Bible commentary—it takes the Scriptures and correlates God’s ideas about work to people today who are seeking meaning in what they do.
This summer in church, we studied Romans—and talked about the strong correlation between believers who judge and look down on one another then and now.
Bridging. Correlating. Creating connections that make people care about something they didn’t think they cared about.
This is good discipleship.
That’s our job as pastors, whether it’s teaching Scripture or teaching love of neighbor. We are given this task of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5.16-20) That’s what bridge-building is. It’s the work of the kingdom at hand.