Friday, February 06, 2004

the errant evangelical

Once upon a time there was a little boy who was always tossing things into other things. Wads of paper across the room into the waste basket, coins into his shoes while he sat on the couch, anything he could toss, into anything that was there to toss it into.
One day he was walking down the street and he saw some kids playing on the playground. They were tossing a ball into some sort of ring bolted up high onto a piece of plywood. “As I live and breathe,” he exclaimed to himself, “that’s what I’ve been looking for all my life. Its as if I were made for this!”
So the little boy made friends with the other kids and began to play with them. He learned that what they were doing was called “basketball”. Over time they became quite accomplished at the game, joined a league and played a regular schedule with other teams. Who knows why? but by and by, they began to change the rules of the game a bit. First thing they did was to change the number of players on each team from five to nine. This seemed like a good change because now more could participate. The more the merrier. The people who had come along since the advent of the nine player teams had no idea what it was like playing with five. Remembering the success of the first change and the newfound excitement injected into the game, they began to make other changes. At one point, they stopped changing possession of the ball after a goal was scored and allowed the same team to stay on offense until they had been stopped on three scoring attempts. At another time, they changed from a rather large, inflated ball, to a very small hard ball. Change after minor change took place until they added designated areas on the playing surface where the player was deemed safe and wasn’t subjected to defense while he remained there. Eventually the surface was changed from floor to field, they added a stick with which to hit the ball, and finally they no longer tried to throw the ball into the hoop, but instead hit it with the stick so that while it was in play, they could advance through a series of the designated safe areas until they arrived back at where they had started, and thus a goal was accorded them.
This last change was what did it for the boy. He realized that the very thing that had drawn him to the game was no longer even a minor element of play. He announced his dissatisfaction to his teammates and said that he thought he was going to quit. They were very upset. “How can you quit?”, they asked. “Basketball has always been the most important thing in our lives, you can’t just walk away.” “How will you live without Basketball?” But the boy turned and began to walk alone back toward the old playground, tossing bottle caps and gum wrappers into trash cans along the way.