Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Minor League Proposals and Biblical Bobbleheads

Now that we have reached the mid-point of the baseball season, I would like to make an observation as a first-time Sounds season ticket holder: I am shocked at how many men choose a Sounds baseball game to propose to their girlfriends and choose the Sounds public address announcer to make that pitch for them. I have not kept count and I have not been to every game, but I can remember a goodly number of marriage proposals announced over the Greer Stadium P.A. Heck, I can remember three in the last homestand, and I didn't even attend every game of the four-game series.

I don't care how big a Sounds fan your girlfriend is; any man proposing marriage "'til death do you part" at a minor league baseball game is nothing but a Bush Leaguer, pure and simple. Proposing at a sports venue is high risk, to begin with. But if you're going to propose to a woman at a ballpark, at least pick one of our national treasures, a cathedral to the game. And for goodness sakes, don't let an anonymous P.A. announcer do your work for you; at least find an acquaintance if you don't want to put the work in yourself. All kidding aside, you have got to show your future mate that she deserves something more elite and major-league than a slow ride up the Greer Stadium elevator for dinner at Sluggers Sports Bar and free fireworks after the game.

Conservative Christians can complain all they want about the "threat to the institution of marriage" if gay and lesbian partnerships receive the same legal status as heterosexual marriage. Their complaints mean very little to me when I am forced to watch the persistent debasing of the institution at Greer Stadium by straight, yet stuporous men.

So, I have a wish. It concerns what Sounds management calls "Faith Night," which is essentially a marketing scheme designed to tap into all of that extra money that conservative Christians seem to have after boycotting iniquitous dens like Disney World, which dared to extend benefits to gay and lesbian partnerships. (It's seriously sad that religion has now been reduced to a leveraging mechanism to move money from one vendor to another more in line with a rigid set of beliefs, but that is exactly what the public expression of conservative Christianity seems to have become. It has lost its soul).

I wish, just once on a Friday night "Faith Night," that I could hear the announcer say, "I have a special message for Eve: Ada would like to ask, 'Will you marry me?'" or that I might hear him say over the P.A.: "I have a special message for Steve: Adam would like to ask, 'Will you marry me?'" I am not suggesting to my gay and lesbian friends who are committed to monogamy that they lower themselves to the same triple-A level of the straight-yet-stuporous.

It's just this selfish wish I have kept to myself up until now that a hole might be poked through the Bible-belt pretense of the Greer Stadium customer-service approach that places marriage proposals, religious faith, and family life on Friday nights on the same debit side of the business ledger as beer and souvenir sales on every other night of the week. A gay or lesbian proposal on Faith Night is my own selfish wish to test that customer-service approach and to scare the straight proposers from their Bush League stupor. I don't really expect it to happen because I expect something more from marriage. But as wild as it sounds, even an androgynous proposal--"I have a special message for Chris: Pat would like to ask ..."--might leave fans scratching their heads trying to figure out if the proposal is straight or not. It would at least leave a smile on my face.

Faith Nights include a giveaway called "Biblical Bobblehead Doll Night," and if the particular Bobblehead to be given away the night of a gay, lesbian, or androgynous proposal included "Lot's Wife, the Pillar of Salt Bobblehead," it would only boost the irony (see Genesis 19 in the Christian Old Testament for the story; but see conservative Christian intrepretations like this for an example of popularizing a connection of Genesis 19 to prohibitions against homosexuality, rather than to prohibitions against rape). By the way, S-townwife tells me she already sees irony in the look of the Biblical Bobbleheads given away to this point: she says they resemble the Village People.

A final word for those who might accuse me of denigrating faith: I am not attacking religious faith. I'm trying to defend it against commercialism, minimization, and stranglingly narrow interpretations of what counts as religious. Don't be mislead into thinking that "Faith Nights" are marketed toward any other people of faith outside of conservative Christianity. Jews (no Rabbi Akiva Bobblehead), Muslims (no Muhammed Bobblehead), and mainline and progressive Christians do not seem to be included in the Sounds' target audience. This year the Sounds also have a promotion offering free tickets for Vacation Bible School attendance sponsored by David Lipscomb University, a conservative institution of the exclusive Church of Christ. If the Sounds ever host a promotion sponsored by Vanderbilt Divinity School, then I'll believe that they are serious about appealing to people of faith across the spectrum.

Happy All Star Game night to all! Go, Sounds!

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