Thomas Merton, Football, And The American Religion


American football as something deeper and more meaningful than just sport?
That’s a cliche, certainly.
Some have attempted to draw a (weak) connection between the game and an increasingly violent culture, while others, through literature, have sensed its potential for power and dominance even off the field. And an interesting association to some early religious beliefs, sacred rituals and prehistoric bonding has also been made along the way.
But football as religion itself, at least symbolically?
Reading Thomas Merton’s final journal entries leading up to his untimely death in 1968, The Other Side of the Mountain, The End of the Journey (The Journals of Thomas Merton, Book 7), has been a pretty eye-opening experience.
His observations on American society at that time – which spanned the increasing United States involvement in the Vietnam Nam war, the nascent peace and civil rights movements (Merton’s writings zealously encouraged both), the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr


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