Bargaining With God
Bargaining With G-d
Like Woody Allen, I have been actively bargaining with G-d. I know the Lord is a big baseball fan, I just know. I also know, after a lifetime of praying, that G-d is a purist. He's omniscient so he knows who is going to win, but he really doesn't care who wins. For G-d the fix is never in. He watches baseball for the same reason as the rest of us fans. He just loves the game. And who wouldn't?
So last Saturday during my "I don't got to shul, synagogue, or temple but for some reason I talk to G-d on Saturday time," I respectfully told Him that I would give up on the Cubs ever winning the World Series in my lifetime, if He would make sure that Hillary wins the election. To show that I was sincere, I also offered to pray every day, because, of course, bargaining works so well with G-d.
I'm not saying that he didn't answer back; but if he did answer, I didn't hear him. So, I upped the ante. Well then I said, I'll also give up on the Red Sox ever winning another World Series, if you make Hillary win. Still no answer I could hear, but my friend, Mickey Action, the world's greatest Red Sox fan, once Catholic now Jewish, don't ask, explained that the Sox were not mine to offer. But, what do you expect from someone who's got his and thinks Tom Brady did not deflate the footballs nor ask someone else to do it for him?
Okay. Okay. Back to the subject that matters. It might appear that I am betraying the spirit of the Cubs, the spirit of Ernie Banks, who for reasons of abysmal teams and not disobedience, never got to enter the Promised Land. Sure his spirit did, but can you put a ring on a spirit finger.
So, I reminded G-d that it wasn't easy coming to Him with this matter of values and loyalty. Hillary appeals to my abstract values, which are not so abstract that they don't have obvious real world consequences. And one can love justice, and empathy, and even love love. But there was never anything abstract about baseball and the ballpark and several weekend trips a season to that sacred ground before I truly understood where I was being taken.
Some Sunday mornings my father took my brother and me before the ball game to visit the cemetery where the relatives he had known, but we hadn't, rested—the home of the world (עולם בית) it said in Hebrew on the gates. Our father paid an old man, who I thought was an ancient old man, but maybe he wasn't, to say a prayer. Later I thought such men were beggars who hung around the cemetery, but then still later I knew they were a kind of devoted I was not going to be. And still later yet, I realized that those old men were both beggar and devout servant and, for my father, probably came along with all the resting relatives, to the ballpark.
Ah, but what Sunday afternoons. I remember the foul balls hit into the stands that I chased but never captured, and the hotdogs with the yellow mustard that I then loved and only love now if I eat them at the ball game. And later it was the same with Bud. To this day, I am convinced that ballparks are the only place where Bud is a beer.
Truth be told, I had a real relationship with the Cubs before I ever had a relationship to a president. I was 5 when I went to my first Cubs game. I was 15 when John Kennedy was assassinated. The Cubs happened to me before the age of reason. They were part of my emotional life before I could reflect on the matter rationally. I never doubted the existence of the Cubs on either an earthly or spiritual plane. I didn't even have such a vocabulary yet. I just soaked in the pleasure of the game and rooting for my team. I seldom doubted that one day they would return to winning and within my lifetime. These days I wonder if possibly it might have been the Orthodox education I was getting that helped me build a wall around my Cubbie faith.
Probably not. We weren't Orthodox; we weren't even Skokie or North Shore Jewish. In many ways, we were very far away from any of those 60s Chicago Jewish "meccas," as Chicago Jews could get, but my parents, I think, thought that an Orthodox education might compensate in their children's lives for the physical and spiritual distances they had moved from family, friends, and Jewish community. Somewhat dolefully, I have always been a doubter about G-d, but I have never questioned the sweeping beauty of a great curveball since I first saw one happen.
This bargaining with G-d then is a new turn. I never realized I would take Woody or G-d so seriously. But here I am. And here is my prayer: "G-d, Adonai, I so love the Republic and humankind that I will sacrifice my only baseball team to you if you redeem us from the bondage of The Donald and give the Republic a renewed chance to save itself once again so that this "nation, under G-d, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
I am not being cheesy. I love the Cubs, but not enough to watch this crazed curve ball of a political experiment go down the tubes because of a raging narcissist and a party of fellow travelers (we all know that if Hillary wins Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and the rest of the dirt bags will be in a restaurant trying to figure out how to destroy her presidency the second the voting is done. It's what they do. It's how they have operated for fifty years. It's what they've stood for since the Nixon era.)
Now some readers are thinking, "What about a Faustian bargain?" I think the choice is there but I won't try it. I won't bargain with fallen angels. After all, who do you think is responsible for baseball on steroids, Pete Rose, the designated hitter, and some other unmentionable things that I won't mention? Besides, from what I can see, the devil has already made a deal with Trump. And it doesn't take a Weatherman to know that Trump is no baseball fan. So, dear G-d, G-d help us, here we are. Whoever becomes president, I think Wrigley field will stand, which is good because I don't think I could bear the destruction of the Third Temple. But will the Republic survive Trump? Do we have to find out? Can't we just once not have to learn the lesson the hard way? Can't we just go to bed election night without having to fear what comes in the morning? Can't we just this time know in our hearts, אהבה מנצחת שנאה (love conquerors hate), and get about the work of living it? With all my heart and all my might I pray love trumps hate.