Last week, I had the most interesting dream. I was floating in the clouds when suddenly the sky cleared and in front of me was a large gate, partially opened. There was a man was sitting before it. He had a substantial flowing beard and appeared to be in dramatic need of an eyebrow trimmer. Perched on a simple chair, he was staring, or more correctly, glaring at me. No doubt — this was God. And he was angry.
“I’ve got a lot of problems right now, and it’s not your time but I brought you here to remind you of something important. The book of James 4:6 says that ‘God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Pride from self-righteousness is a sin. Maybe you’ve heard of the seven deadly sins. Well, the seventh is pride. St. Peter just told me that every day there are 93 million selfies taken. In the photos people are doing something with their face — like …”
I jumped in. “You mean look like a duck?”
“Yeah. Duck-face poses. Who said that was attractive? Satan? I heard that someone who took a selfie at a funeral got a million likes. What is going on down there? I’ve heard of a condition some people have called FOMO — fear of missing out. What about fear of missing church? Anyone have that these days?”
At that moment my bladder felt quite full.
And he started to bark again. “I just heard the worst-selling People magazine cover in 2015 was the one with Pope Francis on it. The highest one was some country-western guy who just dumped his wife. And then you have that mess in the Middle East.”
He paused a long time. The angels who had descended around him had disappeared. I was totally alone. The puffy clouds were morphing into something resembling a tornado. I filled the silence with a response.
“Yeah things are pretty bad. But I have some good news. The opposite of pride is humility, right? Last year I had a lot of humility.”
He nodded. “Go on.”
“I’ve endured the most humiliating year. I was put down, stepped on, run over.
He nodded. “Continue.”
“I’m a KU football season ticket holder.”
He erupted. “You think I care about football? I’m God. The world is falling apart. Do you read the newspapers? Do you watch Fox News? I don’t have time for such things.”
“OK. Sorry,” I said. “I just figured you might watch Notre Dame. They were left out of the bowl championship series this year. They never deserved serious consideration for the bowl playoff anyway. They were way overrated.”
BOOM! An enormous crack of thunder struck behind me.
“Are you kidding me! We had so many injuries. Malik Zaire’s broken ankle was devastating in the second game of the year. We lost to Clemson in Death Valley by two points on the road in a driving rainstorm. Clemson is now playing for the national title. And the Stanford game we had in the bag until the last play of the game. That was so frustrating. We were two plays away from playing for a national title. And don’t bring up the Ohio State game.”
I stepped back.
“Yes. Notre Dame got, well, treated unfairly. But that rainstorm against Clemson was Hurricane Joaquin — you couldn’t redirect it out to sea?”
“Yeah we talked about it. But Holy Cross had a big game that weekend too and I lost the argument with St. Peter. Now what were you saying?”
“KU football. I’m humble. It’s the Jayhawks’ second winless season in 126 years of football, joining the 1954 squad that went 0-10. KU’s 553 points allowed also were a new Big 12 record. Our announcer retired. Baby Jay was seen barfing in a trash can. People were crying.”
“No, ticket brokers. It was so depressing the best athlete in the school plays volleyball. Parents punished their kids by forcing them to sit through the second half of the games. I went to every game but one. We lost to Baylor 66-7. OU beat us 62-7. West Virginia won 49-0. You know what that does to you? You can’t brag. You don’t tweet, flash selfies or strut around. And then you see K-State winning you almost can’t take it.”
“You know envy is a deadly sin. too?”
“Yeah. Things went downhill fast after we hired Charlie Weis.”
“Wait. You mean the old Notre Dame coach? The one we fired and had to pay 20 million dollars? Oh goodness. Prayers my son. Yes. I see. OK. Hmmm. OK. I see it’s complicated.”
“See! I’m humble. By the way, where is St. Peter?”
“He’s watching SportsCenter. So go back home and spread the word. Peace, love and humility. And while I can’t tell you the future, but I’d suggest there is zero risk of vanity for KU fans in 2016. Have you seen next year’s football schedule?”
“Uh. No. I’ve been too busy saying prayers about something else.”
“Yes,” he said, stroking his beard and leaning toward me. “Make it quick, Downton Abbey is about to start.”
In soft tones I whispered two words: “Alex Gordon.”
“Oh boy, my son. You had it all last year. Perhaps you need reminding about another one of those seven sins. Ever heard of GREED?”
In an instant, the dream was over. I woke up with one message bouncing in my head: “Done. Now please direct your intentions to more worldly affairs!”
Matthew Keenan writes the first and third Wednesday of the month. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.