A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth and I saw the movie Moneyball starring Brad Pitt as the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to put together a winning baseball club, under serious financial straits, by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.
The film is terrific and deservedly joins other greats in the Baseball Movie Hall of Fame, like The Natural, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Sandlot, Major League, A League of Their Own and *61. Moneyball also focuses on themes that can easily be applied to the Church, i.e. how to let go of the old ways of ministry that no longer work and embrace new perspectives on doing ministry; how to value the person and their gifts instead of treating members like giving units; how to be innovative, creative, risky and bold instead of being stuck, resistant, unwilling to compromise or move forward, etc.
Essentially, Moneyball is a great lesson on how to go “back to the start,” how to get off the busy wheel and return to the simple love and joy of being, living and playing..in God’s creation. Even more striking than the film itself is that it is preceded (at least at the showing we attended) aptly enough by this new commercial from Chipotle called “Back to The Start.”
The incredible animation and Willie Nelson’s beautiful cover of the Coldplay song “The Scientist” (which features the line “I’m going back to the start”) pulls you into the story of this farmer who realizes that his efforts to streamline his farm to keep up with a super fast and demanding consumer society is causing more problems instead of making life easier. The commercial is a reminder of how we as individuals and as the Church need to step back and revaluate our fast paced streamlined lives so that we can slow down and focus more on being in loving and nurturing relationships with God, creation and one another.
As the late Henri Nouwen so eloquently put it:
“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”