Canada's Religion - "The Golden Goal"

United.
Devoted.
Moved.
Emotional.
Connected.
Focused.
Joyous.

Such words reflect common ingredients of corporate religious experience.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of one of the most significant collective memories in recent Canadian cultural history - “The Golden Goal.” Over 2/3 of our nation (based on TV ratings) united to not only observe, but also participate in this cultural event through attire, food, and celebration. It’s not a stretch, as I think many suggested at the time, that Canada indeed does have a type of common religion: hockey.

Yes, looking at a definition of religion, the focus of reverence shifts from a concept of divine being to a sports team. But religious worship is incredibly diverse in the focus of adoration. Clear expressions of devotion and attention towards an object of reverence is a shared focus between Canadian hockey fans and the religiously devout. No more was this evident than on that day three years ago.

To be clear, I don’t think it’s fair both to hockey fans or religious folks to push this comparison too strongly. To many hockey fans, religion, as it is for many Canadians, is irrelevant in our culture - privately held opinions at best. Those who believe strongly in adhering to a single religion, yet also find themselves fervent hockey fans - such as myself! - no doubt find such analogy and comparison problematic. Hockey and religion are very different. But as I think of the time, attention, and not to mention the money, that goes into Canadian hockey devotion, perhaps some discomfort with the analogy should be more telling than problematic.

All this to say, culture and religious life is often more connected than we think, hockey in Canada being just one example.

And as I reflect on the goal that shot a nation into united celebration, even if for only one day, I’m reminded of the potential for religion and collective experience to bring good into our world.


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