Posted by: robertartemenko | July 19, 2010

Bronx Cathedral

Home of the Bombers and their faithful

 Last Saturday I experienced my first ballgame at the reborn Yankee Stadium for the sixty-forth Old-Timers Day. WHAT – A – MONUMENT! It’s not the tallest or most capacious venue, but I doubt that any team has built an edifice that so aggressively attempted to capture their history or brand or aspiration (Should I say destiny?). If you set the Roman Coliseum next to it and any other ballpark, there is no doubt  which would have greater affinity to antiquity. The grand arches, imposing porticos and bold cast stone facade look like something a crusader would glimpse with foreboding. The hint of protruding bleacher buttresses murmur hymns of the dramatic battles to be resolved within. The innate symmetry – solemnity – fortitude, bespeak Dynasty !, Kingdom!! nay, Empire (like it’s congregants license plates) !!! The approach across the dedicated Metro North RR bridge, the ascension from street level to enter therein, prepare the candidate for “induction” not admittance. My host commented that as much as he liked the new place, it was a bit too “corporate” for him. Certainly accurate, yet “corporate”  more like the Sistine Chapel compared to a country parish…harkenning to the difference between General Electric and a lemonade stand.  

And that’s just the outside! After the faithful have their tickets scanned, widow’s paying their “mitish” $5 for an obstructed bleacher seat, the Pharisees offering $250 for field level cushioned pews, all fans transition into the three-story “Great Hall.” This “Nave of the Bomber Apostles,” displays ~50 foot player banners, from the Bambino to the Chairman of Board, from Maris to Mantle from Lefty to Lou, on to Yogi, Joe, Jackson and Munson (Sounds like George’s reindeer). Majestically draped and illuminated by long Palladian windows and skylights above, they trace the Yankee world from its creation, to its ascendance, to dominance in the baseball universe. While  would-be monks would have gasped and grown speechless catching their first glimpse of the emerald-green turf , they are now ambushed and humbled by the graphic history of these titans, before we even see where they take the field.  

The Great Hall

 So what’s the deal? Did I like the Stadium or not? Is it great or not? Has any other team captured 27 world championships? Who else would deserve such a Mansion-Mueseum-Mausoleum-Monument-Mecca?  

In April, 1521, Martin Luther preached a sermon on the “Three Kinds of Good Life for the Instruction of Consciences.” Contained within was a sentence, “Whatever it is that makes a man do something, that motive is his god.” Similar to Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The Point?  

First, what is NOT the point.  

It is not that George Steinbrenner is evil.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -or that the Yankees are undeserving and other than the supreme franchise in professional sport.                                                                                                                                                                           -or that I did not get chills up my spine when I walked into the place, cause  I did, both up and down.                                                                                                                                                                     -or not that I wouldn’t have wanted to spend 20 years as a Yankee pitcher v.34 years at IBM.  

The point is, such encounters should be a gut check to what the culture’s priorities and aspirations are. Ask most New Yorker’s to do a word association with “Glory” or “Majesty” or “Savior,” you are likely to get 27 Championships, Empire State Building, Mariano Riviera – doubt that you would get too many folks to say Father, Son or Holy Spirit. I have to admit, I would be in the same boat. My head is so filled with power brand impressions tickling my passions, it’s really hard to live one’s life out of “priority needs” v. the “desirable wants” that some advertising budget has stimulated.  

No, not all is lost, but we better wake up and wonder why we, our culture, our country build $1.3 Billion recreational centers like this one (yo, what was the problem with the old place), but my town of Fairfield CT was traumatized and could not handle building what they called a new “mega” church that would have held all 1500 attendees. Now granted, there were serious “green issues” to deal with; vernal ponds, disruption of salamander reproductive cycles and need to “roll back” the property to pre-construction pristinity. But hey, would someone please tell me why God does not come up on our radar as more glorious, majestic or HUGE than He seems to? Yes, there are new church buildings, and Fairfield CT will likely accept a smaller house of God on Black Rock Turnpike. And, there are great ceremonies worldwide that honor God. And, before we build a new stadium, there may be a Gospel concert in the Bronx. That said, where are the new Chartres or Notre Dames? Among the ~50,000 at the Stadium on Saturday, many were clothed in $150 authentic pinstriped game jerseys by Majestic and $30 authentic New Era MLB hats. Not bad, not evil, but just wondering how much I prepare myself before I throw my khakis on and drag myself to church.  

So, after my visit to this marvelous venue last Saturday, I am asking myself how much I and the world around me, want to satisfy our wants – rejoice in our glory – promote our agenda – seek our comfort  versus …  

MT 22:37  ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  39 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”                                                                                                                                                                                    MT 6:33       seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   MIC 6:8     “ act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Enjoy your summer vacation and certainly get the tickets, toys and treats that make it fun. Please put such acquisitions in perspective, and realize there are many non-neutral influences out there wanting to tilt your priorities and appetites every which way. Let’s stay the course set for us by God, and be aware of the ones that are being constantly presented to us.    


  1. Seems to me you have the knack to write. Inquiring minds want to know when you’ll be posting another entry?

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