I Went to a Hockey Game...and the Faith Broke Out | David Paul Deavel | CWR |
Alyssa Bormes explains the catechetical possibilities skating right by us in the rink of life
The Duke of Wellington is reported to have said that the Battle of Waterloo was won long before on the playing fields of Eton. Alyssa Bormes doesn't quite say that the Battle of Armageddon will have been won on the backyard hockey rinks of Minnesota, but she's clear in her new book, The Catechism of Hockey (ACS Press, 2013), that she thinks many of the spiritual battles in American Catholic families might be fought better if parents paid more to attention to the analogies to hockey while they explain the analogy of faith.
I know, I know. A whole book on the analogy of hockey to Catholic faith? It sounds like one of those Saturday Night Live sketches that starts well and then drags on for minutes that seem like days. But the book is actually not that long (199 pages) and flows nicely due to Bormes's style. She punctuates her points with parables, personal stories, and historic moments from hockey as well as other sports. What's more, Bormes is able to take on all sorts of topics of faith and morals in a way that makes them more understandable. She understands that arcane dogmas and moral codes are not off-putting: sports parents, especially dads, instinctively catechize their own children in the most obscure quasi-theological topics such as the nature of the infield fly rule, what constitutes pass interference, and what off-side means. Bormes doesn't cite the particular passage in the book, but it's this insight of St. Paul that captured Bormes when she first started to think about sports as a religion: “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim 2:5).
Life Outside of the Rules
I met Alyssa nine years ago when she was taking a course from my wife in the master's program in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. My wife had told me about a tall, broad-shouldered woman in her class with a great booming laugh, a great heart, and a great mind. Meeting Alyssa was a little like meeting a female Chesterton—deeply faithful, kind to all, and utterly commonsensical. Unlike Chesterton she was even somewhat practical. She certainly broke conventions but was in love with the commandments. But she hadn't always competed in life according to the rules. This Thanksgiving I sat down with her to talk a little bit about her book and her life.