Month: November 2012

Carlton Football Club Advent Calendars: Football as Religion

Today I saw in the supermarket a Carlton Football Club Advent Calendar. Is it so much worse than a calendar covered with Santas? In one sense no, but while Santa (Saint Nicholas) has a historical connection with a feast celebrating Christ’s birth, football has nothing to do with it.

Except for the fact that football truly does have a religious function in so many Australian lives.

It’s a trite thing to say – how many times have you heard it from the pulpit? And yet I feel it has become more true in recent years, and truer in more breathtaking ways.

I’ve seen death notices in The West Australian which have a Dockers or Eagles logo above them, taking the place of a cross. A person’s football fanaticism will sometimes be noted as a key feature of their lives. Obviously people find comfort in this, and identity; that’s not all wrong – but it bewilders me. Even if people have no religion, is this what fills the vacuum?

I can’t help feeling it is a sign of an emptiness at the heart of our society, a world which has been stripped of transcendent meaning, a world all surface and entertainment. I show my own scars here, growing up in a town where sport was everything, and in a Christian culture which very much bought into the importance of sport. But I do feel disturbed about that Advent calendar. What does it mean? What is the kid thinking about as he opens the football themed window each morning until Christmas to woof down a chocolate?

On The Road on Mennonite World Review

You probably already know this, but in case you don’t, I’m the editor of On The Road, the journal of the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand. I was so encouraged to have an article written about our journal by John D. Roth (editor of Mennonite Quarterly Review and professor of history at Goshen) on Mennonite World Review. John writes, generously: “I am struck by the way On the Road helps to create a sense of community for its widely scattered subscribers and by the freshness that an ecumenical perspective can bring to Anabaptist themes.”

It comes out four times a year in digital format and you can subscribe for free by emailing me – nathanhobby at Past issues are here.