The story goes that a young, tenacious, by-the-book German priest was charged with shepherding through the Vatican a group of Protestant theologians, brought to Rome to consult on the ecumenical matters pertaining to the Second Vatican Council. In their company was the atheist’s favorite theologian, Karl Barth.
Barth had already proved his bona fides against Hitler, being the principal author of the Barmen Declaration calling for solidarity with the Jews and by trying to enlist for the fight though he was already approaching 50. What army needs a middle-aged pacifist, anyway?
But Barth had been waning in popularity among his own. His position that God--his grace, his presence, his will--is fundamentally unknowable (duh, replies the atheist) isn’t exactly a rallying cry for the faithful, but it did garner him enough interest to be consulted pro cathedra, if you will.
So after enduring many lectures and many conferences and many tours of many rooms, Barth quietly asks the German priest, excusing the poor impression that he, a humble Protestant, must impart, if all this ornate decoration and haughty rigmarole is not but a tacky substitute for a penitent spirit and the service of God?
History does not record the priest’s answer, but considering he was most recently elected to the papacy, we might hazard a guess.
It is much the same feeling that approaches us now. All the media coverage--the SI cover stories, the media-day circus, the ESPN 24-hour pre-game marathon--and all the expectations are shallow furrows compared to the season awaiting us.
And we shall ease into it. Week 1 is the methadone to smooth the edges on the rough stuff coming down the pike. Oh, we shall watch the game, but Western Carolina is not, in the words of Captain America, the pura vida. No matter. As the Great Leader has said, and said, and said, this is about the Process.
Finally, the Process begins.