The Super Bowl Evening

I was preparing to write this during the Super Bowl; I had gone to Village Burger Bar worrying I might not be able to get a seat. But there were lots of seats, and as I sat there and lingered with my laptop, the place never got full. The game was on the monitors and the sound was in the air, but the crowds were elsewhere.

The first time a World Cup occurred while I was in New York City, the pubs were full—even in the mornings, if a game were happening then. On the sidewalks were chalk signs noting the teams and the times for the day. Inside were noise and beer and compactness. If I had a visitor during the Cup, we would go out to watch a game; I had no TV, and the pubs were more fun anyway. But it wasn’t only TV-less folk, everyone went out to see the Cup. It was a public-communal experience.

The Super Bowl is different. Everyone watches it, and apart from places where people live in postage-stamp-size apartments (and apart from a few TV-less folks), they watch it gathered in homes.

And this makes for that strange feeling on the streets, a lack of traffic, an odd quietness. Here we have a near-universal event, something everyone is doing, but the happening is domestic, behind private doors. It’s not family-focused like Christmas, nor is it a huge gathering like a star concert. The Super Bowl is millions of simultaneous home parties. I think I’ll call it “private-communal.”


There’s a private-communal aspect to Christianity also. Christians have public places where they come together, always have; but Christians also gather in small domestic groups. These small groups of Christians come together to pray, read the Bible, learn the faith, and encourage each other. They’ve been doing this since biblical times, and they do it still—which is why you might not often think about it. But when you are out in your neighborhood, you never know: somewhere near you there may be a group of Christians gathered. 


The private-communal aspect of Christianity promotes happiness. We need small groups for our flourishing. Super Bowl parties are good, but even better are private-communal events that happen week after week.


Out & About. The Good Books & Good Talk seminar is this Sunday, February 19, on A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. We meet in the education building of Incarnation in Dallas from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Anyone who reads the book is welcome to the conversation.

The next seminar, on March 19, will be on James Matthew Wilson’s The Strangeness of the Good, his most recent collection of poems that includes his Covid diary. Wilson is a widely published poet with a Christian imagination.


The Rev. Canon Victor Lee Austin. Ph.D., is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Friendship: The Heart of Being Human" and "A Post-Covid Catechesis.: