Hours later, everyone was stuffing themselves with great food and drink. Their eyes were glued to the large flat screen TV on the wall. They looked like they were participating in a beer commercial.
Suddenly, one of the football teams scored a touchdown, and those rooting for that team cheered and gave “high fives.” Among these roaring fans was the minister of their church. He had also received an invitation to the party and felt this was a good way to promote the spirit of community.
As the minister was cheering his favored team he noticed that the person sitting next to him was silent. He was not one of the members of his congregation.
“You rooting for the other team?” asked the gregarious minister.
“Nope. I am not rooting for any team,” said the man.
“Then why are you watching the game?” the minister inquired.
“I am here to make things more competitive,” said the stranger.
“How are you doing that—especially from the couch?” queried the minister in a joking way.
“I am increasing the competition between the Super Bowl and my consciousness of myself,” replied the stranger.
“What do you mean?” asked the minister.
“I am battling against having my consciousness wholly identified with the game. The Super Bowl is such a popular event that it is a worthy foe for my inner attention,” commented the strange man.
“But how else can you get into the game?” questioned the minister.
“Once you become identified with something, your individuality ceases to exist. We live most of our lives in fantasy and stupid dreams because our consciousness gets away from us and is pulled into the magical circle of terrestrial life. Those here watching the big game are lost—that is, they have everything in them except themselves,” explained the stranger.
“I have never heard that before. Besides, these people are all good Christians,” said the minister in defense of his members.
“They are automatons,” said the stranger. “As such, not even your best sermons penetrate or have more than a passing effect.”
“Who are you to make such a judgment?” asked the minister, now somewhat irritated.
“Simple. God sustains our lives. His life-giving energy flows into us from heaven. Am I not correct?”
“I agree so far,” replied the minister.
“Well, if we become identified or lost in this football game, or anything else in the physical world, God’s energy passes out of us like a sieve and degenerates into fantasy. But if we remain attentive to the states of our inner world, God’s energy has a place to stay, where it can be used for our spiritual growth and as a new center of initiative. Otherwise we become passive to the influences of the outer world. I will not give my precious God-given energy to either team in the Super Bowl,” said the stranger with complete seriousness.
Suddenly the other team scored and the stranger stood up to cheer.
“Hey, I thought you were not identified with the game?” said the minister to the now seemingly exposed hypocrite.
“Once you make a place for God’s energy to take hold and not leak out into the various vanities and allurements of the terrestrial world, you become inwardly free to play any role you want,” explained the stranger.
“Isn’t that deception?” questioned the minister.
“No. Not if you are spiritually liberated. I remain inwardly humble to the Lord God. I am not playing a role to either deceive myself or seek any gain in the world, but I do it to prevent people from giving me special notice,” said the stranger as he dove into the pizza with extra cheese. With his mouth full, he turned to the minister and said, “read Swedenborg’s theological writings—not just the parts you like, but the parts that will confront your image of yourself.”
The stranger’s team scores again, but he keeps his eyes fixed on the minister.