Saturday, February 10, 2024

Can We Talk About Juju?

I am a religious person and a spiritual person. I'm not superstitious (I learned the hard way on that one. Guatemala, 2007). I've never used a Oujia board or seen a psychic. Nary a tarot card or Zodiac sign will be found among my possessions. I don't dabble. BUT, I don't mess with juju. Do you? And what I really want to know is: Can we talk about it?

To be honest, I thought the word was made up. I think it's a fun word to say. Turns out, there's more to it. According to Britannica

Juju is an object that has been deliberately infused with magical power or the magical power itself; it also can refer to the belief system involving the use of juju. Juju is practiced in West African countries... It is neither good nor bad, but it may be used for constructive purposes as well as for nefarious deeds. 

Juju operates on the principle of spiritual contagious contact based on physical contact. The underlying belief is that two entities that have been in close contact have similar properties even after being separated. It then becomes possible to manipulate one in order to reach the other. 

It is thought that spiritual similarity can be created by deliberately placing two things in physical contact. The underlying belief is that spiritual assimilation and fusion will take place, with one entity absorbing the qualities of the other. Amulets, charms, and mascots are all common forms of juju. Usually worn for protective purposes, those objects have been infused with a particular type of energy, and wearing them is expected to create paths and possibilities for the wearer, as well as guard them against ill fortunes and evil spirits.

Wow. And yet, when I think how and when I reference juju...this description rings true.

For example, I am most sensitive to the juju when I gamble. If I don't like the feel of the table or if a person joins it and brings new juju, bad juju, I will walk away.

Like many sports fans, I am mindful of the juju. For example, when people ask "If we win the Super Bowl, what day is the parade?" I can hardly answer the question. I have no problem with pundits and fans making predictions, but to talk about real possibilities and plans? No can do. Bad Juju. 

Combine sports and gambling—which many of us do—and the juju takes on a life of its own. The movie, "Silver Linings Playbook" captures that dynamic perfectly. I too have blamed certain people for messing up my team's juju.

So what gives? Or rather, why give into the juju. "I Don't Want Your Good Juju" a post featured in the National Catholic Reporter, captures my question... and my answer.

Futhermore, I don't pray to roll my point on craps. I don't ask God to guide my hand in Blackjack when I decide to split the eights. I will never pray for my team to win the game—parlay or not. I will however ask God for the health and safety of all athletes. I am happy to pray that my team uses their talents to the best of their abilities and glorify God in the process. I pray for a game that is fair. Do I pray for a game that is fun? why not!

Prayer is raising our hearts and minds to God. It is fundamental to my relationship with the Lord. Prayer is communication—listening and yes, asking. But I don't see God as a slot machine who grants my wishes—as much as I might want them to come true! Prayer is so much more. It is sacred and holy. Authentic prayer is as raw and it is real. And, I believe it's worth making the distinctions. 

In short, I save prayer for the big stuff, for the real stuff. As much as I enjoy gambling and love sports, they have their place. Obviously sports enhance my life. They make it more meaningful and fun, but they don't control it (I am sensitive to the fact that others might feel differently e.g. Kyle Shanahan and his family. I think Brock Purdy is sincere when he thanks Jesus for the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl). And thus, it is in that same spirit that I can tune in to the juju and tune it out. 

I hope Super Bowl LVIII is a great game and my team plays to the best of its abilities. May the best team win and the juju be kind ;-)

And just to prove there is a prayer for just about everything, here's a Super Bowl Sunday Prayer

Dear God, As we gather with family and friends to enjoy the NFL championship game, may we recall the truths and qualities that make sports wholesome and good. May the virtues of preparation, experience, teamwork and determination be on display. Not only on the field but within our lives. Enable discernment, trust, good conduct and sportsmanship. Establish grace in both winning and losing and fill us with hope and anticipation for the new season yet to come. Amen.

Photo Credits
Tiffany and Pat

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