Here’s my World Cup quiz. (Like the Irish Times prize crossword once, answers at bottom of pg.)
1. Who was England’s football manager in the 1970 World Cup?
2. In which World Cups did Bryan Robson appear?
3. Who scored England’s dying seconds winner in the 1990s World Cup?
How did you do? Anyone score a hat trick?
The world of men is split roughly in two. Some blokes would know all the answers to those questions, or at least take an informed guess. Then there’s ones like me. I only know the answers because I pinched the questions off the internet. In fact. I’ve already forgotten the answers. If I was in your pub quiz team I’d have to sneak a look at my Iphone in the loo – or wait for the 80s music round while trying to look as if I had the foggiest.
Being from Manchester, this has disadvantaged me man and boy. I always got my Macaris mixed up with my McIlroys , while the reds I was at school with always knew the line up, manager’s name and which brand of gum they chewed in the 81-82 season- for every team in leagues I’d never heard of. Others wearing sky blue had their team’s full collection of ’20 Greatest Throw In’ videos. But I’m more like that bloke in the pub in the Fast Show who tries manfully to join in with football conversation and then, “I’ll get me coat.”
Since coming back to the rainy city my mate Andy – who knew all three answers above – has declared his mission now is to make me a better United fan (not many of us actually come from Manchester so it’s good to stick together). I’m afraid it’s a losing battle.
I was put off footie for years while working in the cops because it became just a place where you had to fight drunks, but now I have to say I like watching football. I can even get embarrassingly excited, but (I am ashamed to admit it), I couldn’t tell you the score of the last game I watched. My brain doesn’t work like that.
Lots of men are like this when it comes to things religious, and the Bible in particular. It’s a big book – where do you start? Pick a page at random and it gets worse. All those weird names, and places with funny names. There’s a book called Numbers but that’s full of names too! All a bit boring – very confusing – and there’s nothing men like less than not appearing to know something about anything, so let’s blag it, like people do about Shakespeare.
Wasn’t Joseph married to Mary? Didn’t he sing in that West End musical in a nice coat? One teenager in our church was recently overheard saying Jesus was ‘the carpet-fitter of Nazareth.’
Some guys I talk to have more of an idea than that, even a few bits from school RE. Lots have a wife, friend or colleague so far advanced in this kind of knowledge you know you’ll never catch up – so you’ve given up. Your brain just can’t hold that sort of information.
I have good news for you. Christianity is not a bible trivia quiz, it’s a relationship.
When some people came to Jesus – these religious scholars knew the whole of the Old Testament back to front, – but he said, “You diligently search the scriptures…but refuse to come to me for eternal life.” They knew all kinds of trivia, but the star player was standing right in front of them and they missed him.
Here’s what I have found. If I spent more time learning football statistics it might make me a better fan, but the more I study the Bible, I become a better man. Because the Bible’s not just a story. It’s God’s message about how he’s rescuing the world one life at a time, and the part you play in that. Not just as a spectator, but as a player on his team!
At the end of your life, when all the trophies are forgotten, God’s not going to ask you to name all Ten Commandments (answers in Exodus 20), but he will ask, “When you broke them, did you come to the only One who can fix you? My Son, Jesus?”
God’s not going to ask you to name all Twelve Apostles (and who replaced Judas on the first team – answers in Matthew 10 and Acts 1). He’s going to ask, “Did you know… ME?”
The answer to that question will decide a lot more than who buys the next round.
ANSWERS: 1. Sir Alf Ramsey 2. 1982, 1986, 1990. 3. David Platt.
(This article is featured in the latest edition of Sorted magazine – get it now!)