Preachers Playing Poker…

I’m pretty sure I’m getting older.  I know this because I am starting to become ruffled by things that “go against the grain”.  I don’t identify myself as a religious individual, however I do take the time to feed my spiritual side.  Growing up Catholic, rules were pretty hard and fast; things were black and white and it was pretty easy to determine right from wrong.  From this, I think I cultivated a very rigid way of viewing many aspects of life.  Recently, I have become more keenly aware of this and am attempting to consciously look at things from more than one side of the fence.  Which brings me to my point…

Flipping through the channels last week, we stopped at a poker program.  I dabble in the sport (and it IS a sport so don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise). I have found that the game stokes my wildly competitive side and encourages a new level of focus for me that I haven’t experienced in years.  My husband taught me to play-I discovered poker at the same time I discovered him (coincidence…I think not).  So as we were watching the program, they introduced a novice player who was to play a poker pro for cash winnings.  I am startled to see the novice player comes to the table and is in full priest attire-collar and all.  He announces he is playing with the intent to give the money to his church.  I immediately try to recall my days in Sunday school and am quite sure that gambling is frowned upon by the Catholic church (even if the winnings are going to a charitable cause).  In fact…it might even be a…ahem…a sin.  At any rate, I am utterly shocked by this and begin to watch the game much like I would watch a horror film-mouth gaping and all.

A few minutes into the game, I see that the priest can actually play.  Pan to two members of his congregation (a husband and wife team-the wife who is about to deliver a 20lb child I’m sure) who are there for “moral support”.  WHAT??  Moral support?  He is a priest for Pete’s sake-he’s got the Big Guy on his side.  Besides…do they not see something amiss with this little situation?  I comment to my husband incredulously wondering where on earth this priest learned to play poker…surely it was not in a back closet somewhere as I was imagining.  My husband very matter-of-factly says “priests are people too you know…he has to have something to do in priest school”.  Um…you mean “seminary” right honey?  It was evident to see that my husband did not consider this an oddball situation whatsoever.

I will have to admit that the strangest part of the show came when there was an “all in” moment.  The priest actually pulled a rosary out of his pocket and made a joking remark to the professional about his “in” with the Guy Upstairs.  My heart beat rather quickly as I reverted back to a child-like reverence of God and his almighty powers.  Although I don’t know him personally, I was certain that He would not want his powers used for gambling.  The priest won the game and publicly vowed to renovate his church.  His congregation members cheered in support and all was right with the world.

Except my world.  The weird irony of it all stayed with me for hours afterward.   Priests playing poker.  What next…nuns looking for love on the Bachelorette?  I tried to be open-minded…to somehow make it fit in my head.  It wouldn’t.  Priests are priests and I will always look at them in a certain light (a rather holy, bright light stemming from religious teachings being pounded into my brain from the time I was old enough to know better).  Watching a priest play poker was like watching Mother Theresa on Survivor.  Is nothing sacred?

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