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Duration:03:58
Uploaded:2019-07-23
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In which John and his family drive north to South Bend and consider what to love and how.

Also, I get to lift the greatest trophy in football.

Thanks to Ian Rush, Patrik Berger, Courtney, and everyone at Liverpool Football Club for making our day so special. Also thanks to Mohamed Salah for absolutely smashing that penalty in the final. Thanks also to Divock Origi and Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson and and and and ....

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Good morning Hank,

you ever been to South Bend,Indiana,well you’re about to-let’s go .I’ve been thinking a lot about what we love and how we love it ,partly because those loves give us communities and I feel like we need communities bound by enthusiasms more than ever to combat what Vonnegut called the ‘terrible disease of lonelinesss’.

Traffic was terrible by the way  but Alice and I were able to amuse ourselves by singing the  Gini Wijnaldum song for 2 straight hours ,do-do-do-do-do-do Gini Wijnaldum album,do-do-do-do-do-do Gini Wijnaldum ,great.

We were on our way to see reigning European champions Liverpool Football Club play a pre-season friendly at the university of Notre Dameand you know what,I’m just gonna save you 3 hours of driving and go directly to the stadium.

I don’t have much in common with most Liverpool supporters,we often have different jobs and political perspectives and religious backgrounds but because our love is oriented in the same direction,we are profoundly and deeply together,we sing the same songs and even if we don’t know each other, we kind of share a history. I’ve met Liverpool fans from Indianapolis to Sierra Leone from Hollywood to Stockholm and it’s always the same,we remember together,we tell each other where we were in 2005 when Stephen Girard lifted Liverpool’s 5th European cup. I was in Alabama celebrating my engagement to Sarah,my 1st novel had been published six weeks earlier,I was 27 and now ,I guess, we will tell each other where we were in 2019,when Jordan Henderson lifted the trophy for Liverpool again .

At the stadium ,singing with other Liverpool fans ,that in cadence are really hymns. I felt again the great gift that football has given me. It’s made me part of a massive ,sprawling,inclusive us but of course ,the risk is that   uses can also create thems.As Melinda Gates has written ‘every society says its outsiders are the problem but the outsiders are not the problem,the urge to create outsiders is the problem’,I find this a very helpful lens through which to look at the stuff I love ,as a religious person,I’ve seen how my own religious tradition has created and demonised outsiders to solidify the standing and connectedness of insiders,I’ve seen the same thing happen in football and for that matter, in YouTube fandoms and political ideologies and many other places. We have to be careful about what we love of course but we also have to be careful about how we love it,so for me I guess it’s not mostly about whether you love a Kpop band or a sports team ,it’s about whether that love sustains you and connects you deeply to others and it’s also about whether that love needs to create outsiders in order to survive.

Can you be a Christian without damming those who aren’t?Can you be a fan without hating those Manchester United?Can the us survive without a them to fuel it?

At half time ,Alice and Sarah and I got to meet Liverpool legends Patrick Burger and Ian Rush and in a moment of incredible generosity ,they brought out the European cup for us ,I’m not afraid to say that I wept,I was thinking about the 14 years between trophies-14 years with Sarah,two amazing kids,some book,a couple YouTube channels,some hard times,a lot of good ones .14 years and Liverpool was with me the whole time and as I raised the cup in imitation of Jordan Henderson , I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the many uses that have loved me up into life. I often what the point of it all is but ,in that moment,I knew the point-the point is to gather,the verb that gave us together.

Hank,I’ll see you on Friday

J:Alice how old are you?
A:6.
J:How many times has Liverpool won the European championships?
A:6.
J:Yes