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Taking a glance back at present time

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Friday, Sept. 27, 3010

Dear Journal,

It has been a good week. Granted, I'm in as much debt as I've ever been and my kids are still worthless rebels, but work -- usually among the darkest spots on my depressing life -- has lately gotten very interesting. I am on a research team compiling information for a future collegiate-level textbook on Ancient History, and I was sent to study the peoples of a certain United States of America.

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Ah, the Americans. Never have I encountered, in my 25 years of study, a more intriguing set of people than these crazy Americans! They would buy houses and take 50 years to pay them off, purchase boats when they didn't live within 50 miles of a lake, and instead of eating regular food of the earth, consume large quantities of "food substitutes" such as Nacho Cheese Flavored Doritos and Twinkies.

The latter were actually quite a miracle food, or so I'm told: legend has it that they could sit on a shelf for a dozen years and remain moist.

I am stationed in an American city, Dallas (now a desert), a city which once laid claim to the religious center of America, the St. Peter's Basilica, the Mother Temple of them all: Dallas Cowboys Stadium. I am uncovering the ruins of this monstrosity -- which was built circa 2010 -- and the things I am discovering get more interesting every day...and more ridiculous.

Firstly, the Americans did not worship a specific God, per se, but many gods, all of whom played a game called football (not to be confused with the European version, spelled futbol, which was not a religion, only a game) on a professional level.

While other professional sports of the time certainly had their place in the hearts of the Americans -- such as baseball, basketball and hockey (the latter only in two states) -- my research is indicating that football, and only football, was truly deified.

Every Sunday, rarely Monday, hundreds of thousands of people would travel to their nearest stadium and watch in reverence as a service was held on the sacred gridiron -- a hundred-yard long plot of grass positioned in the center of the stadium.

The services themselves involved two groups of a dozen or so athletes wearing helmets bashing into each other, and were quite violent. In fact, they seem to me to have been more like gladiator fights than any kind of religious gathering -- but I've learned to stop putting anything past the Americans.

There are still so many things I don't understand. For example, large masses of people would gather and, in devotion to a specific group of gods, wear colored t-shirts and other clothing, and, in a ritual that hearkened to the Pre-Historic pagans, paint their faces and don horns.

Communion involved, for bread, giant cheese-filled pretzels and in place of the traditional wine, a six-pack of Bud Lite. Even though the temples could hold up to about 90,000 people, not everyone that wanted to worship could fit, so others would watch the service on a remote box in their home or with a group of like-minded believers at satellite temples called sports bars.

But no matter where they watched, the religious fervor would reach a fevered pitch when the brown pigskin device was carried to one end of a large alter. I'm still wondering what specifically the Americans truly regarded as the god. Was it the pigskin itself, the men carrying it, or the sport as a whole? The evidence may prove me wrong, but I believe it was the players.

After all, in an odd, irrational sort of way, I could almost understand their worship of football players. Baseball players were usually normal-looking enough, swimmers had the freaky dolphin-bodies, and basketball players were generally very tall -- not in an intimidating sort of way, more of a carnival-freak way.

My uncovering of rosters and the like has indicated that football players, on the other hand, were the perfect physical manifestations of man's hubris. Besides being three times the size of a normal person, a professional football player had a chest of stone, legs of steel, and biceps I couldn't wrap my arms around.  Besides cross-country runners, football players may have been the manliest men on earth.

The American man may have claimed to worship football, but (and this is not the scientist but the human being in me speaking now) the more I think about it, the more I have come to realize that football served only as a physical ideal of the American man's true religion: himself.

He could look up to his favorite pro football player and see in him proof that man will always be ruler of the earth. He could also rationalize the vast borrowing by the U.S. government to other countries by saying to himself, "let the other nations try to recover their money. If they do, we can just order our football players to dent their skulls in."

I'd better get to sleep. Tomorrow I start begging to get funding for a new research project -- the religion of Rock 'n' Roll in the latter half of the 20th Century in the United States. Those Americans were a very religious people. I have to give them that.

Nathan Kitzmann is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.

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