When the Devil Makes You Examine Your Non-Belief

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¬†Over a decade ago now, in an attempt to rescue my floundering faith, I set about reading the Bible cover to cover. Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, the last vestiges of that faith left during the book of Exodus, when Pharaoh, overwhelmed by the plagues repeatedly repents, only for God to harden his heart each time until at last the Egyptians lose their firstborn children and livestock, just so God’s power is made known.

We’re taught that story in Sunday school, I’d known it for years. But even though I kept reading after that, I knew then that I no longer believed. And at the time, it made me terribly sad, but like I said, that was over a decade ago. I now consider myself an agnostic atheist. I don’t believe that there’s a god, but I also realize that I cannot know that as a matter of fact.

There’s a show currently airing on Fox called Lucifer that’s loosely based on a comic book, in which the devil takes a break from ruling hell and vacations in Los Angeles, cause where else would he go than the city of angels? The show is part cop procedural, part supernatural and never really takes itself too seriously even while dealing with religious themes.

I love it.

So I think that’s why I felt sucker punched during this Monday’s episode when Lucifer delivers a glorious rant towards God, questioning that divine plan that many believers hold onto, and how everyone seems to come out on the losing end. I was instantly transported back to my reading of Exodus, wondering how I was supposed to hold onto faith when God brought upon the slaughter of the firstborn children even after Pharaoh was willing to relent of his own volition.

I imagine that people who were never religious to begin with might not have felt so strongly about it, and well, there’s a group of people who are religious trying to boycott it off the air, but for a non-believer who once believed, I knew that beautifully melancholic feeling.

So there’s a certain irony to the fact that a comic book show about the devil managed what a couple dozen Christian movies have failed to do; made me think about faith.

I hope to hell it gets renewed for a second season.

(And yeah, I know what I did there.)

How (Not) to Draft a Fantasy Soccer Team

Back in 2010 I was working at a bookstore and my coworkers decided to start a fantasy football league, which they immediately attempted to get me to join. I told them, no, I didn’t know anything about football, except that my team, the Detroit Lions, never did too well.

They were undeterred, and eventually I relented, drafting my team based on important qualities such as who they played for (the Lions ranked number one in this case) or their resemblence to giant teddy bears (Arian Foster) or having an amazing name (Legedu Naanee.)

I won the league.

Flash forward a few years, and I don’t expect to repeat that success playing fantasy MLS, but my goal is really to get into the United States’ version of professional soccer, which is difficult. Especially when compared to say, the Premier League of the Brits with its promotion and relegation that keeps the league fluid. But I’m going to give it a shot.

I chose my team a few years back, the Columbus Crew, because their colors are black and yellow and match my Hufflepuff scarf that my mom made me. I’ve never truly followed them, however, so I was pretty surprised last year when they made it to the finals in the playoffs. Didn’t win, but I’m not the type of supporter who gives up on a team for not winning championships. I’m the sort of supporter who just doesn’t pay attention.

Until this year.

Some friends created a fantasy MLS league, and in an attempt to learn more about the players and teams, I immediately began my research. This is my team. We’re decidedly average in points thus far, but who cares about points? There are more important characteristics to a fantasy soccer team.

Team Shipp Happens

Goalies

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Steve Clark, Columbus Crew

I figure that if Steve Clark can get the Crew to the Finals, he can be my starting goalie. This strategy isn’t exactly paying off yet, as the Crew are 0-2, but they’re sure to turn things around. I hope. Regardless, Clark has eyes that make me trust him in net.

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Josh Saunders, New York City FC

Between his smile and that jersey, Josh Saunders is a ball of sunshine, and a worthy backup goalie.

Defense

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Brandon Vincent, Chicago Fire

In Fantasy MLS, you draft a team based on salary, rather than an actual draft like Fantasy Football. Vincent was an affordable rookie defender who’s starting for the Fire. He’s also adorable.

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Nat Borchers, Portland Timbers

Once I saw Nat’s glorious, glorious beard, he was going to be on my team. I mean look at it. Legendary.

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Robbie Rogers, LA Galaxy

So Robbie Rogers is one of a select few professional athletes who have come out. So he is one of a select few of MLS defenders playing on my team. It doesn’t hurt that he has a beautiful smile as well.

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Tim Parker, Vancouver Whitecaps

When in doubt about how to round off your defense, add a Weasley. There’s also the fact that I’m trying to include as many teams as possible, to spark my interest in as many games as possible.

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Tommy Redding, Orlando City SC

Orlando’s first homegrown signing, Tommy Redding is currently sitting on my bench so that I can play more midfielders. But he pulls off purple well, I think.

Midfield

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Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution

Diego was the first player that I saw in my research that was a must-have. It was the hair.

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Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew

If I had to pick a favorite player on the Crew, it would be Finlay, so he made it onto my team. There were a few others in the running, though, after the team made a video responding to mean tweets about their uh… colorful new kits.

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Harry Shipp, Montreal Impact

When I first started my research, Shipp was playing for Chicago. A hometown hero who was a bright spot in a terrible season last year. Then he got traded unexpectedly to Montreal, and my team name, Shipp Happens, came to be. He penned an emotional letter to fans of the Fire, and he quickly became a favorite of mine.

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Julian Buescher, DC United

Currently a sub for both DC United and Shipp Happens, Julian Buescher has been warming the bench. Hopefully he gets a chance to start for both teams.

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Razvan Cocis, Chicago Fire

So, I had Razvan and his neck beard on my team last week, but transferred him out last minute. He scored a goal. I apologized and transferred him back into the team this week. He didn’t start. I was sad, but y’know… it happens.

Forwards

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David Villa, New York City FC

By no means was I going to draft David Villa, one of those players who an expansion team signs right away to launch their team. Then I saw his smile, and he won me over.

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Dom Dwyer, Sporting Kansas City

So Sporting KC launched their new kits during the Super Bowl this year, and suddenly Dom’s photo was all over Twitter, and I remembered that when looking for players. But then I found out he was married to Sydney Leroux who played for the US National Women’s team, and there was no question.

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Khiry Shelton, New York City FC

I really didn’t expect that I’d have three players from NYCFC on my team but I also didn’t expect them all to have beautiful smiles. And Khiry’s hair is almost always fun, from what I’ve seen.

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Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC

And last but not least is Sebastian Giovinco, my tattooed team captain who led the league in goals last year. 68% of teams have selected this Italian wonder, and I’m hoping he lives up to expectations after a crazy season last year. If not, his tats are still fantastic.

So there’s Shipp Happens, my first attempt at really playing Fantasy MLS. (Kind of.)