Friday, July 8, 2016

Sports Churches: Home Run (2013)

It would be difficult to come up with a more generic name for a baseball film than Home Run unless you went with Baseball or probably should have been Base Ball. But you see there's more to that title. Pro baseball player Cory Brand (Scott Elrod) has been running from home, and now he must return to his hometown because of … well, plot.

Brand is a star on the Denver Pilots a (major league? minor league?) team that seems to obsess the national press. Brand is a great player, but he has a problem with alcohol. His problem is on display on the field. He hits what should be a homerun, but misses the tag on third base. (The home run would have won $10,000 donation for Young Life. I volunteered for Young Life for many years, so I appreciated the plug for the organization.) He accidentally smacks a little bat boy in the face, so he has to take a blood test after the game. He's in trouble, but is in worse trouble after a drunk-driving accident. He’s suspended from the league.

Even worse, he is given The Mighty Ducks sentence: he has to coach a little league team. (Unlike Emilio Estevez in that movie, he coaches baseball rather than hockey, coaching the team of the kid he hit.) He must also join a twelve step program.

In the small Oklahoma town where Brand has to live, there’s only one program, Celebrate Recovery, and it's at a church. So that's where he goes.

I wasn’t quite clear on whether the league or a judge mandated the twelve step program. Brand said he didn’t want to be in a church run program, so a case for the abridgment of his first amendment rights could be made either way.  The case would be much stronger if the court mandated his program, but the issue doesn’t come up; Brand goes to the church program.

We never hear the name of the church with the Celebrate Recovery program, but it seems to be a small town Protestant mainline denominational church with fairly generic stained glass and pews. Entering his first meeting, Brand is sure he must have come to the wrong place because a man is talking about his addiction to pornography. Initially, Brand can’t believe someone is talking about such things at church, then he’s convinced he must have come to a group for sex addicts rather than substance abusers. Turns out the group is there for all of your addiction and traumatic childhood needs.

At one point in the film, Brand accuses a woman of not being able to understand his problems because she’s never faced anything worse than a stopped up sink. At the next meeting, the same woman tells of being sexually abused as a young woman.

“Anonymity” does not seem to be a problem this program deals with, as everyone in town seems to turn up for a meeting at some time or other. And everyone knows that Brand, the famous baseball player, is attending the meetings for his abuse problems. The program seems to work for him. Eventually, Brand deals with the abuse he experienced from his father when he was a child, and additionally, he deals with his alcoholism and becomes a Christian. Considering the results, we have to give this Movie Church, if not the film, Three Steeples.

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