Pastor’s Viewpoint: 1-21-17

Published 7:00 am Sunday, January 22, 2017

Born at an Oakland baseball game in 1981, “the wave” is now a part of sports history and now Illes Farkas, a Hungarian biological physicist, has made a study of “the wave” for the journal Nature. He was building on the original research by C. Davisson and L. H. Germer, published in Nature in 1927 and titled “The Wave Nature of Particles.” Illes was interested in how “the wave” mimics particle behavior, and so he set out to analyze crowd behavior using a model originally created to study cardiac tissue. I’ve never heard “the wave,” particle behavior, and cardiac tissue mentioned in the same discussion, much less in the same sentence.
Illes discovered that “the wave” almost always moves in a clockwise direction at about 20 seats/second maintaining a width of about 19 to 39 feet or about 15 seats. It starts with an average of about a dozen people doing “the wave” simultaneously until the next section picks it up and it begins to move through the crowd. After appearing at the World Cup in Mexico City in 1986, it’s also known as the “Mexican Wave.” And there is another type of wave…
Matthew reports on Jesus’ arrest, “Then the governorʼs soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.” (Matthew 27:27-38, 45, 50)
Now you might wonder how “the wave” is related to this story? All this is part of a larger study of crowd behavior in which people will do things they would never imagine doing as an individual. So the religious leaders in Jerusalem started their own “wave” by spreading gossip, false stories, and rumors. They planted the seeds of hatred ending with Jesus’ arrest, torture, and crucifixion. Not one individual would have demanded Jesus’ arrest. Not one single soldier would have tortured Jesus. But as part of the crowd, they all, like sheep (and maybe like us), followed the crowd.

Pastor’s viewpoint is written by Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor serving the Woodland – Bold Springs UMC and with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.