I’m old enough to have played a lot of pinball, back before the machines were crowded out of the arcades by the frenzied beeping of the video games. There’s actually two different approaches to playing pinball, two different philosophies, if you will. They diverge over the way they deal with the tilt mechanism.

For those of you that may have never actually encountered a pinball machine, let me explain a little. The key driver of pinball is gravity, no matter where you hit the balls, gravity sends them back down towards your paddles because of the slope of the table. Now, obviously, if you just pick up your end of the machine and eliminate the slope, you could keep the game going forever. To avoid this, they built sensors into the machines. If the machine was tilted or even just pushed around with a little too much zeal, your paddles were turned off and you could score no more points.

So back to the two philosophies. Some players considered learning how much jostling of the machine they could get away with to be an important part of the strategy of the game; others felt that the game was meant to be played purely, with only the pressing of the flipper buttons being legitimate, any shaking of the machine should only be by accident.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because God and I got to talking pinball today and she told me that pinball made a good metaphor for the way many people approach religion. One of the basic tenets of Catholicism is that we all sin, we’re imperfect beings and sometimes we just can’t help it. Because of this, Christ was sent to give us a path to forgiveness, the church teaches that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven.

So sinning is like tilting the pinball machine. Some people figure they can sin all they want as long as they make sure to go to confession. Others figure that sometimes they’ll get over excited and do something they shouldn’t, but that they should do all they can to avoid it.

I hope you can guess which side God favors.

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