PREPRERELEASE: A Snippet from Chapter One of my yet untitled work / not that anyone's really screaming for it
Since the mid 1600’s, people have flocked to Pamplona, Spain, during the second week of July for what some have called “the most exciting participatory event in the world”. The excitement begins each morning at 8 AM. A mardi-gras style crowd packs the street from one side to the other, waiting for the big event. Bulls, weighing in at 1,000 to 1,500 lbs and destined for the fight of their lives , are released into the streets and chased towards the bull ring. The only thing standing between these bovine behemoths' and and their goal is a drunken mob waiting for the thrill of a lifetime. When the bulls are released, the crowd leads them through the streets on foot in a harrowing half-mile run, often narrowly escaping the bulls’ sharp horns. Some people don’t escape at all.
Runners at the front of the pack deal with getting jostled by the crowd behind them. Runners at the back of the pack deal with the reality of the equivalent of 6,000 Quarter pounders, still breathing, and bent on avenging every hamburger the runners have ever eaten. Since the Spaniards' began keeping track in 1924, 13 runners have been killed and more than 200 injured by the bulls. A great number more have been hurt in the citywide drinking that goes on that week that serves to dull the senses in preparation for the danger, yet ultimately makes the runners less likely to succeed.
As believers living in this world, we’re not so much gladiators in the arena of culture, battling with a human nemesis, as we are runners a half-step ahead of the bulls. In the grand scheme of things, the difference between those running at the front of the pack and those being gored in the back is not all that vast. Given a different starting position or a poorly placed step, any one of us might have found ourselves with El Diablo breathing down our neck.
At Pamplona, a runner’s success is not measured by cutting across the path of other runners, causing them to fall. That is considered not only poor sportsmanship, but inhumane. Success would be defined leading the charge to safety. On a good day’s run, no one gets nailed to the wall. That sounds a lot like what we’re called to...to run a race, and lead as many to follow us as we can. A good day for the Kingdom of God is not unlike a good run at Pampolona - everyone lives to run again.