It was that time of year once again.
Last Sunday, The Third Annual Great Trivia Challenge was once again contested by an enthusiastic and Einsteinian field. Yes, even Einstein himself made an appearance. Not Albert, but his distant relative, Andrew, although the family resemblance was truly uncanny.
For a parish priest, such nights are not really about winning (especially when our Men in Black Team did not win, but more on that anon). It is about the religious knowledge we see our flock displaying. Yes, every religious question was a win-win situation for us on the bearded table (sorry Tasonis!). If everybody in the room got it right, we rejoiced that our people are growing in knowledge and grace. And if everyone got it wrong (rare) and we got it right, we rejoiced that we were five more points up on everyone else!
A greater cause of rejoicing for us was the wonderful spirit in which the night was conducted. The behaviour of the youth and the oldies was exemplary of the true Christian spirit of love and unselfish fellowship. There was good humour among all, even among arc 9, proud winners of the wooden spoon, and Mashakel who narrowly missed out. It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game, and everyone played the game with honour and good sportsmanship.
Another cause of great rejoicing for us is the way the night was organised and carried out. The team of young people who carried full responsibility for the organisation of the night worked enthusiastically and tirelessly. I have no doubt the workload was enormous. From the flawless performance of the computer scoring system (yes, first time in history I think, Coptic or otherwise!) to the lovely little touch of the kernels of knowledge hung up around the walls of the auditorium, to the delicious dinner … too many items to mention. And all were carried out with aminimum of fuss, an absence of ego and a true spirit of genuine mutual respect and teamwork. This is what it means to live as a Christian. And this is also a great example of how putting more into out community means that we will all get a lot more out of it. God bless those humble and faithful labourers.
What’s that? Oh, you want to know who won? Yes, I was just coming around to it – not that it really matters, does it (especially when it wasn’t us)? Well, about half way through the night, it seemed that the Men in Black were back! That’s right, the team that pioneered Trivia Victory by winning the first ever Great Trivia Challenge was in the lead, our rightful place. (Oops. Fr Botros has been trying to curb my boasting, but that one just slipped out. Sorry). We even had our Sudoko champion fit and ready this night, and sure enough, we had our entry in before the first round was over! That’s right! We were all in awe!
But there was trouble just around the corner. A couple of ‘challenges’ like eating spaghetti out of a plate without using your hands gave some of the less cultured teams (sorry Abouna) a big boost. No one ever taught us how to do that in our 40 days at the monastery! Oh, we could feel the competition breathing down our necks, figuratively, of course. In spite of the accumulated talents of our fourfathers, Fr Arsanius’ IT expertise, Fr Matthew’s legal skills (sadly, he had to retire early from competition), Fr Youssef’s administrative knowledge and the all-round brilliance of HG Bishop Daniel, the opposition was catching up.
Magdi’s Clipboard seemed to have a chance, but then for some unknown reason their screws came loose. By the final round, it had become a two-horse race. Team Malak, a bunch of Archangel veterans, were up against the usurpers from St Mark’s Church. Yes, that long running friendly rivalry, often the focus of Coptic Mastermind Competitions and other arenas of intellectual prowess was flaring up once more. Who would win? Only 7 points separated the accelerating St Marks Team from the nervous Team Malak going into the final round – a small matter of just two questions … but could they pull it off?
Then, the last question was answered, the computer scorer was quietly humming away, busily determining the fates of two dozen eager contestants, and a silent hush fell upon the crowd. Would history be made, and the coveted plaque travel down the M4 to Arncliffe? Or would the stalwarts of the Mountain keep the treasure on the hilltops?
Slowly, agonisingly slowly, the final scores went up, from last, to first. It was time to reveal who had come second. A pause that seemed to last forever hung in the air until, at last, the second place winner flashed upon the screens:
Team Malak had held on to win by the most meagre of margins – just 3 points! There was rejoicing and there were tears (well I didn’t actually see any tears, but I’m extrapolating). Once again the true Christian spirit of love was manifest in the sincere congratulations of respect exchanged by the two top teams, and we were all reminded that in the end, we are all one Church, one Body of Christ, and that which is victory for one of us is victory for us all.
Which brings me to the fate of the Men in Black. We too rejoiced in the victory of our blessed youth, for we had little to rejoice in from our own performance. Well, that is not strictly true. Team MIB repeated their performance of 2007 by finishing 8th. Of course, we all know that symbolically speaking, the number eight is used in theology to represent God. If 6 is the number of man (he was created on the sixth day) and 7 is the number of completion or perfection, then 8 is held to represent that which is beyond perfection, namely God. So how can we complain, if God is on our side? No, no, we are content, and yes, Abouna Botros, I will try to be quiet about our great team in future so we do not have to eat our words so often. But for next year, we are already assembling an even better team, with wider expertise…
Er, by the way, does anyone know a priest who is an expert at identifying cars from the 1970’s and can eat a plate of spaghetti without the use of his hands?