Aghast, I first thought that despite playing this song very loud, and excruciatingly often, she simply hadn’t been exposed to it often enough to see what I thought glaringly obvious. Still, after patiently waiting for my alarm to settle, she continued: “Not everyone knows all the lyrics by heart. What’s the point you're trying to make?”
Thus, chastened and concerned lest I appear even more cryptic than I already am, I offer an explanation:
”Boom Boom” Mancini is a real person, and, the events in Zevon’s song really occurred, give or take a little license when it comes to Boom Boom’s alleged reply (listen again closely if you want to know what I mean ;-). Zevon is expressing a young working-class man’s enthusiasm for someone he sees as the embodiment of courage and endurance, and I find this enthusiasm infectious.
I can’t claim to have ever been a big boxing aficionado, although since seeing the tremendous change “Fighting” Father Dave and his boxing gym/church has made in the lives of countless young people from appallingly disadvantaged backgrounds, my empathy for the sport has changed. I’ve certainly come to recognize that the objections I’d previously had to boxing were nothing more than the residue of one of Protestantism’s greatest delusions; that working class sins (like drinking, and smoking, and swearing) are intrinsically more offensive to God than middle class ones (like avarice, racism, and materialism). Since Christ has so much to say about the latter, and so little about the former, it’s hard to take the evangelicals’ claim of having a “biblically based” ethical framework seriously: it always seems more "culturally based" to me.
So, against this background, I never cease to find these lines inspiring:
“When Alexis Arguello gave Boom Boom a beating
Seven weeks later he was back in the ring
Some have the speed and the right combinations
If you can't take the punches it don't mean a thing"
"They made hypocrite judgments after the fact
But the name of the game is be hit and hit back."
For me that’s right at the heart of what it means to be standing up to the fundamentalist bullies; and to continue living in Laughter and Grace in the face of those who exclude, shun and ridicule. You’ve got to take the punches and beatings they blithely throw out from their pulpits, tracts, magazines, Matthias Media brochures, and Blog Nasties, as well as from their Synods, Councils and Pompous Proclamations.
And then you’ve got to get up and hit right back again. Because if we don’t throw the money lenders out of the temple, who will?