Saturday, November 04, 2017

OU/OSU Bedlam Nothing Compared to Bethlehem

Rachelle and I are headed to the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State football game in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This game has Heisman Trophy, Big 12 Championship, and even National Championship implications. Living in northwest Oklahoma, people are either avid Oklahoma fans or Oklahoma State fans, seldom both.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have played football every year since the late 1890’s. The series is called “Bedlam.”

Bedlam means "a scene of mad confusion.”

Bedlam definitely characterizes this football series. The word was first used to describe an OU/OSU football game exactly 100 years ago (1917). A reporter for the Daily Oklahoman wrote about the response in Stillwater to OSU’s surprising victory over OU in 1917:
"So surprised were students, faculty members and citizens when they first heard the 9 to 0 victory story from Oklahoma City that confirmation was necessary. Then bedlam broke loose. Nine long shrieks of the college power plant whistle told the score. Guns were fired. The antique, dust-covered bell in old Central building belfry chimed for the first time in years. Literally the town was painted white. On buildings, sidewalks, windows and other places, the score was painted. A huge figure nine and a tiny naught." - 1917 The Daily Oklahoman
Most people know what bedlam means, but few know the etymology (origin) of the word. 

Bedlam is the colloquial way English speaking people pronounced Bethlehem since the 10th century.  By A.D. 1418 even the spelling of Bethlehem became Bedlam among the English.

Yes, that’s right. Bedlam is actually the word Bethlehem. 

The place where Jesus the Messiah was born is the word used to describe the football series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. 

But why does bedlam mean “a scene of mad confusion” or pandemonium or chaos?

Here’s why. 

The most famous insane asylum for 500 years was Saint Marys of Bethlehem in London, simply called “Bedlam” Hospital by the English. Again, Bedlam was the way Middle English folks (A.D. 500 - A.D. 1500) pronounced Bethlehem. Founded in A.D. 1247 as a priory, Bethlehem was first mentioned as a hospital in A.D. 1330 and became a lunatic hospital A.D. 1402.  Eventually Bethlehem (Bedlam) was converted to a civic lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in A.D. 1547. 

Everyone in the English speaking world knew Bedlam Hospital was a place of confusion. The word Bedlam eventually became synonymous for “a place of confusion, chaos or pandemonium.” 

And everyone knows the OU vs. OSU Bedlam football series means chaos and confusion as well.

I’m writing this before we leave for the game. When it’s all over, some Oklahomans will be disappointed and depressed, while others will be exuberant and excited. This game means so much to so many. 

But let me take a moment to remind us all that the real confusion in life comes from ignoring the One born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. 

Football games and seasons come and go. 

The real bedlam comes from missing the significance of Bethlehem.


Rex Ray said...


You just about described a football game we saw last night where my grandson played.

We were picked to lose as the other team was undefeated. The size of their players made us look small. Within five minutes they scored.

Just before the first quarter ended we were on their 30 yard line. It was ‘4th and ten’ and my grandson caught a pass on the one yard line. That quarter ended with us 8 to 7.

The half ended 14-14 and that’s the way it stayed till near the end. In their desire to win the opponents made some bad decisions like on their 15 yard line and ‘4th and two’ they didn’t make it. We won 48 to 14. Oh happy day!

Yes, many in hell will regret they didn’t understand or wouldn’t listen.

Christiane said...

'Salvation is created
in the midst of the Earth
O God, O Our God, Alleluia'

Christiane said...

am lighting a candle in solidarity with the mourners at the Baptist Church in Texas where even children were killed . . . please pray for these people in their grief that Our Lord will comfort their hearts with His peace