Sunday, April 21, 2013

John Sexton – Baseball as a Road to God (Gotham Books)

Think about the true baseball fans that you know in your life, the diehards who bring an almost religious fervor to the game; you know the ones who worship at the altar of the Yanks or the Sox and gather to worship in the House That Ruth Built, the ivy covered outfield fence of Wrigley Field or looking out at the Green Monster of Fenway. Think about the level of faith they display on opening day when they proclaim that “this is our year” or in September when they announce “we’ll get ‘em next year.”

Being a true fan of baseball, more than almost any other sport, carries with it a certain wild-eyed fanaticism that can be compared to that of true religious believers. Spread out over a 160 game season, there is an almost Crusade like feel to baseball’s regular season. Those that aren’t caught up in the faith can be viewed as heretics and apostates.

In Baseball as a Road to God John Sexton, the long-time president of New York University examines what he believes are the intersections of baseball and religion. Born out of a course he teaches at NYU, Sexton cites what believes to be countless examples of those crossroads. Sexton spells out examples of those intertwined connections of common ground; blessings and curses, hope and faith, and those aforementioned sacred places.

I don’t get the sense that Sexton’s goal is to convince anyone as much as to open minds to the possibilities. I find it wildly amusing that so many atheists, agnostics and liberals are somehow offended or claim to be that Sexton would parallels between the religious and the secular. It’s made all the more laughable by the simple fact that Sexton leads one of the true bastions of the liberal faith.  

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