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And after the excruciating '91 loss, in '92 I actually hid under the covers during the last couple of World Series games. And was there and participated in the ecstasy of the championship.

John Sexton on baseball and faith.

Then the losing began again, and there weren't the same players anymore, and my fever burnt itself out. So one could say I wasn't a real fan. But the book could be a gateway drug. Under its stimulation, I read the sports page this morning. Here's the link to the E. Dionne column that alerted me to this book. Afterthoughts I forgot to say this is my favorite kind of memoir--not one that is straight autobiography but looking at one's life and experience through a specific lens, in this case baseball.

Also, as inexplicably happens so often, it ties in with current areas of exploration. Here is part of what Sexton quotes from Nagel: I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its neo-Darwinian extension I find this view antecedently unbelievable--a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense. The empirical evidence can be interpreted to accommodate different comprehensive theories, but in this case the cost in conceptual and probabilistic contortions is prohibitive There is a description from Mircea Eliade of a Romanian myth that existed alongside a historical--and recent--series of events and a still-living protagonist.

There is discussion of perception of the miraculous coincident with understanding the statistics of the "hot bat. There is discussion of ethics, as when "the story" picks up and sacralizes the sinners like Ty Cobb along with the saints. This book is not a way into religious literalism. It doesn't insult the intelligence. Ethics, moral dilemmas, perfidy, tradition, relics, community When I was reading this book, I saw from other reviews that there was some controversy about John Sexton, which, for some readers was affecting how they thought of the book.

For anyone who's interested, this is a very thorough article covering all sides of the issue. It seems to me the author is an outsized personality, very endearing, really, but a mover and shaker who has at times become a lightning rod for hostilities which, however, aren't specific to his situation alone. It was a vote of no confidence from some of the schools that make up NYU, and it seems that has become quite common at colleges, sometimes for the opposite reason, that is, acting too slowly or indecisively. Since I seem to remember seeing more of the negative fallout, I'll include a positive comment from the article, by the chair of the Board of Trustees of NYU, Martin Lipton: "I was flabbergasted, frankly by the no-confidence vote What would our nineteenth-century forefathers think about the unwarranted calumnies thrown at him?

What would they think about the attempts to derail the most important innovation in university education in the last two centuries? Some tenured faculty resented change and, also, it's implied, felt financially unappreciated. Well, that's enough detail for here. It's an interesting article, though. View all 7 comments.

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Jun 01, Amy Moritz rated it liked it. I think my friend Missy recommended this book to me, although I'd not take that information to the bank. I do know that it sat on my shelf for at least a year, started once then never finished because life and other interests got in the way. The book has signs of I think my friend Missy recommended this book to me, although I'd not take that information to the bank. The book has signs of that great academic semantic breakdown which can make normal, moderately intelligent people scream "We get it already!

But I digress. As does the book at times. I really enjoyed the read and examining baseball through a different lens, a religious lens if you will, of sacred space, faith, doubt, miracles, blessings, community, etc.

Amber L. Griffioen, Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game - PhilPapers

One of my takeaways from the book was that the division between "sacred"and "secular" is largely our own invention. Whatever brings you meaning, bring you meaning. For instance sacred space "deeply personal to each individual, may seem quite ordinary to others. Yes, we get how much you grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and how you converted to the Yankees. And arguably the Dodgers and Yankees provide much depth for examples. But even when other teams are used, it felt like reading baseball history instead of drawing out the connection between baseball and community.

Later he adds that "unrestrained by time, baseball encourages, almost requires in its most meaningful moments, an appreciation of living slowly and in the moment; the kind of differentiated experience that separates the sacred life from the profane. Apr 21, Ricardo Espinoza rated it liked it. In classrooms, you can use this book for a fun activity for example; maybe do some out door activity with baseball and have students write something they are passionate of and write a story why.

Jun 08, Dan rated it liked it. As both a pastor and a huge baseball fan, I was very interested in reading this book. I'd seen an interview with the author and was very intrigued by the class. Alas, the book was somewhat disappointing. I think this was due to the fact that there was very little that was new to me. I had already heard most of the baseball stories many times before and I'd already thought through a number of the theological connections the author makes to the sport.

That said, I can see how this would be a helpful As both a pastor and a huge baseball fan, I was very interested in reading this book. That said, I can see how this would be a helpful book to someone needing some framework for their spiritual explorations. The author has produced a helpful work and I would enjoy taking the course from him, primarily because that would allow the discussion of his points that I couldn't have in reading the book. Jul 06, Maggie rated it really liked it Shelves: cultural-observations , secular-inspirational , non-fiction.

View 2 comments. Aug 24, Carah Helwig rated it it was amazing. If, like me, you view baseball as a mystical, religious experience, you must read this. Simply a glorious book. Feb 18, Nancy Gillies rated it liked it. Baseball as a Road to God - February 14 I am neither a religious person nor an avid baseball fan although I do usually get caught up in the pennant races and the World Series , but this book was recommended by a friend, so I bought a copy.

Sexton is a masterful and precise storyteller so I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. I found his discussions of the religious experience to be more obscure, but I suppose that is part and parcel of that subject matter. As I write this review, the Winter Olympics are taking place and, having read this book, I am recognizing that this fortnight of events contains many of the aspects that Sexton ascribes to both religion and baseball; while watching the Olympics we also experience faith and doubt as we cheer on our athletes; we are enthralled by the miraculous moments that fill us with awe and wonder; and we are brought together as a community in this case, a national one , united in our support for our team.

Rather he encourages us to be more careful to pay attention to those moments in life that fill us with joy, that inspire us, or that create a sense of community because doing so will surely enrich our experience. Mar 16, John Beck rated it liked it Shelves: reviewed , non-fiction. John Sexton is in the news a lot lately, and not for some good things.

While I have a variety of opinions on the globalization and commercialization of American higher education and the use and abuse of adjuncts and graduate assistants as teachers at the university level, those thoughts will have to wait. Sexton's tome should not be confused with light reading. While plenty of baseball books probe the spiritual side of our attachment to the national pastime for me, most memorably in the recently departed Richard Ben Cramer's Joe Dimaggio and in Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer , Sexton probes the history of humanities spiritual quests through the lens of baseball.

From Aristotle to Sarte, the citations and reference points come thick and fast.

Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game

My background is in literature, and while I've spent a fair amount of time with the deconstructionists, most of Sexton's arguments were too heavy for me to consider them enjoyable. I had an especially challenging time with Sexton's personal allegiances: a Brooklyn Dodgers fan who became a Los Angeles Dodgers fan when his family moved to Southern California who became a Yankee fan while raising his son to love baseball back in New York City. Is there a spiritual reason we love baseball? Do the intricacies of the game connect us to something ineffable that we find lacking in modern life?

Before reading Sexton's book, I would have said perhaps for some but not for me. Having read Baseball as a Road to God, my answer remains the same.

I love baseball for many reasons, but not I think because it connects me to the unknown. The game surprises me, delights and mystifies and confuses and disappoints and enthralls me. But always in a way that pushes me to know more: how could that have happened? And Sexton seems to dislike or at least feel disappointed in fans like me. The magic of the ballpark is not unique for me. I can find the same feelings on a summer night at the lakeshore with the breeze blowing in, or gathered around a table with friends in the heart of winter, or in my seat at a theatre. Maybe I am not fan enough- but I sincerely doubt it. I do not resent them. I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers and in favor of world peace.

But while the game is on, I can't think of anything to say to them. View all 5 comments. Dec 27, Matt Bianco rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction. He teaches a class on baseball, its history, and its being a road to God--not the road, but a road to God. The book is interesting in that he looks at baseball and its liturgy and spiritual implications the same way James K. Smith does with football in his book, Desiring the Kingdom. The difference is that Smith sees football as a liturgy that competes with the Church's liturgy.

Sexton sees baseball as a liturgy that leads people to potentially desire the Church's liturgy. Through a collection of stories, statistics, and experiences, Sexton shows how baseball has its own variations of sacred space and time, faith, doubt, conversion, rest, miracles, blessings and curses, saints and sinners, and community. Every step of the way, he shows you faith and baseball and that compares, analogously, to religion.