Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game [NOOK Book]


The president of New York University offers a love letter to America’s most beloved sport and a tribute to its underlying spirituality.

For more than a decade, John Sexton has taught a wildly popular New York University course about ...
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Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game

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The president of New York University offers a love letter to America’s most beloved sport and a tribute to its underlying spirituality.

For more than a decade, John Sexton has taught a wildly popular New York University course about two seemingly very different things: religion and baseball. Yet Sexton argues that one is actually a pathway to the other.

Baseball as a Road to God is about touching that something that lies beyond logical understanding. Sexton illuminates the surprisingly large number of mutual concepts shared between baseball and religion: faith, doubt, conversion, miracles, and even sacredness among many others.

Structured like a game and filled with riveting accounts of baseball’s most historic moments, Baseball as Road to God will enthrall baseball fans whatever their religious beliefs may be. In thought-provoking, beautifully rendered prose, Sexton elegantly demonstrates that baseball is more than a game, or even a national pastime: It can be a road to enlightenment.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Can baseball be a “road to God”? Sexton, the president of New York University, a former Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and tortured Yankees convert, considers the question as only an academic can. He draws heavily on the writings of University of Chicago professor Mircea Eliade, who proposed the existence of a phenomenon known as a “hierophany,” a connection to the “ineffable domain” of sacred manifestations, or in layman’s terms, the “touching of a transcendent plane.” With assists from journalists Oliphant (The Boston Globe) and Schwartz (Forbes), Sexton weaves supporting testimonials from physicists, authors, transcendentalists, and theologians into his reasoning over the course of nine chapters, or innings, with his summary reserved for the 10th. After loading the bases through nine, though, Sexton confesses that his thesis is little more than a balk. Baseball is not a “Road to God,” even if it can awaken us to an “often missing” dimension of life. That’s deflating after his logical progression from thesis to proof, but it’s a thought-provoking proposition for zealots and skeptics alike. (Mar.)
Library Journal
After more than a decade teaching a course on this topic, Sexton (president, New York Univ.) shares some of his insights in this elegant meditation on the ways in which baseball evokes the essence of religion. Drawing on the work of religious historian Mircea Eliade, Sexton's reflections develop out of the foundational concepts of the ineffable and hierophany. The first refers to that which is indescribable in words but known through experience. The second is the breakthrough of the sacred into the ordinary world. Building on these shared starting points, Sexton further explores parallels between baseball and religion across topics such as sacred space and time, faith and doubt, conversion, miracles, blessings and curses, saints and sinners, community, and nostalgia. Masterfully utilizing the vast riches of baseball stories, and liberally sprinkling supporting thoughts from luminaries such as Yogi Berra and Abraham Heschel, Sexton creates a convincing case that baseball, like religion, "can awaken us to a dimension of life often missing in our contemporary world." VERDICT Contrary to what his title implies, Sexton's message is more about finding a sense of the spiritual than of finding God. This is an essential read for baseball fans of all spiritual and religious perspectives.
Kirkus Reviews
A tour of religious thought from the vantage point of that most perfect of cathedrals, the baseball diamond. "Baseball can teach us that living simultaneously the life of faith and the life of the mind is possible, even fun," writes lawyer, theologian and New York University president Sexton near the close of this examination of religion's chief questions as seen through a baseball glove. So it can, and if Stephen Jay Gould observed that science and religion were nonoverlapping magisteria, baseball might just connect them into a Venn set. If science sharpens the mind to a razor edge, then, Sexton counters, religion is a medium of "contemplation, sensitivity, awareness, and mystical intensity"--and so, as every fan knows, is the game, which makes, as Sexton deems it, "a wonderful laboratory." There are some big questions to ponder, many of which Sexton explores. If there is a just supreme being in charge, for instance, then why have the Cubs labored in the vineyards of hell for so many years? Can God hit a home run so powerful that He can't catch it? More to the point, Sexton observes, baseball's calendar is nearly liturgical. Its doubters often become converts to the faith, while its true believers are so often dashed against the rocks; it is a matter of saints (Lou Gehrig) and sinners (a much longer list), with some (Shoeless Joe Jackson) fitting on both lists. Sexton's view is refreshingly small-c catholic, embracing Taoism, Dante and Yogi Berra in a single sweep, and his enthusiasm for both baseball and the otherworld is refreshing. Whether it will make a doubter of a believer is another matter, for while there may be no atheists in the foxhole, there are still those sad souls who march away from Wrigley Field season after season. An elegant little meditation on life and the afterlife, well worth reading while waiting for spring.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101609736
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/7/2013
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 88,203
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

John Sexton is the fifteenth president of New York University. He lives in New York City.

Thomas Oliphant was a columnist for The Boston Globe and is a New York Times bestselling author. He lives in Washington, DC.

Peter J. Schwartz is a Bloomberg News contributor and former legal fellow at NYU. He was the first student enrolled in the "Baseball as a Road to God" seminar. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Good Overall

    linking baseball to faith in God is quite a task but it can be done, enjoyable baseball facts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Highly recommend

    I am using this book as a discussion starter in my weekly Sunday school class ( adult). It really generates lots of interest as to the points raised concerning the tenets of our faith. The author doesn't supply any bible scripture, so I find applicable references that I believe correspond to the chapters. I haven't read the entire book yet but I am truly enjoying it apart from the class discussion. It really makes me remember what I loved so much about baseball when I was growing up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    This is more than another baseball book. It is a reflection that

    This is more than another baseball book. It is a reflection that, just as the authors intend in the beginning and at the end, calls upon readers to live more slowly, notice more meaning around us, and see more in life. The wonderful baseball anecdotes included in between are a vehicle to get us there. Especially heartfelt -- and fun -- are tales of the old Brooklyn Dodgers from baseball's Gilded Age. This is a special book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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