CAN BASEBALL BRING YOU CLOSER TO GOD?
The analogy of waiting for the season to start with great fervor and starting all over again with a clean slate parallels the wait for Christmas, Easter, Passover, Ramadan, Navaratri, Paryushan and other festivities. It is an opening everyone looks forward to after an exhaustive completion of another year. Indeed, Sexton puts it aptly, “Opening day encourages us every year to seek a path to serenity and transcendence.” – Mike Ghouse
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Texas Faith: Can baseball bring you closer to God?
By Bill McKenzie/ Editorial columnist | firstname.lastname@example.org | 1:04 pm on April 10, 2013
A tip of the hat to Daniel Kanter for this question. He sent along a link about New York University
President John Sexton’s book, Baseball as a Road to God.
Sexton has taught on a course on this subject for more than a decade, where, as this review
suggests, he uses “baseball to illustrate the elements of a spiritual life.” I have not read his book, but the link I am sending along — along with this E.J. Dionne column
— report that he uses writings about the game, its characters and its rituals to suggest that “we can touch the spiritual dimension of life” through baseball.
His co-author, former Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant, put his own twist on this in a CBS essay. Oliphant talked about “the special feelings in seemingly secular settings that suggest the spiritual. The feelings can be as powerfully simple as having a catch with your dad, or watching the St. Louis Cardinals come back twice from being one strike away from elimination in the World Series, or actually hearing Jackie Robinson breathe as he sprinted home.
Now, some of us who are Texas Rangers fans may equate watching the Cardinals come back twice from being one strike away from losing the World Series — to us — as a near-death experience. But there is a point here worth discussing:
Do secular settings like a baseball game lead us to the spiritual dimension of life? If so, what are those for you? In what ways does the secular lead you to a deeper spiritual understanding?
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, and Speaker on interfaith matters, diversity and pluralism
John Sexton has comfortably laid out the religious template of, “sacred places and time, faith and doubt, blessings and curses,” on the game of baseball. Not only the secular settings of a baseball game, but even a movie, intense sexual experience, worship or a good political happening can lead us into spiritual dimensions of life.
The analogy of waiting for the season to start with great fervor and starting all over again with a clean slate parallels the wait for Christmas, Easter, Passover, Ramadan, Navaratri, Paryushan and other festivities. It is an opening everyone looks forward to after an exhaustive completion of another year. Indeed, Sexton puts it aptly, “Opening day encourages us every year to seek a path to serenity and transcendence.”
The same template becomes operative when we watch a good movie, and go through crying, getting angry, cursing and rejoicing the movie in every which way. We feel a sense of spirituality with that connection. Like worship, it transforms one from one status of mind to a renewed one. Indeed, the ultimate sexual experience when two people feel completely connected with each other in body and mind takes them into a new spiritual dominion.
On the night of November 4, 2008, when President Obama stood in the middle of millions of Americans soaking in the election victory, tears rolled down my eyes and I let them roll unchecked. This victory represented the pinnacle of civilization, that every human being regardless of his background can make it in America. That night, more than half of the whole world cried. It gave hope to everyone on the planet that if you have the ability, you can make it. It paved the way for every human across the world in every nation. A sense of safety permeated through my body, giving me chills knowing that a new era in the history of civilization had begun. America once again would lead the world in democratic pluralism. To me, it was an intense spiritual experience.
Spirituality means many things to many people. In the simplest terms, it is like “being home” – a state of mind where you are transformed from apprehensions, frustrations and phobias of life to a sense of security, safety and serenity.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel,India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive Americaand offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest onSean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly atHuffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal sitewww.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.