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Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  306 ratings  ·  76 reviews
A love letter to America's most beloved sport and an exploration of the deeper dimensions it reveals

For more than a decade, New York University President John Sexton has used baseball to illustrate the elements of a spiritual life in a wildly popular course at NYU. Using some of the great works of baseball fiction as well as the actual game's fantastic moments, its legenda
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 7th 2013 by Gotham
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This is a really wonderful book. I was actually skeptical as to how much I'd like it, but it really surprised me.
The author shows how many of the elements found in baseball - faith, doubt, conversion, accursedness, blessings - are elements associated with the religious experience.
He uses many classic moments from baseball and examples from various religions to accomplish this.
Baseball might not prove to be your road to God, but it should definitely open your eyes to the beauty of baseball and h
Jan Rice
Bookstore called; my copy has arrived and I can pick up tomorrow. Actually, I'm going to give it to someone but first I need to vet this one!

...Vetting turned out to be an enjoyable task. The author wants to show how the American game of baseball can be a portal to the sacred--as in sublime and holy, and as opposed to the everyday, mundane. He explains and draws in a lot of texts that don't usually go together with sports--Eliade, Heschel, Tillich, William James.

He also tells a lot of stories. H
Ricardo Espinoza
This is a really wonderful book. I was actually skeptical as to how much I'd like it, but it really surprised me.
The author shows how many of the elements found in baseball - faith, doubt, conversion, accursedness, blessings - are elements associated with the religious experience.
He uses many classic moments from baseball and examples from various religions to accomplish this.
Baseball might not prove to be your road to God, but it should definitely open your eyes to the beauty of baseball and h
Darin Gibby
I just finished this little gem of a book. If you like baseball history, this one’s for you. The author, John Sexton, also cleverly overlays the game of baseball with modern religion. It’s amazing how much they have in common.

While I’m not going to give a full blown book review, I had to point out one little fact that had me laughing harder than I’ve laughed in a long time. It has to do with the theory of creation—a topic that seems to generate endless debate, all the way from the battle at the
amazing but true. this book pulls it off showing the way of spiritual understanding in the game (and of life itself) of baseball. so worth reading. for the statistics alone. take me out to the ball game where time relaxes and cheers happen.
Carah Helwig
If, like me, you view baseball as a mystical, religious experience, you must read this. Simply a glorious book.
John Hill
This is an excellent book for anyone who loves baseball or for who has a spiritual bent outlook on life.

I found it to be a charming philosophical view into baseball. Forcing me to look at the game I have loved all of my life from a completely different perspective.

Sexton approaches the issue though from a ecumenical "spiritual" point of view, rather than a "religious" on invoking only human spirituality in all of its forms in his discussion on "Baseball as A Road to God".

This book is highly th
M.G. Bianco
*I received an advance uncorrected proof of the book from Penguin; that is the edition I am reviewing.*

John Sexton is the president and a professor at NYU. 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.A. Smith does with football in his book, Desiring the Kingdom. The difference is that Smith sees football as a liturgy th
Heather C.
If I was a Catholic man, in my sixties, and a Yankees fan, I probably would have given this book four stars. If I was taking the university course that the author teaches based on his text I may have even given it five. If these elements would be the icing on the cake, then I have to say that the cake itself is pretty darn good.

I love baseball because I find it to be a 'deep' sport. There is much more to it than meets the casual eye. I was thrilled to find someone who has so finely articulated t
John Beck

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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jack Townsend
I am a big John Sexton fan for reasons I won't go into here. So, when I first heard about his teaching of a class at NYU on this subject (there is a very good Bill Moyers interview of Sexton on the subject (and other subjects) predating the book), I decided that I must have it. I enjoyed it but gave it a rating of 4 out of 5 because it did not meet my very high expectations for the book. I can't put my finger on what I think could be improved.

But the book has its moments -- many moments. Here is
I consider myself a serious baseball fan and a religious person. However, for some reason I was disappointed by this book. I wanted to learn something on baseball history and I knew most of it. So there some parts that I skipped over because I knew exactly what he was going to say. For example the 1991 world series and "the catch."
The author ties the parallelisms of baseball and faith with personal stories that interested me the whole time. I would love the chance to shadow mr. sexton and for
I was disappointed in this book as I had great expectations, but found it to be very superficial. The author was a Brooklyn Dodger fan until they went to LA and then became, at first, a reluctant and then very enthusiastic Yankees fan (that tells you a lot right there). It may help to be Roman Catholic to appreciate his approach to God. Really though, does God care who wins the World Series...seriously?
This is a fantastic book for a baseball fan. I'm still getting my mind around Sexton's premise of baseball being a road to God. He makes a great case for it, and non-baseball people should notice that he claims it is "a" road and not THE road to God.
The theology of baseball as religion. Read it. It's good. I wish baseball today was as interesting and fascinating as it used to be... but I love the book.
Baseball? A pathway to God? This I had to read. Recommended by my brother, I was VERY curious. Turns out that the author, John Sexton, President of N.Y.U., and professor of a wildly popular course at that school made some very interesting observations concerning the connection between what appears to be two unconnected entities. For more than a decade, Sexton has used baseball to illustrate the elements of a spiritual life in the course. Using great works of baseball literature (a listing of sam ...more
A nice warm-up for opening day. Sexton provides some thought provoking insights woven thru an anecdotal history of the American pastime.
I really enjoyed this book. The intro was a great start for I laughed right along with the book. Inspiring and insightful. :)
Casey Nichols
I loved this for the parallel it draws so well between two of my deepest passions- baseball and God. I loved baseball first by many years. I feared God first, I never feared baseball. But when I found the things I loved in baseball in spirituality I found a love of God. It's the ineffable as Sexton explains so well. Oh, and along the way we get many great baseball memories. A must for real baseball fans. It tells us whey we feel that sense of both mystery and community when we first walk into th ...more
In high school, my best friend taught me the principle that anything worth talking about can be compared to baseball. For years, we've tested that theory and never to my recollection been stumped. In some ways, this book is an exercise at that game - baseball is social; religion is social. The circular, sacred time of the baseball season works the same way the religious festivals in the liturgical year do. Baseball fans bring their past to life in their stories, as do religious people. In Ebbett ...more

I do think of our ballpark as a type of cathedral. And leaving games before the last out is a type of blasphemy. My dad and I spent a lot of time together from 2005-2010 watching our amazing team; and I have to admit I feel a strong connection to him there. (He died 4/5/11, the day after our tickets for the season had arrived.). And one of my earliest memories is watching them win the World Series on TV with Dad and jumping up and down before giving him a big hug. I was the only girl I knew who
I confess a certain fondness for elegiac baseball writing -- despite my recognition that its very rhapsody had the quality of parody. This book stemmed from a class John Sexton taught at NYU, and this book understandably has the feeling of a bunch of lectures put together. Sexton is a lapsed Catholic who clearly finds comfort in the secular liturgy of the game. With help from noted writer Thomas Oliphant, there's a definite poetry to the work. The final chapter explains, very nicely, the point o ...more
As a result of two seemingly serendipitous events, two pairs of tickets came my way for two weekend games at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox and Orioles this past summer. I had not been to the new Yankee Stadium with my son, so this was my opportunity to experience the splendor of the newest (and mostly taxpayer subsidized) Yankee “cathedral.” Sarcasm aside, I did feel my skin tingle when I entered the stadium, as I had at the original ballpark many years ago, with my uncle (who managed to ge ...more
Sexton's passion for baseball flows in his prose, and with each topic (faith, doubt, community etc..) he provides relevant and classic anecdotes drawn from the entire scope of baseball history. Sexton argues that baseball is a (not "the") road to God primarily because it shares two common traits of religion: ineffability and hierophany. These are potentially dense theological concepts, but the argument of the book is not particularly difficult or scholarly. Baseball and religion share similar fe ...more
A lifetime baseball fanatic (and Brooklyn Dodgers fan who converted to The Yankees once the Dodgers left Brooklyn), John Sexton first developed a course by this name when he was teaching religion decades ago at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. His goal then was to help students enjoy the game of baseball by understanding it better through the lens of faith. After getting his Ph.D. in American Religion and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence, he became dean of the Law School at NYU and then President of ...more
I love baseball, I like reading about religion, and I graduated from NYU (since John Sexton was President), so this was a natural book for me to pick up. While at points it felt almost a bit jumpy, conceptually, I loved it.

I love the idea of looking at baseball through the lens of religion, recognizing the experiences of mystery and transcendence (often relegated to religion only) in baseball - of course! I love the idea that, "The deeply profound experience captured by the words ineffable and
Sam Shipley
Plain and simple, this was one of the best - if not best - books I've read on baseball in my life. Not in a long time, but in my life. The stories were fantastic and completely germane to the various theologically-based chapters. I loved how he used a wide selection of resources (books, movies and anecdotes) to give the book character and to really show how it might quite be a 'road to G-d' and how it is a very special sport.

So why 4 stars instead of 5?

Chapter 4 - Conversions. For this chapter,
Anthony Faber
I agree with the author's basic contention that baseball spectating and religion have a lot in common. I don't really believe in ineffability or trancendence, though, so I see a lot of the stuff he talks about are manifestations of the fact that statistics are lumpier than most people expect (Gilovich's "Why We Know What Isn't So" has a chapter where they talk about streaks, both hot and cold, and why they don't really exist). I only checked this book out because it was written by John Sexton, w ...more
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