Mixing (mistaking?) baseball and religion

I have watched more baseball these past few months than I ever thought I would. All this hype around KC baseball even inspired my husband Jesse Graber to draw this on the day of the big game. KC stands for Kingdom Come of course. Ruth HarderWe couldn’t go anywhere without seeing some reference to KC Royals.  Even the local parish had some fun with this zinger. parishIn the wake of Game 7 (yes, it felt like a wake of sorts), I have received condolences from people around the world. Condolence was their word, not mine.  Thankfully our church moderator put it all in perspective when he wrote, “After all, in the department store of life, we must always remember that sports is in the toy department.”

Some would go so far as to claim that baseball is God’ sport. After all, the first book of the Bible starts with the words, “In the beginning,” or was it “In the BIG INNING?” I don’t know if God cares about baseball, but I do think there are some interesting parallels between the game of baseball and Christian theology and practice For example, in a recent email, Duane K. Friesen, professor emeritus of Bible and religion at Bethel College, shared the following insights:  

1) A baseball game, writes Duane, is always open to the future. It’s not closed to some predetermined outcome. It reminds me of those who say that faith is more like a game of scrabble (open, no game is the same) than a jigsaw puzzle (fixed and predetermined). Furthermore, as Duane suggests, the game of baseball is not bound by a clock. Any batter or inning or game can last for infinity. “Baseball,” writes Duane, “is like the relationship of the sea to the land–the infinity of space, the endless movement of the waves and tides, the finite land bordering on this infinite expanse.”

2) Comedian George Carlin once noted that in football you blitz, sack, throw a bomb.  Baseball, highlights Duane, fits Mennonite peace theology. “You go home, you sacrifice, you are safe.  The worst thing you ever do is steal.”

3)Baseball doesn’t require a person to be a certain height or size. It is not dominated by giant bodies (although did you see how big some of those Giants were?!) “Think about the variety of “gifts” of those who play baseball,” writes Duane.  “It is not a sport dominated by tall guys as in basketball, or by giant bodies as in football…Look at the variety of bodies that make up the Royals baseball team.  Speedy runners like Dyson and Gore, blocky short guys (who almost look like they are out of shape) like Herrera, Holland, and Butler.  Or, then there is Sandoval for the Giants.  “There are many gifts but the same spirit…”

4) Baseball is encouraging, writes Duane. After all, a fantastic hitter in the game of baseball is someone who fails two third of the time. “That,” writes Duane “ought to give us frail human beings some encouragement.”

5) The game of baseball, according to Duane, works. All the distances, equipment, dimensions creates this “finely tuned universe.” How,” asks Duane, “did such a finely tuned game evolve?..Did it just happen this way? What is the mix of sheer accident, serendipity and design?”

6) “Baseball, writes Duane, “is a game of rhythms…waiting in patient expectation as a pitch heads to the plate, suddenly a bunt to put down and every one moves, each to cover an assigned area.  Suddenly–everything is happening at once. Then rest, though with anticipation of the next “event.”  We can then sit back and relax.  We have a reprieve between innings.  We can stop and visit with our companions while the game is going on.” This is life, according to Duane, “as it should be lived…Sabbath and work!”

Have you given thought to the parallels of faith and baseball? Feel free to comment!

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1 Response to Mixing (mistaking?) baseball and religion

  1. Mary Kathryn Stucky says:

    The cartoon of Ruth is just precious…………!!!!! Way to go Jesse……….!

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