Books, Headlines

Book Review: Baseball as a Road to God

One of the most rewarding aspects of John Sexton’s Baseball as a Road to God is that while it is deeply theological, it fares away from being preachy and overtly evangelical. It in fact, touches upon faith of all walks and more importantly, does not dismiss scientific reasoning. Sexton of course, is at heart, a baseball fan and through his childhood stories of growing up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan (and inexplicably converting to a Yankees fan after their departure for Los Angeles), he is able to teach and explain the many diverging paths between the oft discussed and scrutinized worlds of faith and baseball.

From his earliest memories of praying for a Brooklyn World Series with his school mates to the often unexplainable, almost mythic, facts that seem to trump logic through baseball’s historical vault (like the players who have won back-to-back MVPs being able to fill a lineup position by position in order), much of the book comes across as both a joy to read, and an eye-opening look at faith without the moralizing and combative stance religion has had to take in the wake of what seems to be its declining pull in contemporary society.

Sexton’s knowledge of the sport is evident in all the historical facts he recites and his theological tone helps give their ineffable qualities resonance. His connection between the cyclical nature of faith (through its yearly and seasonal traditions) and of course, the cyclical and seasonal nature of the game (Opening Day, World Series, the lull of winter) early on in the book sets a good foundation of the connections between the two; and through all the years baseball has been part of American (and to some extent, global) society, faith has always played a role in some of the game’s most memorable and almost mystical moments. Yet Sexton stops short of saying that there are actual ‘angels in the outfield’, and has chapters that both deify this idea and those that, of course, present doubt. In fact, in the chapter aptly titled ‘Doubt’, Sexton goes on the say that without doubt, there is no faith, and that idea or notion of it helps instil that faith within us, on and off the field.

While the book was never meant to be as in depth about the sport as a book specifically about the Yankees, or Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth, there is still a lot to gain from Baseball as a Road to God (although the book itself is a fairly short read; 256 pages). From both a theological to the historical to the present day, Sexton has penned an enlightening and rewarding read from beginning to end.

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Books

Book review: Come Together

by Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees
(Arrow Books)

The male and female minds are truly unique. Two completely different sets of rules, processes, understanding and resolve that often share the same space and time. Often acting differently to similar situations, the male/female psyche is given the full exposure in this well penned affair. Lloyd and Rees have written this honest interpretation surrounding the lives of one Jack Rossiter (a 27 year old semi struggling artist who enjoys the single life), and Amy Crosbie (25, often hopeless romantic, searching for clarity). Through happenstances they end up discovering each other and the fateful bond that grows between them.

What is perhaps the book’s strongest point is how it is written. Instead of numbered chapters, they are divided into the protagonists’ view point. Switching off from one chapter as Jack and then the next as Amy, it gives the reader an in-depth look and just how each character thinks and feels. They each struggle to understand the feelings that develop, the things that happen and just how difficult all this growing up really is. Set in an urban English city, the references and images that are painted in your head are lush, vivid and detailed.

Penned as the thoughts of 20-something-young-urban-adults, the language used, and the words and conversation come off as believable – like how one would imagine the characters would speak and react. While some of the slang and references remain strictly English (as in England, not America), they are details that add to the atmosphere. It’s that old English charm mixed with school boy mischief and humor.

Centered on romance (but not in the “cabin boy/lonely housewife” type), the story is speckled with comedy, struggle, pain, sex, fun and that authentic quality that makes you smile. Both male and female readers can enjoy Come Together; its unique perspective and its ability to portray two different minds is not only effective, but warmhearted. Most folks who are trying to plant their feet into the career world while trying to balance a love life with home/social life can and will relate to this worthwhile book. Come Together is a light read but a recommended one.

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