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Is baseball God’s favorite sport?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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The American flag is unfurled over the Green Monster while the national anthem is sung during pregame ceremonies at Fenwary Park before the Opening Day game for the Boston Red Sox against the Baltimore Orioles, April 8, 2013 (Credit: Mike Wilkins via Flickr)

I contribute weekly to the Texas Faith blog of The Dallas Morning News.  Our question this week was prompted by New York University President John Sexton’s book, Baseball as a Road to God. His book uses baseball to illustrate spiritual elements in life.  We were asked whether “secular settings like a baseball game lead us to the spiritual dimension of life.”  Here’s my response:

Some of my most profound encounters with God have occurred while walking around White Rock Lake early in the morning.  I have sensed his presence in as many “secular” settings as sacred, and for good reason: the distinction does not exist with God.

He created all that exists and called it “good.”  His Son could take on human flesh while remaining sinless.  Our distinction between Sunday and Monday, religion and the “real world,” comes from Greek philosophy, not the Bible.

Others have noted God’s ability to speak to us through “secular” means.  For instance, Peter Berger, the well-known Boston University sociologist, identifies five facts about human behavior which, in his view, indicate the existence of God.  His “signals of transcendence”: humanity’s passion for order (pointing to a Designer); our desire for play (mirroring our longing for eternal joy); our innate commitment to hope (refusing to believe that death has the final word); our belief in the necessity of damnation for true evil; and our propensity for laughing at our limitations (indicating that we believe they will be overcome).

Baseball clearly fits in Berger’s “desire for play.”  However, I think the game possesses a transcendent character that could qualify as a sixth “signal.”  There is an order and harmony in baseball that contrasts sharply with the mayhem of basketball and the violence of football and hockey.  Baseball cherishes tradition; most other sports champion innovation.  There is a family culture that is unique to the ballpark.

Is baseball God’s favorite sport?