Super Bowl has come and gone and the baseball season is about to beging with spring training. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_training I've heard of legendary players such as Babe Ruth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babe_Ruth , Hank Greenberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Greenberg , and Joe DiMaggio http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_DiMaggio (as well as Oh http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadaharu_Oh , Kaneda http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masaichi_Kaneda and Victor Starffin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Starffin on Japanese teams,) but I've never been a fan of the sport and don't watch baseball games or pay close attention to baseball seasons.
Yet, occasionally, I've heard people say, "That's not even in the ball park," and I've interpreted this to mean that an argument, a fact, an object of inquiry (represented by the metaphor of baseball ball) is not in play or that something, whatever it is, is not within the acceptable boundaries that would allow it to be the object of active contemplation.
So, I was naturally intrigued when I learned that the president of New York University teaches (or had taught) a course that focuses on baseball as a road to God.
What could be so transcendental about baseball?
And why does a university course about baseball have Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea on its reading list? http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/03122010/profile.html Did I miss something? Apparently, I had. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/oldman/characters.html
Here's the course description:
Baseball As a Road to God aims to link literature about our national pastime with the study of philosophy and theology. This seminar aims to blend ideas contained in classic baseball novels such as Coover's Universal Baseball Association , Kinsella's Iowa Baseball Confederation , and Malamud's The Natural with those found in such philosophical/theological works as Eliade's Sacred and Profane , Heschel's God in Search of Man , and James' Varieties of Religious Experience . It discusses such themes as the metaphysics of sports, baseball as a civil religion, the nature of sacred time and space, and the ineffability of the divine. Not for the faint-hearted, this course requires students to read over two dozen works of varying lengths in addition to supplemental readings as they might arise. The course also requires weekly papers. As with any serious commitment of one's time, the rewards of taking a seminar such as this can be great.
I guess I would have to read a few books to find out.
Incidentally, I had also come across a poem about baseball that seems to point in the other direction, that baseball is not about life, which has me a little bit confused (but not for long!)
Poems that Knock it Out of the Park http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/audioitem/3636
At any rate, being confused is not a bad thing, since just enough cognitive dissonance (Swiss psychologist Piaget's concept) spurs learning, the prerequisite for the thrills and transcendence that accompany the milestones of life.
Also, at Yale, Anthropology 254 lecture outline http://classes.yale.edu/02-03/anth254a/lectures/outline_4_4.html
Also: Hurley, C. Harold, ed. Hemingway’s Debt to Baseball in The Old Man and the Sea: A Collection of Critical Readings. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 1992.
One last question: How does cricket compare to baseball? http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2010/09/14/cricket-as-metaphor/