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Rounding the Bases: Baseball And Religion in America

By author: Joseph L. Price
Product Code: P366
ISBN: 9780881460407
Product Format: Paperback
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Print on Demand title
Price: $25.00

After identifying early conflicts between churches and baseball in the late-nineteenth century, Price examines the appropriation of baseball by the House of David, an early twentieth-century millennial Protestant community in southern Michigan. Turning then from historical intersections between baseball and religion, two chapters focus on the ways that baseball reflects religious myths. First, the omphalos myth about the origin and ordering of the world is reflected in the rituals and rules of the game. Then the myth of curses is explored in the culture of superstition that underlies the game. At the heart of the book is a sustained argument about how baseball functions as an American civil religion, affirming and sanctifying American identity, especially during periods of national crises such as wars and terrorist attacks. Building on this analysis of baseball as an American civil religion, two chapters draw upon novels by W. P. Kinsella and David James Duncan to explore the sacramental potential of baseball and to align baseball with apocalyptic possibilities. The final chapter serves as a full confession, interpreting baseball affiliation stories as conversion narratives. In various ways Rounding the Bases charts new territory in the literature about baseball and religion. Unlike previous works (such as The Faith of Fifty Million) that merely assert that baseball, as the national pastime, is an American civil religion, or others (such as And God Said, “Play Ball”) that draw parallels between the Bible and baseball, this book develops a sustained sociological argument for the conclusion that baseball is “a distinct denomination of American civil religion.”

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