Academic journal article Boston College Law Review

National Pastime(s)

Academic journal article Boston College Law Review

National Pastime(s)

Article excerpt

NATIONAL PASTIME(S)

Abstract: In his new book, Baseball as a Road to God, New York University President and Professor of Law John Sexton submits that baseball can serve as a vehicle for living a more conscious life that elevates the human experience for lawyers and non-lawyers. This Essay examines the credibility of the book's thesis in a world where human intelligence, human deliberation, and human action is being replaced by artificial intelligence, mathematical models, and mechanical automation. It uses the preeminent national pastime of baseball, and the less eminent pastimes of law and finance as case studies for the book's thesis. It concludes that a more conscious and meaningful life is much harder to foster, but also much more important to cultivate in light of modern advances. This Essay ultimately offers a different narrative for lawyers and non-lawyers to think anew about modern law and society in light of ongoing changes in baseball, law, finance, and beyond.

BASEBALL AS A ROAD TO GOD: SEEING BEYOND THE GAME. By John Sexton with Thomas Oliphant and Peter J. Schwartz. New York, NY: Gotham Books. 2013. Pp. 256. $27.50.

INTRODUCTION

Baseball's status in the life of the nation is so pervasive that it would not strain credulity to say the Court can take judicial notice that baseball is everybody's business. . . . The game is on higher ground; it behooves everyone to keep it there.1

-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun

Baseball holds special residence in the law and life of America.2 For more than a century the sport has served as a morality play for the great issues facing our laws and our nation.3 It has reflected and projected the enduring conflicts and tensions of American law and American life: between tradition and reform, individualism and collectivism, discrimination and inclusion, fairness and deception, war and peace, capital and labor, immigrants and natives, haves and have-nots, today and tomorrow.

In their new book, Baseball as a Road to God, New York University ("NYU") President and Law Professor John Sexton with his co-authors explain how baseball as a secular religion can help inform many of these continuing conflicts and dilemmas of time past, as well as instruct us on how to live a more meaningful life in the face of new and emerging tensions of time present.4 With a law degree from Harvard Law School, a doctorate in History of American Religion, and decades as an educator, Sexton uses the skills and persuasions of a lawyer, theologian, and teacher to make his case.5 The central thesis of the book is encapsulated by two recurring words in the book, ineffable and hierophany. According to Sexton, ineffable characterizes "that which we know through experience rather than through study, that which ultimately is indescribable in words yet is palpable and real;"6 and hierophany describes a manifestation of the spiritual, "beyond self and the physical world."7 The book suggests that baseball, our national pastime, offers us a path, in addition to re- ligion, towards that which is captured by those two words, towards a deeper understanding and meaning of the human experience and its many comforts and challenges.8

This Essay explores the validity of Sexton's thesis in the face of contemporary realities in law and society. It considers Sexton's ineffable path to hierophany in a world where human intelligence, human deliberation, and human action is being replaced by artificial intelligence, mathematical models, and mechanical automation. This Essay utilizes the preeminent national pastime of baseball, and the less eminent pastimes of law and finance, as case studies for the thesis.9 It leverages Sexton's thesis to examine the societal sea change fueled by new science and advanced technology, and its wide-ranging effects on our national pastimes. This Essay ultimately offers a different narrative for thinking anew about law, baseball, finance, and the changes unfolding around us. …

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