Do We Ever Need Baseball

April 5, 2010

It was in 1733 that Alexander Pope penned the famous verse, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”  Whence the line?  Maybe it can be attributed to something in Pope’s Catholic upbringing.  Or maybe it arose from his general, lifelong observations of man.  Or maybe, just maybe, Pope, in a prescient moment, gleaned that line from his observations about something else going on in the 1730s in England: the old game of “stoolball” being referred to more and more as “baseball.”  Indeed, it would be a mere decade later, in 1744, when the word “Base-ball” would for the first time appear in print.

Baseball teaches one many things, not the least of which is hope.  It does not matter how badly one’s team finished the year before, the season opener in April provides reason to hope.  T.S. Eliot could not have been a baseball fan, for no baseball fan would ever write, “April is the cruellest month.” Read the rest of this entry »

Balthasar, Baseball, and the Anima Technica Vacua

August 4, 2009

BratzookaIn the opening pages of the Epilogue to his monumental theological trilogy, Hans Urs von Balthasar considers modern man as an anima technica vacua.  He notes the contemporary desire for the Church to try to meet modern man “where he is,” cites several reports about the excessive television watching of American and European children, and then wonders:

So severe is this situation that most teachers of religion ask, with equal justice, just who these ruins are whom we should try to “meet” (against their will!) “where they are”.  A missionary toiling in the savannas of Africa or on the atolls of the Pacific has it relatively easy: he encounters a perhaps primitive anima naturaliter christiana.  What might come across to the native as pure theological Chinese he can easily translate into the simplest of languages.  But where is the famous “point of contact” with the anima technica vacua?  I for one certainly do not know.  Some table-rapping.  A séance or two, some dabbling in Zen meditation, a smattering of liberation theology: enough (10-11). Read the rest of this entry »