2016 Archives

If you pray, will you win? A baseball super fan bats around 'Sports and Spirituality'


The following is from the April 7, 2016, edition of North Texas Conference News. Mark Stamm, professor of Christian Worship at SMU, provided expertise for this story.

April 18, 2016


Where ultimate concerns brush up against the national pastime, Mark Stamm can be found, thinking it all through and possibly wearing a baseball cap.

Stamm, professor of worship at Perkins, is an admitted baseball “super fan.” He belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research – Ernie Banks-Bobby Bragan DFW Chapter – and has seen games in all 30 Major League Baseball parks.

He also has explored, in scholarly writing and even in liturgy, how baseball and other sports connect with culture and Christian faith.

“Our task theologically is to name both the goodness and the corruption and also to say, `OK, where do we go from here?’ ” he said.

Stamm's latest pursuit of the question comes in “Sports and Spirituality,” a new seminar elective at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. It features a wide-ranging reading list and impressive guest speakers.

Stamm hit one over the fence by getting Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers manager, to speak to the class in February.

Two Perkins students wore Rangers jerseys, but starry-eyed fandom yielded quickly to intense discussion.

Banister shared personal challenges (including a career-threatening injury as a teen and a long climb to managing in the Majors) and noted his refusal to use prayer as an “ATM.”

“God doesn’t care if we win, I can tell you that,” said Banister, 2015 American League manager of the year. “Look, this game has a cruel sense of humor, and I don’t think God has anything to do with that.”

Read the full story.

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