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Sport & the Spiritual Life: The Integration of Playing & Praying Paperback – December 11, 2013
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- "Can we really help athletes encounter God not at the margins of their lives, but within their very sports experience? The author of this book and I believe the answer is 'Yes, we can!"
- "Maranise has connected the 'spirituality of sports' to the heart of Christian spirituality... He has made his book as universal as sport itself."
- "An excellent primer in the field of sports-spirituality; I recommend this book to anyone who loves sports and loves God and who would strive to better love God and neighbor through the vehicle of sports."
- "An original and wide-ranging book... The exercises he offers at the end of a number of chapters will make this book a useful educational tool in many settings."
- "If you are looking to cultivate a deeper spirituality amidst sports, identify how athletic progress and faith development can work side by side and understand how sport serves as a unifying factor in new ways, this resource is worth considering."
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Potential pitfalls addressed include the ill effects of the overweening parent with unrealistic demands on their children involved in sports, to the potentials for self-absorption, arrogance, and self-destructive habits like performance enhancing drugs. Potential benefits addressed include the development of a capacity for sacrifice and teamwork, for the development of discipline, endurance, virtue, and deep lasting friendships through sport. (I found Chapter 9 on "Sport as an Opportunity for Friendship" a particularly insightful essay on an aspect of sports that should not be overlooked.) All of those issues and more are addressed with insight and with practical, valuable suggestions and exercises so that athletes may grown in spirituality as they grow in physical strength and skill.
Sport and the Spiritual Life is an excellent primer in the field of sports-spirituality. It makes great reading for any athlete, parent, grandparent, trainer, coach, or chaplain of athletes. It is a warmly-written, enjoyable read that should fire up anyone's love for sports and gratitude to God for providing us the bodies and minds to play and enjoy them. I recommend this book to anyone who loves sports and loves God and who would strive to better love God and neighbor through the vehicle of sports.
The fact that this book is not entirely from an academic angle should not discredit its importance. The book’s content and intent is to integrate the worlds of sport and spirit for the individual, and to help those who wish to guide others in this process. Maranise’s book is based heavily on work he completed while teaching at a Catholic school on this very topic. His work as a teacher is apparent throughout the text, as Maranise conveys the desire to simply show what he has accomplished academically, but to help others improve their own spiritual life through the athletic. At the end of numerous chapters, Maranise provides helpful spiritual exercises one can partake to see how the spiritual is played out in the physical. These exercises can be done personally, or provided to a group/individual who are seeking to integrate the sporting and the sacred. I highly recommend this work to anyone who is interested in this topic, or the sports and religion conversation as a whole.
By Anthony Maranise, OblSB
Order of Saint Benedict, 2013. Pp. xi +126. $24.50 USD.
An original and wide-ranging book; both in format - main text in bold with some chapter titles at bottom of the previous page - and content, written by a man who has experience of sport underpinned by a strong belief. This book enables Maranise to express his admiration for St. Augustine of Hippo as well as his knowledge on how and why some sportspeople tattoo. One of the strengths of this book is the thorough identification of scripture texts applicable to the practice of sport. The Benedictine ‘ora et labora’ resonates with ‘pray and play’: even, perhaps 'pray through play'. As a survivor of leukaemia, Anthony has a deep appreciation of life. The exercises he offers at the end of a number of chapters will make this book a useful educational tool in many settings. Perhaps future editions of this valuable book could explore the differences between the RC and Protestant views of sport; its sacramentality and glorifying God as opposed to helping people get fit in order to be able to work for the Kingdom of God. The dangers of sport are admitted. Its potential for generating ecstasy and thus supplying much of what religion offers leads some to use sport as a surrogate religion – with all the harm this generates.
His ‘Abstract Developmental Model for Athletes’ chimes closely with John Paul 2 foundation 4 Sport’s “PIES of Life” model and the mutual influence of the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual dimensions of human life on developing the full potential of human life through sport. I look forward to Antony’s next book- which I am sure will appear - as time and further experiences enable us to grow.