Jason Byassee

The Matheny Manifesto

Baseball, life, and faith.

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Matheny resists at points. He doesn't want to claim to have all the answers—that's the very arrogance he suggests we'd all do better without. And there are few better laboratories for how to be human beings, and a society, than the youth sports field. I'd love my kid to play for a Matheny. And I'd love to not be the parent he worries about.

My deep envy in reading the book as a pastor is for some of the power Matheny had as a little league coach. He could kick kids off the team. As a player he could tell a pitcher who publically showed him up that he would fight him right there on the field if he did it again. This insistence on manners is crucial to any life well lived. How come as a pastor I couldn't exercise it? When people made up lies about me or listened to gossip rather than shut it down, I couldn't kick them out of the church. And I shouldn't—churches that enthuse about excommunication at the whim of perceived pastoral disrespect are often wretched places. But I wonder if we can insist on anything in human behavior without consequences. And I was surprised to find myself jealous of the authority of a little league coach.

Jason Byassee teaches homiletics at the Vancouver School of Theology in British Columbia.

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