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A Brief Theology of Sport Paperback – 28 Feb 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: SCM Press (28 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0334044189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0334044185
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 0.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 382,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Lincoln Harvey is Lecturer in Systematic Theology at St Mellitus College in London. He is currently working on an introduction to Christian doctrine for SCM Press.

Product Description

Review

Dr Lincoln Harvey has managed to do something quite remarkable here: this book is at once historical and constructive; academic and accessible; detailed and concise; systematic and practical. It is good to see serious work done on theology and sport, and this book is a fine example of what serious theology about contemporary issues should look like.

Tom Greggs
Professor of Historical and Doctrinal Theology
Aberdeen University, UK

With lively prose, conceptual clarity and a deep affection for the subject matter, Harvey kicks off an important conversation about how theologically we should make sense of – and order our love in relation to – a central cultural phenomenon of our times: sport. Wonderfully insightful, historically rich and theologically punchy, this is vital reading for anyone who plays, watches or is utterly bemused by the world of sport.
Luke Bretherton

Associate Professor of Theological Ethics and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics
Duke University, USA


Sport, says Lincoln Harvey, is only for sport. But A Brief Theology of Sport is about much more than sport…. In winsome fashion it advances a conversation that is much needed and a thesis that deserves a response. 
Douglas Farrow
Professor of Christian Thought and Kennedy Smith Chair in Catholic Studies
McGill University, CA

Lincoln Harvey is a soccer fan, and one of the most besotted sort, a supporter of Arsenal.  What as a Christian should he make of the hours spent absorbed in an activity that does nothing but itself? I give away only a hint of his profound proposal by citing a chapter title: “A Liturgical Celebration of Contingency”.  This is high flying theology that manages to be a good read – not a common achievement.
Robert W. Jenson,
Formerly Senior Scholar for Research at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, USA
Professor Emeritus of Religion, St. Olaf College, Minnesota, USA

Book Description

A Brief Theology of Sport sweeps across the fields of church history, philosophy and Christian doctrine to draw the reader into its creative vision of sport. The book begins with an examination of how the Church approached sport in the past, before turning to consider sport on the basis of the divine act of creation. In doing so, Harvey is able to distinguish sport from all other human activities, identifying it as a set-aside sphere in which the unnecessary-but-meaningful nature of life is celebrated. This constructive proposal is used to shed light on a wide range of issues in sport, including the role of competition, professionalization and celebrity culture today. As such, A Brief Theology of Sport constitutes a significant contribution to our understanding of the value of sport in human life. No one who reads this book will look at sport in the same way again.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DrChris on 14 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
In this elegant and readable book, Harvey presents a theology of sport in two parts.

In the first, he offers a crisp historical overview of the church's reaction to and interaction with sport, including a couple of case studies. This sets the scene for a theologically robust dogmatic argument in part two. In this section, Harvey skilfully develops a truly lovely theological argument, and he does so with language even the nonspecialist can follow. His conclusions tie together the two parts of this book very neatly, and the vision he proposes is as simple as it is jarring and lovely: in sport, we "resonate with our own contingency" and as we will "always be creatures", "[s]port is here to stay. We can enjoy it forever".

In this book you are witnessing the construction of an academically cutting-edge and accessible theology of sport, I cannot recommend this work highly enough. Indeed, if you are interested in sport in any capacity, you will not only enjoy Harvey's Theology of Sport, it will present arguments you probably have never even considered. You will never think of sport again the same way!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dave Thorburn on 6 July 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a challenging and thoughtful book offering genuine insights into the complex and changing relationship between religion and sport. As a practising Christian Harvey concedes that he is taking a somewhat dogmatic stance on the nature of creation but his view of the process as being unnecessary yet meaningful enables him to draw out important parallels and distinctions between the key elements of religion, worship, play and sport. Seeing sport as one of the more rule bound activities within play he is then able to offer a novel analysis of the development of sport both within it's historic and contemporary contexts.
This timely publication coinciding with our current `summer of sport ` enables us to view a wide variety of both individual and team sports through a different kind of theoretical lens. Refreshingly, I am sure he is right to argue that his analysis does, in fact, have real practical implications in that it enables us to compare and indeed judge the comparative and intrinsic worth of many contemporary sports. Through his perspective we are able to take a critical view of current elements of sexism, idolatry and professionalism across our sporting spectrum. For example, he makes the interesting point that the astronomically high rewards earned by a small number of men and women at the top of their respective sports need not necessarily sully their appreciation of playing the game for simply itself as at their level material inducements may have become far less important. As he realises, the bigger problems arise when the majority are only modestly rewarded.
I would strongly recommend this book to both the interested lay reader and also to those who have a more specialist interdisciplinary interest.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Winfield on 24 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lincoln Harvey has written a real gem of a book that is worth the time of anyone who wants to think about the relationship between sport, play and human identity.

He first approaches the task by listening to the ‘historical soundings’ as the often messy intertwining of sport and religion have played out over the past few millennia. In ch.1 & 2 he examines the role of ancient and classical sports in relation to religion; persuasively demonstrating that sport and religion are not separate but are a ‘common universal’. Sports have a religious character and are one of the ways in which an Empire such as Rome could face reality. In ch.3 he explores ‘The Early Church’s View of Sport’ as “sporting events were far too popular to remain unaddressed” (p.25). It is here that he raises three distinct notes from Church history: the Church (1) used sport, (2) pronounced sport unacceptable and (3) sport was deeply popular. With these three notes identified, he then presents two case studies: the Medieval Catholic Church (ch.4) and the Puritans and Muscular Christians (ch.5).

The second part of the book is ‘Analytic Soundings’ and covers ch.6-10. In ch.6 he establishes a working definition of sport, something I found extremely helpful and a key to understanding. His basic thesis is that sport is a type of play, which is radically unnecessary but internally meaningful (p.69). Chapters 7 & 8 dig deeper into a Christian theology of sport (‘to play is to live at our deepest identity’) and a brief theology of sport (‘the liturgical celebration of contingency’). Ch.9 suggests avenues for further thought, which whet the appetite for more from the author. Ch.10 offers concluding comments.

Overall the book benefits from Harvey’s clear approach and writing style.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan Millest on 14 Nov. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is great. I have already bought several copies for friends.

The book is split in two providing the story of the Church's engagement with sport throughout the ages and then finishes with theological argument in the second half. Its easy to read but deeply thought provoking, challenging and exciting, painting a big vision of sport, creation, ourselves, and God.

If you are in anyway interested in sport or play then this is well worth reading.
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