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This is an odd conclusion, partly for an obvious reason: It puts sports outside rather than within creaturely existence, since creaturely existence is classically understood to be entirely directed toward God. In celebrating creatureliness, Harvey removes sport from the God-directedness that is constitutive of creatureliness. It’s odd too because Harvey applies his point narrowly to sports. Why is music-making not autotelic in just the way that sport is? Why is ballet not a liturgy of contingency from which God withdraws to order to take his place among the spectators?

On the whole, I think Ellis is better able than Harvey to explain the power of both participating in and watching sports. Neither, however, is entirely satisfying: Ellis blurs religion and sports, while Harvey, in an effort to avoid that danger, grants too much autonomy to sports. Yet the appearance of these two intelligent, provocative books gives hope that sport, a massively important facet of modern civilization, is finally receiving the serious theological attention it deserves.

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