Religious studies professor co-authors book on Jackie Robinson spirituality
It might seem peculiar that a publication on Jackie Robinson’s life doesn’t focus on baseball, but authors Michael Long and Chris Lamb purposefully tapped into a much different aspect of Robinson’s life.
Lamb and Long are the authors of “Jackie Robinson: A Spiritual Biography.” Long, an associate professor of religious studies at Elizabethtown College, explained the focus on religion was a purposeful one. “Most of the writings have ignored what fueled his courage and sacrifice, and that is his Christian faith,” Long said. The book was an effort to “add a missing dimension in studies about Robinson,” he said.
Long and Lamb had previously written about Robinson’s faith for Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal, respectively. It was Lamb who came up with the idea of writing an entire book on the subject.
“Most people are attracted to Robinson because of his baseball years, but I find them much less interesting than I do his politics and religion and civil rights work,” the professor said, referring to Robinson as “one of the major players in the modern civil rights movement.”
I like to think that I pass on some of my passion for this particular subject to my students.”
“It was really Robinson who paved the way for (Martin Luther) King and others to make great strides in the 1950s and 1960s,” Long said.
The E-town professor emphasized Robinson’s relationship with his mother and how she taught her son the importance of being proud of his skin color. “He came to see it as a sign of God’s favor,” Long said.
“I suppose more than anything else, my hope is that readers will come away with a sense of gratitude for a man whose faith changed not only the color of baseball, but led to the transformation of U.S. society, including the lives that we enjoy today,” Long said.
The professor also hopes to incorporate the lessons from his book into the classroom. He teaches courses in religion and non-violence in America, which overlap with the biography.
“It gives the students the chance to see abstract teachings come alive in a human life that’s so important to me,” Long said. “I like to think that I pass on some of my passion for this particular subject to my students.”