Last night, John Sexton won an impromptu installment of The Bachelor when he guest starred on The Colbert Report to discuss his class-turned-book Baseball As A Road To God: Seeing Beyond The Game.
After an extended lead-in to the final interview segment of the show, which included a montage mocking the histrionic pauses of The Bachelor, Sexton and another “contestant” entered the set book-in-hand from a hidden door and stood shoulder-to-shoulder eagerly anticipating who will “win” the interview spot.
“One of you will be my guest tonight, the other will be going home,” Colbert said. Cue Colbert whipping out a rose and over one minute of Bachelor-style camera shots of a faces glazed over with anticipation and close-ups of a newly blossomed Scarlet Carson.
Maybe it was the twinkle in his deep blue eyes, the warmth in his smile, or his perpetually rosy cheeks, but Sexton intrigued one of America’s funniest men into giving him his second interview on The Report.
“John Sexton, will you be my guest?” Colbert asks.
The poor runner up drops his book and says, before exiting through the same door, “What about all that stuff you said to me in the fantasy suite? I deserve happiness too!” After a commercial, Colbert and Sexton discussed the search for meaning in life in a segment that freakishly resembled a Liberal Studies freshman seminar.
Colbert: “Jesus said that ‘no one gets to the Father but through me,’ are you saying that Jesus is baseball?”
Sexton: “Baseball is a road to God, just as our religion is a road to God, just as Buddhism is a road to God… The important thing is we must all get used to finding God in this world… God, like baseball, is timeless.”
Colbert: “Baseball feels timeless…”
Sexton said that his purpose in writing the book was to emphasize that we should all be “searching for meaning.” “Frequently, the real meaning of life can’t be put in cognitive terms,” he said. “It’s ineffable; it can’t be reduced into words… The way we know we’re in love, for example.”
Colbert pointed out the weakness of Sexton’s dear concept of “ineffability.” He said, “I like that ineffable thing, because then I get to say something is true and then go, I can’t explain it… I’m right though.”
Sexton praised Colbert for pointing out the problem in his central tenet. Here Sexton got super academic and professorial as he said, “There is the known… There’s the knowable… Then there’s the unknowable. We appreciate that which cannot be put into words, like love, which we know through experience. [Yet] we tend to confuse the unknowable from that which we simply do not know yet.”
“What I don’t know is what you just said,” Colbert says to audience—and our—amusement, “but I’m sure there are people out there who go to NYU who do know what you said.” (Anyone?)
Colbert then took Sexton’s mentions of love, and through a circuitous metaphor, left us with witticisms about the sexual bases: “If you make it all the way to [home plate], then you want to start thinking about baseball.”
In his last appearance on the show in 2006, Sexton adopted a similarly Socratic role in the interview and with many forward-leaning and professorial gestures, expressed his concern that we as a country have resorted to slogans and stopped trying to solve the problems of the day. Sexton had said, “[It’s] dogmatic thinking which just shuts out the thing that God gave us that makes us human; the mind, the soul.” During that interview, the law textbook Sexton co-authored, Civil Procedure, Cases and Materials: 7th Edition, was plugged with seconds left before the final commercial break.
This time around Sexton once again addressed the Colbert Nation with finesse, but with much more frequent invocations of God. It widely known that Sexton is a devout Catholic, yet he continues to conduct the affairs of this “Global Network University” with a secular even-handedness. Perhaps then, we can afford him the freedom to tint his public image with his faith and find that outsiders can differentiate the representative and the body represented.
You can watch the entire interview from Thursday night below: