In the book Shoeless Joe, what does the quote "a ballpark at night is more of a church than a church" mean and how does it relate to the theme of religion in the book?

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Shoeless Joe is Canadian author W. P. Kinsella's 1982 novel about a baseball-devoted farmer who is inspired to build a baseball park in the middle of his corn field. Despite its grounding in sport, Shoeless Joe is an intensely religious novel which uses biblical allusion and metaphor to argue...

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Shoeless Joe is Canadian author W. P. Kinsella's 1982 novel about a baseball-devoted farmer who is inspired to build a baseball park in the middle of his corn field. Despite its grounding in sport, Shoeless Joe is an intensely religious novel which uses biblical allusion and metaphor to argue that the power of faith is strong enough to transform even nature and reality.

Throughout the story, Ray Kinsella's love for--and near obsession with--baseball is contrasted against the more rote dogma of traditional Christianity. Baseball is, in effect, Kinsella's religion, and the baseball park becomes identified with the same sacred space that a church or temple might. Its supernatural power, through Kinsella's experiences, becomes as real as nature itself.

In one scene in the story, Ray Kinsella, Archie Graham, and J.D. Salinger visit Bloomington, Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium. Inquiring whether either Graham or Salinger has spent time in an empty baseball stadium, Kinsella observes that a "ballpark at night is more of a church than a church."

Kinsella's statement underscores the magical properties he sees in the stadium as an element in the larger baseball "religion" to which he subscribes. Later in the story, Ray's own stadium is called "heaven on Earth." This statement, taken in tandem with his earlier comment about the baseball park being "more of a church than a church" highlights that baseball is, for Kinsella, an organic, tangible religion in which mortals can directly interact with the supernatural. In the arena of the ballpark, the gods themselves (the players) gather on ordained days for worship by their devotees (the fans).

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