Playing: Christian Explorations of Daily Living
James H. Evans, Jr., Fortress Press
This is one of a Compass series of explorations of Christian living written by a work group in constructive theology. It could be regarded as an introduction to the topic of play as an approach to Christian theology.
Evans has provided extensive notes, suggested further readings and asked some helpful discussion questions including: “Why is the element of play absent from so much of our religious practice and theological reflection … and how could a broader, deeper understanding of play foster theological insights and enrich impoverished religious practices?”
In a brief overview of play theory from Groos a century ago to Huizinga, Callois and Sutton-Smith to theologians like Moltmann, Rahner and Miller and also touching on the impact of psychiatrists’ and psychologists’ work on play, Evans has mapped the growing awareness of the importance of play to human growth and wellbeing.
He examines play as an everyday practice that can be life-giving and even subversive.
He contends that the Holy Spirit as the spirit of play supports play for humanity, the church and the cosmos.
Play enables humans to praise and honour God. Jesus can be seen as someone who “changes the game”.
Ritual sacred play constitutes worship. Play has a spiritual function to create wonder and awe, a poetic function enabling us insight into the world and a social function to provide a creative framework for community.
These ideas are not new but are clearly set out and provide a good starting point for further reading and discussion.
In July there is a Godly Play National Conference at the Centre for Ministry (www.godlyplay.org.au) which will provide further opportunity to explore this subject.