Playing Before God: Theology and Play in Dialogue

Daniel Gabelman


The Christian Church’s sometimes hostile relationship to any form of play has often been noted. The Scottish singer/songwriter Michael Marra has observed that in Scotland today there are still communities that chain up swing-sets on Sunday—a practice which implies that playing can be sinful, at least if done on the most theological day of the week. Play likewise often returns the insult by making religion a frequent object of satire and ridicule, as for example with Moliere’s Tartuffe, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and frequent episodes of popular shows like The Simpsons and South Park. But is the relationship between theology and play really as troubled as a first glance might indicate? A closer look at both play and theology might, I want to suggest, reveal some surprising affinities, and putting the two in dialogue with one another might just provide both with helpful correctives.

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ISSN 1749-9771

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 UK: Scotland License.