3-4 | Playing: Christian Explorations of Daily Life

Book Review

Playing: Christian Explorations of Daily Life

James H. Evans Jr.
Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010. Contents, foreword, postlude, notes, reader’s guide. 99 pp. $15.00 paper. ISBN: 9780800697266

by Robert K. Johnston

First Paragraph:

As part of a series called Christian Explorations of Daily Living written for a general readership, Playing aims to provide theological reflection on our play, asserting that everyday practices matter for Christian faith. Written by a systematic theologian and former president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, the book reflects the author’s broad theological wisdom. It also evidences a solid familiarity with the field, making use of classic works on play by Karl Goos, Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois, Brian Sutton-Smith, Jean Piaget, Hugo Rahner, Clifford Geertz, John Dewey, David Miller, and Victor Turner, among others. But what sets this volume apart from these standard texts in the field is its focus on the practice of play within an African American cultural and theological context. It is Tony Morrison’s Playing in the Dark, the work of Maya Angelou and of Tyler Perry, reflections on Brer Rabbit, Dwight Hopkins’s work on enslaved Africans and their playful strategies, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Evans’s own upbringing at the Second Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, that provide the context for the author’s trinitarian theological reflections. In the process, our inquiry into the field is broadened.