Discourse, dialogue, conversation. The type of interaction indicated by these terms is important and vitalizing. It occurs at many levels and in untold arenas. Most conversations are part of the steady diet of our growth and well-being. Among that endless stream of discourse most are soon forgotten, their nourishment absorbed. Most are banal, some delicious; others mark moments of change.

It is those few conversations that shape us and our world that I believe should be honored by being not only remembered, but documented and left open for continuation. Some interchanges are less than friendly. While some of these can be petty and of little interest to others, some serve to articulate important, yet opposing, positions. We often call these controversies.

The passion that enflames great conversations usually stems from life-long consideration and deep conviction. I am fortunate to have been involved in several conversations in my career and lifetime that I believe merit thorough documentation and careful reflection, since gratefully we all change over time and gain perspective.

In doing this here I hope to honor and extend these conversations, leave them creatively open, that they might be continued by others if not by me.

Play and the Future of the Study of Religion … and the Academy

The future of the study of religion and the academy itself is one of our most important concerns deserving our most careful and boldly creative attention.  I learned of Tyler Roberts’s essay “All Work and No Play: Chaos, Incongruity and Différance in The Study of Religion” and Mark Taylor’s “Refiguring Religion” as I was working on completing several essays on play.  Both consider play, including some things I have written on play, in the context of the discussion of the study of religion and religon.  The congruence not only seemed fortuitous to my work on play, but it also came at a time when I have become increasingly concerned about and interested in the longer term future of the study of religion and the broader academy.  Both I think are undergoing unprecedented challenges which I think we academics are largely ignoring.  I also think that the academy is facing challenges that will, over the next several decades, demand deep and revolutionary changes.  I see this as an opportunity, a creative challenge to recreate ourselves and what we do anew, but only if we take up the challenge now.

To initiate the conversation I have written some of my ideas about the future of our enterprise. To make it convenient for others to enter this conversation I have collected materials related to the study of religion and the study of play.

Framing Essays:

Sam Gill, “Play and the Future of the Study of Religion … and the Academy”  2009    PDF

Tyler Roberts, “All Work and No Play: Chaos, Incongruity and Différance in The Study of Religion” PDF

Mark Taylor, “Refiguring Religion” PDF

Supporting Essays:

Gregory Bateson, “A Theory of Play and Fantasy”  PDF

Jean Baudrillard, Seduction, pp. 5 – 49   PDF

Jacques Derrida, “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”  PDF

Hans-Georg Gadamer, “Play as the Clue to the Ontology of Art”   PDF

Sam Gill, “No Place to Stand: Jonathan Z. Smith as Homo Ludens, the Academic Study of Religion Sub Specie Ludi”  PDF

Sam Gill, “Play” PDF

Sam Gill, “Embodied Theology”  PDF

Sam Gill, “The Glory Jest and Riddle:  Stephen Hawking and A Brief History of Time“   PDF

Sam Gill, “Charles Sanders Peirce:  Play and the Logic of Discovery”  PDF

Sam Gill, “The Powerful Play Goes On:  Friederich Schiller to Jacque Derrida on Play”   PDF

Sam Gill, “Go Up Into the Gaps:  The Play of Native American Religions”   PDF

Sam Gill, Storytracking, Chapters 7 & 8  PDF

Sam Gill, “Play as Pedagogy”  PDF

Sam Gill, “The New Education: Digital Media Enables Whole Bodies” Post

Sam Gill, “Crises and Opportunities” Post

Don Handleman, “Passages to Play: Paradox and Process”  PDF

Mark Johnson, The Meaning of the Body, pp. 1-32  PDF1 PDF2

Milan Kundera, “The Day Panurge No Longer Makes People Laugh”  PDF

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “The Intertwining–The Chiasm”  PDF

Charles Sanders Peirce, “Neglected Argument for the Reality of God”  PDF

Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Eduction of Man Letters 11 – 13, 15, 16  PDF

Thomas Sebeok, The Play of Musement, pp. 1 – 51  PDF

Jonathan Z. Smith “Map is Not Territory” PDF

Jonathan Z. Smith, The Glory, Jest and Riddle: James George Frazer and The Golden Bough. Selection   PDF

Jonathan Z. Smith, “Playful Acts of the Imagination”  PDF


Mother Earth

Ethics of the Study of Religion