IN PRAISE OF PLAY by Robert E. Neale


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The subtitle of this book, ""Toward a Psychology of Religion"", is enlightening, for the author's analysis of ""play"" in the first part of the book as an experience in harmony and as adventure, and sometimes as a disguise for something else, is essentially a preparation for an interpretation of religion. The second and the most significant part of the book fuses the results in the previous chapters to that interpretation in relating the distinction between the sacred and the profane to the psychological distinction between play and work. Drawing heavily on data from the history of religions, the author concludes that man's ambivalence toward the sacred is actually a response to the potential for mature play, and he proposes a triple solution to this ambivalence -- only to conclude, in the final analysis and according to his own definitions and interpretations, that ""play is irrelevant and irreverent."" This is a work of profound meaning and high originality that the churchman as well as social scientists will find fascinating; and sometimes irritating in its limitations.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1969
Publisher: Harper & Row