Steen and Owens ground play in human evolution. Now sociologist Robert Bellah makes play not just any element of human evolution but a core element of it. From play, he believes, springs almost all culture, including the topic I steadfastly refuse to bring up on this blog because of the anger it generates among TN readers; therefore I will not raise it here. It is the topic that Tolkien also believed was intimately bound up with fantasy and subcreation.
Recently in First Things, a scholarly magazine about the unspeakable topic I am not discussing, scholarly experts on that topic discuss Bellah's work and spend quite a bit of time on play. Huizenga is mentioned approvingly on several occasions. Interesting to see play given such weight by this brand of intellectual.
Also, I owe to this edition of the magazine a quote I will savor for many years: "The only time I ever saw Richard Dawkins reduced to stuttering silence was when an Irish philosopher repeatedly asked him about human freedom." Professor Dawkins, as you may know, though a biologist by trade, has positioned himself as a rather indomitable expert on the fantasies of certain ancient goat-herders. I have long wanted to ask him whether he is free and if so, how that could be. According to Professor Bellah, being free, and free to play, implicates a host of other assumptions all of which are closer to the goat herders' way of thinking than Professor Dawkins would likely accept.