31 July 2014

Thursday Thought:: Pope Francis and A Revolution of Tenderness

“Today, when the networks and means of human communication have made unprecedented advances, we sense the challenge of finding and sharing a ‘mystique’ of living together, of mingling and encounter, of embracing and supporting one another, of stepping into this flood tide which, while chaotic, can become a genuine experience of fraternity, a caravan of solidarity, a sacred pilgrimage. Greater possibilities for communication thus turn into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity for everyone. If we were able to take this route, it would be so good, so soothing, so liberating and hope-filled! To go out of ourselves and to join others is healthy for us. To be self-enclosed is to taste the bitter poison of immanence, and humanity will be worse for every selfish choice we make.

“The Christian ideal will always be a summons to overcome suspicion, habitual mistrust, fear of losing our privacy, all the defensive attitudes which today’s world imposes on us. Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems which can be turned on and off on command. Meanwhile, the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.”

-Pope Francis; Evangelii Gaudium, An Apostolic Exhortation (Chapter 2, part II, par. 87-88). Read the entire Exhortation here.

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30 July 2014

Action Movie Kid

When imagination meets reality...

Hump Day is humor day at PlayFull. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for visiting the site!

21 July 2014

Laughter is Contagious

Sometimes this is just what a Monday morning needs. Enjoy!

Play is good for you. It's what PlayFull is all about, so like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter if you found this encouraging. Better still, share this with a friend! Have a great week.

17 July 2014

Thursday Thought:: Stuart Brown of the National Institute For Play

Stuart Brown is founder and president of the National Institute for Play near Monterey, California. He is co-author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.

He was interviewed by Krista Tippet, producer of the program "On Being," featured on Minnesota Public Radio.

Ms. Tippet introduces the program (entitled “Stuart Brown—Play, Spirit and Character”) with these words:

Who knew that we learn empathy, trust, irony, and problem solving through play — something the dictionary defines as "pleasurable and apparently purposeless activity." Dr. Stuart Brown suggests that the rough-and-tumble play of children actually prevents violent behavior, and that play can grow human talents and character across a lifetime. Play, as he studies it, is an indispensable part of being human.

Hear the rest of his fascinating interview here. And, while you’re at it, check out the other links there. It’s a treasure chest of playful gems.


PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading. 

16 July 2014

Dilbert: 25 Years Ago

On this date, 25 years ago...

Hump Day is Humor Day at PlayFull! Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

13 July 2014


Lisa, a dearly beloved member of our church, died in early January this year. At her memorial service people could take a small card with a picture of Jesus on it to keep in their purse or wallet. It was something Lisa did. She called it her Traveling Jesus. It reminded her that, wherever she went, Jesus was with her.

This summer the pastor of our church is taking a short sabbatical and the church is mirroring her thematic focus. The expression Shabbat Shalom sums up the intent of this season. It is a blessing that roughly translates as “may you find wholeness in your resting.”

Our children’s ministry has a story about The Good Shepherd that serves as a core element; the children will hear this story a few times over the course of a year, and many times over the course of their lives. We want them to grow familiar with this story, the character of the Good Shepherd, and the various places he leads his sheep. We want them to grow in loving and trusting the Good Shepherd. We hope they will be able to tell the story to others about how the Good Shepherd knows each of his sheep by name—and how he comes to their rescue if they ever get lost.

Essentially, it’s a story about finding rest on the way. Is there any other context in which we find rest, after all? Jesus does not keep us safe in our pen. He calls us out and invites us to follow him. He takes us places, safe places and dangerous places.

In every place the invitation remains unchanged: “Come to me and you will find rest.”

Rest in work and rest in play
Rest in times of plenty and rest in times of scarcity
Rest in day and rest in night
Rest in warmth and rest in bitter cold

He does not promise we will be comfortable but he always promises he will comfort us.

In all my life I have never seen a shepherd so good, so faithful and strong. In him we find true wholeness. There is no skirting pain on a path of healing. With him, we go through all of it. It is not necessarily easy, but it always works out for good.

I invite you to be a little sheep with me this summer. Our church has taken the figure of the Good Shepherd story and encouraged each person to color their own to take with them wherever they go this summer as their Traveling Jesus. To add to the fun, we are taking pictures of our Traveling Jesus in various places (in the tradition of Flat Stanley) and sending them in so we can share with each other where we're finding Shabbat Shalom. 

If you like, write me and I’ll be happy to put in your hands a “Traveling Jesus” that you can color and cut out yourself. Then, take this Jesus with you wherever you go this summer. Know that wherever you are, he is there, leading you, calling you by name, in love. It seems a bit silly for adults to do something like this but I find it’s always good to just be a child now and again.  


If you found today's post encouraging, hop on over to PlayFull's Facebook page and give us a like. There's more where this came from! Or, if you're on Twitter, we'd love it if you follow us. Thank you for reading. Shabbat Shalom!

12 July 2014

Everyday Football Fouls

The World Cup final will be played tomorrow. Football is a wonderful sport, but--let's face it--sometimes the players act like big babies. Here's what a football foul looks like in everyday life. Enjoy!

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10 July 2014

Thursday Thought:: To Render Life as Play

For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins

“The central verb, ‘play,’ catches the exuberance and freedom that mark life when it is lived beyond necessity, beyond mere survival. ‘Play’ also suggests words and sounds and actions that are ‘played’ for another, intentional and meaningful renderings of beauty or truth or goodness. Hopkins incorporates this sense of play with God as the ultimate ‘other’ (‘…to the Father’)—which is to say that all of life is, or can be, worship.
                “Hopkins’s sonnet is as good a presentation of what we are after in understanding life, the ‘end’ of life, as we are likely to find: The vigor and spontaneity, the God-revealing Christ getting us and everything around us in on it, the playful freedom and exuberance, the total rendering of our lives as play, as worship before God.”

-from the introduction of Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson


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06 July 2014

All These Gifts

A Sabbath prayer:

Your gifts to us are too many to count: 
light and the distance it travels, 
the sea and its depth, 
the sky and its height, 
the land and its growth, 
the universe with sun, moon and stars innumerable, 
and all the living, moving things that fill the world: 
billions of fish in thousands of varieties, 
the birds whose songs and flight paths are left uncharted, 
creatures large and small 
from the mighty elephant 
to the life so small it lives 
beyond the scope of our naked eye.

All these…
gifts of sight, sound and scent…
all these we receive as gifts, 
all good, 
all undeserved, 
from Your hand. 
Who is like you, Lord? 
You give these gifts so we may rest in You.

Enable us to give back to you gratefully 
as our way of saying we want to rest in You, 
to trust in You. 
Enable us to give as an act of faith, 
believing that the same God who gave us these gifts 
will never fail to provide everything we need, 
with no good thing lacking.

Receive our praise.


05 July 2014

Schoolhouse Rock: I'm Just a Bill

It's Saturday morning and that can only mean one thing: cartoon time! In honor of the 4th of July weekend in the U.S. here's a classic from Schoolhouse Rock. Who says education can't be playful? :)

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04 July 2014

Go 4th and Play

In his book Homo Ludens, Dutch historian Johan Huizinga asserts that culture arises in and as play. This  is quite a bold assertion. It is not a statement about our love for sports and board games. He is not talking about play as a microcosm of culture, a characteristic of culture. He is saying we have culture because we play. Play creates culture, macro-culture.

Huizinga believes that play is the mother of government and religion. Even law and language have play as their source. I happen to agree with him. 

Since today is July 4th and I happen to be an American, I wanted to reflect a bit on this theme that culture, macro-culture, is a child of play.

America has been and always will be an experiment. There is no way America’s founders could have seen or predicted what America would be like today. That’s because our history is a story of testing limits, seeing how far the boundaries of our Constitution will stretch.

Drafting the constitution was a creative, imaginative endeavor. The framers wanted to find just the right words to ensure long-lasting liberty, freedom from tyranny and oppression. 

The authors of the Constitution put in place a system of checks and balances, a feature shared by play in its fullest form. That is what creates interest. These checks and balances attenuate the effects of conflict, but they also establish an arena that creates conflict and within which conflict is played out. Putting in place a three-part system takes into account that conflict is bound to happen—and when it happens these same checks and balances ensure everyone plays the game fairly.

Notice that play happens in specific locations. The Supreme Court is just as much a playground as the area rug in my son’s bedroom. When my son was much younger, we would role play together on that rug with his sister and a menagerie of stuffed toys. When we were in that place, one role served to mitigate the power of another. Playing fairly meant honoring the role another played, no matter how different they were from you. We had a special language when we role-played and there were special rules to govern the playtime.

Huizinga: “All play moves and has its being within a playground marked off beforehand either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course…The arena, the card-table, the magic circle, the temple, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc., are all in form and function play-grounds…within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.” (10)

The accusation “I hold you in contempt of court” is telling. It is a charge that someone in the playground is flaunting, twisting, disregarding and disrespecting the rules that apply in that place. We cannot function properly in such an environment—which is why we have grown sick to our stomach at the games people play with our legal system.

“That is not how it is intended to work!” We know when something is awry by instinct—our creative, joyful, generous play-instinct. When the rules are twisted, it is a game that is anti-play and we do what we can to restore the situation to free play that honors the true spirit of the rules of the playground.

Why does this matter? As an American, all this begs humility. America was and is an experiment—and so are other forms of government. We do not have a monopoly on truth. We are still learning and growing (hopefully). Our system is not perfect and conflict will always be a factor for which we must account. We can choose to embrace conflict as an opportunity to grow--an arena within which we may work towards reconciliation--or we can manipulate conflict to enact innumerable power-plays.

PlayFull’s hope is that the latter will diminish as we choose to nurture the former. America, we wish you a long future of gracious, imaginative play.  


Play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading!

03 July 2014

Thursday Thought:: C.S. Lewis on Hardship

PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. To keep up with thought-provoking and encouraging content, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading!