Believers and teachers of faith regularly know the in-breaking of God's Spirit in their midst, when revelatory experiencing unexpectedly shifts habits of thinking, feeling, and doing toward more life-giving ways of being and becoming. When the moment is right, Spirit breathes new life into dry bones. Though religious educators have much practical wisdom about facilitating learning that is creative and transformative, sharper concepts, cases, and theory can help them do it more critically and assist learners to practice openness to wonder, surprise, and authenticity. The Grace of Playing explains how we can create the conditions for revelatory experiencing by understanding it in light of playing. The notion of playing ""as if"" can be powerfully reclaimed from ecclesial ambivalence, casual speech, and commercial interests that often lead playing to be associated with childishness, frivolity, or entertainment. This book theorizes adults playing for the sake of faith, drawing on D. W. Winnicott's psychoanalytic theory, a revision of Jurgen Moltmann's theology of play, biblical texts, medieval devotional practices, as well as art and aesthetics that help local faith communities engage in theological reflection. Communal forms of playing in/at God's new creation provide insights into pedagogies in which learners are creating and are created anew. ""Courtney Goto's book, The Grace of Playing, is a major breakthrough, heralding the place of play in education and especially in educating religiously. It opens us to a source of grace that heretofore has been generally neglected. Ours is surely a time that needs to embrace and celebrate the gift of play--and it is 'free' (gratia)."" --Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology and Religious Education, Boston College; Director of Boston College's Center for the Church in the 21st Century; author of Will There Be Faith? ""The Grace of Playing is an important new book. Drawing on theological, psychological, and aesthetic discussions of play, Goto re-envisions playing as revelatory experience--encounters with divine mystery, ourselves, and others culminating in new life-giving ways. In this original, robust, and highly accessible work, Goto transforms how we think about imagination, grace, Spirit, and faith in liturgy and religious education, and offers a powerful, fresh framework for doing practical theology."" --Charles R. Foster, Professor of Religion and Education emeritus, Candler School of Theology, Emory University ""In this book, Goto coaxes religious educators to step into the sandbox with theologians, psychoanalysts, medieval nuns and holy fools, Issei Garden Angels, and juvenile offenders, to show what it takes to teach communities of faith to play with God and one another for love's sake. Be prepared to cast aside facile notions of escapist play for a theoretically sophisticated and existentially hefty introduction to 'revelatory experiencing.' A marvelous, aesthetic, practical theological playground for contemporary Christian religious education scholarship."" --Mai-Anh Le Tran, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Eden Theological Seminary ""Courtney Goto not only invites the reader into gardens of graceful action and reflection, she also encourages him/her to engage in the risky enterprise of doing theology in a truly interdisciplinary way. In this book the performance of religious education as play produces new, performative theologies. This is practical theology at its best "" --Bert Roebben, Dortmund University Courtney T. Goto is Assistant Professor of Religious Education at the Boston University School of Theology and a codirector of the Center for Practical Theology. Her research interests include aesthetic teaching and learning; imagination, creativity, and embodied knowing in adult religious education; and intersections of power, privilege, and culture in practical theology. Goto is a third-generation Japanese American United Methodist.