Playtime

Anyone who has watched children play knows the spectacularly creative and subversive ways in which they can use playthings, even "safe" religious ones. The Mennonite kid uses the sweet, puffy figures of the crèche set to stage a bone-crushing, manger-side brawl. The Muslim girl undresses her modestly clothed Fulla doll—marketed as an anti-Barbie and the "moral Muslim choice" for young girls—and lays her on top of a naked boyfriend doll. Many parents have intervened in the make-believe rumble or lovemaking, or wondered whether they should, or at least found it imperative to call the child for dinner.

That's the problem with religious toys, say the authors of Toying with God, a study of religious toys, games and dolls and their connections to commerce, culture, gender, play and ritual.

 

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