Here in this particular world—of our Divinity School, the Center for the Study of World Religions and the Committee on the Study of Religions and all who are associated with us — we devote ourselves to the understanding of the spiritual and social laws which govern what authors of old called the sense of divinity and the religion that is born from it, making us beings who seek what is of surpassing worth, seek that which is and does not come into being or pass away, seek that which can bestow on us fullness of life and arouse us to adoration and imitation. The identification and the interpretation of these laws is the guiding purpose both of the study of religion and of theology, which also criticizes them. The appropriation of these laws, the incarnating of them into our spiritual reason, is the serious purpose of religion or of the communal and personal faith, into a full measure of which we aspire to grow. But what we call the serious work of appropriation—the task of realizing and becoming the faithful, religious beings we are in potentiality—also involves an element of play. That, at least, is the observation of the historian Johan Huizinga; and it is an observation that many of us have come to accept. The word “play,” however, here signifies something other than the simple copying of exemplars or obeying of rules of action; “play” means participating in the actualization of the ideal realities'that summon us. Hence, our spiritual propensity to retreat into ourselves and to venture out beyond ourselves in order to discover and to celebrate such being as constrains our whole-hearted respect and love, subordinating all our other inclinations and tendencies: that propensity is our spiritual play by which we help to actualize the supreme worth we seek. And in nothing characterizing our human nature does this native propensity show itself more plainly than in the imagination's play with symbols. It is about this play of symbols that I propose to speak— as a tragic play.