Tuesday, May 30, 2006

[THO] Proof-texting Bites

What is wrong with proof-texting? I must admit that it is one of my pet peeves. Proof-texting is basically the practice of using small isolated snippets of scripture to back up an idea. Christians do it all the time, tacking endless bible references to their every statement as if to give their statements the weight of scripture. Heck, I used to do it myself.

There are a few things wrong with this practice. First if you look up those passages and read them in context they can often say something completely different than what the user intends. I recently decided to look up the verses proposed on a series of propositions at one of the blogs I read. I thought maybe a few of them might be stretches. What shocked me was that none of them actually bore out the points he was making – well unless you stretched them to say something they were not saying in proper context. If you are going to do this read the context, please.

The second problem is that they make your statement weightier than it deserves to be. I don’t think people intend to be arrogant when they do this, but it sure is an arrogant thing to say your words are as weighty as scripture. Really we know that most people are not going to check your context, especially if you include multiples of references. For some reason there is an assumption of unmediated access to the mind of Christ taken on by the average Christian and this leads to all kinds of heresies. Now I am not for taking the scriptures out of the hands of people, but for mercy sake lets teach people to be responsible with the scriptures. To study it diligently, which doesn’t mean just knowing verses. In fact to use the scriptures, as they were intended – read the whole thing in context. Maybe laity could be given scriptures without bible references in them – that would help.

The third problem is what I call the JW problem. Ever debate with a JW? They know all the key verses and are trained to bounce you to the next one before you can read the proper context and see why their claim is preposterous. What sucks is that Christians do this all the time too. It fails to honour the reader and let them encounter God through the scriptures for themselves. It reduces the bible to a supporting document for a series of propositions that we want folks to assent to. I would rather lead people to Jesus thank you very much.

Finally it shows a lack of respect for scripture itself. Well that probably already came out. But if we really respect scripture we won’t twist it to suit our ends, rather we will embrace it and let scripture change us. Wouldn’t that be awesome? No wonder we are encouraged to devote ourselves to the public reading of scripture. No wonder the rich synagogue tradition always included publicly reading the scriptures. It is meant to be read to the people of God so that through it we can encounter the Word behind the word, the Living Word Jesus Christ. I’m all about that.

So please, don’t proof-text.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

[LIF] neo-vegetarian reculturationist

Bryan, over at the Christian Gamers Guild, referred to me as a:
"neo-vegetarian pseudo-sideways reculturationist"
It was in jest and believe me I took it that way. But I wondered at how accurate a reflection this might be on me.

Despite never having any vegetarian leanings on account of God screwing up and giving me omnivorous teeth (what was God thinking?). I do hold some similar values with my more nature-oriented vegetarian friends. I just find it hard to resist the modern conveniences associated with cheating against my values. So ‘neo’ should really be replaced with ‘hypocritical neo’, if I am to be honest. I should go elsewhere when they are out of organic carrots, but sadly I don’t.

Pseudo-sideways, well considering when I was young and very stupid I decided to try out the urban myth of smoking banana peels. We baked them up, scraped them into a couple pipes and lit up for an experience that left us (I had a partner in stupidity in those days, fellow named Melvern) with the worst possible headache that mercifully only lasted about an hour. But the initial effect of inhaling burnt banana rinds is to feel sideways. So yes I know what it is like to feel sideways. However, pseudo or imitation sideways is another story. Suffice to say I no longer smoke much of anything let alone banana peels so sideways does need some qualifier if it has any hope of fitting.

Am I pseudo sideways? I like to think I’m not pseudo anything, but my investigation of my neo-vegetarianism already proved that I am not as non-pseudo as I would like to believe. But I don’t really try to pretend to be sideways either. Maybe upside down? I think that works better for me, pseudo inverted. I am not really inverted, but sometimes my perspectives can appear inverted; quite possibly they are inverted from the norm, but in reality I am convinced my ideas are right side up, hence the pseudo qualifier.

Reculturationist. Huh?

Well let’s break this bad boy down. Re means I do something again. Culture is in this, but the declination seems to indicate this term is more of a verb, meaning that I like to either reapply culture or resituate something into cultures. Both are quite accurate – which is why the first two are troubling, how could Bryan be so accurate here and miss the first two? I’ll leave that for Bryan to ponder.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

[THO] Architects of Hope

Just finished reading Jürgen Moltmann’s “Progress and Abyss: Remembrance of the Future of the Modern World” from The Future of Hope (Volf & Katerberg, editors). What a profound piece. It is a kick in the pants for all Christians, especially those who live in the privilege of the Western world. His political criticism is of our apathy rather than our mode. He sees our “view [of] democracy as a condition we possess, not as a process we are involved in” as the root of the problem. (p.20) I couldn’t agree more. Which is scary because I’ve often tried to distance myself from things political. Moltmann points out that “there is no such thing as nonpolitical Christianity” which is what I have begrudgingly discovered. (p.22). And he calls the Church to be the architects of hope (not the Kingdom of God – rightfully rejecting this ‘we are building the Kingdom of God’ nonsense so prevalent in mainline Christianity) for a world that has had its high enlightenment dreams dashed to the ground. If you get the chance this article is a definite worthwhile read.  

[DDM] CanGames

This time next week I’ll be running games at CanGames. I am really excited. Last year was my first year and I had all my games fill up. This year I am running five sessions, including two DCI sanctioned tournaments (one even has 32 spaces reserved!). It is going to be fun. Two of my sessions are themed warbands, Epic and 200pt. That is always a lot of fun. You never know what people will bring to an event like that, it is bound to be hilarious – last time I ran themed bands I brought my dreaded freaky beard band where all the minis sported freaky facial hair! But the one I am most keen on running is my famous campaign scenario: Warlords of the Fallen Gong.

Each player competes in a series of one-on-one battles using warbands of escalating point value (100, 200, Epic). Faction rules are in effect and your warlord has to be in all of your builds (the same piece). Each victory gains your warlord new magic items that can be employed in the following warband builds (they are handicapped for points at the start of the skirmish). The better you do the more goodies you collect. In the traditional game we would end with an all out, mega-map, every warlord for him/herself battle – but that takes oodles of time. So in the interest of sane gaming we are just going to have a series of contests and lots of prizes to hand out. It should really be fun.

Speaking of prizes, Galen_Games has donated a bazillion (slight exaggeration) common and uncommon minis (Deathknell and Giants of Legend primarily) which I have turned into a pile of rareless boosters. Also my friend Richard from Red Shirt Games is painting up some custom statues as prizes, he says he is planning on winning two of them so I know he will do a good job (he’s a wicked miniature painter BTW).

Red Shirt Games is also running their famous Monster Mash scenario using D&D Miniatures. I’m going to play in that one and hope to get me a prize, maybe a statue for my own use in RPGing. That would be very cool. I’m also registered to play in their own game – General Glen’s Rules for Toy Soldiers on Friday night.

I’ll post how things went. Still lots to do to get ready, but I am really exicted!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

[DDM] Heavy Artillery is up!

My latest DDM scenario hit the web today. I am quite pleased with this one as it involves a fair bit of strategy. You have to create a band that can do three things:

1) Destroy the enemy's Arcane Ballista
2) Activate your own Arcane Ballista (otherwise you wasted 48 points)
3) Defend your Arcane Ballista until it is off the map

All that in 100 points (minus 48 for the Ballista). Happy hunting!

You can find the scenario here.

Tag you are it!

I have decided to use tags to help you navigate my messages, I'll add them in here and put a link to this post next to the warning page.

[DDM] Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures
[FUN] At least I find it fun
[FV] Freedom Vineyard
[LIF] Reflections on my own belly button
[REV] Reviews
[RPG] Role Playing Gaming
[SER] Gospelly Messages
[THO] Theological reflections

*Updated July 5, 2007.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What is Freedom?

“Living out of our new selves, we are always already where the command would want us to be.” (Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge, 2005, p.67)

Nothing exposes the lie of autonomous spontaneous freedom than the realization that not one of us is truly autonomous or spontaneous. Indeed each of us is the product of our environments. We make choices based on a plethora of varied influences; everything from media to what we think our parents would do. We often try to kid ourselves about our motivations, but really we are built to respond in this way.

Humanity is a communal creature, in that we thrive on social interaction - interaction that is also sometimes our downfall. Every interaction we have with others influences the decisions that we face throughout each waking moment. Often we end up trying to appease those around us, or at least do what we think would appease our community. We want to be liked. We want to be respected. We want to be significant.

So we play the societal games. Here in the West, consumerism is one such game; we amass the latest things so that we can be ‘normal’ like everyone else. This not only takes a toll on our environment, it also further impoverishes the already poor as they claw at this illusion of ‘normalcy’.

If this vision of freedom is flawed, then what is freedom?

The grain of truth in the lie of autonomous spontaneous freedom is that we do find freedom at the core of our being, living out of our uniqueness. But that kind of freedom is not found by trying to strip away all the outside influences. Rather it is found in realizing something about ourselves as created beings.

Jesus Himself says that the “truth will set you free”. (John 8:32) That passage makes a lot of sense in its context. Jesus is conversing with some believing Jews and tells them that if they keep his commands then they will be set free by the truth. Doesn’t that sound contrary to the popular notion of freedom? It should, because it is. Jesus is advocating a freedom not from God’s influence – but a freedom found by living in God’s influence. Volf uses the Pauline language of old and new selves to argue this same point. (p.66)

The truth that sets us free is the realization that living within the influence of God is exactly what we were made to be/do. When we realize that this is what we were truly made for then it all makes sense. When we live out of this framework then we no longer have man’s fruitless dream of human potential, but rather God’s amazing dream of human potential. These dreams are quite different.

Man’s dream is that we will become masters of our reality. We will conquer frontier after frontier and show what a dominant species really can be. We’ve been living that dream for longer than our planet can bear and now we are reaping the consequences of our arrogance.

God’s dream sees us loving, giving, restoring, cultivating and even redeeming. God calls us to partner with Him in the amazing project of humanity, bringing the realization of love to this world. Giving to the poor who are so neglected in man’s grandiose dreams. Restoring life where the machinations of progress have destroyed life. Cultivating a new kind of humanity, one that lives the great commandment to love. Redeeming the fallenness of humanity through the life of Christ expressed through our lives. This is a dream of freedom.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Popular Notion of Freedom

“Behind this identification of freedom with autonomous spontaneity lies the notion of a self-defined and free-floating person. Strip down all the influences of time and place, abstract from culture and nurture, and then you’ll come to your authentic core. This core is who you truly are, the thinking goes – unique, unshaped, unconstrained.” (Volf, Free of Charge, 2005, p. 65).

This is the myth of freedom that Miroslav Volf so powerfully exposes. The lie of the autonomous spontaneous self is not the vision of freedom God has for humanity. Yet this lie is at the heart of the American Dream, a dream that saturates all of North American culture. The dream that supplants God’s place at the centre of ‘our own’ universe. It says we are good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it people like us enough to do anything we put our minds to. We are guaranteed success, whatever that means, on our own individual merits and abilities. This is a powerful myth and regularly destroys the lives of those unsuccess stories we chose to ignore. We love the success stories and we applaud the human spirit. But we close our doors to the struggle of the masses around us. This isn’t hope. There is no hope in such a corrupt vision of freedom. There is only death, competition, corruption and violence – sounds exactly like what we’ve reaped.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Resonating in Ottawa

Joseph, Glen & Alan

me, Mike & Kenny

Tuesday a group of about 8 Ottawa Resonators all hung out at the Abbey (pub on Preston St.) for a few beer and the resolving of many pressing theological issues. However, we did fail to determine who killed papa smurph. Please help us by adding your speculations to the comments. (Note: the gals all left before the photo op began).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Weekly Messages

Our faith community, Freedom Vineyard, has a strong web component. I wanted to mention the weekly message that I post there. It seems that it should be part of my blogging experience, so instead of duplicating the message here I’ll just tell you where to look. I post almost every week on that Sunday’s gospel reading. Usually the message comes out Monday, but occasionally life is too big and it doesn’t hit the site until Tuesday. So if you are wanting something with a bit more substance and are tired of waiting for my next theological post – enjoy the message.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Great Concert

Looking around the room at all the different faces I was pretty excited. Most of them had some connection to our little community, a few had never been out to any of our events but were friends who had connected with us along the way. Some were just friends who show up at games nights and the like. Others were friends we hadn’t seen in years! Looking around I saw the community music knits together.

Oh and Andrew Smith was awesome! He’s playing in Kingston this coming Saturday, check out his site for details. If you can, go and see what he is up to. The man can play guitar!