Monday, July 25, 2005
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
- a. strong belief systems (note: I didn't say Christianity... while I believe that a relationship with Jesus is the best way to live & the only way to die, what I'm talking about here does not require a belief in a Higher Power)
- b. discernment skills - For them, it's a crapshoot as to how they'll deal with any kind of cultural input. In the same vein, kids don't have these kind of necessary filters in place.
- Viva Pamplona... this game of running with the bulls is a lot of fun to play with kids & adults. Closely related to it are two other great "running" games: Midnight Party (which plays well with 2-8 players) and Viva Topo (which only plays 2-4, but is the "prettiest" of the threesome.)
- Galopp Royale... a game of sedan chair racing that's really about bluff & auctions, this is great fun to play. Designed by Klaus Teuber (he of Settlers fame), this is a fluffy game that results in much silliness. (Not everyone likes this one, but you must play it in the proper "light-hearted" frame of mind.)
- Stimmt So!... the "papa" of the vastly inferior SdJ-winning Alhambra, Stimmt So! is a stock market investment game that plays at a furious pace and provides lots of chances for high & low moments. (By contrast, Alhambra slowed the game down as well as adding a second mechanism - the walls - that actually works contrary to the stock mechanism.)
- Entenrallye... this is a "race" game that's all about timing: arrive at the car rallies with the right modifications; make sure you get your car inspected by the right time. I'm the first to admit it's pretty random, but I have a blast every time I play it.
- my collection has gone over 700 games... I've pretty much got a game for any situation
- I no longer feel a deep & burning need to play EVERY new game that comes down the pike... I know it's Gamer Heresy, but I've managed to avoid playing Age of Steam, Goa, and any number of other Heavy games that didn't sound particularly interesting to me. In the right situation, I'd be happy to try 'em, but I don't HAVE to play these games to feel complete.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Friday, July 15, 2005
- the first is with a reporter from The Fresno Bee, who wanted to do a story about my gaming with a focus on my translating some of the rules of the games I own. I have no idea how this story will turn out, but they even sent a photographer to take pictures, which will be interesting to see.
- the second is with Tom Vasel for his series of Interviews With An Optimist (archived on his site, The Dice Tower)... it's an online interview about gaming & ministry & theology with a guy who I've never met but consider a friend. I'm much less worried about this one.
day when we will hold you We will hold you You’ll kiss our tears away When we’re home to stay Can’t wait for the day when we will see you We will see you But baby let sweet Jesus hold you‘till mom and dad can hold you… You’ll just have heaven before we do You’ll just have heaven before we do Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would… BRIDGE:
I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…
"Glory Baby" by Watermark, from their album All Things New
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
- Liar's Dice (you can even play this with more players by adding more cups & dice)
- The Settlers of Catan (I own all of the expansions... but not all of the spin-off games)
- Attacke (I'm still miffed they ruined this game by rereleasing it as the bloated Ivanhoe)
- Carabande (I have two basic sets & one action set, which makes for very nice layouts)
- Canasta (Shari & I are partial to the Canasta Caliente set available - it's a great way to learn the game if you've never played before)
- Medici (the best pure auction game available - and word has it that it's going to be republished next year with artwork that makes the game easier to play - about time!)
- Entdecker (the original, not the re-do... one of the prettiest games I own to play, as the map of islands grows as the game proceeds)
- Showmanager (amazingly, I've won nearly 78% of the games I've played of this - which is a stunning record... no wonder I enjoy it so much!)
- Take 6 (just bought the new anniversary edition and am enjoying it all over again...)
- Land Unter/Zum Kuckuck (a game that has grown on me - and become a personal favorite)
- Bohnanza (man, I need to play "the bean game" more... sigh)
- El Grande (I don't get to play it much, but I make sure I get to play - probably my favorite "deep" game)
- Lost Cities (Shari's good at this, but she's small potatoes compared to Carla Triplett)
- Fill or Bust (we played last night and I won in near-record time)
- Loopin Louie (just a little brag: I paid $2 for my copy... he he he)
- Ra (which is much easier to learn with the player mats available on the 'Geek)
- Zirkus Flohcati (I'll get at least one game of this in this week, as we're having Family Game Night at church)
- Time's Up (until Smarty Party was released, my favorite party game)
- Take It Easy (someone else coined the phrase, but it fits: Bingo for German gamers)
- Big City (beautifully produced, fun to play - a wonderful game of city-building with amazing pieces)
- For Sale (a poker-like game of Chicken that plays like a dream.... the new edition is welcome but makes some major rules & component changes)
- Dschungelrennen (a jungle race dice game that is just plain fun to play)
- Klunker (I stunk at this for my first few games, but experience has made a better player AND appreciate the tight design of this jewelry sales card game)
- Union Pacific (takes the good stuff from the classic Acquire and goes it one better... a great stock investment game)
- High Society (another great auction game... thank goodness it's short, because it's vicious :-) - the new edition from Uberplay is primo)
- Ausgebremst (Ave Caesar may be prettier, but this is the better game... fast-paced racing fun with some serious chances of hosage)
- Basari (I still like the original better than the "new & improved" Edel, Stein & Reich... the game is essentially themeless, but still a ton of fun)
- Galopp Royale (this game of sedan chair racing is more about the auctions than the races)
- Viva Pamplona (run the bulls - well, bull - in this silly but enjoyable game)
- Carcassonne (and, yes, I'm a Carcassonne expansion junkie - the only thing I don't have the one that was in a German gaming magazine)
- Web of Power (an area-majority game that moves along at a blistering pace... and it's about monastic orders vying for power in medieval Europe - what's not to like?)
- Arriba (pattern recognition meets Spoons)
- Espresso (my nieces & nephew love this game)
- Split (I hated this the first time I played it, but my wife & sister fell in love with it... and, over time, I've grown to enjoy it a bit)
- Fast Food Franchise (Monopoly for gamers - this needs a new version to go in print with the production values of Big City!)
- Exxtra (goofy dice game made even goofier by the folks at Gulf Games)
- Frank's Zoo (The Great Dalmuti with some interesting tactical/card-counting tricks)
- Stimmt So! (it cheeses me off that the inferior adaption, Alhambra, won a German Game of the Year award...)
- Zoff in Buffalo (30 minutes of groupthink with cute cows & tricky decisions)
- Durch die Wuste (I don't really like the game... but I don't hate it, so I end up playing it about once a year)
This isn't a perfect way to assess the value of a game (there's a couple in the list that I play mainly because of others rather than my own interest), but any game that's been played year after year is certainly worth a bit of your time to try!
To be continued...
"The Perfect Man" crawls hand over bloody hand up the stony face of this plot, while we in the audience do not laugh because it is not nice to laugh at those less fortunate than ourselves, and the people in this movie are less fortunate than the people in just about any other movie I can think of, simply because they are in it.Man, nothing is more fun than Roger when he's ticked off at being forced to watch Hollywood drivel.
- The Settlers of Catan (10 years old this year - this is the 900 lb gorilla of German gaming... while it's not everyone's cup of tea - for example, my wife - it has the tendency to suck players in and show them 'a whole new world')
- Can't Stop (classic press-your-luck dice game from Sid Sackson... still can't believe Parker Brothers stopped producing this to make video games back in the 80's... sigh)
- Fill or Bust (the old school dice game "5000" with an added deck of cards... Shari & I play this 2 player a lot)
- Liar's Dice (Richard Borg's nifty redesign of a saloon betting classic - still in print after all these and still worth owning - a great game of bluff & reading your opponents)
- Loopin' Louie (the best mechanical kid's game ever - absolutely addictive)
- Smarty Party (see my post on Smarty Party from a few weeks back)
- Arriba (the best quick reaction game ever - now published in the U.S. as Jungle Speed)
- Espresso (I learned it as Nertz or Double Sol.... it's currently published in Germany as Ligretto)
- Skip-Bo (Shari & I have played a bunch of two player games of this)
- Zirkus Flohcati (my favorite quickie filler game... works great with kids or adults or adults & kids!)
- Lost Cities (just played again the other night - and, of course, Shari beat me)
- Carcassonne (I like this Spiel des Jahres winner best with 2-3 players, even though the game has pieces for 6 players)
- Ticket To Ride (one of my "new" favorites - just wish I got to play it more "live" rather than on the Days of Wonder website)
- Street Soccer (I haven't played as much recently, but it's a great little soccer/dice game that reminds me a bit of backgammon in your need to play for position)
- Transamerica (playing online gave me new respect for this light but enjoyable game)
- Cafe International (the same is true for Cafe International, which I purchased after playing a number of games online)
- Web of Power (it packs so much game into so little time - again, I wish I got to play it more "live")
- Ra (a great auction that I didn't like the first time I played it - but subsequent playings helped me fall in love)
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
And a tire on my gut from sitting on my...
But they're never gonna go away
Sometimes I get this crazy dream
That I just drive off in my car
But you can travel on ten thousand miles and still stay where you are
Harry Chapin, "W.O.L.D." There are probably a number of you reading this blog who've never heard of Harry Chapin... Harry died in a car accident in 1981. Heck, I was just a junior in high school. Though you may not know Harry, you may well know one of his songs. Ugly Kid Joe covered Harry's "Cat's In the Cradle", a profoundly moving song about how easy it is to squander your family. Others of you may know of his musical, "Cotton Patch Gospel," which sets the story of Jesus in the Deep South. Me, I'm partial to his odd but affecting folk tragedy, "30,000 Pounds of Bananas". Anyway, Harry's not the point of the post... just a nice cultural aside for me to springboard into ther real reason for blogging this morning: I'm getting old. No, really. I know that 41 isn't exactly "grave-ready", but I'm not feeling like a young turk, either. And it's not about my birthday last week - this has actually started the day I got the flyer/magazine for the Cornerstone Festival back in the spring. This is THE premier festival for alternative/edge/hard rock Christian music - and I've wanted to go to this for years. But now I find that I'm no longer a Main Stage guy. Back in the early 90's, the headlining bands were right up my alley: Steve Taylor, the 77's, Resurrection Band, One Bad Pig, etc. Flash forward to 2005, and I realize that I'm now a Coffehouse Stage guy: my favorite albums currently include Derek Webb's "The House Show", Caedmon's Call's "Share The Well", and Ben Harper & The Blind Boys of Alabama's "There Will Be A Light". Yes, I'm now the guy drinking an espresso and giving polite golf claps - no longer am I in danger of flinging myself off the balcony (Whiteheart "Light A Candle" tour) or standing in the mosh pit to protect a teenager wearing a neck brace (Steve Taylor "Liver" tour) or dancing until I nearly collapse (DC Talk "Jesus Freak" tour). And I don't even drink espresso. OTOH, I did manage to block a sizzling spike from a 19 year old (hi, Luke!) in a game of volleyball Sunday night - right back across the net for a point. Of course, the fact that I feel compelled to mention this just confirms I'm growing old, right? :-)
This article was originally published in Youth Ministry Update (a Southern Baptist "journal" for professional youth ministers) in early 1998, less than 6 months after these incidents had occurred. It was only a year or so later when the tragedy at Columbine High School in Colorado happened.
The original title of the article - "Teens Who Kill" - was not picked by me... but that's what happens when someone else edits your stuff. (That someone else was Richard Ross - who I respect the heck out of, btw.) Youth Ministry Update is no longer published - I am unsure of my legal rights to publish this information but am willing to take this down if I have violated my contract with Lifeway in some form or fashion.
What follows is my personal version of the article, including some slight revisions.
Monday, October 20, 1997 - TIME magazine - "At 8 a.m. on Oct. 1, Luke Woodham, 16, bookish and overweight, drove a white Chevy Corsica up to his high school. That was already a sign of trouble: the young man had poor vision and was driven to school each day by his mother. But three hours earlier that morning, Mary Ann Woodham, 50, had been stabbed to death with a butcher knife in the home she shared with her son. Luke Woodham walked into Pearl High's commons, an enclosure created by the school's buildings. He then took a .30-.30 rifle from beneath his blue trench coat and opened fire, wounding seven schoolmates and killing two, Lydia Kaye Dew, 17, and Christian Menefee, a girl he once dated."
Tuesday, December 2, 1997 - USA TODAY - "The 35 students who gathered Monday morning for the weekly prayer circle at Heath High School in West Paducah, KY., had just lowered their hands after the last prayer when the shooting began. A 14-year-old freshman stepped out from a group of about a dozen students who routinely heckled the worshipers, put earplugs in, pulled a loaded .22-caliber handgun from his backpack and squeezed the trigger about a dozen times in two minutes, school officials said. Eight students were hit. Three girls died."
This last fall, our nation was rocked by these two tragic incidents. For youth ministries, the occult overtones of the possible conspiracy in Pearl, Mississippi, and the potentially anti-Christian nature of the attack on the prayer group in West Paducah, Kentucky were frightening and overwhelming. "If stuff like that can happen in a suburb of Jackson, MS, and at the closeof a prayer time in Kentucky, it can happen here," was the thought that raced through the minds of many youth workers and parents.
After much prayer and study, this article focuses on interviews with two youth ministers who were involved with these incidents... not because they are somehow "saints of a higher order" (as both of them would quickly tell you), but because they have had an opportunity to experience both the presence and power of God in the midst of tragedy. What they have learned is valuable for youth ministries that deal with violence and it's aftermath, as so many youth groups do. (For example: One year ago, while serving a church in a middle class neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, three members of my youth group were held up while hanging out on the church parking lot. One of them was shot twice and miraculously escaped serious injury.) Moreover, the truths that Michael and Roger have learned about youth ministry serve as a challenge to all youth ministers as they seek to reach their communities for Christ.
Michael Pierce - Youth Minister, First Baptist Church, Pearl, Mississippi
Michael never even reached the school the morning Luke Woodham opened fire in the commons at Pearl High School. All of the kids who had witnessed the shooting were brought to City Hall, where officials had sent all of the ministers and counselors. "We were there to greet kids, to minister hugs and counseling... to let them know that it was going to be OK," said Michael. While none of First Baptist's youth had been injured in the shooting, the impact still hit close to home. Both of the girls who were killed had visited the church within the last two weeks.
The shooting occurred on a Wednesday morning. That night, as a part of their weekly youth service, the group took time to share their emotions and to vent their hurts and fears. Although members of the media had asked to film this meeting, Michael felt it that was not an appropriate choice.
Over the next two days, ministers and counselors were available at the school for students who wanted to talk. The pastor of First Baptist was the police chaplain, causing people to lean heavily on the church for counsel and encouragement. Over the following weeks, Michael continued to keep a presence at the school, to help the kids see familiar faces and ease their fears. As well, the counseling extended to parents and other church members. "It wasn¹t just the kid's world that was shaken," said Michael. "It was our world."
Because of the occultic nature of the crime, Jim Furr from the North American Mission Board¹s Interfaith Witness department came to help counsel and lead a seminar for the community on Satanism and the occult. Another resource of great support was the church's prayer ministry, which provided round the clock prayer support for the community. "Even though the situation was tragic," Michael said, "God taught us somuch. He gave us so many opportunities to grow and see Him at work."
Roger Palmer - Youth Minister, First Baptist Church, Paducah, Kentucky
"Several of the kids ran to me when I got to the campus," said Roger, talking about the morning of the shooting. "I didn¹t say a whole lot... I was there for support, to put my arms around them and pray with them." Nor was he alone. Pastors and youth ministers converged on Heath High School as news of the shooting traveled through the community. That night, several prayer services were held in different churches around Paducah. They were times to pray for the families of the victims and for the school and community.
The next day, youth ministers, pastors and counselors were at the school to be available to students. "I have to commend the school board and the principal," said Roger. "They reopened school so that kids could deal with the shooting and receive support from friends, teachers, counselors, pastors... it was real wisdom to get them back there to be with one another rather than off by themselves."
On that first morning back, just 24 hours after the shooting, nearly 3/4 of the student body gathered in the lobby where the prayer group usually met. A long time of stillness was followed by students sharing Scripture, prayer, and closed with the singing of "Amazing Grace". Then the principal released students to follow their normal schedules, or to seek out counseling as they needed. "God opened incredible doors," said Roger. "In groups as small as 2-3 kids to 15-20 at a time, we got to answer the question, 'Where was God in all this?' We could answer from the Scripture: 'God was right here. He¹s still right here.'"
Evidence of that began that day, as Christian students began posting Bible verses up and down the school halls. One of the students shared a message in the prayer group from Missy Jenkins (who was one of the students hit in the shooting): "Missy wanted you guys to know she's forgiven Michael (Carneal, the student who opened fire), and if she's forgiven Michael, you can forgive Michael."
On the Wednesday night following the shooting, the youth service at First Baptist focused on prayer. Following testimony from two students of Heath High School, they divided into groups to pray specifically for the families who were victims (including the Carneal family) and for God to continue to use the media as His instrument to let the world see the love of Jesus Christ. God answered those prayers, as media outlet after media outlet asked the question: "What about this forgiveness thing?"
"These kids are not forgiving too quickly, as some accused," said Roger. "They are not just spouting words. They¹re angry at the action... God is angry at the action. But the reason they can forgive is that Jesus Christ is dwelling in them. The world is not going to understand that kind of forgiveness (1 Cor. 2:14). There is grieving, there is anger, but it's different than for someone who doesn't have Christ."
Lessons We Can Learn
Both Michael and Roger spoke about how important long-term presence on the school campus was to their ministering during these stressful times. "We had the freedom to minister because we¹d been on the campus prior to the shooting," said Roger. "If you have the freedom to be on a campus, there is nothing more important to do with your time. I know what it's like to sit there for 21/2 hours, waiting to eat lunch with each group of kids, wondering if you're wasting your time. But I ministered to kids who weren't a part of my group or church... they¹d seen us there and trusted us enough to ask questions because of our presence."
Scripture was also a key part of ministering in these situations. While the youth in Paducah focused on Romans 8:28 and Psalm 46:1, the students in Pearl were drawn to other places. "Genesis 50:20 was so important," saidMichael. "Even though Satan intended harm in this situation, God can use it to bring good, to grow me in my relationship with Him. The kids also grabbed onto Jeremiah 29:11-13... their eyes would brighten when we¹d repeat that verse." No matter how sophisticated our counseling techniques, we can not forget the power of God¹s Word.
Another element common to both situations was the cooperation between ministries of varying denominations and backgrounds to minister to the pain of each community. "We have to build relationships with other churches and encourage our pastors to do the same," said Roger. "We've got to get our pride out of the way and let God do what He wants to do."
Finally, "Tragedies like this are the perfect opportunity to remind youth of Satan's power and God's control," said Michael. In fact, one of the things that echoed throughout both interviews was the number of occasions God gave for His Truth to be clearly taught and/or proclaimed. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, pain is God's megaphone. In times of tragedy, it is much easier for people to search for answers, especially the truth about Jesus Christ.
There are some simple reasons that these two ministries were able to minister during these horrific situations... that both Michael & Roger and their churches were able to see the power of God in a mighty way. Both of them spent time with youth, especially on "their turf." Both hold a high view of God¹s word and it's power to teach us and comfort us. Both of them were already working with other churches in the community to minister to their respective towns. Most of all, however, both of them saw God in control. From the spiritual and numerical growth in Michael's group and church this fall to the miracle of CNN broadcasting the Paducah funeral - sermons and all - over nationwide television, God has shown that He is more than willing to fulfill Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20. As we minister in our churches, may we live with the same kind of awareness and faith.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
- Pray for Bernhard, Shirley, Robert & their little girl
- If you want to argue "culture of life" issues, remember that this is not an abstract discussion. There are real people involved.