Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Speaking of the Beatles, "When I'm 64" no longer seems like some kind of distant possibility. [shudder]
Famous people born on the same day as me:
- 1975 Tobey Maguire (actor)
- 1930 H Ross Perot (billionaire industrialist, philanthropist)
- 1927 Bob "Captain Kangaroo" Keeshan (tv personality, children's advocate)
- 1880 Helen Keller (author and educator)
Does it say something about my chronological age vs. my emotional age that the presents I received this year included a Lego B-Wing Fighter, The Incredibles 2 DVD set, and some new series 3 Attacktix figures?I had a great birthday... Braeden & I played a game of Return of the Heroes (complete with expansion)... which he won by about 2 turns. (For those who understand the game, he defeated the Warlock in his secondary power - magic - since he didn't have the Magic Sword.) We ate lunch at the Doghouse Grill (best tri-tip sandwhich in Fresno!) and had Braun's ice cream for dessert (best local ice cream parlor). And, with the exception of Vacation Bible School tonight, I didn't deal with church stuff all day. And if that isn't enough, tomorrow afternoon Braeden & I are going to see Cars together. Ka-chow!
Sunday, June 25, 2006
- I don't drink.
- Never have.
- I have to be careful about wearing my non-drinking choice as a badge of pride - because I have ZERO interest in alcohol and/or drugs. They have never been a temptation for me... so, I need to refrain from bragging about my incredible self-control when I simply have no interest in chugging a beer or sipping a cabernet.
- I'm the pastor of a Southern Baptist church (despite our non-Southern Baptist-y name)... and historically Southern Baptist churches have been anti-alcohol.
With those facts in mind, I want to respectfully (or not-so-respectfully) register my profound irritation at the resolution. Some other folks have done an excellent job of explaining why... if you want detailed analysis & carefully thought out arguments, you should check out these blogs:
- reformissionary: Wednesday & Happy Hour
- reformissionary: Biblical Liberty & Terrified Baptists
- reformissionary: Florida Baptist Take-Backs
- Grace & Truth to you: Conversion To Christ Over a Glass of Wine
OTOH, if you want my inadequately thought out gut reaction, here it is.
- I've experienced a bunch of people blowing their lives up with alcohol: family, friends, congregation members & youth I worked with. It feels like you're watching a car crash in slow motion.
- Those experiences have reinforced my personal choice not to drink... and my desire that others choose wisely in this potentially dangerous area.
- I wish it said "Don't drink alcohol" in the Bible (preferably in bold red letters), but it doesn't.
- It does clearly say "Being drunk is just about as smart as putting your head in a commercial blender and setting it on puree." (OK, it doesn't actually say it that way... I'm paraphrasing.)
- So, if there is no "don't drink" passage in Scripture, the resolution against "alcohol use" is, at best, Biblically problematic.
- At worst, it's like Satan figured out yet another way to talk followers of Christ into ignoring parts of the Scripture so as best to tick off & alienate people who desperately need to understand the grace available from the Guy who turned water into wine.
- And yes, I spent a lot of time using the "don't cause a brother to stumble" argument when I was in youth ministry... and it has some application to this question, but it doesn't magically turn the wine back into water.
Simply put: I think the best way to avoid being drunk (clearly a sin, according to the Bible) is not to drink. I choose not to drink but I can not fault those who do on the basis of Scripture. Alcohol abuse is a horrific problem and we who follow Jesus should do everything in our power to stop it. But, to quote Martin Luther, "Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?”
A final note: the Southern Baptist Convention is organized a bit differently than many other well-known Christian churches - rather than policy & theology coming from the top down (from a synod, executive office, Vatican, whatever), in Southern Baptist life this bubbles from the bottom up. Each local church is autonomous: they hire their own staff, own their facilities, and choose voluntarily to participate in the convention.
Which means that resolutions from the convention are "non-binding"... in other words, they are strongly suggested but not "law" for SBC churches.
I can't tell you how much I love the words "non-binding resolution" when stuff like this comes down the pipeline.
- Mark (aka fluff daddy and/or pastor guy), the Dungeon Master
- Jim, the neutral human druid
- Tom, Jim's younger brother who went through a variety of characters... I think most of them were elves who were chaotic good (which pretty much described Tom himself)
- Dave, our oddly lucky with the ladies (esp. for someone who played D&D) friend who played a halfling thief of variable alignment (Some other time, I need to y'all about Dave's dating life & the vaguely Calvinist theory of dating the rest of us developed in response to his success.)
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
...well, at least I hope that my upcoming posts are worth waiting for:
- why I quite playing D&D and the Bill Cosby Factor
- Baptists, booze, and my incredible gratefulness for the concept of a "non-binding resolution"
- a few random thoughts on red cards & why I'm rooting for more than just the US in the World Cup
- my in-depth reviews of some cutting-edge games - Clue Junior & Monopoly Junior!
- some new pictures of Braeden & Collin
But those will have to wait... as I'm typing this post from a computer at the library. Evidently, the cable modem at the church has gone on to the Great Hall Of Technological Necessities Which Quit Without Notice in the sky... and the folks who keep our satellite broadband service in play can't fix it (read: replace it) until Wednesday. So, you'll just have to be patient for a few days!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
- It is a funny book... on purpose. The author is trying (and often succeeding) at penning humorous glimpses at the stories of Scripture and the history of how it got into our hot little hands. It feels a bit like The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy for the Bible. (Please understand - I mean this as a compliment. And I'm not referring to the less-than-spectacular feature film.)
- It is informationally sound... even if it's primary purpose is humor, the basic information presented is a reasonably fair & accurate representation of current scholarship on the Bible.
- It is NOT a tract. As far as I can tell, the author does not intend for this book to be used as a tract for evangelism. There are plenty of church-y concepts & words spiced through the book that could be a bit daunting for the uninitiated. Heck, they can be a bit daunting for the initiated who didn't pay attention in confirmation class (not me - I'm Baptist) and/or seminary (that would be me.)
- It is NOT about to replace a good quality Bible handbook and/or commentary. The author raises a number of important questions about Scripture (Why the blase attitude towards slavery? What's with all the killing in the Old Testament? Why do the major & minor prophets all start to sound like broken records?) without giving any kind of commentary on possible answers to those questions. In other words, the book is primarily about a humorous & thought-provoking overview of the Bible, rather than an attempt to deal with the questions raised by the Scriptures.
So, who do I think could enjoy/use/at least find amusing this (check all that apply) this book?
- long-time followers of Christ who need a wake-up call about the Bible - Those of us who've been doing "the Christian thing" for a long time need to take a funhouse mirror look at this stuff every once in a while so we don't get caught in our own preconceived "this is the way it is" ruts as we journey with Jesus. And it doesn't hurt if we get to laugh while we're doing it.
- people who have no Bible background and are in an ongoing conversation with a follower of Christ - I can think of a couple of guys (atheists both) who would appreciate the humor and get something out of the content of the book. I'd hesitate to hand it to them and walk away... but it would be great starter material for conversation about the Bible.
Because it's a funny book, three funny moments:
- Boyett lists what he calls "marketing-driven biblical packages. The NIV Women's Devotional Bible, The Catholic Couples Bible, The Purpose-Driven Pimply Teen Boy's Extreme Study Bible." He then footnotes this with "That last one's made up. Hopefully."
- When he defines parable, he notes: "Not to Be Confused With: Parable Christian Stores, an association of more than two hundred independently owned retail booksellers that will likely refuse to stock this book if the Pocket Guide speaks ill of them. God bless the wide selection, personal service, and exceptional value of Parable retailers. And as long as we're on the subject, God bless Wal-Mart, too."
- "One Statement By Paul That, When Taken Out of Context, Makes Him Sound Relatively Hip: 'Peace to the brothers' (Eph. 6:23)"
I'd liked the book... more in a "chuckle chuckle... hmm, hadn't thought about that" kind of way rather than a "guffaw/laugh so hard I am in danger of needing a Depends... wow! incredible spiritual insights abound" kind of way.
I will take this opportunity to recommend the Pocket Guide To The Apocalypse (by the same author) which does a bang-up job of explaining a variety of end-times theories/theologies and poke fun at the Left Behind series at the same time!
Monday, June 12, 2006
Sunday, June 11, 2006
- Aldie had played before, giving him an advantage on his table... and while I hadn't played before, I'd played this kind of gaming role (Sauron, DM, etc.) a number of times & picked up on the strategies quickly.
- OTOH, all of the adventurers were new to the system AND didn't get much of a chance to look at the rules. They would do MUCH better on a second playing.
- In fact, all of us (me included) would do better on a second playing. This is a game where a little bit of experience is going to pay off dividends not only in better tactical play but also in reducing the time of play - as you get better at the game, it takes less time to "prune the decision tree" or read the combat dice or whatever...
- Another benefit of a 2nd playing: making sure we had all the rules right and/or clear. It's not a complicated game, but the chrome that gives Descent that sweet "dungeon crawl" flavor also adds twists to the system that aren't always easy to remember.
- I had a blast playing it.
- I can see Braeden (and eventually Collin) as a potential audience for this game.
- I really admire how smoothly the whole thing works together.
- There are expansions coming - one sometime this summer and another in the fall. (Ah, yes, the siren call of expansions... because, of course, it MUST be a good game if they can make more money off of it, right?! Ahem... witness Munckin. 10+ expansions & no end in sight... blech.)
- The box has it's own zip code. (Man, do I love boxes packed full of minis & cards & map pieces... drool/slobber/drool.)
- I don't think my current gaming group will warm up to it's long-ish charms.
- It's long - even with more experience, I'm guessing that most dungeons will take 3-4 hours... or more.
- The box has it's own zip code. (Honestly, storage really isn't a problem in my game room - but it still runs through my head.)
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Sunday, June 04, 2006
- I only saw The Mighty Khan once - and he wasn't handing out stuff.
- The dealer room was cool (I got to talk a bit with Mark Kaufman of Days of Wonder) but I didn't actually break down & buy anything.
- OTOH, the frenzy of the flea market Friday night sucked me in - I bought a copy of Heroes, Inc. and just missed picking up Techno Witches. (The amazing score of the night: Scott Alan Woodard got an excellent condition copy of Descent for $20... grrrr.)
- The boardgaming area is growing... games were going on pretty much the entire time I was awake.
- The first game I played after I arrived was Nacht der Magier (Magician's Night), which was just nominated for Spiel des Jahres Kinderspiel (the German Game of the Year for children). But there wasn't a kid in sight when we were playing it! This is a great little 10 minute "dexterity" game that has the added bonus of working both as a "normal" game AND as a game you can play in the dark. (Some of the pieces glow in the dark!) I played twice over the weekend - winning both times - and the game has entered my "must buy"list.
- I played in the Uberplay-a-thon for the second time... and came in just out of the "money" for the second time as well. But I had fun!
- Part of the Uberplay-a-thon was playing China for the first time - while I'm a huge fan of Web of Power, I hadn't had the opportunity to play the "chip off the old block." I liked the double-sided maps (allowing us to tighten the game for the number of players involved) but I don't like the 4 card draw display. I can take or leave the fortifications and only scoring the provinces one time. What may well convince me to purchase a copy, however, is the expansion maps, Border Fights, which Doug Garrett had printed & mounted - very cool. (I wish the designer would think seriously about doing some alternate maps for the original game!)
- We played two "fillers" as the Uberplay-a-thon drew to a close: For Sale and Double or Nothing. I approached the "new" version of For Sale with a bit of trepidation, as I'm a huge fan of the original... but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked on it's own. (I still like the original better, but the new edition is a worthy game.) Double or Nothing felt a bit random - Knizia in "filler" mode - but it played smoothly. I'd rather be playing Zirkus Flochati, though.
- I had the chance to bring a number of oddball games from my collection to the table: Dorra's Marracash (where I was edged out by some savvy play from Bonnie), Teuber's Gnadenlos! (which I won after starting very slowly), Riedesser's Route 66 (which I won in a closely fought battle) and Jochen der Rochen (which I lost, but had fun playing).
- In the "kid's games adults like" department, I got to play two games of Haba's Maus Nach Haus (I won both of them!) and a game of Leinen los with Aldie, his lovely wife, Michelle, and Richard Irving (which I lost miserably).
- Early Saturday morning, Scott Alan Woodard & I played Zig Zag, a real time/memory game that I really enjoyed. Scott was, to put it charitably, less enthused than I was.
- Later that morning, I got in one of the highlights of Kubla-experience: playing Descent: Journeys in the Dark for the first time. Early reports about long games had scared me away from playing it before, but one of the rare pleasures of game cons is trying those insanely long games you wouldn't normally try in "real life." Aldie (of BGG fame) was running the event, and we ended up with enough players that we needed two tables. Thanks to Scott's flea market find, we had two copies - and I ended up being the Overlord (read: gamemaster) at the second table. In fact, there's so much I want to say about Descent that I'm going to save it for a post of it's very own!
- Once again, I ended up on somebody's podcast - this time around, it was Garrett's Games & Geekiness in a round table discussion with Aldie, Doug & Doug's wife, Shelley. The three of them had been knocking back a couple of bottles of wine - so while the discussion doesn't devolve into "I never noticed you beautiful you are before", it is well-lubricated. (I'm the designated driver.) I also managed to use the word "fondle" in a non-sexual context... and then did an absolutely inadequate job of making a joke about being forced to play games while speaking King James English. Otherwise, it's a fun listen.
- My last event for Kublacon was Greg Parker's "Rare Gems" event... which means I got to play Der Untergang von Pompeji twice (lost the first game, won the second) and Jenseit von Theben once (and lost). Both of these are over-the-top expensive to acquire... and yet they are both on my "want 'em bad" list. Pompeji is "Survive for adults" while Jenseit is the best excavation game ever. Sigh.
- I really don't like Alhambra... but it was the Uberplay-a-thon and the folks at my table wanted to play. Not only did I get stuffed (I was in 4th place), I had to play with 5 players, which makes the game even slower than usual. Sigh. (I've commented at length in other places about why I think that the parent game, Stimmt So!, is vastly superior to Alhambra.)
- California, the new game from Michael Schacht, was just OK. There's nothing really wrong with it - but there's nothing compelling about it, either. It seemed a bit random with two players - I can't imagine how out of control you'd feel playing it with 4-5 folks! (One good note on this: I got to play it with Greg Parker, whom I enjoy immensely.)
- And that's pretty much it for lowlights... not bad for two solid days of gaming, eh?
Other Stuff I Did At Kublacon
I also played:
- Ark of the Covenant
- Motley Fool's Buy Low, Sell High (which is Palmyra redux)
The first column here on cell phones almost caused me to spew diet lemonade across my computer screen. The second one on going to see "The Da Vinci Code" with a pastor is actually pretty thought-provoking. (Both columns are on the L.A. Times website, which requires free registration - sorry.)
Note: Joel Stein is NOT a follower of Christ (as he clearly states in the second article), so don't read these expecting Chonda Whatever-Her-Last-Name-Is or Mark Lowrey. (For those of you who don't recognize either of those last two names, ignore this italicized note.)