Sunday, January 24, 2010

Forbidden Island

How cool is this? A cooperative family game by Matt Leacock - the designer who created Pandemic and Roll Through the Ages - produced by Gamewright, a company with a much longer reach into the mass market than Z-Man or FRED.

And you've got to admit, the preview is pretty neat.

More information to come following NY Toy Fair...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spielbox in English?!

Just passing this important information along...

We are considering producing an English version of spielbox magazine. We would like to know your opinion: if you d be potentially interested in an English edition of spielbox, please send an e-mail with the subject yes to (Your mail address will*not* be used for any other purpose than this survey.) Of course you can answer directly to me too.

Best regards

Barbara Nostheide

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Permission To Speak Freely

Art & Essays on Fear, Confession and Grace

Anne Jackson is not related to me... as far as I know. (There are a LOT of Jacksons wandering around the good ol' US of A.) But she's a writer/speaker of amazing wisdom & grace... and her latest project is worth checking out. Click on the graphic to find out more.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Content of My Character?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Which raises the question... what is the content of my character? What is it like today?

You can find the text of the speech here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Migration: A Provocative Email

I thought this post was already on here - but evidently it's not. So now it is. (This post is suddenly relevant again, thanks to Pat Robertson's comments about Haiti. And if you're really a glutton for punishment, I've written about Pat & his ability to insert both feet in his mouth at the same time before: Welcome to My World and Welcome to Pat's World.) I originally wrote this on September 25th, 2001.

It was the weekend after the horrific events of 11 Sept 2001... in fact, it was Saturday night. I was "putting the sermon to bed". ("Putting the paper to bed" is an old newspaper term - meaning "stop working on it and publish it".)

And then I got this e-mail from an atheist friend. He'd sent me a link to a story about the statements made by Jerry Falwell & Pat Robertson on the 700 Club a couple of days after the terrorist attacks... and he'd added the following comment.

My first reaction was to send this to my secular friends as an example of "Christian Love". And then, instead, I decided to forward it to somewhere it might do some good - to a pastor whom I have great respect for. I hope that within your church, and through your greater church organization, you will denounce and distinguish yourself from these officers of the Western version of the Taliban. These snakes must be censured by Christians if the religion is to be kept clean, just as we expect Islamic Americans to denounce the violence done in the name of their religion.
And so, challenged by his 'faith' in me and sickened myself by the remarks that had been made, I attempted to respond.

I wish Disney Corporation would build a REAL new amusement park in the States (like the almost-open Tokyo DisneySeas) rather than the cheap "good enough for Six Flags" California Adventure. I wish all of the games on my search list (held by Manu) would be found and shipped to me. I wish someone would give me enough money to pay off my mortgage and buy a new car. I have a lot of wishes.

I wish people who should know better would learn to keep their mouths shut... to follow the teachings of Scripture and be "slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to anger". But, over time, I've come to expect little more than this from the vast majority of tele-evangelists and Christian media types... Neil Postman was DEAD ON in his incredible book, Amusing Ourselves To Death, when he suggested that religion is profoundly changed by being broadcast on TV.

First, let me apologize to you for those who share my basic faith (in the need for a personal relationship with God through the sacrificial death & resurrection of Jesus Christ) yet still manage to make mincemeat of the truth when you point a camera at them. While I agree that certain behaviors and worldviews attacked by these two are not biblical, I would quickly point out that God could just as easily "lift the curtain of protection" (sigh) for religious hypocrisy or profiteering off faith as abortion or pagan religious beliefs. (Jesus saved his most blistering attacks for those who abused their spiritual leadership.)

Second, I need to point out that the views you've heard expressed by these two (and are being expressed by others) are not necessarily the Christian mainstream, any more than the Taliban or the terrorist organizations speak for all of Islam. In a peculiar blending of scriptural interpretation and "my country - right or wrong" patriotism, they have assumed the promises given to the Jewish people in the Old Testament directly apply to the United States because of it's "Christian" origins. [Never mind that: a. the Jewish people took it in the teeth a number of times in the O.T. even with those promises in place, and b. that America's origins may have some routes in Christian belief, but also include healthy doses of Deism, rationalism, and pure, unadulterated greed.] As you can probably guess, I don't share their viewpoint.

Third, I hope you'll be heartened to know that my sermon/teaching tomorrow morning will be focusing on the scriptural concepts of "overcoming evil with good", "in your anger, do not sin", and "in Christ, there is no Jew or Greek" - as I attempt to lay out some solidly 'Christian' reactions to the horror of these attacks. One of my greatest fears right now is not lousy theology (there always seems to be plenty of that around) but racism in the name of patriotism.

Fourth, there have already been a number of folks in Christendom who've taken Robertson & Falwell to task for their grandstanding during this time of crisis. I had actually read of their remarks on Christianity Today's website Friday, who took a decidedly dim view of their tomfoolery.

Fifth, I take issue with your equating two televangelists with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. While they are irritating and often maddening, they have not recently taken over a country and instituted Sha'riah (sp?) law. (Yes, I understand that many of the legal changes they would like to see would be stifling... but what they long for is an idealized view of the 1950's in the suburbs/South as much as a "Christian" nation.) I understand your anger - but think your metaphor is inflated.

Sixth, thank you for paying me the compliment of forwarding this story to me. As always, I appreciate your friendship and the intellectual challenge of our conversations. If you would not mind, I'd like to use your original note to me and my response as a base for my e-mail newsletter to my church this next week.

yours in Christ,


Within 24 hours, he answered... with permission to do this article and a couple of other interesting comments.

ME: "I need to point out that the views you've heard expressed by these two (and are being expressed by others) are not necessarily the Christian mainstream..."

Well, this is an interesting distinction. Unmistakably they do not speak for all Christians. However, through their visibility, they can easily come across, rightly or wrongly, as representing the mainstream. I truly don't know what goes on out there, and unfortunately, much of my knowledge of American Christianity (as a practice, not as a theology) comes from the media, which is to say, from those who speak the loudest. So I imagine it must be an especial burden for someone like yourself to see your religion so profoundly misrepresented.

And this is why I believe it is so important for you to *actively* distance yourself, and for more Christian churches to come down hard against these people. If the Falwells of the world are the ones who put a face on Christianity, then this is the face that people will see.

Additionally, I am sure that many in your congregation listen to these shows. If someone like yourself does not take a stand, then there will be those in your congregation who come to believe that the ideas expressed by Falwell do indeed represent Christianity.

And that was that... except that the news went a different direction in the days that followed and one of my friend's comments became even more interesting in light of it.

The Rest of the Story

In the next couple of days, both Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson issued statements.

Pat Robertson first supported the remarks made by Falwell, both on the telecast with comments like "I totally concur" & "Amen" and in statements issued to AP: "In no way has any guest on my program suggested that anyone other than the Middle East terrorists were responsible for the tragic events that took place on Tuesday. I again emphasize that there are organizations within the United States which have labored unceasingly to strip religious values from our public square, and in the process, to take away the mantle of divine protection which our nation has enjoyed ever since the days of its founding."

And then, there was an about-face. In his final press release on the comments, he castigated Falwell for uttering "a political statement of blame directed at certain segments of the population that was severe and harsh in tone, and, frankly, not fully understood by the three hosts of The 700 Club who were watching Rev. Falwell on a monitor." He then told Fox News that he considered the remarks "totally inappropriate."

Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell was doing some back-pedaling of his own. His first statement was as follows: "I sincerely regret that comments I made during a theological discussion on a Christian television program were taken out of their context and reported, and that my thoughts - reduced to sound bites - have detracted from the spirit of this time of mourning... My mistake on the 700 Club was doing this at the time I did it, on television, where a secular media and audience were also listening. And as I enumerated the sins of an unbelieving culture, because of very limited time on the 700 Club, I failed to point the finger at a sleeping, prayerless and carnal church. We believers must also acknowledge our sins, repent, and fast and pray for national revival."

I can't pretend to know what happened next or what motivated Falwell's actions... but this is where things got really interesting from a Christian perspective. Jerry Falwell issued a second statement a day later. What follows is part of the AP News story.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Rev. Jerry Falwell apologized Monday for saying God had allowed terrorists to attack America because of the work of civil liberties groups, abortion rights supporters and feminists. Falwell said his comments were ill-timed, insensitive and divisive at a time of national mourning. President Bush had called the minister's statement inappropriate.

"In the midst of the shock and mourning of a dark week for America, I made a statement that I should not have made and which I sincerely regret,'' Falwell said. "I want to apologize to every American, including those I named. When I talked about God lifting the curtain of protection on our nation, I should have made it very clear that no one on this earth knows whether or not that occurred or did not occur." He said if the destruction was a judgment from God it was a judgment on all sinners, including himself.

Falwell told The Associated Press that no one from the evangelical community or the White House pressured him to apologize. However, he said a White House representative called him Friday while he was driving to the National Cathedral memorial service in Washington, and told him the president disapproved. Falwell said he told the White House that he also felt he had misspoken.

Now that all the dust has cleared (and, btw, that's the main reason for waiting to write this up - it's way too easy to write/say something that quickly becomes outdated by current events with a situation like this)... so what? Why spend this much bandwidth on what is essentially a two-week old news story?

For me, it's my friend's comment:
If the Falwells of the world are the ones who put a face on Christianity, then this is the face that people will see.
I agreed with him completely that Saturday night as my outrage against anyone claiming to speak for God ("THIS is the reason 4,000 people died" - blech!) burned white-hot.

And I agree with him now, as I've watched a very public religious figure, a lightening rod for controversy and ridicule, very publicly apologize for what he said. While I don't always agree with Jerry Falwell, I'm thankful that a major part of this story is his saying "I was wrong." In doing that, he's putting "a face on Christianity" that shows humility, teachability, and an absence of pride.

There's a number of ways to still be cynical about this: "He just did it to get people off his back" or "He didn't mean it" or... well, the list could go on and on. Honestly, the spirit of his apology and what it means is for Jerry to take up with God - as people who claim to follow Jesus, we can simply accept it at face value and move on.

What About Pat?

I'll let you make your own decisions about Pat Robertson's "point the finger" defense. For me, it just offers a sickening counterpoint to Jerry Falwell's apology.

What About Responding?

Was it OK to respond with righteous indignation to the reports of their remarks on the 700 Club? In short, yes.

In long, yes... as long as our legitimate anger at mishandling the Truth didn't bleed over into cynicism and name-calling. It's all too easy to end up in the same place, claiming to speak for God when accusing of others of being unable to speak for God. Sigh.

What About Me?

In light of all this, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Who do I need to apologize to? (Take a cue from Jerry and offer an apology without finger-pointing. Chances are you've left someone in your wake in the last 48 hours that deserves your humble plea for forgiveness.)
  2. Will you let this go? Will you forgive Jerry Falwell? Granted, he's made himself the target of barbs & criticisms (some of them justly deserved). But when we place him in the category of 'Christian buffoons' and refuse to extend grace to him, we set ourselves up for a fall.

Jesus: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)

Let those roll around in your heart & mind today...

Thanks For Reading...

...and thanks again to J.D. for letting me quote him and turn some of what he said into a teachable moment.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Odd Bits Of Video

Set the Wayback Machine for 2003... when, after the closing of the church @ hickory hollow and before I came to be senior pastor here at NewLife Community Church, I worked for a fulfillment house. Our main customers were Tae-Bo & Gaither Homecoming - meaning I worked most of the time on an assembly line of sorts, inserting advertisements into video cassettes and/or stacking & boxing them. About 6 weeks into my employment there, we took over fulfillment for Hot Licks Instructional Videos - which are primarily rock & jazz guitar videos.

Part of the process of sorting out the horrendous mess that was Hot Licks (the previous folks doing fulfillment sold us their entire stock & basically dumped it into pallet sized crates) was having new videos made from the masters... and that's when I discovered Tuck Andress' amazing rendition of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror."

It occurred to me this morning that this might be on You Tube... even though I haven't heard/seen it for nearly 7 years. And it was. Enjoy.

You Tube has other fun things, of course, like this... for example, one of the games coming in my order (German, btw) was previewed on this video from the Nürnberg Neuheiten early in 2009. Those are mirrors! (The name of the game is Burg der 1000 Spiegel - "Castle of 1000 Mirrors.")

And, because you never can have enough obscure Canadian CCM bands mentioned in a blog post, I give you the boys of Hokus Pick. (Man, we loved these guys... some of the best live shows I've had the privilege of attending. Check out their MySpace Music page as well...)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hello, BGN Readers!

If you've found your way here thanks to Dale Yu publishing (or re-publishing) my puzzle,Link welcome! There's lots of different content here - but here's some really good starting places for the game-obsessed:
  • Five & Dime Reports - Each year I take in lists from people who've tracked their gaming and let me know what they've played 5+ times (nickels) and 10+ times (dimes)... and then generate lots of lists & graphs from it. (BTW, I'm taking submissions for 2009 right now!)
  • The Kid Games 100 - Over the last year & a half, I blogged about my top 100 games for kids... I'm pretty proud of the list. (It was a lot of fun to make, too.)
  • The One Hundred - It's actually on it's own blog, but this is a list compiled a few years back by Stephen Glenn (the designer of "Balloon Cup") and published by yours truly about the best 100 games of all time.
  • The Apples Project - Another separate blog... but this one is my own personal project to create game awards based on something besides the year they were released. It's been done twice (in 2002 & 2006) which means I probably should think about doing it again this year.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Five & Dime 2009: This Time, It's Personal

Here's my own personal Five & Dime list (the games I've played 5+ and 10+ times in 2009). I decided to break it into three categories

Face-to-Face (not predominately with kids)

  • Race for the Galaxy 229
  • Memoir '44 25
  • Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age 18
  • Pandemic 16
  • Finito! 14
  • Sorry! Sliders 13
  • Sushizock im Gockelwok 13
  • Bounce It-In Game 12
  • Monopoly Deal Card Game 9
  • Zoff im Hühnerhof 9
  • Zooloretto 9
  • Dungeonquest 8
  • Hop Hop Hooray! 8
  • Aquaretto 7
  • Battlestar Galactica 7
  • Bungee 7
  • Diamant 7
  • FITS 7
  • For Sale 7
  • Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game 7
  • Mow 7
  • Star Wars: Epic Duels 7
  • Ra 6
  • Showmanager 6
  • Ca$h 'n Gun$ 5
  • Hit or Miss 5
  • Lord of the Rings 5
  • Lost Cities: The Board Game 5
  • Skip-bo 5
  • Small World 5
  • Snow Tails 5
  • Sylla 5
Online (games played versus online players through, &

  • Dominion 74
  • StreetSoccer 53
  • Powerboats 48
  • Café International 28
  • Pickomino 15
  • That's Life! 12
  • Carcassonne 10
  • Lost Cities 9
  • Category 5 8
  • TransAmerica 6
  • Tally Ho! 5
Kids (played primarily with kids)

  • Cheese Snatching 22
  • Tier auf Tier 19
  • Fleet Fins 16
  • Walter Wick Can You See What I See? 11
  • Herd the Sheep 9
  • Kayanak 8
  • Marrakesh 8
  • Duck, Duck, Bruce 7
  • Hula Hippos 7
  • My First UNO 7
  • Nacht der Magier 7
  • Phase 10 for Kids 7
  • The Secret Door 7
  • Auf die Schätze, fertig, los! 6
  • Bärenstark 6
  • Brawl 6
  • Hamsterbacke 6
  • Kleine Gewitterhexe 6
  • Ring-O Flamingo 6
  • Aargh! 5
  • At Full Throttle 5
  • Battle Masters 5
  • Casino Hot Dog 5
  • Eierlei 5
  • Fluch der Mumie 5
  • Funny Bunny 5
  • Glücks-Piraten 5
  • Go Fish 5
  • Mouse Trap 5
  • My Haunted Castle 5
  • Obstgärtchen 5
  • Round-Up 5
  • Sorry! - Pokémon 5
  • Thing-a-ma-Bots 5
  • Wackelkuh 5
  • Zitternix 5