Weekend Reading 12 – Like 10,000 Ants Going Through Customs

Our Weekend Reading series (brought to you by our Patreon backers) continues with a curated selection of fascinating articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet.

 

Peter

Richard Beck’s Experimental Theology blog makes the list again, this time with a post about martyrs.

You’re surrounded by martyrs when you tour through old churches in the UK, but the inclusion of modern martyrs at St Albans–like Oscar Romero and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, two heroes of mine–really brought home to me a point I’ve raised before on this blog. From my 2014 post entitled “Blood Trumps Everything”:

I’m not sure if this post about Red Dead Redemption and six years of vacillating about whether to get what’s necessary to play it or not is funny, tragic, or somewhere in between, but it’s worth a read. As a PC gamer, I can definitely empathize with this guy about console exclusives. (Some mild cursing in both parts of this story.)

“Gun-Horse? What is Penny Arcade making fun of this time?” I’m not as tapped into the gamingsphere as I used to be, so many PA jokes just go right over my head. This is one of those.

I do a quick Google search and it looks like they are referencing a game called Red Dead Redemption. Huh. The game looks REALLY interesting. It has everything I never knew I wanted in a Western game: Horses! Duels! An achievement for exterminating the buffalo!

If it were available on the PC, I’d buy it – but it’s not, so I give a mental shrug.

And since that one ends on a cliffhanger, here’s part two. ;)

But we are not the complete and utter masters of our souls. Every time future-me saw some mention of Red Dead Redemption in a web comic, article or VH1’s “I Love the 2010’s” special, future-me’s anger, regret and/or resentment would flow, whether future-me willed it or not. As real as any memory, I could see future-me sign as he (embarrassedly) mourned never finishing the game. He’d feel that twinge for years and years.

And finally, our good friend and 3-time guest host Derek White has a post over at Preach the Story called “the parable of the vlogger” that’s worth a read.

The Teacher said, “Once there was a Vlogger who scattered videos across the internet. One day he uploaded a few clever videos. Some of them were watched for a few minutes, and then people were distracted by other items in their news feed and all his hard work was lost amidst the chaos. So, the video blogger decided to specifically target his video to one or two specific social media sites and his friends shared them very quickly.

 

Jenny

This article on Faith & Leadership gives the rundown on a new-old kind of worship called Simple Church. This type of worship takes place in homes, where the small congregation shares a meal and begins what they describe as “the conversation as the sermon.” The church also bakes bread to sell at farmer’s markets, thus giving back to their surrounding communities.

When the five last members of North Grafton United Methodist Church in Massachusetts voted to close and sell their building four years ago, they had no idea what would happen.

Denominational officers told them, “We’re going to send you a planter,” said Sue Novia, 73, one of the last five at North Grafton UMC. “We thought, ‘What is a planter?’”

But Grafton-area residents are now embracing a fresh style of worship at the three-year-old church plant called Simple Church(link is external), a United Methodist congregation where 30 to 40 share the Lord’s Supper every Thursday over dinner. The church is also pioneering a revenue model that puts less strain on parishioners by generating income from a trade — in this case, bread baking.

I like Legend of Korra. I like it a lot. So it’s no surprise that I am super pumped for the board game that will be coming out later this year. Hopefully, if it’s wildly successful, it could lead to something related to Avatar: The Last Airbender, too.

According to IDW Games, The Legend of Korra: Pro-bending Arena will evoke the first season of Korra’s adventures in Republic City when she was part of the pro-bending sports team known as the Future Industries Fire Ferrets.  The focus of the game will be on the Fire Ferrets and their hated rivals, the White Falls Wolfbats. Within the game, two players will assume control over their respective teams as they draft benders by building a deck of cards and deploy elemental tokens on the game board. The game will also maintain the rules of pro-bending that were established in the show.

Thieves’ Cant has been talked about a fair amount in D&D’s many settings. I’d been vaguely aware that it was a real language or pidgin that was actually spoken in real life, but apparently there were dictionaries for it?! Now I have to see if I can get my hands on one.

Thieves’ Cant, also known as Flash or Peddler’s French, existed in many forms across Europe. The cant flourished in England during a 16th-century population boom, when less work was available amid greater competition and crime appeared to be on the rise, according to Maurizio Gotti in his 1999 book The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds. Many early cant speakers, who often were peasants or newly jobless soldiers, were considered “particularly numerous and dangerous” by more well-off groups.

 

Grant

It’s the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone—go ahead and start feeling old. E. Stephen Burnett at Speculative Faith studies the lack of noise about this from certain Christian circles in his article “So Are Christians Now Okay with Harry Potter?”, and makes a number of important points in the process of theorizing about the matter:

As I get older, I find I’m blessed with far more mature and delightful Christian friends.

They care about biblical truth, including the truth of what God’s hated “witchcraft” actually is and why He hates it). They also care about biblical imagination, following Jesus and pursuing His holiness, which drives their secondary pursuits of fantastical storytelling.

As we move deeper into these kinds of real-life Christian circles and social media circles, we’ll be more “sheltered” from other Christians. We’ll no longer hear those beliefs shared.

Gnome Stew offers a very helpful guest article from Jerry Weis, “From the Horse’s Mouth“, on digesting player feedback:

While you should never attack a player’s criticism or suggestions, you definitely do want to get as much clarification as possible. Finding out what your players liked or disliked about an adventure is useful, but understanding why is invaluable.  A marketing expert for a prominent food label once pointed out to me that when it comes to getting feedback, it is important to understand not only what people want, but why they want it:   “Knowing the ‘why’ is when you can gain control/power because you better meet people’s needs.”   When getting feedback, try to learn the reasons behind why something worked for them or not; knowing the “why” gives you true insight into what makes for a fun challenge or adventure for your group.

Every modern espionage game these days will likely involve interacting with airport security at some point and getting really weird stuff through it. To wit: “That Time the TSA Found a Scientist’s 3-D-Printed Mouse Penis” from The Atlantic. (Warning: Occasional language and topics that might not be 100% SFW.)

Scientists, as it happens, are full of tales like this because as a group, they’re likely to (a) travel frequently, and (b) carry really weird shit in their bags.

In previous years, Cohn has flown with the shin bone of a giant ground sloth and a cooler full of turtle embryos. Just last month, Diane Kelly from the University of Massachusetts, who studies the evolution of animal genitals, was stopped by the TSA because she was carrying what is roughly the opposite of Cohn’s item: a 3-D-printed mold of a dolphin vagina. “Technically it’s not even my dolphin vagina mold,” she says. “I was carrying it for someone.”

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