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Weekend Reading 14

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.



I’m glad I got to my Weekend Reading late this week. If I hadn’t, I might have missed this gem from E. Stephen Burnett over at SpecFaith: “Weirdness in Church? Or: The Adventure of the Dancing Men“. My mother’s been a dance teacher at The Fine Arts Center for decades, and so an article discussing ballet, fantasy fiction, and the Church naturally caught my eye:

For my part, I don’t get ballet. It’s an alien language to me. Watching it feels like repeated attempts to make first contact with an alien civilization. I don’t get why we “need” ballet. I don’t get why people would need to dance out their emotions. After all, we have perfectly great words, images, and even music to reflect those feelings?

Yet these are just my feelings. They are my preferences. Other people watch and perform dances, including ballet, and they are strongly moved.

But I do know fantasy fiction.

I know why we need it and why God has used it so powerfully in my life to glorify Himself.

And I know that many other people don’t understand this. They may even think fantasy suspicious, or sinful. Or else they justify some fantasy, such as A Christmas Carol, but dislike other fantasy for subjective reasons (e.g., “that picture of that one creature creeps me out”).

If you aren’t following Rev. Hector Miray on Twitter, you probably should! He’s a pastor here in South Carolina, and one of his big callings is evangelizing and ministering to the geek community. He’s especially engaged in the cosplay and “geek culture” convention space, and The Fayetteville Observer recently published an article about him:

The door is open for anyone from custodians of the arena to Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s an unusual ministry, but one that Miray seems uniquely qualified to fill. With an engaging smile and an ability to blend scripture and sci-fi, people who might otherwise never see the inside of a church feel at ease talking with him.

“I was leading a Geek Church event in Myrtle Beach last year, and one guy came up to me afterward,” Miray said. “He said he hadn’t set foot in a church in six years before then. Maybe he’ll try it again.

Peter and I have tried not to talk about Magic: The Gathering quite so much on Saving the Game lately, but it’s still fun, and Wizards of the Coast has had a couple of excellent settings lately. Wizards has gotten into the habit of publishing D&D 5e conversion material for their M:TG settings, and the latest one – Plane Shift: Amonkhet – is available for anyone interested in playing in fantasy Ancient Egypt with many interesting twists. Enjoy!

Finally, a bit of weirdness for you, especially for those who love bureaucratic entanglements: The Immovable LadderDefinitely an artifact of power, right?

The Immovable Ladder (Hebrew: סולם הסטטוס קוו‎‎, lit. “The status quo ladder”) (Arabic: السُّلَّم الثَّابِت‎‎, lit. “The stationary ladder”) is a wooden ladder located above the facade, under the window of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. Made of cedar wood, possibly from Lebanon, it was first mentioned in 1757 and has remained in that location since the 18th century, aside from being temporarily moved on two occasions. The ladder is referred to as “immovable” due to an understanding that no cleric of the six ecumenical Christian orders may move, rearrange, or alter any property without the consent of the other five orders.

Upon the pontifical orders of Pope Paul VI in 1964, the ladder was to remain in place until such a time as the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church reach a state of ecumenism. The ladder has since been related to the agreement of Status Quo that defined the six Christian religious orders that claim rights over the use of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.



Well, after a brief hiatus, Richard Beck’s Experimental Theology blog returns to my section of the weekend reading. This time, there’s an interesting post about emotions and our perceptions of closeness or distance to God.

The problem with many Christians is that salvation is understood to be fundamentally about feelings.

Our predicament–sin and the judgment of a righteous God–starts with an invisible problem in an invisible space with an invisible person.

With all of the contemplation of violence and its consequences I’ve been doing with respect to my gaming of late, I found this article about Tokyo 42 and its faceless population by Joshua Cauller over at GameChurch to be especially interesting.

In Tokyo 42, you only ever get to see anybody’s face on your phone, where you’re tasked with clearing your name of suspected murder charge—by killing lots of people for hire. This absurd fix comes through your new friend’s face on your phone with a winking assurance: Don’t worry, your new life of assassination is socially acceptable since everybody’s on nano-drugs that ensure a respawn if you accidentally die (as long as you remembered to take your meds).

It’s no secret to anyone who that I enjoy the sermons and writing of Adam Hamilton, but there’s another pastor associated with Church of the Resurrection that I also enjoy: Scott Chrostek. Every summer, he preaches a multi-sermon series to give Rev. Hamilton some time off, and this year the series centered around the parables of Jesus. I’ve found the series to be a great, and somewhat fresh, examination of some stories most longtime Christians have heard many, many times. It’s well worth a listen. The link to the sermon series is here.

In just 3 years, with 12 followers, traversing a 10-square mile area, Jesus Christ, one of the greatest storytellers on earth, captivated crowds and answered questions with stories. In this series, we explore the stories of Jesus that literally turned ideas about life, love and faith upside down and continue to forever change our world.



Some archaeologists may have found one of the most important buildings in history of Western European Christianity in Scotland. Carbon dating points to the remains of the building being the daytime home of St. Columba, the founder of the Iona Abbey. This is especially interesting to me, as my home church recently started using the Iona Creed in our service, and I like it quite a bit.

Using radiocarbon dating techniques and other evidence, the  scholars –  from the University of Glasgow – believe they have demonstrated that the tiny five-metre square building was almost certainly the daytime home of early medieval Scotland’s most important saint, St Columba.

Located on the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, the unprepossessing hut was probably the first administrative hub of the monastic community he founded – and whose monks, over succeeding centuries, went on to establish similar monasteries in mainland Scotland, in north-east England, in Belgium, in France and in Switzerland.

One of my biggest pet peeves is an ugly character sheet. By ugly, I’m not talking about the crumpled, slightly ripped ones that you find stuffed in the bottom of a nearly-forgotten backpack. Those ones have character. (Yes the pun is bad. It wasn’t intentional initially, but I’m going to roll with it.) I’m talking about the ones designed to try to fit a lot of information into a very cramped space with illegible font where the stats that are relevant to one another are on opposite sides of the page.

An artist who goes by r-n-w seems to know the struggle. So they have made some truly beautiful character sheet designs, as well as other lovely things that game masters can use, like probability sheets, pages for helping to plan and record your campaign concisely, little cutout miniatures, and other geeky paraphernalia. I will definitely be purchasing some of those PDFs because not only are they legible, they are beautiful!

These hand drawn character sheets have been customised to support the Fifth Edition of everyone’s favourite roleplaying game! Individual sheets have been created for each class, with class specific features included and arranged to make playing your favourite class easy and fun.

And finally for today, I was recently introduced to the concept of a new alignment system. Are you a Chaos Muppet, or an Order Muppet?

Every once in a while, an idea comes along that changes the way we all look at ourselves forever. Before Descartes, nobody knew they were thinking. They all believed they were just mulling. Until Karl Marx, everyone totally hated one another but nobody knew quite why. And before Freud, nobody understood that all of humanity could be classified into one of two simple types: people who don’t yet know they want to sleep with their mothers, and people who already know they want to sleep with their mothers. These dialectics can change and shape who we are so profoundly, it’s hard to imagine life before the paradigm at all.

The same thing is true of Muppet Theory, a little-known, poorly understood philosophy that holds that every living human can be classified according to one simple metric: Every one of us is either a Chaos Muppet or an Order Muppet.


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