a Christian podcast about tabletop RPGs and collaborative storytelling

Weekend Reading #2 – Second Verse

It’s back! Our Weekend Reading series continues with fascinating articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet. Prepare for unaccountable interest.



The Crumbling Chicken Church in Java“. A meditation by Luke Harrington over at Christ & Pop Culture on a peculiar Javanese landmark, 2 Kings 4, and what happens when God’s calling crumbles under earthly pressures.

He didn’t have the money at the time, so he continued to pray, and by 1994 he had scraped together the funds to buy the land and begin construction on his fowl creation. It would soon be used as a sanctuary open to people of all faiths, as well a rehabilitation center for disabled children, drug addicts, and the insane. […] In any case, though, the vision’s realization was short-lived, because in 2000 Alamsjah ran out of funding and was forced to close down his gallinaceous creation, before he’d even finished construction on the building. Nearly 20 years later, the area has been almost entirely reclaimed by nature.


From KQED’s Mind/Shift: “How a Sword and Sorcery Camp Uses Immersive Role Play to Teach STEAM“. LARP as well-rounded education!

“When I first arrived I thought it would be people running around and hitting each other, but it’s not. It’s about reacting to the consequences of your actions and the responsibility that comes with it,” said one 13-year-old camper.


Chicago gang business cards from the 1970s and 80s“. Amazing artifacts in and of themselves, but these would also be a delightful (and simple) prop for any era-appropriate game in Chicago.

“The hand-drawn graphics, the ‘Old English’ typefaces, the outlandish names and clever slogans,” he explains are elements that time stamp the activity and attitude of Chicago’s gang culture.



In the category of “powerful redemptive symbolism,” there’s this story about a tattoo parlor in Maryland that’s been helping people with racist or gang tattoos cover them up – for free.

Dave Cutlip, who runs Southside, said he and his wife developed the idea of free coverups in January after a man came into his tattoo parlor hoping to get a gang tattoo removed from his face.

“I could see the hurt in his eyes,” Cutlip said.

Cutlip, 49, couldn’t help the man, it turned out, because the tattoo was too prominent. Might he be able to help someone else? He and his wife turned to Facebook, offering free coverups for racist or gang tattoos with “no questions asked.”

“Sometimes people make bad choices, and sometimes people change,” the post reads. “. . . We believe that there is enough hate in this world and we want to make a difference.”


I picked up Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted (currently on sale for $2.99 – follow the link) on a whim over the weekend and read it straight through in one shot. I found it to be a very insightful and thought-provoking read. Though in fairness, I shouldn’t be surprised that anything written by an author recommended to me by Derek “The Geekpreacher” White is insightful and thought-provoking. It touches on Christus Victor atonement; Scooby Doo; and the “Yes, and” principle; and there are tons of challenging passages like the one below as well.

With their focus on traditional family values, the Protestant work ethic, and “God and Country” patriotism, conservative Christians snip out the Jesus who marginalized the family, who was a friend to sinners, who sided with the poor against the rich, and who was executed by the state for sedition. Snip. Snip. Snip.

Progressive Christians snip out different stuff. We’re aware that Jesus was executed by the state but fail [to] notice that Jesus’ battle with the Satan didn’t look a whole lot like what we’d describe as political activism. Jesus lived under empire, one of the most exploitative and oppressive in world history. And yet, Jesus never led a protest against Roman occupation. Jesus didn’t lead a “March on Rome” or carry a sign through downtown Jerusalem protesting Roman oppression. Jesus’ one disruptive action, clearing the Temple, was the restoration of a house of worship so it could be a house of prayer. And most worryingly, Jesus was routinely gracious to the colonial occupiers and agents of empire like tax collectors and Roman centurions, to say nothing of telling his oppressed countrymen to “love your enemies.”


LoadingReadyRun had their pre-prerelease for the Amonkhet set and the video is available. The LRR crew is always entertaining and they always get a lot of really high-quality guests. This was no exception.



Edmonton church, art space offer religion and art together.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the article from the original source in a non-PDF format, but this particular section from the Anglican Journal interests me, especially this excerpt:

Von Bieker says art shows can provide a way of sharing ideas about God and other topics that are sometimes challenging to discuss.

“Theology, reconciliation, sexuality, gender identity…there are a lot of issues we don’t know how to have a good dialogue about,” he says. “Art and story are keys to having those conversations. That’s what Jesus did with the parables.”


Video games? What about the magical power of imagination?” A blog post written by a camp instructor at the Royal Ontario Museum on his first foray into the summer D&D program there. I did a little research, and though this blog post is a few years old, the ROM does still run this program.

Aside from inspiring my sense of imagination and wonder, the program was a safe space free of judgement. Because let’s be honest, there is a stigma attached to the game. But at the ROM? With my friends? Absolutely not. Being at the museum also fostered my curiosity with antiquity. People always ask me what inspired my pursuit of a career in archaeology. I always answer “Dungeons and Dragons at the ROM”. Not Indiana Jones. Not Jurassic Park like many misunderstand. It was playing a pen and paper RPG at my favorite place on earth. The Royal Ontario Museum.


And finally, one of the best sequences of events I’ve ever read about, a robot bought drugs and a fake passport off the Deep Web for an art show. The bot – not the creator of the bot! – was subsequently arrested.

The Random Darknet Shopper, an automated online shopping bot with a budget of $100 a week in Bitcoin, is programmed to do a very specific task: go to one particular marketplace on the Deep Web and make one random purchase a week with the provided allowance. The purchases have all been compiled for an art show in Zurich, Switzerland titled The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland, which runs through January 11.

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