Weekend Reading 32

Our Weekend Reading series (brought to you by our Patreon backers) continues with a curated selection of articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet that interested us this week! We’re currently on an every-other-week schedule.

Jenny

For my Christianity-related reading today, I bring one of the best examples of going a little too far that I have ever heard of. The 1969 Easter Mass Incident. I would not recommend reading this at work or out loud to kids, because this story does contain a fair number of NSFW expletives. Other content warnings can be found at the beginning of the story. According to my mother, this is one of the best (if more extreme) examples of how the Catholic church tried to adjust to the changes made during the Second Vatican Council which, among other things, brought about the ability for churches world-wide to preach in languages that weren’t Latin, making Catholicism more accessible for the general public.

Father Patrick ran a small church outside of California Polytechnical and tended to be… rather more liberal in his interpretations of scripture than most of the church was, which made him something of a hit with the local students and liberally-inclined populace… In January of 1969 a series of incidents lead him to start exploring “nontraditional” means of holding Mass as a means of reaching out to his community and exploring his own faith, which ultimately culminated in the 1969 Easter Mass Incident.

I have wanted for a very long time to get more into hand quilting. Staying warm is a very crucial part of Canadian life, and sewing is sort of like a prerequisite step towards warmth for me. I came across a thing called the Murder Mystery Quilt. For $9 very month you are sent a chapter of a murder mystery, and a pattern for a quilt block that gives a clue as to who did the murdering. This year’s mystery is set in Jamestown. I think this concept is a brilliant play on mystery quilts as a whole. I’ve found the associated community of quilters to be very newbie-friendly, and learning a new sewing skill has been very fun for me. The deadline for signing up is January 30th.

Most of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ writing has a lot of Great Big Problems. So did the movie John Carter. This hasn’t stopped me from loving the concept of Barsoom, and wanting to fix the Great Big Problems. And now that there’s going to be a John Carter RPG, it’s looking like I’ll be able to.

Using a pulp-action inspired narrative variant of Modiphius’ 2d20 system, Momentum, John Carter of Mars allows players to take the role of various adventurers and heroes as they travel, battle, and romance their way across the wondrous and dangerous world known to its natives as Barsoom. Play as John Carter, the princess Dejah Thoris or the fearsome Thark warrior Tars Tarkas – or create your own new heroes from a wide variety of options.

Peter

For those unfamiliar with the Angry GM, he’s another former Mad Adventurer’s Society participant, along with Fiddleback and Jason D. “The Mad Cleric” Wood. He writes a solid GMing blog (Which you’ll find linked under his name) but he also writes the script for a weekly podcast called “GM Word of the Week.” It’s very D&D-centric, but it’s also very well done and chock full of interesting trivia about history (both in general and of D&D in particular), science, religion, and general trivia. Episodes are about 20 minutes long and they’ve been going for a few years now, so there’s a nice, meaty back catalog to chew through.

It’s been a while since I linked to Richard Beck here, but I think it’s time to do so again. This time, I have a standalone post on what amounts to priorities and ambition. Very solid food for thought.

The point I make in The Slavery of Death is that these calls for excellence are often euphemisms for the word sacrifice. Specifically, we are finite creatures with limited time, energy and resources. We can’t keep getting more and more excellent without a significant reallocation of time, energy and resources. Something has to be sacrificed. More time at work, for example, means less time with family, friends or church.

Finally, Popular Mechanics has a delightful article about how old issues of their magazine helped in the only successful escape from Alcatraz.

When you take the tour of this lonely buoy in the middle of San Francisco Bay, part of you feels like, just maybe, Morris and the Anglins earned their freedom. Maybe even deserved it.

Grant

I am absolutely going to be talking about this on the podcast soon as well, but Atomic Overmind announced yesterday that they’re working with Greg Stolze (one of my favorite RPG designers) to release an updated compilation of Stolze’s game ReignReign is a really bizarre but utterly amazing fantasy RPG, with a fascinating setting and delightfully smooth rules not only for individual characters, but for organizations ranging from a small business to a major nation. The re-release looks to offer a lot:

This new edition of Reign unites the original core rulebook with all of the supplementary material Greg generated on his website, along with the following improvements:

  • All the content EVER collected in two books, one covering the rules, one covering the campaign settings
  • All the material totally reorganized and properly integrated for maximum utility.
  • Brand new art (potentially color), replacing all the…ahem….stylized work that Greg did on his own in the expansions!
  • Modernized PDF layout, more thoroughly organized, linked and indexed.
  • The opportunity to get Reign in hardcover at a reasonable price.

It’s Kickstarting in February 2018, so keep an eye out if you’re interested.

I don’t talk about her on Saving the Game as much as I should, but my mother is a pretty remarkable woman. She’s been a dance teacher, mostly in Greenville County’s public schools but also privately, for four decades. As such, when historic and interesting dancers cross my newsfeed I’m more interested than you’d think. Gia Kourlas has a wonderful piece in The New York Times about “Arthur Mitchell, Ballet’s ‘Grandfather of Diversity’” that’s well worth your time. (Mom was fortunate enough to take a master class with him, as it turns out.)

Arthur Mitchell has much to be proud of. But what does he consider his greatest accomplishment? Being a founder of Dance Theater of Harlem.

“That I actually bucked society,” he said, “and an art form that was three, four hundred years old and brought black people into it.”

He paused for a moment and sat up a bit straighter in his chair at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, where he is the subject of an exhibition opening Jan. 13. “I am the grandfather of diversity,” he said and burst out laughing.

At 83, Mr. Mitchell still exudes a grandness. Two hip replacements have left one leg two inches shorter than the other, but a limp and a cane have done little to diminish his fiery spirit and exacting mind.

Speaking of master classes: This one’s got some obvious trigger warnings attached, but it’s a very convicting read for Christians of all stripes. Christ & Pop Culture published a no-holds-barred piece by Abby Perry yesterday, and the headline says it all: “The Church Needs a Masterclass in How to Apologize for Sexual Assault“. It makes some interesting comparisons between two very different confessions of guilt, and takes a hard look at what ‘repentance’ really means, rather than what the guilty often wish it would mean.

It is here, in these statements, that the similarities between Savage and Harmon come to an end. When faced with the evil realities of how they’d abused their power, these two men responded entirely differently — and received very different responses. Savage’s message to his church was met with a standing ovation from his congregation and shocked tears from his victim. Harmon’s apology on his podcast was met with a statement of public forgiveness from his victim, who told her Twitter audience, “Please listen to it… it is a masterclass in How to Apologize.”

How can it be that a man who claims no allegiance to Christ has a stronger grasp on true repentance than a man who built a life on, as his website claims, “making sense of God”? The biblical word for repentance means “to change one’s mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.” It represents a true turning from sin, which requires knowing what the sin was in the first place and labeling it as such.

I can’t help but find Harmon’s confession and apology far more in line with the concept of “abhorrence of one’s past sins” than Savage’s. How could each of them arrive at the apologies that they did?

Finally—I know we typically limit ourselves to three items apiece, but this piece from Russell Moore, “You Can’t Have Ethics Without Stories”, was so good, I didn’t want to put off recommending it for two more weeks. We talk about “the power of story” on this podcast; and Moore notes that the narrative of Scripture is an important, and oft-forgotten, element of the Bible:

Moral principles are important, as are doctrinal axioms, but they are rooted and grounded in the storyline of the Scripture. If we were to boil the Bible down to a perfectly accurate summary of doctrines or directives, we would not be improving upon the Bible. We would not be drilling past extraneous stuff. We would be losing something essential: the story.

This is what Nienhuis means by the “irreducibility of narrative.” As he puts it, “no moral or summary of a story can take the place of the story itself.” That’s because stories in the human experience, as created by God, are more than just hangers on which to place abstractions. Stories speak not just to the cognitive capacity but to the imaginative as well. As he explains, “Stories immerse us temporally in a world other than our own, and in doing so, they provide us with a deeper understanding of our own identities, values, choices, and purpose.” This is precisely right.

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