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Weekend Reading 34


Once again, here I am with another cool, old church, though this one’s a little bit on the older side of the ones I’ve posted about in Weekend Reading before. These are the archaeological remains of a 5th century church recently rediscovered in Turkey.

Archaeologists believe they may have discovered one of the oldest churches in Turkey. The structure was unearthed as part of an archaeological study of the ancient city of Hadrianopolis in the Black Sea province of Karabük.
Researchers believe that the church dates back 1,500 years to the 5th century and was part of the ancient city which was prominent among early Christian pilgrims.

Apparently the founder of the Boy Scouts drew really cool maps with bug anatomy. This one’s a little tangential to gaming, but if anyone thinks I won’t be using this as inspiration for the Leviathan game I will run some day, they are a fool.

This may look like an innocent drawing of a butterfly. But look closer. It’s actually a map. In fact, the area around the butterfly’s body contains secret military information about the whereabouts of an enemy fortress.

And finally for miscellany, “stained glass” art made of useful mould. (If you are grossed out by mould, maybe don’t look at this one.)

As the art installation Relationscape stood for a few days in the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, it reminded commuters of all the biology that surrounds and defines us.

In a spiral structure, four large discs celebrated nature and helped start a conversation about how biology can help solve global problems. One of the discs – a sealed mosaic of living fungi – has multiple hidden stories to tell.


This isn’t so much something to read as it is something to bookmark and keep handy, but this page is loaded with useful GMing tools.

These resources are useful for the brave souls who create and run RP for other players.

More Richard Beck! Yeah, yeah, I know. But I find his thoughtful approach to Christianity, especially his recent disavowal of the “Progressive Christian” label I’ve never been comfortable with or wanted to wear, closely mirrors my own, or what I’d like to imagine mine would be if I had his wisdom and experience, anyway. The latest post of his I’d like to highlight covers his thoughts on the lyrics and overall message of a pair of Johnny Cash songs that I’ll occasionally listen to when I find the injustice of the world to be a little bit too much on a given day. Interesting note for those who have been reading my setting design series: “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” is one of a very short list of non-metal songs that I think perfectly cover the setting’s ethos. Particularly when viewed through the filter of one of the folks who commented on Beck’s original blog post with “If anybody’s gonna “Cut Me Down” I’m glad its Someone who loves me.”

Songs of God’s judgment upon sinners aren’t songs progressive Christians like to sing.

And yet, I get more spiritual sustenance from songs like “When the Man Comes Around” and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” than the worship anthems heard on Christian radio and from church praise bands.

Finally, I found this article about a potter making ceramics with the ashes from homes destroyed in the California wildfires to be a very poignant read.

That night in October 2017, Aimee Gray didn’t realize anything was wrong until she heard Brighton barking. Her 160-pound mastiff was making such a commotion, and Gray looked out the window to see flames licking toward her ranch house in Santa Rosa, California. She ran to shake her husband awake, and said, “I think we’re in a whole lot of trouble.”

It was just a matter of minutes before the wildfire reached them. Gray and her husband scrambled for clothes and the contents of their safe. They stuffed everything they could into a duffle bag, loaded their young daughter and dogs into the car, and sped away. In the rearview mirror was an orange glow and the home where their toddler had recently taken her tentative first steps.


Are you looking for creepy artifacts for your game? Or better yet, the only currency that can buy certain creepy artifacts for your modern horror game? Do I have the item for you! From 1901-1930, Colombia minted special coins that were only good in leper colonies. This 2014 Coinweek article, “Offbeat Numismatics: The Leper Colony Coins of Colombia”, goes into pretty significant detail on these coins. They didn’t actually do much to prevent the spread of leprosy in this time, but several other nations still adopted them.

This series of coins would include 1, 5 and 10 pesos bearing a “PM” imprint for papel moneda, or paper money, to show the equivalency of the coins to Colombian notes. This series did not bear the cross of St. Lazarus, however. All of these colony coins had the same face value as Colombian notes and were considered legal tender within the colonies; however, it was strictly prohibited to use them anywhere outside the colonies as it was widely believed that leprosy was a highly communicable disease. Many people of this era believed that using the same money as leprosy victims could expose them to the illness. Reyes was so adamant about reducing the cases of leprosy that he even went so far as to order the incineration of all paper money in circulation, replacing them with newly printed notes.

Along the same lines: Racked has a really interesting analysis of the cultural dynamics of the department store, which had an interesting role in bringing women back into the public sphere.

Before Macy’s came along, women were already slowly edging their way outside, but it wasn’t a very alluring idea. Not only was it flat-out illegal for them to enter many spaces unchaperoned, but when they did go shopping at the standalone boutiques or dry goods stores, it wasn’t exactly a fun affair. Rather than hitching a parasol to their wrist and ambling from shop to shop, they handed a black-suited man their list, and he silently bundled their items into brown paper before sending them straight home.

Because of that, women didn’t dawdle. The streets were seen as something they moved through as trespassers, and not somewhere they lingered. Across late-19th-century etiquette books, experts had one common tip for those who just had to go into town: Be invisible. No flashy clothes, no looking anywhere but straight, and no stopping until you were back indoors. If men bumped into women they knew, they were told to walk briskly beside them rather than stopping to chat.

But that all changed with department stores. And with it came the scandal of women becoming full public actors; ones who demanded agency, a voice, and a seat at the table.

I’m naturally a big fan of Luke Harrington’s “D-List Saints” series over at Christ & Pop Culture, but I have to admit that his newest article’s title is“How the Founder of American Evangelicalism Was Felled by Dirty Magazines” stretching the truth a bit. Still, is a quick and funny introduction to Puritanism and the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards:

Churches back then weren’t big on their declining influence (hmm, that sounds familiar), so they started introducing what they called the “Halfway Covenant,” otherwise known as “Okay, You Non-Converts Can Sort-of Be Church Members, We Guess.” Under the Halfway Covenant, anyone who had been baptized into the church as a baby could be a voting member of the church, but only the ones with a testimony could share in Communion. This was a compromise that satisfied nobody, but since Puritans are always grumpy, nobody really noticed how unsatisfied they were.

What the Puritan churches really needed to stay healthy was a sudden outpouring of conversions—and, surprisingly, they actually got just that, thanks to Northampton, Massachusetts, pastor Jonathan Edwards. Widely considered the quintessential American “fire and brimstone” preacher (though he actually delivered his sermons calmly and demurely), Edwards made history when he preached the famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (also known as “Seriously, You Guys, If You Don’t Convert, You’ll Go to Hell, for Realsies”) while guest-preaching at the church in Enfield, Connecticut. Supposedly, Edwards was interrupted numerous times by the congregation wailing and crying out, “What must we do to be saved?” and there were deep gouges in the backs of the pews afterward from where congregants had dug in their fingernails out of sheer terror. So clearly, Edwards was an effective preacher. Or, at the very least, he had the same hype-man as William Castle.

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