Our Weekend Reading series continues with a curated selection of fascinating articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the benefits of gaming in relation to mental health. But something I’ve struggled with on occasion is how my spirituality and religion interact with my mental health. Jordan Holmes, a Christian psychotherapist, wrote this article on some common (and possibly dangerous) misconceptions surrounding the Christian view towards counselling.
I recently came across a message by a very well-known pastor who preached on why Christians should never see a counselor. The pastor shall remain nameless as I believe he is well intentioned; his message conveys genuine care and concern for his flock. However, as well intentioned as he may be, he is wrong; surprisingly, shamefully, wrong.
Some revised D&D 5E subclasses have done what I’d thought to be impossible: they actually got me actively excited about potentially going off-official book when making a character. That never happens! I’m particularly interested in messing around with the College of Swords route for bards.
Today Unearthed Arcana returns to being monthly, appearing on the first or second Monday of a month. To kick things off, we look back at five of the subclasses from the recent series: the barbarian’s Path of the Ancestral Guardian, the bard’s College of Swords, the fighter’s Arcane Archer, the monk’s Way of the Kensei, and the sorcerer’s Favored Soul.
People Who Read Books Are Nicer. There. You’ve seen it on the internet, so it must be true!
Jokes aside, this short article by Sarah J. Young talks about a recent study from Kingston University in London that found that reading books is connected with greater empathy and social conduct.
After being quizzed on their preferences for books, TV and plays, 123 participants were tested on interpersonal skills including how much they considered other people’s feelings and whether they acted to help others. The study, conducted by Kingston University in London, found that readers were more likely to act in a socially acceptable manner compared to those who preferred watching television.
I’ve been looking for a low-stress, easy-to-follow plan for getting into better shape and it looks like this old program from the Canadian Air Force that I found via a LifeHacker article earlier this week is going to do the trick. From the comments to the article:
“I started using this program in 1965 while I was in the Navy. It is so effective and simple. It works because it is easy to develop the habit of doing the exercises daily. It never exhausts you. Fitness just sort of creeps up on you.”
I almost want to parcel this out over several of these posts about individual episodes, and I still might, but for now, I’m just going to be generous and share the whole thing – specifically the Newsworthy with Norsworthy podcast. Luke Norsworthy has a fascinating show where he talks to all kinds of folks about various topics in Christian theology and spirituality. I discovered the podcast through a link on Richard Beck’s page, but I’ve since listened to several more, and have really enjoyed them. I have no idea how Norsworthy finds the time and energy to do the podcast and still be a pastor, but I’m glad he does.
Luke and his wife Lindsay along with their three daughters live in Austin, TX where Luke is the senior minister of the Westover Hills Church. Luke also hosts the Newsworthy with Norsworthy Podcast, a weekly podcast discussing Spirituality, Christianity, and anything else that seems news worthy.
For those of you who are into video games as well as tabletop ones (which I’d guess is probably most of the folks reading this) The Humble Store is running its annual Spring Sale. Lots of good deals to be found on various video games, including This War of Mine, Spec Ops: The Line, and Stardew Valley, all of which are excellent games to not only play, but think about. It’s also worth noting that the Humble Store donates part of the proceeds from your purchase to charity every time you buy from them, and while the default, Charity: Water (their blurb is below) is a fine charity, there is a dizzying array of other charitable organizations to choose from.
Right now, 663 million people don’t have access to clean water. That’s 1 in 11 of us. charity: water is a non-profit organization on a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to every person on the planet. 100% of all public donations directly fund water project costs, we prove every project we build using photos and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, and we work with strong local implementing partners to build and maintain projects.
And finally, one last thing, just for fun:
First up, an article from Relevant Magazine that hit very close to home for me: “Death, Heartbreak & Hope“. It’s the story of Levi Lusko—a church planter and rising pastoral star with a growing network of church campuses—and how he lost his daughter. (Longtime listeners may remember that we nearly lost our daughter soon after she was born to heart issues.) It was a tough read, but worthwhile, and I think it points at something very important we need to remember when facing grief and death.
“The Bible talks about the peace that surpasses understanding and I really believe God gives you peace like that, but He doesn’t give it to you before you need it,” he says. “He gives you only what you need to get through what you’re going through in the moment.”
Living in the face of devastating loss isn’t about blind optimism or avoiding pain and grief. For Lusko, it’s about facing life—including potential loss—head-on, trusting God to provide both in seasons of gift wrap and funeral plans.
Also in the “Christian Reading” category: Rev. M. J. Young, Chaplain of the Christian Gamers Guild, has been doing a very detailed Bible study for a while now, working through much of the New Testament. He’s just starting on Revelation. The backlog can be found through the mailing list archives (a Yahoo Groups discussion group) and if you want to sign up for the Revelation study, now’s the time!
Next, a simple article from the fine folks over at Gnome Stew: “Fantasy Crops For Your Game“. The premise is fairly straightforward, but it’s a useful reminder that when we’re putting together alternate universes for our games, those little details add richness and plausibility to a setting. Plus—as seen in some of these example crops—they may be more than palette-swapped foodstuffs!
Something that rarely comes up in fantasy games, though characters often travel through farming villages, is agriculture. Yes, sometimes there’s a fight in a field, or a possessed scarecrow, or orc raiders are burning the fields or slaughtering cattle, but medieval fantasy peasants grow the same crops that we do in the modern world. Which is odd when you think about it. Because yes, mad wizards are more likely to make owlbears and oubliettes than magical corn, but farm boys become apprentices sometimes and then there are times that magic just happens: Stray magic warps things or a wish ends up weird.
Finally, a really fascinating pair of articles about cartographic propaganda from Hyperallergic: “Maps Made to Influence and Deceive” and a follow-up article, “The Octopus, A Motif of Evil in Historical Propaganda Maps“. Aside from being excellent reading material in their own right, there are a few things to think about here when designing your own maps for campaigns. This is especially true if the map is supposed to be an in-game artifact. Who drafted the map, and were they trying to influence people when they made it?
Social movements like temperance and women’s suffrage in the 19th and 20th centuries utilized maps to compel the public. An 1889 map by William T. Hornaday illustrated the extermination of the American bison and helped with his advocacy for their survival. W. T. Stead’s 1894 map of vice in Chicago packs the grid of the 19th Precinct with brothels, pawn brokers, saloons, and lodging houses, the induced anxiety similar to the use of color on an 1895 map of Manhattan with “concrete socialism” in bright red and private enterprises in white. Others are vividly reactionary, like a satirical 1894 “The American Pope” anti-Catholic cartoon where the shadow of a cardinal is cast over the country and its public schools.