Christianity and Tabletops

I usually start these articles with “Christianity vs -” but I think the break from the norm makes it more appropriate.

I’m ridiculously into Critical Role, about two years too late. I’m only on ep 57? I think? and they’re already on their way to another …. arc? show? come January. I love the characters, They’re relatable on most levels, and I love the drama-rama in everything. Matt Mercer is an excellent DM, a wonderful storyteller. And, honestly, I’m trying to follow his example for my own sessions between me and my players.

Beside the point here. But really it’s awesome, and if you haven’t already, check it out.

Okay, but now, I’m honestly getting to why I’m doing this up.

A bit of spoilers ahead, so you have been warned.

 

Like significant to the plot spoilers

 

Not inside joke spoilers, which I think are miffy, but okay.

 

Seriously, real spoilers.

 

Which gets me thinking, since it’s really important to this article.But seriously….

 

I shall forge on, because as I said, it’s important to the article.

 

But it is plot heavy stuff. Just saying.

 

  

The interaction between Pike and her patroness goddess Sarenrae and Vax’ildan and his patroness goddess (waaaaay down the line) the Raven Queen is so…. familiar. I’m in Pike’s shoes spiritually speaking. My family was converted to Christianity before my father was born, and so it’s easy for me to take for granted everything that I’ve experienced spiritually – the blessings both known and unknown, life, power, authority, comfort, ahhh, what else? Basically, everything that has allowed me to be who and what I am, even up to the doubts and just – pissy – moods that sometimes go against it. And Pike does that sometimes. Her ancestors experienced the pardon and transformation and blessings and warmth of Sarenrae, as has Pike. Yet, sometimes, it feels like she’s taking her patron for granted, as a means of power to draw from as needed. Like a bank.  And I know I do that as well. And it’s not the best way to go about it. But we’re both born into our religions; it’s an easy trap, really. I mean she knows Sarenrae will be there. I know God will definitely be there. Not necessarily in a way I want or expect, but I know I can count on Him.

And then there’s Vax and his interaction with the Raven Queen. She drew him to her, even allowing him to bring his sister back from Death, once he pledged himself to her. And he did. After much fighting against her. After much doubt. After finally realizing that there isn’t anything to fear with her. He still fears. But, I think he understands there will be comfort in her for him. So far, she has come through for him, saving him as necessary and coming when he calls. And even in this last episode I watched his prayer as a (multiclassed level 1) paladin was as simple as it hurts, please help (adlibbing, but yeah).

That prayer alone. It wasn’t big or extravagant. It didn’t start with Oh great Raven Queen goddess of Death we celebrate you – no. It was a sincere plea. And he was able to heal himself through her until the problem could be properly sorted. He received comfort and peace when needed. And wow. Prayer is important to me, so imagine me seeing elements that I…. am familiar with, or have been taught coming into play in someone else’s gameplay.

(Wow, Liam, your little bit of roleplay months ago is actually having real word significance on a  fan. There is no way I can not appreciate you. Or your character. Seriously, I’d already loved Vax and his love for Vex and now…. thank you? I guess? for this little spiritual reminder. Or conviction I think may be the word)

There is a lot to say in  the things that we come across. It’s easy to see why blogs like Between the Tangles exists. Even in fandoms, we see things that hail back to our Christianity. Granted, if I looked more into the bible, the way I look into…. just about any fandom I’m in, i’d be a proper theologian.(maybe. not really)

It’s easy for me to hear a preacher say “try to be a Mary, not a Martha” but even though I know a bit about them, I mean, I’ll get there with them, but for now, I think I’ll look to Pike and Vax. I  want to be like Vax. I want to fully give myself to God. Not necessarily without doubt or fear. But with full acceptance. And I thought I did, I really did think so. But there is still a little Pike in me. I still call when I need help. Primarily. Almost always only when I need help or need something. I can’t blame it on being born into it so I can take God for granted, while someone who experienced God firsthand while they were out in the world, just doing whatever  they did before could do magnificent things for God as new (Gen 1) Christians.

Maybe next time I’m a PC in D&D, I’ll be a cleric.

But that’ll open up a whole nother can o’ worms.

 

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“No living man am I! You look upon a woman!” 5 things I experience as a female role-player

The Dork Ages

For those of you who don’t recognise it, the quote is from The Lord of the Rings, specifically Eowyn’s response to the Witch King of Angmar (just before she kills him) when he tells her that he can be hindered by no living man. I think its relevant for a couple of reasons: firstly because people are still surprised when they meet women who role-play, and secondly because she’s the kind of awesome armour-wearing, sword-wielding woman you tend to find in RPGs.

In general, role-play is still male-dominated and in any given game you’re lucky to have one woman in the group. So, with this in mind I wanted to share a few things that I’ve noticed happen to me as a female role-player that I don’t think happen to my male friends quite so much (if I’m wrong, feel free to correct me!) This won’t reflect every woman’s experience…

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Christianity vs Life – Identity crisis

What’s so amazing, so bloody amazing is that for the first time in a year, I actually don’t feel like bible study has become a chore for me. It has, for the first time in a year, become something that I’m excited to get into more and more, and I’m a little upset that I have to work in a couple hours, so I can’t get into it more right now.

That being said, the little bit that I did do just…. mind blowing, how the things I had to force myself to read earlier, (took me 9 months to read 9 days worth of scripture. I’m still not done there) now come into play, with examples.

Lemme – beginning.

Anyone who knows me, knows that for years in secondary school,  I was a fan of Vic Mignogna. I still am, but  I’m not as vocal about it anymore. He’s an amazing voice actor, and a fun guy, and I still really appreciate him. What I do admire about him and will always do, is that he is a Christian, and strongly, never hiding his love of Christ. It’s why I’m a Ranger ^~^a

I was watching his video at Colossalcon this year (2017 for the archives). and he was talking about how God loves us, and how He would give us a chance to accept Him. Our identity as His creation, and reaffirming this, in spite of our bouts of low self confidence. About how we find satisfaction and contentment in  God.

After that I was listening to one of Joyce Meyer’s sermons about how our thoughts affect our walk with God. To me, these two videos were unrelated. Honestly, I just clicked them both thinking 1) I haven’t listened to Vic in a while, and 2) if I’m probably gonna keep missing church because work and any excuse, I may as well listen to a sermon, so Joyce.

And yet, as unrelated as these two people are, they both talked about the same topic at different events  to vastly different groups.

After the videos I looked into the scriptures that Joyce used to back up her topic, and you see more into the persona of God, about His characteristics,  about His actions for the sake of Humanity. You see the relationship Man has with God, where David speaks directly to Him in the Psalms. You see in Jeremiah 29:11 where God speaks directly to humanity where His plans for us can only benefit us. You see where humbling yourself (1 Peter 5:6) isn’t necessarily about subjugation to Him,  about submission before a fearsome god, but about trust in Him and belief in His Words. I haven’t gotten too far in the list yet. I did intend to sleep, but I started thinking about this and well….  ┐(‘~` )┌
I’m thinking about how in Jeremiah 29:11, God speaks directly to mankind. I have… for you.  I started thinking how belief in God’s Word and His promises and that implicit trust could only benefit us. 1 Peter 5:6 – humble yourself before God’s mighty hand and in time He may life you up.  Jesus humbled Himself. before God. Jesus did,  humbling Himself and trusting in the promises of God for mankind. Noah did  the same in Genesis , and believed the Word of God and he got life (survived the flood) prosperity and benefited. He wasn’t perfect, neither was David, but both were blessed following the Word of God. I started thinking about – David had that relationship with God. He knew God’s actions were for Man’s benefit. He knew that God’s thought  were for us and about us. He praised God for this remarkable reason. It’s mindboggling  that He’d think about us. About a single person. About me.

So both videos talked about knowing our identity as God’s loved ones, about our identity in Christ. If we were not sure about who we are as Christians, as believers, as followers in Christ, we’re probably either doing something wrong, or we just don’t understand. We really do need to get into the Word to see the scripture to understand the message and , even, I dunno, pick out examples that proved it.

I think what excited me was the fact that — for the longest time, for more than a year, I’ve steadily felt less encouraged in church, and more empty.  Which was aggravated more by the fact that shift work makes it hard for me to go, even though I’d try to push to go when I can. Steadily growing dysfunction at home isn’t helping either.

I’m not gonna lie, I started to question who I was anymore outside of the church. I think I blogged about it before. I felt that outside of church, outside of ministry, any time away from a strong foundation left me feeling so out of it. I did, I did say  I felt like I started to regress, and head back into things I’d previously left behind. Lately, I’d also picked up new things (D&D!) which, while really fun to plan, and play, and just do, it started to take up most of my time. I started being a little afraid of it. Not much, not intellectually, but spiritually, I knew I was using it to fill in for what I was missing.

So to get this little bit was so much to me. I’m so grateful, and honestly, I’ll take what little I can. Because even a little can be a lot. Crumbs from the table can be satisfying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koe no Katachi

I want to say first off, I am not Deaf. I know very little about Deaf culture or the struggles that the community, the Deaf themselves, or even their families, would face, when integrating into the hearing world. The opinions here are my own, and based on a limited knowledge base, where Deaf culture and  Deaf life is expressed. If I am wrong, I’ll take it, along with any corrections and new bits of information that would help develop better …. well informed … (vocabulary…) opinions.

Koe no Katachi – The shape of voice – a story about a boy who’s continually guilty about having bullied a Deaf classmate when they were in elementary school, and feels that the having no friends thing that came up after the class basically threw him to the wolves after her mother called the school to address the situation when her eighth pair of hearing aids in a month or so gets damaged, was deserved.

But no, wait! I swear it’s better than I make it sound.

Seriously, please you need to watch this if you already haven’t.

The high points for me in watching this are well, not numerous, but there are a few. One being that for the many years I’ve watched  anime, there were few that actually showed protagonists with disabilities as ruling or functioning or even just living and exceeding expectations. In fact I think the same is true outside of anime.

Well, there was FMA. And Switched at Birth. And Toph was pretty badass as a bender. and as a character in general.  But I think for every one show I’ve watched, there are probably like 30 that didn’t explore a character as having a disability.

Honestly, it was a little bit….. refreshing?  I guess? that Nishimiya was capable, but we see her struggling to communicate with her classmates. Which leads to another thing I liked about it. Parents sometimes opt for mainstream education for their children, which is what happened in the movie. And also, how her classmates had trouble communicating  with her.  Which led to conflict, which leads to movie plot, which-

Okay, but here’s the thing, mainstreaming deaf children would have some difficulties. Which weren’t addressed effectively in the school. There was a little attempt for integrating Japanese Sign Language into the classroom, with a session before classes begun, to get the students to understand their fellow classmate a little better. And Nishimiya does get a chance to sign and communicate with her classmates in her own language, something that the other students – and I – take for granted. Ishida, himself, takes JSL classes later on, and we do get to see him sign with Nishimiya later when they reconnect. That tickled me, being a language nerd, because outside of photographs of one JSL sign, -baseball- I dunno much about it. So it was nice to see. We don’t really see much classroom action, but when we do, I have to admit, the lack of an interpreter was obvious. When it was Nishimiya’s turn to read, other students had to prompt her.  Why not have an interpreter for her tho? Expense?

Also kids are meaaaaannn. Most rejected any chance to better understand the new Deaf girl or learn from her. Poor girl had 8 pairs of hearing aids damaged in one form or another. And multiple kids were responsible for bullying her or allowing her bullies to continue, then throw one of their own under the bus. wow kids. Y’all are cold.

I liked, too, how Nishimiya’s family stepped up for her. Her grandmother learned sign language, her mother basically bitchslapped anyone who bullied her daughter for her deafness. But within the family unit, her deafness was just another part of life for them. Her younger sister looked out for her, but it wasn’t just because of her deafness. She looked out for her, as any sister would for her siblings – who do you like? how did they react? why confess nowwwwwww????!!!! Overall, her deafness didn’t hamper how she interacted with them, whether verbally, through text, or through signing. And I loved how  the  writers almost made it a point to show not only how difficult it can be for the deaf, in a world that doesn’t cater for lack, but also, how normal life is for Nishimiya. She’s a teen dealing with teen troubles. She’s as normal as anyone else.

I could probably continue to list things that I liked about it, where learning about Deaf culture and Deaf life is concerned, but I think I’ve trampled through enough spoiler territory for one day.

At the end of the day though, it falls pretty snugly into Slice-of-life boy-likes-girl/girl-likes-boy territory. If you’re like me and a closet romantic, you’d like it. You get lots of that, which seems to be a staple for a good half of the Slice-of-life anime I’ve watched. But what makes it different is the expression of a very real divide that really needs to be addressed.

It did as the title promised, and presented the need of voice, and to be heard and understood. For both Nishimiya and Ishida.  Nishimiya got communication with the hearing.  Ishida learned to properly express himself to others. They’re the perfect parallels,  from their being bullied and targeted to their obvious struggles with their lives, and their relationships with  their families. They are the same, despite their differences. The movie didn’t only focus on that by making Nishimiya’s Deafness the key plot. Instead, it incorporated it, and mixed it in effectively. Nishimiya was a part of a whole in their group of friends. She was equally affected by the past and present as everyone was.

Basically I love this movie. I endorse it.

Go watch it. It’s worth it.

 

Harry Potter and the new Generation

That title alone got your interest, didn’t it? Well, if it dinnae, then do I have the clickbait for you! Well, a third, if that sentence didn’t do it. As a Christian, I’m gonna let my kids read Harry Potter. I’ll probably have to get an entirely new edition though. Mine are falling apart.

It’s a part of an ongoing list of movies, tv shows and books that I’m compiling, from  my life, from 7-27, that inspired me, that I loved, and that had subtle impacts, and, in the case of Harry Potter,  Major impact on me.

Of course, I’ll be bring it back to God, to the bible and the Church. But I wanna let them see the world as depicted in these forms of media, and just how the world seems to work and evolve. I want my kids to do some critical thinking, to understand why and how God applies, and just who God even is to them. And how we should treat each other and ourselves. I want them to develop strong identities and be comfortable in who they are and who they are in Christ.

It seems odd, I guess, to want to show God to children with some decidedly unchristian pieces of work (I’m also Including San Manuel Bueno, Martir  and Laberinto   by Borges… or any existentialist piece, because I’m that insane),  but I really think these pieces helped me seek out God some more. I know how crazy it sounds, but I also know that without a search for something more, without wanting to see further than what I saw, without wanting to understand something greater, I couldn’t have decided to be where I am, and to get where I’m going.

So yeah, I know that the witchcraft in Harry Potter and the darker themes in it would put off most Christian parents, and I understand why. Witchcraft is a very real thing. It’s dangerous, and it can open you up to so much that you may not understand. And I will explain that, including my own desire as child and teen to want to explore that myself. But you can’t deny that the relationships developed and explored in the series can only be beneficial to a developing child. They’ll see examples of good and bad relationships, parents who do what is hard because of what was right. How harmful ideas are perpetuated, and how they are erased. How people treat others. They’ll develop their own ideals and ideas, based on what they’ve explored and seen and experienced. And I want them exposed to these and others. I want them to see these through their own eyes, as taught by a mother who experienced life in and out of the church as well.

D&D? No? ConLang, then

I ended last year really wanting to play D&D. I entered this year really wanting to play D&D. Unfortunately, with my schedule being the way it is, it’s hard for me to get a proper timing  to join a party. Although i do have an open invitation to one, so yay.

In the meantime, I have contracted the conlang bug. Well, maybe. That may not be the best analogy. either way, I’ve created four continents, all of which, naturally, will have multiple races, nations, and languages. but what languages are those? And there’s an intercontinental senate that governs a fair bit of areas, like trade and international relations and i dun’ know yet. And so many concepts are coming out of the woodwork, and thus, a need for language to define them, and, I really miss linguistics.

So, so far, I’ve decided on creating said languages, for this world. By myself, or with the help of my friends. I mean, one to help with the geography, one with the species and races, and well, me and another for the languages.  And even if this doesn’t evolve into our own little D&D-esque ttrpg, I’ll have a world and languages to help me write a story

But I now appreciate the years  that Tolkien put into his own languages. I haven’t even gotten to the vocabulary of my one language  properly yet. I’m still stuck on the phonological constraints that possibly define it.

Or maybe I’m doing something wrong?

Conlangers, any tips?