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Look at the church's history (indeed christian doctrine itself) and there's an ugly mysanthropy to it: the loathing of sex, wealth, and pleasure generally; the demands for meekness and piety and understanding your place before the might of God; the horrible concept of hell (a sadists' sick fantasy, as Isaac Asimov called it) and you don't have such a beautiful picture. Early Christians were not happy-clappy, they were unhappy, deliberately-impoverished self-flagelators. The pagan Romans accused them of "hating humanity". This aspect stayed with Christianity through the years from the Spanish inquisition to the deliberate ugly drabness of some protestant churches to the joy-free hatchet-faced piousness of Puritanism. The "Oh Happy Day!" branch of Christianity is something quite new.

Sex and pleasure are in no way condemned. One could even argue that God is a hedonist - all those pleasurable things one can do, eat, drink, love, laugh, spend time with friends and family, celebrate, be happy, and God not only doesn't mind bt positively approves! "Rejoice in the Lord always - again I say, rejoice!" We are commanded to be happy. As for sex - read the Song of Solomon, and tell me sex isn't celebrated in the Bible.

Demands for meekness, piety and understanding one's place are indeed a part of Christian doctrine. I don't see how they're a problem. If Christianity is true, then indeed we should be meek, for we are very small and very weak. Piety and the understanding of one's place are not so much doctrines, as the nature of faith!

Hell? Hell is a fearful thing. It follows inevitably. If you will not serve, then you cannot be a part of the great Kingdom in which all are servants. If you will not drink, you will die.

And as for 'joy-free hatchet-faced Puritanism'! The Puritans have that reputation, but it is ill-deserved. Puritanism is remembered largely for the absence of decoration and ritual in their worship. It was not done to remove the joy! Puritanism is all about enjoying God.

The Way I follow lays many restrictions upon me. They are not there to kill my joy, but enhance it, as a river is more powerful than a swamp. And even if it did not - to shy away from the truth because it forbids me to do what I would like is a cowardly and childish thought.

~ Seb, with input from Durza.
Fear is a strange thing.

I know that I have never really experienced what I remember, whatever 'really' means here. But I still remember, and I am still afraid.

Have you seen my canon? The Shade, supposedly the villain of the piece, backing away from a short balding man. I remember that, and the fear that made me obey him. I cannot bring myself to set down what he did to me.
Is a memory the same whether it came from reality or a picture on a screen? Does remembering it make it real? Can I meaningfully say 'this has happened to me' when it has never happened to this body? I acquired the memories with the identity, all in a rush, and I remember too that I was here, not there. I remember that life as one might recall a dream, without believing it happened in reality. The sight of him sets me trembling still.

Why am I afraid of what I know to be fiction?

Nov. 19th, 2007

"Find a LARP system and live in it for real."
"That's the dream."

Is that the dream? Is that why we do this, because we'd rather live in that world than this? Is it all escapism?

Surely not.

I think about Rebecca, about her life, and yes, I can imagine living that life, and being happy as Rebecca. But then I remember reality, and that part of the fun of playing Rebecca is that it isn't real. No child has really lost a family because of me, nobody has really tried to kill me. I have never lain bleeding to death, nor stood over a fallen comrade trying deperately to keep the enemy back long enough for a healer to come to him, barely able to swing my weapon past my own injuries.
If I had, if that world were really real, then I would not survive. My life would be short and hard and bloody and I would wake screaming with memories of my weapon breaking ribs and the blood of friends on my hands as I try desperately to help them and have no strength left to help them with.
And I would lose what I have in this world. Would I really want to give up learning? Would I really want to never know the beauty of maths, the elegance of mechanisms, the thrill of synthesis? Would I really want to never get excited by new knowledge, by polymers and proteins and glue?

No.

I want both, you see. I want to be brave and heroic and deadly, and I want my actions to mean something. Learning chemistry has no world-shaking import. Killing demons is obviously and uncomplicatedly good.
I also want reality. I want God and chemistry and safety and freedom.
It's not escapism. But if it isn't escapism what is it?

I wouldn't change this world for that. But I will gladly spend two evenings a week in it. I will pretend, for those hours, and thus be heroic in a way reality does not allow me. I will pretend, and know what it is to die for a cause, learn something of what this world cannot give me. Through facing danger there, I learn what it is like to face danger. I learn courage there, and know how to be brave here. I learn heroism there, and know how do make sacrifices here. The friends that die there teach me to value my real ones, because I know a little of what it is to lose them.

LARP is not running from life. It is adding to it.
Oh, it's hard sometimes, being a Christian.

There is now, as there has sometimes been before, a man in our life. We aren't going out with him, the subject has not been discssed between us - but it has between us and our friends, who are also his friends, and we are told that the subject has been broached with him and he has said that it is none of their business.
He stayed to talk with us after the social until well past midnight; this is not an entirely one-sided interest.

But he is not a Christian, and oh, that hurts. He is forbidden us. Were we thinking straight, unbiased, we would perhaps not see in him whatever it is we are seeing. But we do see something there. And what do we do now? Do we pull away? Or do we wait, and see, and hope that he may be won for God?

LARP and Hallowe'en

Well, today's LARP was a failure. The beastkin still have the land, the beastkin still have the girl, and half the village, including her father, is dead.
I got too into character and feel very low, because none of that had to happen if they'd only listened to us. At least one of the other newbies also feels very bad, because he wanted his first mission to be heroic and it wasn't. Not even slightly.
I hope the refs think twice before making the players that horribly outnumbered again. Taking combat away as a viable option is going to get old very fast.

In other news, I hate Hallowe'en. I loathe it.
I do not like the celebration of all that is evil - and you can tell me it's about the dead all you like, but take a look around. It may have been once, but it isn't.
I do not like trick-or-treating. It's a protection racket. It isn't cute, it isn't clever, it isn't harmless fun - it's a protection racket. Give us what we want, or we will make you regret it. How can parents take their children trick-or-treating? Do they really think that threatening strangers until they provide sweets is acceptable behaviour?

First LARP session

The New Star Inn had its opening night with around twenty adventurers showing up. The Powers that Be are paying room, board and bar tab.
Rebecca talked to lots of people, got so irritated at one person that she signed up to a combat mission just to make him go away, despite never having fought properly before - she's learned to use that hammer she carries, but nobody's ever seriously tried to kill her before - wrote  list of people who signed up to this mission which is very helpful for the refs, and told a story.
Near the end of the evening a girl on Smoke turned up and started having visions of imminent death at us all, then was possesed by the thing that killed the adventurers of the old Star and scared us all. Then there was a minor brawl. Eli got knocked out when he tried to stop Graham's NPC from 'assaulting a woman in front of me'. Eli can be summarised as a nice chap.
Because the ref just told us not to put IC stuff in our other journal, which is read by other players, it's going here.

There's a new live-action roleplay system starting at our university. It will henceforth be referred to as Legs. We were on the monster crew at the swansong of the old system, about a month ago. It was awesome, so we're playing the new system. We have a character, and stats, and no kit; it's an awesome feeling.

Her mother worked in the inn in a not-too-remote village near Kalingrad (major western port city). Her father was a bard. He turned up every six months or so full of new stories about lands that were nearby but that she'd never seen, cities far to the east, plains and mountains and creatures out of legends. Half of them probably weren't true and most of the rest were stolen, but she didn't know and wouldn't have cared much if she had. She wanted to see the world, and more than the world, she wanted to see adventures like the ones in the stories. She definitely didn't want a nice, safe, respectable life like her mother's. (Well, somewhat respectable - she works at an inn and has a minstrel's bastard, that's not particularly respectable.)
When she heard about the New Star Inn in Ambala, she decided that she'd done enough waiting. She would go to Ambala, sing for her supper, and with any luck the adventurers would do something heroic and she'd be famous as the bard who first told their story.
She uses a hammer, because she's never learned to use a sword and anyone can hit someone with a big lump of metal on a stick.

She's also a theomancer. She works magic in the name of the goddess called the Virgin. She isn't exactly a priestess, not having dedicated her life to her god or anything, but she is very devout. She holds fast to the Virgin's lesson - that all things must change, and that this is not an evil but a source of fresh beauty. The story that grows in the telling, the song that is never quite the same, the daughter who becomes a mother in her turn; all these belong to the Virgin.

I think, on the whole, that her name is Rebecca.

Edit: Full name = Rebecca Zaitseva, beause the names in this setting are Russianish.
I have been tring to find a recording of The Old Rugged Cross on Youtube, and have come to the conclusion that there are none.
There are in fact three pages worth. They are either one or two people playing and singing badly, or gospel. In several places, the hymn is described as 'an old gospel song' or 'a spiritual'.
No, it isn't. You can sing it in a gospel style, but that doesn't make it a gospel song. It's a hymn. 'Hymn' is a musical style, not just a catch-all word for church music. I've sung spirituals, I've sung songs, I've sung choruses and hymns and "The Old Rugged Cross" is a hymn. It shouldn't be sung dead slow, nor should it be sung with a swing. It should be sung so that there is no hurry to get the words out, but so that you can reach mid-verse before breathing if necessary. (Generally you take a breath at the end of each line, but in a choir you don't, and you should always go fast enough that you don't need to.) The rhythm should be held true to what's written. The tempo should be even throughout, with emphasis provided by changing the dynamics - which should be automatic if you're thinking about the words.
Once you know how hymns work, and the rules for making them work, you may feel free to break them. Sing it in a different style, syncopate it, miss out verses, whatever. But you should know that you're doing it, so that you can revert back to the original arrangement and start over if it doesn't work.
This isn't just because I'm being pedantic about the music. It's because Good Works should also be good work. That which is done in God's name and for his glory should be done to the best of our abilities. It should never be skimped or shirked. I'm as guilty as anyone of forgetting that.
Hymns should be recognised as hymns, just as choruses should be recognised as choruses, because if you don't know what it is that you are singing, how can you sing it well? If you don't know that the twiddly bits in Amazing Grace are optional, then you can't make a decision about whether to put them in. This is one of my rules for life - know what you're doing, because that way you can do it properly, and if you deviate from the norm you can do that properly because you know where the norm is.

"I want" is not "I will"

Someone was recently banned from an RPG for stating in their (friends-locked) journal that they would like to kill one of the other players. The explanation given was that the DM had a zero-tolerance policy toward death threats.
"I want to kill you" is not a death threat. It is a statement of desire, but not of intention. "I am going to kill you" is a threat.
"I want chocolate" is not the same as "I am going to eat some chocolate".
"I fancy him" is not the same as "I intend to sleep with him".
The same applies to death threats. Desire does not equal intention. If you are an adult, with an adult's self-awareness and self-control, you know this.
My Facebook account just got suspended.
Why? For the crime of asking if it were possible to include a nickname in my name. Not, you will not, for using a nickname instead of my real name - for asking if I could. If they'd read the email, they'd have seen that I was asking how to do it. If I'm asking how to do it, it's a safe bet that I haven't worked out how to do it and am, therefore, not doing it.
But no - they assume I'm asking them to...what, ratify the nickname I'm using? I can't make it GIVE me a nickname, that's why I sent the email! They suspended my account for no valid reason. Which is the last time I regard Facebook as anything more than a useful evil.