By John Rieping | Published 8 Nov 2014 in The Madera Tribune | All rights reserved |
My thanks to those readers who called last week. Samuel of Tulare, California, asked for a list of books about Rev. Miguel Pro, SJ, who died for his faith in Mexico in 1926. I haven't read any -- just many articles. But one highly rated on the website www.goodreads.com is "Blessed Miguel Pro" by Ann Ball. Another book to consider would be "La Cristiada: The Mexican People's War for Religious Liberty" by Jean Meyer.
On Wednesday, someone online asked others to share their worst experience leading a tabletop role-playing game. The niche hobby combines elements of a board game with the storytelling of a game of "let's pretend." One person often acts as a kind of referee.
A few years ago I stepped up to lead one such game after one of our playmates moved away. But I decided to majorly re-invent the game we were playing. I worked for weeks writing about a new world of my own invention and filling it with peoples and mysteries.
Eventually the game began, and the adventurers portrayed by my real life friends found themselves in a foreign world they did not understand. I had imagined it would be, metaphorically, like a sandbox in which children can invent their own fun. So I gave them no guidance or help.
I realized they weren't having fun, so I planned during the week and even recorded a silly song to aid the storytelling.
We played a week later and this time I wasn't hands off. I used a forest fire in the story to try to force the lost adventurers into an ambush I thought they could handle. Instead my silly song scared them and they chose to nearly burn to death rather than face unknown foes.
That game session ended in a real life argument.
The third session went even more badly, and by the fourth week only one of my friends bothered to even show up to the scheduled game. The rest never offered an excuse.
The story had died.
Both before and after that experience, I've led enjoyable role-playing games for others. Yet that failed one is one I've pondered most in hopes of not repeating my mistakes.
And I see myself in the characters played by my friends.
When I lack guidance or direction, I too flounder. I want God or others to clearly point out where to go or what to do. Yet I'm not docile. If afraid, I rebel. If pressured, I rebel. If bored, I rebel. If uncomfortable, I rebel. If offended, I rebel.
But the divine creator of this world, unlike my fictional one, is trustworthy.
I suspect a frequent unspoken prayer is "God, lead me where I want to go and help me do what I want to do. Grant me adventures without serious danger, and heroism without prolonged hardship. I will taste the cup of suffering before me, then hand it back. Not your will, but mine be done."
Can you imagine a movie or book featuring a hero with that attitude?
Journalist and author G.K. Chesterton once wrote, "We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong."
He explained that some want a faith that is compatible with their social life, with practicality, with science, and so on. Yet they would be social, practical, scientific, and so on even without religion.
"They say they want a religion like this because they are like this already," he continued. "They say they want it, when they mean that they could do without it. It is a very different matter when a religion, in the real sense of a binding thing, binds men to their morality when it is not identical with their mood."
God, grant us grace to be bound for glory.