Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Religion, D&D and Crash Helmets for Snails

Over at Blood of Prokopius, fellow gamer nerd, blogger and human being FrDave wrote a post entitled "Is Christianity Compatible With D&D??

Therein, he muses about whether, you know, Christianity is compatible with D&D.  It's an interesting post to be sure, and one that provokes thought.

In me, it provoked a thought as follows:

"Uh...why...does it have to?"

Seriously.  It makes no sense to me.  I...I just don't get that.

If I, as a teenager, had read that bit in Greyhawk/Supplement 1 and/or Holmes that says--
All vampires, regardless of religious background, are affected by the cross which is sovereign against them.
 --I would have been very put off by it.  I would have bristled at it, resented it, been outright angry about it.  It would not have wanted that intrusion of real-world faith and religion in my fantasy world; that's what gaming was sort of about.  Not a retreat from reality, you understand, but a place where I could exercise my creativity, where I could arrange the furniture to taste, so to speak.  I already had enough of Christians pushing into me in everyday life1; why did they follow me into my hobby?

These days I wouldn't react as strongly, mostly because I can look at it and say, "Yeah, not in my game" and move on.  But even that's not the point.

The point is that I simply cannot fathom why it needs to be worried about in the first place.  What does one have to do with the other?  Gaming, as an activity, is that -- an activity.  It's like paddling  a canoe or drawing a picture or doing something else that brings you joy.  It's not life-or-death, damnation-or-salvation (it may be fun-or-boredom, though).  Why does a snail have to get fitted for a racing helmet?

Maybe I just don't understand the religious mind.  I get that some religious folks (and I'm not singling out FrDave here, 'cause I don't roll that way; if I had beef with him, which I most unquestionably do not,  I'd take it to him personally, privately and in the spirit of convivial discussion) have to check everything they do against their religious beliefs.  "Is it OK for me, as a Jew/Christian/Muslim/Zoroastrian/Etc., to undertake action x?", where x may be reading a given book, eating a given food, going to a given place or what-have-you.

But I do not get WHY.  And I especially don't get why gaming has to go before the review board. 

Look -- I understand that the "Satanic Panic" was a very real thing, and that some people really believed that D&D and other RPGs were somehow evil, or gateways to devil-worship, or whatever type of woo.  I saw a bit of it first-hand.  Once, in high school, a very pretty girl who was actually talking to me on a regular basis and who had me crushing on her totally torpedoed the whole thing by warning me not to play D&D because, in her words, if I cast a spell in the game then my spirit was actually casting the spell and thus defying God.  I...still don't get that. 

On another occasion, when a Christian schoolmate was attempting to make a point about D&D's evils, I invited him to examine my 2nd Ed. PHB. He was welcome to show me what he thought was evil about it.  He shrank back away from the book, as though I were holding up a dead rat.  I asked him, "What's the matter?"

His reply:  "I don't want to touch it."


"Because I'm afraid I'd get involved with it."

Man...I knew where my fantasy life ended, but these guys...?  

So, yeah, it was a thing.  I guess it still is.  But I suppose that, because I am an atheist (which, incidentally, is how I was born, in much the same way as I was born a human male), this stuff will never make sense to me.

It's a game; you play it.  It's a hobby; you indulge your fancy through it.  It's an interest; you read about it.  You can say the same for chess, for scrapbooking, for the history of the American Civil War.  Does Christianity have to be compatible with those, too?

I...man. It just-- huh?!

Seriously. I am bamboozled.

1 I will listen to opposite points of view up until it's clear that the speaker or content is a) full of baloney; or b) being pushy. When I get an earful of both, I get cranky.