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Saturday, April 06, 2002

Spiritual Dungeons-There's a growing list of "What ____ are you?" quizzes floating around the Web. Dodge took me back to my undergrad RPG days with a "What D&D character are you?" quiz. Despite becoming a Christian since then, the quiz pegged my gaming habits dead on, having me as a Neutral (between Lawful and Chaotic) Good Half-Elf Ranger. I always tried to run NG characters, and would often go with a Ranger if I rolled specs that would support a Ranger. The funny thing, looking back at that time, is that my dealing with other humans didn't change that much after coming to the Lord; it was my dealing with God that changed. I tried to be helpful to others, being a generic theist at the time and having a vague idea that God wanted good, loving behavior out of me. As an undergrad, I envied the fellowship in the church groups, but I had a sense of honesty that didn't feel conformable going to a Christian group when I didn't believe myself. However, my "old-school" morals from a Methodist upbringing made it hard to hang out with the watering hole crowd. The gaming crowd was filled with a lot of those intelligent misfits that aren't barflies or Bible studiers. However, I didn't know Him and had a void in my soul that gaming or booze or entertainment couldn't fill. It took my Dad's conversion when I was 23 to be exposed to a hands-on God that died for me; that He's perfect, I'm most definitely not, and that Jesus died to bridge that gap. God filled a large part of that void and, as corny as it sounds, Eileen's filled the remainder of that void. Gaming's a weakness of mine; it can be enjoyable, but the emphasis on magic and the demonic can draw many people astray. This isn't just uninformed ramblings of some fundi preacher; gaming introduced my friend Dave to a polytheistic world, turning the Presbyterian kid into a true pagan before he died. I remember having a conversation with him while we were sharing an apartment in San Antonio just after my father got saved. He was starting to get seriously into polytheism, working up sacrifices and incantations to some old Sumarian (if memory serves) deity. While the power he seemed to get from this was tempting, the nasty nature of these deities didn't seem to make them someone I wanted to worship. The thing that save me from going that route was what was happening to my dad back in Michigan. He had gone from being an aloof agnostic to a tongue-talking Pentecostal while I was in Texas, and was reporting the miracles that were happening at the charismatic prayer meetings and Full Gospel Businessmen meetings. One of Dave's rationales for going the pagan route was that Christianity no longer had the power it had in Acts. While I wasn't a believer yet, I was able to say that, based on what my dad was seeing, that the power is still there in some circles. That witness may have been the lifeline that kept me from playing with the occult myself. Focusing on the present world rather than a fantasy world is hard, as games can give you a new persona that isn't tied to our past mistakes and our shortcomings. In those worlds, we can be more powerful and do things we wouldn't or couldn't do in real life. There's probably a big gaming quotient in blogdom, as I think this medium would tend to draw a lot of those intelligent misfits. A good Sunday School class or Bible study group can give you the fellowship and intellectual stimulation that you get in a gaming group while drawing closer to God in the process. I was unwilling to try it as an undergrad, feeling that my lack of faith would make me a misfit. Most groups are happy to deal with seekers, answering questions about what God and Jesus are all about. If you recognize that void but don't feel quite right about going to a church, give it an extra oomph and try it. Find a good evangelical church and get hooked up with a group that can give you a circle of friends to get you through the rough spots. If you're a college student, check out the InterVarsity, Navigators, Chi Alpha, Campus Crusade or other on-campus groups. You don't have to check your intellect at the door and people will understand that you are still learning.

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