Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Chapter and Verse

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Evangelist by Jeremy JarvisThis is not the first time I have spun theological insight from a game of Dungeons and Dragons.

I play at the seminary now. And I’m struck by the ardent literalism of the players when it comes to the rulebook.

You see, we are serious academics here in the Masters education program. We do not presume to know the meaning on any text until It’s been deconstructed and reconstructed in at least 3 marginal contexts. We know well about the death of the author and the idle, unjustifiable presumption that meaning is a thing which can be found within a text as opposed to within a reader as a result of the reader’s culture and background.

We look at the Bible this way. We look at other theologians. We look for variant readings, alternative interpretations and radical redefinitions of everything we possibly can. And then we quickly and unabashedly take what we like and condemn the rest as systemic distortion. We call this process “reading”

Mykal-1That is until we sit down to play D&D at which point the author springs back to life along with the meaning and confident search for a true interpretation of the text. Everyone is a literalist in D&D, because nobody wants the paladin to go rogue and infinitely heal himself on the flimsy justification that he is singing a resting song while laying hands on his own shoulder because he took one level of bard. that “radical redefinition” is not allowed. it’s OP.

I get such glee out of seeing my friends, Christian ministers who I see all day roll their eyes at prooftexting in the word of God, only to cite chapter and verse of the 5e Players handbook about why a halfling can totally use a lance without a penalty (they are light weapons)

So what’s the takeaway? Does that mean there is more to literalist theology than meets the eye? That there is hypocrisy inherent in reading the Bible differently from everything else? Or does it just mean that the fundys should stop reading the Bible like it’s a board game handbook?

I have no strong argument in either direction, I just found in interesting.


Written by RyanGaffney

June 11, 2015 at 12:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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