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Welcome to my blog

Hello, welcome my new blog. For those who are asking about RaidTracker or ScheduleTrack, I am planning to post these online soon. I’m in the process of moving things from local storage to my site.

So, what is the purpose of this site now?

In time, I will be hosting my creations. But it will also host my musings on specific topics. The topics may vary, but I will be primarily tagged using one or more of these three topics:

  • Christianity. As a born-again believer, I do believe this world needs more love shown from our Lord and Savior towards others. While God gave us a free will to make decisions, including rejecting Him, posts may involve examples on how he is willing to help us for those who wish to accept him.
  • Nature. It is a fact that druids are in tune with nature. There may be an occasional post on nature or photos. This links in the fact that God provided us the natural beauty that we should appreciate.
  • Games. It comes as to no surprise that games like World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, and others include druids in their games. These druids are my favorite characters, not only to shapeshift, but to channel in the nature into their actions. But what constitute a game? Topics on games can vary from board games, role playing games (RPGs) or even sports–most sporting events are called games, after all. Expect a variety of talking on gaming in this blog.

While other topics may come up (transportation comes to mind), don’t expect any politics to come up in posts or replies.

How often will you post?

While the frequency of postings may be fluid, an average of 1 to 2 posts per week should be expected. The idea is that at least one by Wednesday or Thursday will suffice.

One other thing, this website may undergo several different design changes while I am looking to stick to one perfect design. Be patient with me on this process. I look forward to the discussions.

 

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Blowing a knee out

I haven’t blogged much lately: I’ve been working on RaidTracker 4.0/ScheduleTrack 4.0. However, a topic came to me that would be of note. The most popular sport, the NFL, has been mired in controversies. The biggest one is having players take a knee during the National Anthem. The NFL “fixed” this controversy by having players stand on the sidelines or sit in the locker room. Naturally some players are upset, and some are unhappy about the move. However, let’s look at this from another perspective.

First of all, the fact that freedom is being restricted is nonsense. The players do not have to choose to be professional football players. From the fan point of view, this is also not restrictive for two reasons. The first is that no one forced the fan to buy the ticket. One can watch the game on TV without any qualms. The second is that at every sporting event I’ve been to, apart from some recreational games, everyone is asked to stand for the national anthem. However, those with disabilities who do not stand are viewed as exceptions (as has been those with disabilities under the ADA). Those who are not Americans choose not to stand and/or place their hand on the heart, and get little objections. Then there are other sports who have teams and play in different countries (Yeah, Canada, I’m looking at you.) This includes standing when “O Canada” or other country national anthems are played. There are players who don’t even have American citizenship, yet they stand for our national anthem when played. If you want respect for the country, please learn to show it yourself. Freedoms here as in free speech (not in free beer) means that one has to accept the consequences for being a jerk.

Secondly, the knee was meant to protest against the racism exerted against certain police departments. In an ideal world, the dreams of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. about equality would be a reality. However, even today, there are people who let ignorance rule about feelings toward who’s right. That does not make it right to show disrespect toward the country on a national stage.  There are various ways to protest: one can boycott the offender, such as choosing to donate money to other organizations instead of the affected police departments. Another way is to picket in front of an organization like a peaceful demonstration. I never promote violence as an option. But what about Rosa Parks and the bus? Well, even the bus company even knew the ordinances and broke them with that context. That was also a protest, called a sit-in, which was common in an earlier time. It had more of an effect to rule out injustices with a current system that taking a knee on a national anthem could not do.

In short, while anyone can go ahead and issue a knee, or burn the flag, don’t cry about the consequences. There are far better alternatives to dealing with issues than acting like a baby and knee. There are people in other countries that would love to have the freedom Americans have in voicing their displeasure. There is a difference between respect, and unprofessionalism, and this is where one needs to protest in the right manner.

Why role playing can be good for Christians

It is no surprise that people want to find a “source” to link to the violence. For example, guns are often linked to shootings. Islam is often linked to the terror events of September 11, 2001, and to other mass bombings. Even in the 1980s, Dungeons & Dragons was linked to be the source of Satanic rituals and suicides (Riggs, 2016). However, there is usually more to the story than people would like to claim.

As I am an active gamer who has played pen-and-paper RPGs, and now is a GM, I disagree that RPGs are the works of the devil. I am also a Christian, so some people might not understand how this does not interfere with my beliefs. To demonstrate this, here is a little test. If you, as the reader, are choosing between a good alignment, a neutral alignment, or an evil alignment to play, which would you choose? If the evil alignment came up, congratulations: you are of the minority. If you were in a party with 2-4 other gamers, the evil alignment would be less likely to be chosen. This may be that on the whole, there is a stereotype that an evil character cannot play well with others. When ranking the 9 D&D alignments, the neutral and good alignments do appear on the top of the list (Bricken, 2012). Indeed, even D&D and d20 systems that use the alignment rules declare why good and neutral classes are the best to play, and why the evil ones are the most dangerous to play (Hypertext d20 SRD, n.d.) This does not help level the playing ground on all alignments.

So why are RPGs signed as a source of evil? This is because of a simple problem of pointing blame. This can be seen as early as Genesis 3. One chapter earlier in Genesis 2:16, God gives man (Adam) the free will to eat whatever he likes (Bible.com, n.d). There was one tree that was forbidden, and both Adam & Eve pointed blame to another target. I had a few personal experiences where I knew a woman let an affair in a RPG session game trickle into their real-life, and ruined their relationships. Various excuses were given why adultery was acceptable. However, the problem was that she found it acceptable, against her conscious, to have sex with another. The hijackers on the September 2001 attacks let their hatred of the USA dominate their lives that they planned drastic actions to down 3 planes with innocent bystanders for their gain, not realizing that it would have no real impact on their mission to ruin the country. Shooters who attack in a Walmart or a cinema seek personal fame, but do not manage to take down the corporation they choose to attack. Others, who may or may not have a direct connection to the incidents of violence, choose to look for a target of blame, just like Adam and Eve. The fruit, or the D&D book may be near the scene, but it did not call out to break the law.

How can we, as Christians, embrace RPG in a positive light? First of all, as a GM, I do believe in awarding experience points based on how well one plays their character. This includes their alignment roles. As many players tend to play in a positive or neutral alignment, as opposed to an evil alignment, this helps to enforce the ideas of cooperation, and problem solving that does not always involve hacking other character’s lives. They can also look toward the GM to provide some assistance. Jesus can be illustrated as a great GM in passages such as Luke 8, where he provides some questions before telling a story. A GM is essentially telling a story, and letting other characters fill in the details. A good RPG session involves everyone ending happy. In addition, when problem solving is applied with a good GM, it opens avenues to possibly non-violent means of accomplishing goals. If one is playing an evil character, it may reveal how increasingly tough it is to maintain an evil character, and how to convert it to the positive. Similarly, it may be possible to turn enemies into best friends in real life without gunshots and a six-foot trench with a headstone. These lessons can be easily applied to real life. These are lessons that Jesus tried to illustrate, being the perfect man for the job. The game is not evil; we are the ones who have the will to make it evil or not.

 

Lost in translation

My first real topic for this blog will talk about translations, such as different Bible translations. One can look up on Bible translations on Wikipedia and find there are numerous translations–over 30 have been released this millenium. Then there is the popular 1611 “Authorized King James Version” often abbreviated as KJV or AV. (As I was trying to research this fact, this is not to be confused with the AKJV or the American King James Version, released in 1999 [1].) But why do we have so many translations in English? Instead of using the usual debate over languages, it helps to have a personal experience.

I spent over six years abroad in Sweden. Before anyone asks if I like it, I can say that it was an experience. Once I moved over there, I was placed in the state school program to learn Swedish. It is a total immersion of language: similar to how a kid learns English, one has to learn by using the language alone. While most immigrants in that class struggled, the two Americans (including me) and one from eastern Asia graduated in half the time. Yet there were some interesting tidbits about the Swedish language. While it is part of the same family as English, it had more ties to languages like French in that all nouns required a gender. So, an apple (äpple) is a female, while a newspaper (tidning) is masculine. In addition, there are three different words for “think”, based on whether you are physically thinking (att tänka), feel (att tycka), or believe (att tro)–all of these are in the infinitive “to think” form. To add to the confusion, if someone says “jag tycker om dig”, please look around to see if Cupid is nearby. In addition, there are some words in Swedish that stolen from other languages, such as English, like TV and music. However, they have two major bible versions: the original Gustav Vasa bible from 1534 and updated periodically, and then the Bibel 2000, which is a rewrite to modern Swedish language changes [2]. Like English, Swedish has changed over the years, and is probably the most progressive of the languages in the Nordic region.

While I am searching for a new church in southeast Colorado, I have noticed different churches using different versions. One church use the KJV, another church use the NIV (New International Version), and I’ve seen another use the New Living Translation (NLT). I’m using primarily KJV and NKJV when possible. I ran into a conflict on Sunday over Ephesians 5:8 in which I had to do a double take in a paper book bible to confirm this. The KJV states: “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” The red word “sometimes” is my highlight to try to understand why this word was used. Other versions have used “formerly” or a word referring to the past, while the NLT (as linked) rephrased it to say “were full of”. In a day when contracts and formal documents declare word meaning such as “SHALL and MUST are things that are required”, the word sometimes is currently used to show option where it may happen or it may not. It could also be to designate “at some time”, which would make more sense with this content. As the English language develops, incidents like this would make the KJV relevant to the dustbin

Just like the “think, think, think” dilemma in Swedish, there are some words and phrases that cannot be translated literally. Some phrases like “att tycka om” would translate completely different than the individual words would. While there may be some printing issues on the translations, it is also worth noting that the KJV is not completely the same as it was first released in 1611. In addition, the language, while is functionally the same as it was in KJV release days. While I do use the KJV to  read from, I do know there are some modern versions that have adapted to the current language for that reason [3]. This does mean that NLT is not as accurate due to its reversal: the same Ephesians 5:8 changed it from are children of light to have light. When a bible verse doesn’t change the meaning, the translation shouldn’t matter much.