Saturday, May 22, 2010

Some Food for Thought

On Thursday, I posted some thoughts on 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.' While most folks reacted to my comparison of Mohammed to Christ, I did try to make a subtle point about the OSR. Based on those very same reactions, it appears to have been largely missed.

One of the reasons I love this hobby has nothing to do with the games we play. I play because of the people at the table, or, in the case of our little corner of the internet, the people behind the blogs. Although we are quite a diverse bunch who tend to like to argue a lot and can occasionally get rather snarky, I largely find that people who populate the OSR to be very decent human beings — despite our great diversity of opinions, backgrounds, interests, etc. In some ways (regardless of whether we espouse to be or not) we behave in a rather Christian-like manner. We freely give away much of our hard work and help support each other by buying what we do have to sell — even when we can get some of it for free. When one of us asks for help, it is almost certain someone will answer the call.

Thus, when one of us writes about the games we play, we generally don't expect someone to tell us that what we have written should not even be said. For example, "You like the Thief class? You shouldn't say such things in polite society!" is not something I expect to see (outside of an poor attempt at sarcasm).

Yet, whenever I venture into theology, apologetics or some other challenging aspect of religion, I am routinely criticized for doing so. Rather than wrestling with what I've said, I'm criticized for the act of saying it. Essentially: Gasp! How dare you speak of such things!

Mind you, I take no offense. As I've said from the very beginning of this blog I am very aware the worlds of Christian Theology and RPGs are definitely not seen as compatible by a good chunk of people out there. My hope has always been to reduce that number and to explore just how creative both Christian Theology and RPGs can be.

However, Thursday got me to thinking about this apparent disconnect between on the one hand the way the OSR is able to so deftly handle the great diversity that exists out here when it comes to RPGs and on the other hand the way it can try to shut down things outside of RPGs (note that even Jeff, who was largely trying to stay away from religion and politics, got directly and passively criticized for bringing up 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' in the first place). Now, maybe I'm not deeply involved enough in the OSR to see this kind of thing more often, but it still makes me wonder.


  1. To be fair, I think many people are simply tired of all the pointless arguing and sniping that happens on game blogs as it is. By including posts about real world matters of import, it creates an even larger venue for that kind of thing. So, they don't want to see it and would prefer that gaming sites just stayed "on topic."

    I generally avoid making posts about politics or religion in a direct way. The few occasions when I have, mostly around the time of great feasts of the Church, have sometimes been met with the kind of criticism and hostility you describe. So, I share some of your frustration about this.

    At the same time, I also understand those who'd prefer not to get their chocolate in their peanut butter, so to speak, and prefer game blogs to remain "pure." Mixing real world and game-related commentary in a single place is difficult to do effectively and, even if you do, it's almost certain to be met with dislike by more than a couple of people. That just seems to be the way of the Net.

  2. Huh...personally I think it's weird that people would complain about anything that appears on a blog. It's a personal method of creative expression. The best ones have over-riding themes (and the ones that are too scattered don't seem to attract as many readers), but I have no issues with folks diverging into other areas. Probably because I do so myself often enough.
    ; )

  3. James,

    Thanks for your thoughts. What you describe makes sense, but does not diminish the irony. The Net is humankind's greatest vehicle for freedom of expression ever. Yet, people are routinely using it to try and deny other people of that very freedom.