Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Poem

I was out of town again this week, during which time a priest friend of mine brought the poet Scott Cairns to my attention. I subsequently found a collection of his poems entitled Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life. He writes poems inspired by the words of history's greatest Christian mystics. The following is inspired by one of my heroes, St. Irenaeus:

Capable Flesh

The tender flesh itself
will be found one day

—quite surprisingly—
to be quite capable of receiving,

and, yes, full
capable of embracing

the searing energies of God.
Go figure. Fear not.

For even at its beginning
the humble clay received

God's art, whereby
one part became the eye,

another the ear, and yet
another this impetuous hand.

Therefore, the flesh
is not excluded

from the wisdom and the power
that now and ever animates

all things. His life-giving
agency is made perfect,

we are told, in weakness—
made perfect in the flesh.

I share this mainly because I find it to be so moving, but it does speak to the way I play RPGs in a round about way. This poem expresses my firm belief that all matter can be used to glorify God and be used in a positive and fulfilling way. Thus, the only way D&D and other RPGs are demonic and evil is if we allow them to be used in that way. I endeavor to give rise to a way of using and thinking about our hobby as an expression of my faith. Secondly, one of the more powerful memes found in this poem and in Irenaeus is the idea that God finds and creates strength in and through weakness. Is it any wonder that I love how the old-school style of play is so comfortable with player skill and character death? We test ourselves with randomness and the weaknesses that are derived from character generation systems that spit out "hopeless" characters. In these weaknesses we find our strengths as players and, personally, I find great pleasure in seeing a "hopeless" character grow strong and ultimately succeed.

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