Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to H.P. Lovecraft

James over at Grognardia reminded me that today is H.P. Lovecraft's birthday. If you couldn't already tell by the quote over on the right side of this page and the use of Lovecraftian images and quotes in my adventures and worlds, I am a big Lovecraft fan. Much as he has influenced science fiction and fantasy through the quiet background noise of the desolation he depicted in his writings, he has influenced the way I game. Chaos and evil have always passively or explicitly used Lovecraftian imagery in my worlds.

The irony is that I have a much deeper appreciation for Lovecraft and his world-view (with its belief that humanity and their works are, in the great scheme of things, insignificant) now, as a Christian, than I ever did when I first read his work and fell in love with it. The reason is simple: I agree with HPL and he illustrates it in a way that makes the reality of it truly horrifying.

I beseech you, my child, to look at heaven and earth and see everything in them, and know that God made them out of nothing; so also He made the race of man in this way. — 2 Maccabees 7:28

The grand sum total of everything humanity has ever done or will ever do sans God is nothing. I was personally confronted with this reality while wandering around Castle Siklos in southern Hungary on an overcast October day during the Yugoslavian Civil War. Just south of me, the Croatian stronghold of Osijek was under siege by Serbian forces. I felt the shock wave of each artillery shell rip through my gut and shatter my heart. In a world without God, all that remains is the endless struggle for power, at the of which is that black nothingness of a forgotten death. The typical response of an HPL character to such a reality — mind crushing despair — actually seems reasonable. Any one who actually has the fortitude to stand up in the face of this chaos truly is a hero.

Into this mess— this bleak, meaningless exercise in futility — came a babe who 33 years later would boldly march to Golgotha with a cross on His back. Willingly, He embraced the nothingness that is death. In so doing, He brought life, light and hope to those in darkness. He went to the very depths of where evil lay, looked the devil in the eye and said not here, not today. He snatched our very being from the jaws of absolute nothing and took us back with Him as a highly-valued treasure and presented us to His Father.

This is why I love the metaphor of delving into the depths of a megadungeon to face off against some vile spawn of chaos to steal away treasures to further the fight against forces of evil. This is why I love HPL so much. His imagery truly captures the utter terror and mind-dumbing despair of a world without God. Standing up to that horror and surviving to fight another day — that's a perfect expression of the hope I have in Christ.

Happy Birthday HPL.

1 comment:

THOMAS said...

Just found this blog post. Like what you said. I wrote a FRPG called Dangerous Journeys in 2009 which uses identical ideas in its philosophy of "Dungeon."

Very cool to find another Christian who sees things similarly.