Saturday, June 9, 2018

Saintly Saturday: St. Cyril of Alexandria Revisited

Today is the feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria. I have been writing this blog long enough that I am having to go back and check if I have already written stuff about various saints. And I have written about St. Cyril before. To quote myself:
Today is the feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria. Born into a Christian family of means, he grew up studying science, philosophy and Holy Scripture. In his youth, he became a monk and was later chosen to be Patriarch of Alexandria in A.D. 412.

St. Cyril looms large in the politics and Christological controversies of the 5th century. For anyone who is interested in history, this is a fascinating chapter in life of the Church. Heresy (most notably Nestorianism), political rivalries, rivalries between bishops, Ecumenical Councils, the Robber Council, violence and exile all swirl around the life of St. Cyril. He was the primary advocate of the orthodox position against Nestorius at the Third Ecumenical Council and though he died in A.D. 444, his theology played a large role at the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in A.D. 451. Ironically, both those who accepted and rejected the Council of Chalcedon hold up St. Cyril as their champion.

There is a very rich history here, both historically and theologically that can be mined for all kinds of things; however, I want to return to St. Cyril because of something that is happening outside our hobby.

I take great interest in apologetics and one of the more interesting Christian apologists on Youtube is a fellow named David Wood. I initially took interest in him because, like me, he comes to Christianity from an atheist background; however, his main interest is Islam. His best friend and roommate in college was Muslim and the two (both being on the debate team) took great interest in trying to convince the other that their religion is incorrect. In the end, David’s friend became a Christian.

Currently, there is a series of videos being released on Wood’s channel called Islamize Me. The series is inspired by the movie Super Size Me where a documentarian decided to see what would happen to his health after eating only fast-food for a month. Wood and some of his friends pretend to become Muslim to see what the effects would be after a month. Given all of the various oddities one can find in Islamic sources, this series comes across as comedy with a sizable dose of biting satire.

Other Christian apologists have been questioning and even condemning Wood’s approach, claiming that Christians just don’t do that sort of thing. To which I respond with this quote from St. Cyril of Alexandria:
This is nothing but foolishness and stupidity, the frenzy of a crazed mind. – On the Unity of Christ
When one bothers to read the apologetic works of the Church Fathers, one will frequently find insults like this one. It is all part of the rhetorical style of their era, when debate was as much entertainment as it was serious and purposeful.

I mention this because for so long we Christians have been told that we have no place in this hobby from both fellow Christians and people within the hobby. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to thumb my nose at this notion, inspired by the likes of St. Cyril.

If a saint can defend the nature of Christ and the Gospel by declaring that the ideas of his theological opponent are the foolish frenzy of a crazed mind, surely I can play RPGs from a Christian point of view and create gaming material that speaks to that world view.

Not surprisingly, I have had a lot of fun along the way, produced more stuff than I ever thought possible and have been able to meet a plethora of good folks out there in the hobby who I’d gladly spend an evening rolling some dice with.

In the end, it goes to show that God gave us everything we have and that with Him is it possible to give Him glory using everything that He gave us, including RPGs, humor, satire and even the odd insult.