Saturday, July 23, 2005

Still Looking for the Wargame

I'm still looking for good wargame rules. Here are some notes I've taken:

"Fast-playing, realistic rules," means "Stephen Hawking can calculate all the variables required for each turn's two-hundred and nineteen steps."

"Ease of play" means "the level of attention required runs the gamut from "air traffic controller" to "plotting mission trajectories for NASA."

"Beer and pretzels" means that "you're going to home-brew each beer served, hand-make each beer stein in your own kiln, and farm, harvest, and mill the wheat you'll use to individually bake each freaking pretzel."

"Can be played in an afternoon" means that the game originated on a planet with a ninety-six hour rotation.

Signs of a ridiculous wargame:
-- There are rules for wind effects on bullet trajectories.

-- An event card says, "Your quartermaster has run out of shoelaces."

-- It makes a difference if your soldiers are "charging," "advancing," "moving," or "torpid."

-- People are arguing about whether the game is "historically accurate."

-- The phrase "1d12" appears on the same page as "1d20," "3d6" and "2d85"

-- The word "fanatic" is associated with the game at any time in any place.

-- You have to know which units are carrying what kind of radios.

-- You roll a die to determine your' country's production of "light crude."

-- You put one marker on a tank to indicate if it's top hatch is open, another marker to show whether the driver's hatch is open . . . . .

-- If you'd had all these templates and measuring sticks 3,500 years ago, Pharaoh would have made you his chief builder.

-- The rule book is over 75 pages long and still has appendices.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Dominicans Playing Brilliant Ping-Pong Love

I found this link on the ever-enlightening Disputations blog which points to a great quote from Fr. Walter Farrell, O.P. on the wonderful Moniales blog -- then, in the same quote, Moniales refers right back to Disputations for the post which began it all. It's like Dueling Banjos - dizzying and fun at the same time.

Anyhow, before I started getting dizzy, I read the quote from Fr. Farrell's writings. Fr. Farrell is a brilliant interpreter of the Summa, by which I mean to say he makes it fun, fascinating, and capable of being grasped pretty easily. I kid you not. I'd binked and bonked around the Summa for years, and then by reading Fr. Farrell's Companion realized . . . that God actually wants me to be happy.

Now why, exactly, God allows people like me, who go about living as though He doesn't want them to be happy, to exist is (somewhat) another subject. The point is that if you're one of us, if you admire the Summa -- either in an abstract "will-have-to-go-there-someday" maner as one might admire the Taj Mahal or Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, or in a confused "gee-I-know-the-Summa-but-don't-think-God-wants-me-to-be-happy" way -- you ought to read Fr. Farrell's Commentary. You can find it online here. Or, if you want an even shorter version, pick up My Way of Life, which is a kind of prose-poem Fr. Farrell helped write about the Thomist view of the universe. You can buy it from EWTN for eight bucks here. The Thomist view of the universe is stirring, awesome, and above all, truly passionate.

Anyhow -- that's my second anyhow, so I'm still dizzy from the ping-pong -- here's the quote from Fr. Farrell:
"Let God tend to the hopeless-looking things. You are a Dominican, a foreigner to worry and quite a close friend of gaiety...It seems to me quite entrancing to be able to pile into bed realizing there is someone as big as God to do all the worrying that has to be done. Worry, you know, is a kind of reverence given to a situation because of its magnitude; how small it must be through God's eyes...You can't get everything done in a day, nor can you get any part of it done as well as it could be, or even as well as you'd like it; so, like the rest of us, you putter at your job with a normal amount of energy, for a reasonable length of time, and go to bed with the humilating yet exhilarating knowlege that you are only a child of God and not God Himself."
What an astonishing depiction of God's mercy!

"Worry . . . is a kind of reverence given to a situation because of its magnitude." By commanding that we follow Jesus Christ and free ourselves from all idolatry God has set us free from worshiping our worries. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Worries are a kind of creature, inasmuch as creatures generate them about created things (even our relationship with God is a created thing, it seems to me, since God made us and thus made our relationship to Him). It's therefore possible to exalt a "worry creature" over the Creator, and give it the reverence due to God alone. I'm thinking about all the worries that plague us and how much disaster they have caused. They run the gamut, from smelly worries ("Is my car expensive enough to impress my friends" to nobler-sounding (but equally smelly) worries on much larger matters ("We'd better conquer them before they conquer us"). There comes a point when people stop trusting God, making their worries into new gods. Why do people do this?

Probably because they don't really believe, deep down, that God wants them to be happy and will make them happy.

Thanks, Fr. Farrell.

Thanks, all you holy Dominicans. Pray for us.