Sunday, March 31, 2002

Well, I'm back at Stanford even though I don't want to be. I want to be back in LA where there is art and music and love - not that there isn't some art and some music and some love up here - but that's really just it; right now it seems like there's only some of each of those things. But may the day never come when I do what I want rather than what is right. It's right for me to be back at Stanford now, even if I don't want it. And thanks to M'lak and Ish, I have a portable hug stowed next to my little black box, within easy reach for emergencies.

For those of you who are interested - and, touchingly, there seem to be many of you - the break's roleplaying went well. The IG session was very refreshing; it is fun to see The DM alternate so fluidly between the dark humor (kudos to you if you get the inside joke) of IG and the quirky humor of his Phoenix Earth character, the goblin tinkerer with the facile surname, Skiviyt. And it was fun to play Danielle again. It was just good to be back with that group of characters again, and it was fun to kick butt. I hope by now you don't believe that I actually desire combat - but there is a [legitimate, I believe] part of humanity that imaginative fighting satisfies, I think. And face it (or take my word for it), the IG party is cool.

My Phoenix Earth party isn't precisely cool yet, but there are some very colorful and very real characters in there. I was not as pleased by this first session as I was with my last first session; my DMing simply wasn't as slick. But then again, I deliberately handicapped myself in two ways: one, I deliberately avoided using a coercive NPC; two, my "connecting" NPC (Nathaniel Birkenstock) was not mobile like my last one (Karl) was. All in all I'd say it came out pretty well, and after all it was only the first session. The next one should be more fun, assuming I can find a way to get Maelana Trassini (my sister's character) out of Epistano. Once they're out of the city I think I've got them, and then the real fun can begin. And next session I can have a real fight sequence, too, which ought to be fun for all involved.

In addition, we have all decided that we're finally going to have a big sit-down session and explain what the heck was going on with our various games - namely, Phoenix Earth (mine), Atlantis (Ayudaren's), and Terratopia (The DM's). I now feel comfortable giving folks the whole history of Phoenix Earth - though I'll have to sit down with Eliani and probably Archimedes over a meal sometime and figure out the last couple missing parts - and it'll be cool to find out what was really going on in Terratopia, which was a massive game spawning an entire idioculture and spanning like nine years. And we're going to have one last Terratopia session to close out Book VI (of a projected nine). It'll be fun to play Kalaraen Shadrea again. She was the last of my truly stereotypical characters (i.e., the weird girl with strong religious convictions who wants to be a hero), but I love her anyway. And it'll be fun to have another Terratopia-style fight scenes. The combat in everybody's game has a very distinctive tone that says a lot about the game itself: Phoenix Earth is pretty darn realistic; Infernal Gaslamp is fantastic but within the bounds of possibility; Terratopia is utterly impossible, venturing into the realm of anime.

Today after church (Pastor Scott gave a truly superb message) the Pilot asked me if I was dating anybody. I told him no, to which he said good, find them at church and not at school. Based on what I know of the Pilot's personality and background, I'd lay odds that he said that 'cause he's an adult male and felt like he had to. I laughed and told him that if I found a girl worthy of dating up here I'd do it - which holds for church girls too, of course. How I love being home, where I feel confident enough of myself to say things like that - and feel secure enough to treat dating like a voluntary option, an act of will. I love girls, of course, but why should I date one unless she's a match for me? With friends who are unsuitable as girlfriends (for whatever reason, not necessarily bad - Blue Rose is a fair example of such a case) why not just go on dates instead?

I'm currently reading Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, which is refreshing because reading a Robert Heinlein novel is generally a refreshing experience. If you are a Christian reader, however, I think you need to go into Heinlein works with one concept held firmly in the front of your mind: none of his novels take place in this universe. All Heinlein novels are set in an alternate universe, which generally resembles ours a great deal but differs in one important detail: there is no God. There is an implied Prime Cause (for lack of a better term), but that Prime Cause does not have the essential characteristics of God, Jesus, Yahweh, Maleldil, Elrash - whatever you want to call him.

The Heinleinian treatment of sex is a good example of this principle. In Heinlein's books, fornication is generally approved - even strongly encouraged. He doesn't buy - and I don't either - that it is endemic in human nature that extra-marital sex leads to heartache. Granted in our experience it is - all the stuff that people say about the non-physical consequences of sex is true. But only because we have a culture that makes it true, I think. If one had the freedom to bring up a generation of people believing, say, the doctrine espoused in Stranger in a Strange Land, I believe you could get a community of human beings for whom sex was a wonderful, joyful thing to be shared with whomever one wished. And that's a wonderful thing - if there is no God. Put God into the picture and all of a sudden that wonderful, joyful thing becomes wrong in the vast majority of cases.

However, if you can suspend some disbelief and postulate an existence where there is a Prime Cause but no God, and if you are at heart a reactionary conservative like me who longs for the good old days when heroes were heroes and life was better - reading Heinlein is a wonderful visit with people who think straight. And what a wonderful thing that is. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was no jealousy and two willing young people could hook up to smiles and encouragement? Oh yes ... if there was no God.

But of course there is God, and therefore it isn't a wonderful thing at all. And speaking of things that might or might not be wonderful, I'm about to pick up Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye, to be tentatively followed by Boy Meets Girl. My original reasons for picking up the book are obsolete, but I am still curious what the man behind the courtship fad (I don't mean that perjoratively, but I don't hear courtship being preached anymore so I can hardly call it a "trend") has to say for himself. If his theories are sufficiently noteworthy, I may dialogue with them here.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is enough for one night.

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