GaryCon II and Old School Gaming

Well, my buddy Redd and I have driven up to Illinois to visit with my friend Jolly Blackburn and his wife Barb of Knights of the Dinner Table fame before heading over to GaryCon in Lake Geneva, WI. GaryCon starts on Friday and is going to be three days of Old School Gaming in honor of the late co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, E. Gary Gygax. The convention is put on by his family and is a wonderful way to honor the memory of someone who helped create a game that many of us still love to play. There is also going to be an auction run by the amazing Frank Mentzer to help raise money to build a memorial to Gary Gygax.

So, you may ask, what does this have to do about geekiness and spirituality? Well, I had the honor of meeting Gary the year before he died when he was on a panel at GenCon on Christianity and Gaming. It was wonderful to realize that this man who had a profound effect on my life was also a person with a deep rooted and abiding faith in Jesus. He once told me that he was simply “trusting Jesus” and I think that’s the best any of us can do in this life…..simply trust Jesus. It’s a great place to start and an exciting place to end up!

Over the past few days, I’ve been reflecting on my own spiritual journey. It’s been quite an interesting one for a person who did not grow up in a family that emphasized any type of regular church attendance and considered spirituality to be something we just discussed half-heartedly. As a geek, I often felt like an outcast so I did a lot of reading and I find it amazing that many of the authors I enjoyed were people of faith. I did not realize people like CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and, yes, Gary Gygax are people whose lives had been affected by their faith journey. So, as I’ve thought on these matters, I realize that God used all of these people (and many others I won’t mention right now) to guide me on this journey even though I did not know it!

You see, many people affect you in this life and they have an influence on what you think, believe and feel even when you least expect it. As a young and often lonely geek, I found solace in books written by these people and felt a connection to a wider community. Gaming books, especially Dragon Magazine, helped me realize there was (and still is) a large community of gamers out there of which I could be a part. As a kid, that wasn’t always possible. I sometimes felt disconnected from my local gaming scene but I knew there was a community out there of which I could be a part of even though it wasn’t until I became an adult that I began to actually visit other gamers and become an active participant in that community.

The church should (and often is) the same way. There are many Christians living life who feel lonely and apart from other believers and the people around them. They go to a local church and might not feel that connection to the larger community of faith but, hopefully, the pick up their Bible or a Christian writer’s latest book and begin to feel that larger connection to a community of believers. The book of Hebrews refers to this as a “cloud of witnesses” and theologically it is often referred to as the universal church but we can never forget the need to somehow search and seek out those other people of faith that help complete us and make us feel a part of a community. This is what I’ve done in both my gaming and faith journeys but, to be honest, it’s never been easy. Often I’ve had to travel all over the country just to meet up with other gamers to feel a part of that physical community and I’ve also had that experience in church.

In the end, you’re probably asking yourself what this crazy geekpreacher means in all this rambling. Simple. I don’t care how hard it is or how difficult it seems find a way to plug yourself into your community of faith. You may have to travel or you may find it right around the corner from your house but, in the long run, like a good game of D&D it is definitely worth finding because The Game Must Go On!

Thanks, Gary, I look forward to hanging out with you in the resurrection.

God’s Best Always and in All Ways,


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