Friday, October 21, 2011

The ORIGINAL Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons: Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature FiguresDungeons & Dragons: Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures by Gary Gygax

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this is simply the "granddaddy of all fantasy role-playing games" -- accept no substitutes. I remember my fascination and the wonder of discovery back in the mid-1970s when I was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons (a name not preceded by "Basic" or "Advanced", or followed by an edition number). I can easily admit that my early fascination with this game system has not been matched by any game since. Our group met for adventuring sessions (some of those lasting for hours and hours), and that there were only three character classes and no magic-user spells above 5th level didn't concern us at all. Then the D&D Supplements showed up. More monsters, more weapons, more treasure, more character classes, more, more, more (...and we all demanded "more, more, more" until TSR was short of breath just trying to keep up with our appetite).

Despite all the "bad press" D&D got from the uninformed and misinformed (mostly concerned Christians), the game survived -- and thrived. What was most often misunderstood was that D&D was only a game, not a religion that was proposing to open a gateway to Hell. What the uninformed and misinformed failed to understand was that it wasn't the game itself that was evil -- no more evil than any other stack of paper with printed words. No, the dangers were in how each individual dungeon master (aka "DM") chose to conduct his gaming campaigns and scenarios. What were the lessons taught by these DMs? What were the values and morals that players were learning from the game?

As with so many things in our world, condemnation often comes from those who do not comprehend, those who refuse to do an unbiased study before declaring a game or a movie or a book unfit.

For myself and each member of our small gaming group from long ago, I'm sure the original Dungeons & Dragons game system remains a fond and unequaled memory...

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Writer Beware! & The Agenda of "The Write Agenda"

A war is being waged, but you won't see it on the six o'clock news.

If you've never heard of Writer Beware!, the SFWA site offers a great introduction.

"Some of you may be aware that for the past few months, a group calling itself The Write Agenda has been attempting to wage a disinformation campaign against Writer Beware! and other anti-scam activists..." [source: Robin Hobbs' blogpost, The Agenda of "The Write Agenda".]

Read a little more about Writer Beware! here in a blogpost by Jessica Faust of Bookends.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ

Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back into the Body of ChristZombie Church: Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ by Tyler Edwards

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Don't be a zombie, church! We've all seen them—those churches filled with mindless, murmuring zombies. But wait! Not only have we seen them, but chances are most of us are or have been apathetic, uninspired, uninvolved, uncommitted churchgoers... the living dead. In Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ, Tyler Edwards shows how those countless B-grade zombie flicks mirror the symptoms of the silent, creeping spiritual sickness that infects churches throughout America.

I'm not a fan of vampires, werewolves, or zombies. I admit that this book falls well outside the boundaries of what I normally read. But, I' m fairly confident the author's zombie parallel falls well outside the boundaries of what pastors and church leaders normally write. This fresh perspective and Edwards' spot-on analysis of what ails the church provides for a reading experience that is enjoyable, inspiring, and thought-provoking. With arguments based in logic, observation, and scripture, the author offers his comparisons, and it is inevitable that we, as readers, find ourselves identifying with the examples set forth. As the author leads us through his book, pointing out these zombie-like behaviors and challenging us to open our eyes, it is only natural for our personal thoughts to surface—thoughts which begin in the early chapters with, “Oh, I've seen that guy,” or “Yeah, they never do anything at the church,”—and, as we read on, thoughts which become, “Oh, that's me,” or “I need to make a commitment.”

I've read many books that were better written, but I've seen precious few that contain such a profoundly important message. While many Christian writings become structured, academic diatribes with the aim of "guilting us" into being good Christians, the author's style here remains casual, contemporary, and accessible—it offers us hope that we can be good Christians—a stylistic choice that serves well in this case. That said, if you are only interested in style, grammar, punctuation, and the like, then Zombie Church is probably not the book for you. However, for myself and the rest of humanity, Zombie Church is a fascinating and eye-opening study of the spiritual disease afflicting our church today. Thankfully, the author is not content with diagnosis, though, as he offers the cure.

In Zombie Church, Tyler Edwards outlines what our church is and reminds us what it should be. He explains that many of us have become spiritual zombies, and he gives us the tools needed to recognize and correct our zombie behaviors. He also helps us onto the path toward enriching our hearts, minds, and souls through a relationship with Jesus Christ—which, in turn, is the antidote that can and will restore life and health to our church.

If, after reading Zombie Church, you don't wonder if you're a zombie yourself then perhaps you're no longer one of the living dead, but are truly dead. Read Zombie Church and don't be a zombie, church!

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[Note: I received my copy of Zombie Church from Litfuse in exchange for being part of their blog tour. The tour schedule, purchase link, author bio, and giveaway info below are from Litfuse, as well.]

Blog Tour Schedule:

To purchase the book on Amazon: Zombie Church

About the author of Zombie Church: Tyler Edwards is the lead pastor at Cornerstone Christian Church in Joplin, Missouri, where he works to help people learn how to live like Jesus, love like Jesus, and look like Jesus—so they carry out the mission of Jesus to the world. He graduated from Ozark Christian College with bachelor’s degrees in both Biblical Literature and Christian Ministry. He has written articles for Lookout Magazine, spoken at various campus ministry events in Missouri, and served overseas in Mbale, Uganda. Tyler loves cheesy horror films. He is particularly fond of movies like Dawn of the Dead, The Signal, and 28 Days Later, where zombies run wild and threaten to infect an entire town.

Giveaway: The publisher is giving away a $50 gift card for Amazon to one person through this blog tour.

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about Zombie Church or share about it on Facebook! If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know ( Easy.

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea:

TWEET THIS: Zombie Church by Tyler Edwards - a fair-minded & tenderhearted critique of the church @litfuse RT for $50 to @amazon

FACEBOOK THIS: Don’t miss Edwards - a fair-minded and tenderhearted critique of the church. Written for the discouraged, disenfranchised, and anyone unsatisfied with their same-old church routine, Zombie Church challenges readers to turn away from hollow religious practices, which characterize “zombie Christianity,” and turn toward a radical relationship with Jesus. Share this for a chance at $50 to

Sunday, October 2, 2011

To Be True

 Be sure to give a listen to Jess Hyslop's To Be True (Part 1) over at Cast of Wonders:

(And, if you're able, donate to Cast of Wonders, a site made possible entirely through kind contributions.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Project 60 announced at tHP (only a little bit late)

The Herscher Project – Edition 60
So this elf walks into a bar...
An exercise in humor, satire, and parody

Deadline: August 31st, 2011

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is the correct deadline for Project #60.
However, since I'm waaaaaay off schedule, treat this as your own private invitation to ignore a deadline!

So.... this elf walks into a bar with his two brothers and they all order wine, much to the amusement of the assorted mead and beer swilling ruffians that fill the tavern from front door to hearth fire. Not to be outdone by the rowdy dwarfs at the next table, they begin telling bawdy tales, posing riddles, and belting out lively elven drinking ballads. When finished with the first round of wine, the eldest elf loudly exclaims, “Barkeep! I'll have one of those new Dead Dwarf Floats everyone is raving about!” The puzzled dwarfs trade blank stares amongst themselves, scratch their heads, tug at their beards, shrug, and finally urge one of their group to ask, “Well, now, Mr. High-pockets, just how do you make a Dead Dwarf Float?”

Without skipping a beat, the elf replies, “It's quite simple really... you just lift your boot off his head and let him bob to the surface.”

So, get to it, Herscher Project! Tickle our funny bones!
Here is your opportunity to get serious about not being serious! A chance to explore this phenomenon through your artwork or writing. In Project #60 we ask you to test your creativity in any genre with humor, satire, parody, and other sorts of mirth and silliness. Share with us some original hilarity in the form of poems, short stories, photographs, drawings, or other artwork. If you can’t write, then draw. If you can’t draw, then write. If you are uninspired, then please take time to offer your comments and constructive criticisms of the work of others (when you're finished laughing uncontrollably).

Remember to have FUN with Project #60
(because that's what it's about)!

As always, the theme and spirit of this edition must be apparent in your story, poem, or artwork, regardless of your chosen genre or medium. Remember to assign an original title to your zaniest work and email it to

Jim, Sabrina, & Jamie

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