Monday, September 21, 2015

Cards Against Humanity & Gotham - Choosing Honesty Over Happiness

You can always argue with a Dick, it seems.
I went on a three day jaunt with my gamer buds to Carbondale, IL this weekend and had a good time. Sleeping late, gaming, eating, soaking in a hot tub and eating M&Ms at whim has a way of de-stressing you. Such a fine time, I dared to play the wickedly anti-PC, socially insensitive, howlingly shameless Adult-level game of Cards Against Humanity.

While I did not win the most rounds, I placed very highly. O.K. - I was second. I suspect a modicum of ruthlessness on my part would have had me win in being the most debased human being at the table, and with our crew, that is saying something.

Like drinking heavily in church or running with scissors in a nudist colony, this exists to show just how tragic our choices can be as humans.

In the game, I was given ten cards to play; I would use them to fill in the blank on the Black Card that was a question or statement.

My white cards would say "African children" or "Women's Rights" or "Detroit, Michigan."

The black card would say "Because of [blank], the whole of Western Civilization has gone to pot in the 20th century."

Now, you put one of those cards down as the answer, and in moments, you either get laughter, outrage, or outrageous laughter. The point is, there may be a general consensus amongst wounded and not-so-sober people at two a.m.

That is the genius of this game. You are either acquitted by your words or horrify your listeners - while they are trying to not spit their drink on the table. You become a comedian competing with all the other comedians at the table. So as their answers are read, you get all the jokes fresh [minus yours, of course] as the "Card Czar" [i.e. Dealer] intones each inappropriate, job-firing, NSFW answer and chooses the best.

Since you are among friends, all is good. You might cut loose and let some  bullets fly, knowing all the casings go back into the box at the end.

One card was played similar to this: "I'm so devout, I gave up [blank] for Lent."

I laughed and played a card that said "God."

My crew was shocked. I snickered. "Well, my personal joke as a Bible teacher is 'I gave up Catholicism for Lent.' This'll do."

I think it won. I was pleased.

God Plays His Version of Cards Against Humanity
God must've thought it funny too.

The next day, with the kind and generous Joyce Wagner in tow, she and I visited a church in downtown Carbondale, letting the young men sleep in.

It looked good. It said "Disciples of Christ, a Christian Church" on the sign. I thought we'd scored. Oh, was I wrong.

Their "Sunday school" time consisted of watching a video about how humans need to get control of our genes so we can survive as a species and colonize other worlds after we have used this one up.

It was like listening to spiders quietly discussing where they could find more flies to suck the life out of.

It was encouraging these watchers to accept trans-humanism. A science-based social movement that wants to use science and tech to modify our condition and elevate humanity's abilities so they have no need of faith in God. To accomplish this lofty goal of spreading humanity across the cosmos, we must all "learn to use less and work together more" - not bad ideas in and of themselves - but it refused to accept the problem with humanity is not our flesh but our soul.

According to the Bible, we are separated from God. We must die to live again in a new universe with Christ. Most of all, we need God's Spirit to transform us.

I tried to communicate these things as winsomely as I could, not wanting to be an utterly anti-social visitor to this obviously "friendly" church.

"There's an old saying: God made Man in His image and Man's been trying to return the favor ever since," I said.

Many laughed. "I've never heard that before!"

One older gentleman to my immediate left spoke of us needing to be loving, kinder and having more self-control. He was certainly quoting from Paul's letter:
Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Upon hearing this reference, I said "But those are fruits of the Spirit. You need the Spirit of God to change you." I hoped he or another might affirm this.

Oh no.

"I don't think that," said he.

"Well, don't you believe in God?" I had to ask. I was smelling this for long minutes now, so I went direct.

"No, I don't," he affirmed. "I'm an ex-pastor. There is no God."

With a fierce smile, I put my hand on his shoulder and said, "Well, I'm an ex-atheist [practically] and now I'm a pastor."

Oh, he did not like that.

He tried to tell me to think more, and to admit I was afraid of being wrong. He began talking about epistemology and presuppositions - and I said I knew what he was saying: I grew up reading atheists in sci-fi, and how there is plenty of evidence and reason to accept God.

"In fact, you say 'There is no God.' You cannot know that. You might not believe in Him, but you are a creature in a finite universe. You cannot make that assertion..."

He cut me off with a waved hand and the classic. "Well, that's good for you!" [subtext = shut up] He saw I was perfectly ready to challenge every false assumption he made.

He soon left happily with his smiling, still pretty yet mature wife. He was a man of scholarship, of intelligence, of social standing

- and an apostate.

Seeing that the entire class was on his side, and that this was no place for God's Word, I told my friend: "We. Are. Leaving."

In the car, she sympathized. I kept laughing and shaking my head.

He was happy. I was unhappy. He was certain of man. I was certain of God.

When we got back we told the crew. "Heh. Sounds like what you played last night in Cards Against Humanity, Justice."

"I know!"

Shaking my head, I realized something: God showed me that me being satisfied and happy in this world like that man was would make me want to preserve it beyond His expiration date, which He said would happen in the Bible. Being happy is good, but you can make it outweigh revelation and truth.

You can make being happy your god.

Wonder if he feels "called"? Nahhh--that's batty.
Affirmed by Batman, Of All Things
Tonight, while watching Gotham, I heard a strangely profound maxim from Bruce Wayne's father in a letter to his son. He'd had a hint of his impending death and so wrote a letter to be found by Bruce if he did not return.

After confessing his desire to be a better man, he ends with:
"[My only advice is this:] you can’t have both happiness and the truth. You have to choose. I beg of you, my son, please choose happiness. 
"Unless…unless you feel a calling. A true calling."
Sort of a strange dichotomy, ain't it? Not happiness vs. sadness. More like "fitting in" versus "fighting it."

Men who have callings don't feel happy. They feel possessed. They feel empowered and aimed. They feel fated and so sometimes curse the day they were born.

I have no idea why I was willing to be so vulgar and play this game. I have a suspicion I just wanted to have fun and be happy--and we did that, truly. I relaxed and let my hair down with friends.

Yet the next day, my happiness was thrown under a bus by a church that was not a church. If you are unwilling to hear anything about faith, you can accept they were traitors to the very Founder of their tax-exempt status.

They were meat-eating vegans. They were cigar-selling physicians.

They were happy, though. Lots of smiles.

But it reminded me that there is a war going on. Jesus was being honest when He said "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

He was pointing to the fact that liars and those who merely look good do just fine in this world. Truth tellers? Whistle-blowers? Prophets?

Not so much. Not by a long shot.

When I got home last night, I relayed all this to my landlady Nancy. She had a strange answer. Sort of took me aback. She replied, "'The Lord laughs.'"

It is from Psalm 2:1-4:
1 Why do the nations conspire
    and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
     against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break their chains
     and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
    the Lord scoffs at them.
We live in a house of cards in our temporary universe. Scientists know this.

It would do us well to see the real "Card Czar" and make peace with Him before it becomes a game of 52 Card Pick-Up.

'Cause He laughs too.

"He who laughs last, laughs best."

Amen.

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