Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jesus Christ vs. Dungeons and Dragons

When I was growing up, my mother was a new-age hippie type - interested in the whole Erich von Däniken, Edgar Cayce, Ruth Montgomery, Charles Berlitz, Rosicrucian, reincarnation, Atlantis, crystal power, and the space jalopy of the gods kind of thing. Catty-corner to us lived my mother's good friend, who was a bona fide pre-'Wicca' witch, armed with incense burners, beaded curtains between doorways, mood rings, a pointy black hat, a real-live crystal ball, blank horoscope quadrant sheets, and a huge map of Middle Earth displayed prominently in the living room.

I loved that map. 

My grandmother, on the other hand, was an old time, bible thumping, tent revival, fire and brimstone, speaking in tongues, casting out demons, book burning, rattlesnake handling, warrior for Jesus.  Nothing was safe from her cleansing gaze.  She found a OUIJA board hidden under my mother's bed once and burned it.  My mother was 33 years old, married, with two kids at the time.

While I only saw the lady several times a year, this was apparently enough for her to gauge my personality.  My grandmother pronounced me a 'hooligan who would burn for all eternity in hell' at the age of eight.  I do not recall what I did to receive such judgment.  Perhaps my disembodied head appeared to her in a dream spewing fire.  I just don't remember.

Needless to say, Dungeons and Dragons was a huge issue.  If she would ever have found my TSR stash, it would have been up in flames faster than the lady could switch from speaking English to speaking in Tongues.  She knew I played it.  I was a friend of Satan, so obviously, I played it.  I had probably even attained the loathsome rank of 'Dungeon Master' in the cabal, she could just never prove it.

The thing I was interested in that she approved of was Star Wars.  It was obviously the story of Space Jesus versus Space Satan.  That kind of thing was okay.  But the Smurfs - no way.  Evil.  The Smurfs promoted homosexuality, witchcraft, and necrophilia.  It was obvious.

I was rather shocked when I discovered that other people began to agree with my grandmother.  Kids echoing their parents, mainly.

"If we could play Top Secret, that would be okay, but mom doesn't want me playing D&D.  It's a sin."

"My dad says I can't play with you because you play D&D."

"Dinosaur bones are actually whales put together wrong and when you burn D&D dice you can hear the the souls of the damned screaming."

God bless Texas.

So, years later and I'm pulling together a 4e group.  The open call brought in a guy who had the potential of being a tad late to the Saturday evening games because of church.  Well, that was a new one, but it was a good excuse as 'sorry dude, I just flaked' ever was.

Eventually, his ranger multi-classed into a cleric.  I noticed that he never put down a word in the 'Deity' field on his character.  He never did pick D&D deity specific powers like you can in 4e, either. 

It wasn't hard to figure out what deity his character was worshiping, though he never did say.

I really just wanted to hug the guy and tell him that it was perfectly okay for his character to worship Jesus, and if anyone at the table had an issue with it, I'd give them the smack down.  But being a dude, I just watched quietly.  He stealthily went around doing clerical things in the background and no one gave him any shit about it.  I have no idea if anyone really noticed.

It's funny how life works, isn't it?  I'd have let my Grandmother worship Jesus too, if she'd have ever asked.

- Ark


  1. yeah, nice hearing about this kind of stuff. I'm glad I never had to deal with people saying d&d was evil when I was younger. I knew a kid in highschool though, he said the same stuff about dinosaur bones and said that Harry Potter was evil, but he played d20 starwars with some other guys every lunchtime in the middle of the cafeteria.

  2. Great post -- I think you handled the 4e churchgoer situation very well.

    That said, Hail Satan!

  3. Great post.

    Yes God Bless Texas indeed. I grew up with the game in northern Texas myself. I had a friend (who had a secret stash of his D&D stuff tucked into his bed frame. His mom called it "Demons and Dragons".

    The funny thing is that was when we were all moving on from D&D to punk rock, drinking, pot, and girls. What's the Lesser Evil there?

  4. I have never played D&D but I assume it is much more fun than Jesus. lol.

  5. Great post and more than a little frightening. I thank Hawking once again that I live in New York City.

  6. Ah, the entertainment that is my fellow Texans...
    As an interesting point of contrast, my D&D group met at church for our games and most of the members of the group were kids that belonged to the church.

  7. "The Smurfs promoted homosexuality, witchcraft, and necrophilia."

    If only this were true...

  8. I wonder what Jesus' stats would look like if he were in D&DG?

  9. "...when you burn D&D dice you can hear the the souls of the damned screaming."

    Well duh. What did you think they were made of, plastic? As if!

    @Daddy Grognard: ze bulette delivers

  10. Very nice post.

    Jesus Saves... for half damage! :)

  11. My mother's side of the family is made up of Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (or WELS), very conservative, very fundamentalist. It's the same sect that Michele Bachmann belongs to. Anyway, back in the early 80s, my mother's youngest brother spent his first few semesters of higher education at one of those horrible SECULAR universities were he fell into a "Satanic cult," or rather he discovered beer, pot, sex, and AD&D. He apparently flunked out, found JEEEEEZ-us, and transferred to some Lutheran diploma mill north of Chicago. (Today he lives in Western Illinois with his Stepford Wife and half-dozen sheltered, homeschooled brats. I think he manages a print shop.)

    After that, when I started to develop my own interest in fantasy and role-playing, my mother jumped on the D&D-is-Satanism bandwagon using her brother as the poster child. My father, a Catholic, went along just to keep his wife happy. I was forbidden from playing it--although she didn't mind me playing Star Frontiers, Ghostbusters, and Call of Cthulhu (Oh boy, if she only knew what that last one was about!). By the time I was old enough to tell my fundie mom what to do with her Chick Tracts and not get grounded, OD&D was long gone. It's only within the last few years that I have actually played OD&D and AD&D after I was able to track down some materials on eBay.

    On my Top 10 Reasons Why I'm An Atheist, my childhood experiences with D&D and Satanic paranoia is third, right between "No. 2: Religion's denial of science from Copernicus to Darwin." and "No. 4 My father dragging me to Sunday morning Mass when I wanted to stay home and watch Transformers."

  12. Great post! I really liked the bit about "Perhaps my disembodied head appeared to her in a dream spewing fire. I just don't remember." Cracked me up!

    I never had a bad experience with church-goers talking smack about D&D, which is weird because I learned to play the game in Utah back in the early 80s, which as you can imagine was pretty much Pure Concentrated Religious Fundamentalism.

    My friend, though, had an issue with his mom who sounds like a clone of your grandmother. She didn't allow him to play D&D because of all of the hysteria about it being "evil", but for some reason she was completely find with him playing Rolemaster, MERP, Tunnels & Trolls, and Powers & Perils. Odd.

  13. In the small town where I grew up, the VERY Christian owners of the local hobby shop thought Gary Gygax was the devil, and all their AD&D merchandise was prayed over, blessed, and maybe even sprinkled with holy-water (hazy on that detail, but they did something else). I guess it worked, because I am hardly ever menaced by demons. ;-)

  14. @All-a-Ya'll - Wow. Thanks for the great responses. My grandmother wasn't the only relative with the same type of attitude - there were many others. She is just the most fun to talk about. When I say fun - I mean the same kind of fun you get from hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.

    May you be surrounded by people who support your harmless idiosyncrasies. Peace.

    - Ark