“Myst IV: Revelation”

"Myst IV: Revelation" — Kimia Wood I fell in love with the Myst games a long time ago. The photo-realistic worlds and the tantalizing hints of deeper things always left me wanting more.

Until now. Myst IV: Revelation has…finished Myst for me. It is concluded…I am satisfied. And for once, I don’t need to weep at the parting. (Well, maybe just a little.)

The World

The central premise of Myst is that a civilization called the D’ni could create worlds by writing books, and then visit those worlds physically by linking through the books. (A person must bring a return Linking Book with him when he goes exploring, and any book you link through doesn’t come with you – it stays in the first world.)

From a first-person perspective, we point and click our way through these “Ages” to unlock doors, uncover passwords, power machines, and solve puzzles. And, of course, soak in breath-taking landscapes, vistas, and architecture."Myst IV: Revelation" — Kimia Wood

Whatever else I can say, the world is still incredible. Hydraulic locks, levers and buttons, rotating bridges and elevators…it’s like an engineer’s playground. These real-world mechanics mix, of course, with magic crystals, strange animals, bizarre cultures, and the Age-writing Art of the D’ni.

The Progress of Technology

Myst was released in the dark ages of computing, when graphics cards were limited, the in-game animations were tiny and limited, and the curser was a 2D hand (that changed shape for different interactions).

Revelation seeks to take full advantage of the progress of computer technology, and offers a 360º, 3D-rendered environment to explore.

This means that the world around you doesn’t always look as photo-realistic as it did in Myst, or Riven. The camera also has a tendency to focus in on the foreground, or the background, depending on where your cursor is. I think this is to mimic the variable focus of the human eye, but it’s distracting.

As for the cursor, it’s a 3D, CGI hand. It waves vaguely wherever you point it; extends the fingers to indicate a direction you can move; whips out a magnifying glass if something can be examined more closely; and stretches the fingers subtly if you can unroll a map, pull a lever, or other similar action. This final characteristic can be easy to miss, and if it’s not obvious something is there to manipulate, you can easily miss some interactions.

Atrus’s Family

If you haven’t yet played Myst or Riven, SPOILER ALERT! (Also, go do that.)

Way back in Myst, we met two characters trapped in books that they had thought were Ages: Sirrus and Achenar. Their dad is Atrus, and he is a descendent of the fallen D’ni civilization and a writer of Ages.

If you played through Myst, explored the Ages that link from it, solved Atrus’ pretty un-secure password manager, and uncovered the truth about what happened…you’ll know that Sirrus and Achenar trapped their father without a Linking Book home, distracted their mother, burned most of Atrus’ library of Books, and used the special Books he had warned them never to touch.

Blam! The books trapped them. And once you free Atrus, he burns those books to keep them from ever escaping.

Until now.

Revelation!

Fast forward twenty years. Atrus invites you (his nameless, faceless, gender-less “friend”) to his new home, where he is attempting to spy on the Prison Ages and decide if his sons have repented of murdering the inhabitants of the Ages and are ready to be released.

Yes…we can see this ending well, eh?

"Myst IV: Revelation" — Kimia Wood

Image from Pixabay

Turns out, he and his wife have already written visiting capsules into the Prison Ages. That way, they can link into the capsule, have a visit through bars, and link away – leaving the Linking Book for their own home out of the reach of the prisoners.

The prisoners can’t possibly escape! Why would you worry about that? Atrus only built complex machinery and houses and scientific equipment by hand in his various Ages…what makes you think his sons could do the same thing from scratch?

Yeesha

Did I mention? Atrus also has a ten-year-old daughter now.

Maybe it’s her dialogue, or maybe it’s the delivery of the actress, but Yeesha is clearly supposed to capture our sympathies and feel like a dear friend (even though we’ve actually only just met). Y’know, one of those annoyingly perfect child-characters.

Especially as the “mysterious circumstances” start piling up, you really start to feel that Atrus is a clueless dupe who should have stuck to books, and not attempted children.

Puzzles

I should say something about the puzzles.

We have our classic Myst fare here, with locked doors; passwords in journals; machines that need power; etc.

It made me wonder if Atrus has a constellation-based color-combination lock on the bathroom…and then I realized that his house has no bathroom.

Also contains one or two pixel-hunts, although that might be due to the mechanics of the cursor-hand (see above).

Messin’ with Memory

Added to those familiar hurdles is a new mechanic. Yeesha has a magic necklace that shows memories."Myst IV: Revelation" — Kimia Wood

This, along with the journals that every member of Atrus’ family conveniently keeps, lets you piece together the motives of the various actors, solve some of the puzzles, and generally be the worst thing to happen to Sirrus and Achenar!

M’whahaha! If you wanted to forge an evil plot, you shouldn’t have invited the Stranger-from-the-Starry-Void!

Seriously, though, this mechanic gives you hints for solving the puzzles, plus valuable information at unraveling the sinister plot being woven.

Who is plotting what? Who is evil? And who should I trust?

Being able to view people’s secret memories is very handy for that…

A note on story tension

My family mocked me for this, but I’ll bring it up anyway.

Whenever you linked to new Age in Myst, you had to solve the Age’s puzzles and get things working again to unlock the Linking Book and return to Myst.

In Riven and Exile, you plunged into an unknown world without a ticket out, and had to solve your way forward to find any way to escape. (And in Riven especially, Atrus’ wife’s fate hangs on your success.)

In Revelation…your first task is to “oh, get the power back on, will you?” Your second task is, “Feel free to check out my Linking Books if you like…oh, and make sure Yeesha does her homework.” Ha ha.

Beyond that, though, every single place you visit has a Linking Book back to Atrus’ home right there at the beginning. You don’t need to venture into predator-infested jungles, or brave bottomless shafts in wind-swept fortresses…you can say, “Forget this,” and hop back home.

Obviously, I bought this game in order to play through the puzzles, and feel smart, and uncover the story through journals and clues. And my family helpfully pointed out that this gives the game a less linear structure. You can solve this Age, or that Age, or stay and futz around the first Age…or jump to this new Age…

Solve puzzles in whatever order you want. Travel when and where you want. Stop and go back to a place you especially liked if you really want.

True, this gives the player much more freedom in how they play and the order they play puzzles in (and the sequence in which they unravel the story).

However, it also saps some of the urgency from the story. You are not trapped, and hunting for an escape. Later on, you’re kind of searching for Yeesha, and trying to uncover what happened…but it’s not like there’s a rush. There’s plenty of time to ransack the Ages for anything marked PRIVATE DIARY. And, well, there’s not the same level of narrative tension.

(Perhaps if I hadn’t thought Yeesha was an annoying Mary Sue who was also try to kill me via collapsing bridge, I would have felt more invested in the rescue mission. But again, when I could back out at any time and return to Atrus’ house… “Hey, I’ll make some tea or whatever your culture drinks…Hope it all works out, Atrus! Maybe you should spend more time supervising your children than leaving them in the care of your ‘friend’ and dashing off for machine parts.”)

Serenia…or, the 1960s New Age-y Age

Revelation gives you four Ages to explore. The final one is Serenia.

"Myst IV: Revelation" — Kimia Wood

As if the rest of it wasn’t weird enough…

The outside of Serenia is beautiful — full of twisty, hard-to-map paths; flowing, conjoining streams of water; butterflies that look like organza pixies; and trees that release dandelion-poofs on the wind.

The inhabitants’ culture is based around giant mushrooms that store people’s memories when they die, so their loved ones can travel to a mental space called “Dream” and “visit” the dead ancestors again.

(As one of the female tenders of the mushroom says: if you don’t heal the “Memory Chamber”, “we may never be able to visit our loved ones again!” I bleed for you says the gal from a world where people stay dead…and we don’t have memory spheres to help hallucinate a spirit visit.)

Back to the culture, the “Protectors” have somehow seen your arrival prophesied (y’know, you – the protagonist) and help you find a spirit guide (from the air, fire, or water spirits that play in the forest) so you can travel to Dream and find out who kidnapped Yeesha.

They also wear a stripe of face-paint down their noses (and have creepy, African-esque masks). And the puzzle in Dream is like musical color-matching on evil steroids!

Atrus was always an apologetic, kinda nerdy guy…but lately he seems to just assume you’ll help dig him out of whatever hole he’s gotten himself in. And these all-knowing chicks in Serenia are even more pompous and touchy-feely.

Even if I hadn’t heard such dismal things about Myst V: End of Ages…this “New Age” spiritualism is enough of a departure from the original heart of Myst (nuts and bolts, analog passwords, and the science-based “magic” of the D’ni Art) to make Revelation my last Myst game.

Climax Catharsis

Yet I said I was satisfied. Why am I satisfied?

Well, without laying bare the resolution…the climax of Revelation hinges on you choosing to believe one of Atrus’ children over another. This choice is based on what you have learned by reading their journals, listening to their memories, and piecing together the Evil Plot (and who is probably responsible for it).

Got the right answer the first time. (Thank you, thank you, no need to clap.) And the conclusion that is spun from that –logically, inexorably – brings the plot-line to a perfect and reasonable end.

While the writers did a bit of ret-conning to bring Sirrus and Achenar back into the story, the way they handled the two of them (and Yeesha) was believable, appropriate, and entirely conclusive.

In a way, they un-did the ending of Myst…and yet, in another way, they built onto it so naturally and understandably that Revelation is really a good end for Myst – the game and the series.

My Last Myst Game

When I played through Myst again several years ago (in the updated and expanded RealMyst version), I loved the Ages and the visuals as much as I always had…and left hungry to play Riven.

"Myst IV: Revelation" — Kimia Wood

A secret journal? Must read!

I re-played through Riven: The Sequel to Myst, and I loved it even more than Myst (not only is it longer and more complex, but it feels like less of the history is buried or off-screen). It also left me longing to play Myst III: Exile.

I have not yet played through Exile a second time, but I know it left me eager to try Revelation.

And now…

Part of it is the bad reviews my brother tells me about from Myst V, and part of it is…the story is complete.

I have scratched my first-person point-and-click itch. Myst created a game type never before seen…and now Revelation has brought the story and the world full-circle.

The ending is bittersweet, poignant, and appropriate. It is also, I think, The End.

(Though I already bought Obduction, which is by the same developers/writers, but set in a different universe. We’ll see how that one pans out…)

As always, I highly recommend the Universal Hints System to give you just the help you need…and no more.

In Myst IV: Revelation, the next chapter in the greatest adventure saga of all time, you’ll travel through environments pulsing with life to unearth a treacherous scheme involving two of Myst’s most sinister villains.

Find the game on GoG.com (DRM-free!), Steam (which includes DRM in their software), and on Amazon if you really need a disk (though paying over three times the price for digital download sounds ridiculous).

Wish-list it on GoG to be emailed when it goes on sale!

“Never Leave Me” by Priscilla J. Krahn

"Never Leave Me" by Priscilla J. Krahn — Kimia Wood I hadn’t recently read the description blurb before I opened Never Leave Me, so I jumped into this Christian indie novella without many pre-conceived notions.

On Page 1, Amy’s dad (sole custodial parent) sweeps her from in front of the TV, across state lines, and dumps her on the doorstep of some cousins she’s never heard of, let alone met (while he flees the police).

Within the next chapter or two, the large, farm-living, “homeschooler” family has shared Jesus with her, and Amy is “born again.”

Within a chapter or two of that, we have a kidnapping, threats of violence, and hints at Amy’s dad’s dark secrets.

So…of all the “indie Christian” books I’ve read, this one probably does the best job at equally balancing raging evangelism with melodramatic adventure.

Amy

I did know this was a series before diving in (the “Adventures of Amy”, in fact). So I was perfectly ready to study Amy as a main character…and also anticipated her adventures taking longer than a single book. (Well, sort of. See below.)

However, I did struggle with the character of Amy from time to time.

What’s well done:"Never Leave Me" by Priscilla J. Krahn — Kimia Wood

Amy is just thirteen. She’s not a superhero, or a detective, or even emotionally mature. When her dad (ahem – the man she’s called Dad all her life!) snatches her away from her predictable life, and reveals on the drive that he’s a criminal, she’s realistically shocked and skeptical.

As traumatic events continue to pile on, she shows relatable signs of stress, anger, panic, and fear. At the same time, her rational side fights with her emotions as she tries to please her new Heavenly Father, and figure out what’s going on around her.

What challenged my disbelief:

Some things are foreshadowed so heavily I saw them coming several chapters before Amy finally tumbles to them.

She also exhibits fanatical devotion to her dad (except when she persuades herself to cooperate with the police).

I understand that family loyalty is complicated (which is one reason domestic abuse situations are so messy). But as a third-party, observing the situation from the outside, I saw plenty of evidence and red flags that left me sighing heavily at Amy. It was obvious to me that the man who had raised her wasn’t all he claimed to be…and while it was realistic for Amy to struggle with this, I think it needed something more.

For instance: later in the book, she reminisces about the good times they had together…piggy back rides, movies, all the things he did to demonstrate his love for her. I realize flash-backs are hard to do well, but if I were writing the story, I would have sprinkled some of those good memories into the narrative early on to remind the audience Amy is adding Dad’s current illegal behavior to his previous loving behavior…and isn’t just blinded by her own love for him.

Another niggle:

Speaking of planting things earlier…

Amy dashes out of her home with a single suitcase of clothes. But it never states what those clothes are.

About three-fourths through the book, the author drops that Amy’s wearing a skirt.

This may seem like a really weird thing to bring up, but here’s why. Amy’s seven-sibling cousin family has family meals together, does family devotions, lives on a farm…you can practically smell the Christian homeschooler on them. Thus, it is totally legit for her female cousin to wear skirts.

But worldly, “city girl” Amy?

See, when Amy is (SPOILER) being placed in foster care by a social worker, she thinks about how she’s a different girl now…after her adventures, and after coming to Jesus. She thinks she wouldn’t like the same music as she once did. She’s wearing a different clothing style now…because she doesn’t care about style and popularity anymore, but about pleasing Jesus.

Bringing these pieces together: if the author had made a bigger deal about how Amy dressed in the beginning (being careful to pack her favorite jeans; feeling weird that she’s wearing make-up, but her girl-cousin isn’t) then the change at the end (her cousin was much older than she was, but her old skirt fit Amy perfectly…) would make the character change clear to the audience from the evidence. It wouldn’t just be something the author pulls out of nowhere.

Christian Transformation

Speaking of character changes, though – Amy’s Christian transformation is pretty deep. Her dad is an atheist (and apparently her mom converted mere weeks before dying in an accident)…but after Amy “gets born again” in the early chapters, she jumps into evangelism with both feet. Within a month of her conversion, she’s led a man to the Lord, and has shared the gospel repeatedly with her relatives (and a few strangers).

Maybe…Maybe coming to Christ at four years old is a drawback. I don’t want to bare my soul too much here, but let’s say that has not been my experience. Not only was I not challenged with evangelism from Day 1 (or even Day 2), but over a year after “getting serious” about sharing my faith with others, I have yet to see a single fruit (in the form of unbelievers showing an interest).

It makes sense that someone who came to faith later in life would be more inspired with the part of Christian discipline that directly led to their conversion (AKA evangelism), and I also recognize that we have different testimonies.

This is just one of those things that’s really hard to balance. Just like real life.

Balance

I’ve read stories that were almost horrifying in the way they shoved the gospel to the forefront, at the expense of the tale they were supposed to be telling.

I’ve read stories that wore their evangelism on their sleeve – and carried it with varying degrees of success, but with no misconceptions about what kind of story they were presenting.

And then there’s this story. I don’t think it’d be overestimating to say a full half of the book is devoted to religious/Christian themes. The cousin family is deeply religious…and the need for Amy to “trust God” with her traumatic situation and let Him “keep her in perfect peace” (and perfect King James’ English) is heavily leaned on.

But there’s a lot of action layered in there, with constant kidnappings, evil uncles jumping out of cupboards, guns, child abuse, threats of violence or use of deadly force…it’s like an adrenalin junkie’s playground.

Even the ending, which is stuffed with more religious theme-izing than the rest of the book, has actual story conflict issues to keep the tension and pacing brisk.

For all the book’s missteps, the juggling act between gospel-mission and Impossible-Mission is pretty well-handled.

Cliffhanger!

(I could make you all wait until the next review to see where I was going with this…but that would be really dumb! :D)

I knew this was a series. I fully understood that further adventures were in the wings. And yet…

I mentioned briefly how Amy was such a bad deducer (or the clues were laid on so thick) that the plot twists could be seen a mile off.

Thus, I felt a certain story element was so heavily hinted as to be a foregone conclusion…but the book ends before I could see if I was right!

Not only does the book have a kind of unhappy ending, but if I really wanted to see the resolution of that plot-thread, I have to get the other book(s)!

Blah! Don’t the foolish mortals realize I never pay for anything if I can help it? Why should an author want to eat off their earnings? In vengeance, I shall wreck havoc with their review rating –!

Anyway.

I know about the pitfalls of balancing a series-wide story arc with stand-alone installments. I wrestled with the same thing in the White Mesa Chronicles. In this instance, though, I felt disappointed that something had been so built up, just to have it unresolved at the end.

While I’m complaining…

The professionalism of the book was pretty good. Only towards the end (call it the last fourth of the book) did the copy-editing slip, and petty things like typos and word choice crept into the text.

The author does note at the end that this is the first book she wrote — and it’s pretty good for a first book! My own first publication is not mentioned on my online presence…

Incidentally, for some weird reason, the PDF copy I had went cray-cray on my Nook…and used two different fonts (and size of fonts) on the same page – usually within the same paragraph or sentence! Reading it in the programs on my computer, though, had no issues.

TL;DR

If this really was too long, and you didn’t read it, how did you get all the way down here?

The balance of pulse-pounding action and shameless evangelism was one of the best I’ve ever seen. The characters (especially the main character) were a little clueless. Even the villains had one-track minds…but who expects villains to be rational?

Pick it up, support a young, independent, Christian author, and form your own opinion!


"Never Leave Me" by Priscilla J. Krahn — Kimia WoodDISCLAIMER: I received a FREE copy of Never Leave Me for participating in the November 2017 Indie Christian Book Sale. I was not required to write a review of any kind, and all opinions are my own personal opinions.

You can find out more about the author on her website – PriscillaJKrahn.com – or in my interview with her here on the blog!

Never Leave Me is available on Amazon.

Subscribe to Kimia Wood’s mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing exploits.

“Red vs. Blue” (Seasons 6 thru 13)

"Red vs. Blue" (Seasons 6 thru 13) — Kimia Wood The internet is a dark, mysterious place…full of dangerous things like web series. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself…watching Red vs. Blue.

And if you have a little brother, you might find yourself compelled by those big brown eyes to watch it, despite your better judgement. #askhowIknow

In all honesty, though, is RvB really that bad? Well…it has some content “not for mothers-in-law“, but it also has a lot of powerful, heart-moving themes.

You gotta decide if you’re up to getting there.

Premise

This might sound weird, but RvB is a Halo-based Machinima where two teams of soldiers camp on opposite sides of a valley in color-coordinated teams (yes…Red and Blue). It streams free on YouTube (in five-minute episodes organized into seasons), but is also available in DVD format.

I gather that early on, it was basically an excuse for cheap skits and foul-mouthed jokes while these pathetic losers tried unsuccessfully to kill each other.

But I wasn’t brought in until Season 6…when they actually start telling a cohesive story. Continue reading

Unforeseen Consequences of “Economic Abuse”?

I just learned that Great Britain is working to include “economic abuse” in its anti-domestic abuse law (thanks to this article from Public Radio International).Unforeseen Consequences of "Economic Abuse" — Kimia Wood

Domestic abuse is nothing to joke about, or shrug off. But this new step concerns me on a number of levels.

For one thing, physical abuse against spouses is already illegal (at least here in the U.S. – I assume it would at least fall under assault and battery across the pond). Is adding this new category to the equation really worth it? What benefits will we gain…and what might we lose?

First, “financial abuse” is a nebulous term that’s hard to define. Second, focusing on these varied abuses seems to assume that women are victims – not masters of their own fate – and need protection from abuse. (I say “women” specifically because the example used in the article is a woman, and the main thrust of these abuse movements are to protect women. But we all know that men can be abused as well.) Lastly, if we admit that women are at risk and need protection, who should those protectors be? Their immediate family and friends, who know them, know their significant other, and know the emotional make-up that attracted them to each other? Or some third party, like a loan officer (whose business is money), who has no vested interest in the woman beyond being a “good neighbor” (and abiding by the law)?

What Does “Economic Abuse” Even Mean?

Just how do we define “financial abuse”? Do we really want the government inserting itself into the intimate give-and-take of married life?

Spouses are supposed to communicate, argue, cooperate, and work through the struggles of life as a unified team. Some couples do better at it than others do, but that’s just life.

Can the government really understand (let alone referee) this complex relationship?

In the original article referenced above, an interviewed woman (called “Anna”) describes her own experiences of so-called “economic abuse”:

She says her husband forced her to co-sign a loan to cover the bank fees, against her will. That loan left her saddled with debt after their marriage ended. He never paid any of it.

(By the way, why was she still responsible for the debt after the divorce? Couldn’t she – or her attorney – have said that the loan was made on behalf of her husband, and that the husband should be responsible for paying it back? We already have systems in place to help situations like this…do we really need another law on top of it?)

Anyway, we agree that abusing shared credit cards, or abandoning co-loans with your spouse, is mean and bad. But it doesn’t always look the same to different people. Continue reading

“Incredibles 2”

 The Incredibles was practically perfect. Gorgeous animation blended with a deft plot; escalating tension melded with heart-warming family dynamics; an adorable yet realistically high-stakes romance between a husband and wife strode alongside the every-man struggle of a middle-aged father to find his place in life again; and weaving through it all was a truly diabolical yet savory villain.

Well, perfect is understandably hard to top…even for a writer and director of Brad Bird’s impressive story skills.

So……did the sequel pull it off?

That’s a question each viewer must answer for themselves—but here is my take. Continue reading

What a WoW Player Must Know When Playing AD&D

What a WoW Player Must Know When Playing AD&D

So you’re an experienced hero of World of Warcraft, but now you want to go back to the roots. Old school. Really old school.

Dungeons and Dragons, Advanced Edition.

Well…brace yourself for culture shock.

There are a couple…minor…elements that you should be aware of before diving in, sword blazing. In fact, before you even settle on what class of character to roll, you should check out these five crucial differences between WoW and D’n’D. Continue reading

The Sexist Guide to Christmas Gifts

Are you a girl trying to figure out what a boy would like for Christmas…or a guy tasked with finding a gift for a girl?

Maybe you drew your cousin’s name in the family gift exchange, and are stumped. Maybe you have a friend you want to show appreciation to, but are totally befuddled about what they’d like.

Perhaps your nieces and nephews have grown out of toys…but you can’t figure out what they’d like.

Have no fear! Behold: the totally sexist guide to getting the right gift for everyone on your list! Sure, a lot of gifts blur the lines and will work for any person. But if you want to avoid those blank, polite stares and get something that will thrill the heart of the opposite sex, read on!

Guy Gifts

Food

Don’t laugh. True, it’s the first thing that came to mind. But it still works. Continue reading

Why We Need the Patriarchy

Nowadays, the patriarchy gets talked-down, stomped-down, and generally oppressed wherever you go.

But that’s not the picture we see in the Bible.

Me? I think I’m pro-patriarchy. But before you start screaming about The Handmaid’s Tale and grabbing your pitchforks, listen to what I mean by that and why I think it’s important.

And then, maybe we can take a look at God’s word and see what He says about whether Men should be in charge of the world!

First—A Look at the Problem

The patriarchy gets lots of hate now-a-days.

Dr. Albert Mohler interviewed Helen Smith for the podcast Thinking in Public, and their discussion really stuck with me because they were talking about all the ways the culture attacks men.

Why aren’t men going to college or getting married as much? Because the costs outweigh the benefits.When a couple gets divorced, odds are high the mother will get custody of the kids, and the husband will be stuck paying alimony and child support.

What about college? All through school, boys have been told to sit quietly, walk quietly, stop rough-housing, speak sensitively, empathize with others’ emotions… And all kinds of other things that girls do more naturally. Not only are classrooms geared more towards women’s learning styles, but guys have to worry about sexual assault charges (where the woman’s story will probably get more weight).

When they try to figure out what it means to be a Real Man by playing video games or sports, we complain about the video games and regulate the sports to make them “safer”.

No wonder guys wouldn’t want to go through that in college, too.

People will talk about getting women into management, into politics, into the halls of fame. But if you try to talk about the men already there…uh oh.

Fight or flight

Because Gordon Freeman is awesome (though not as awesome as the Master Chief).

Men are wired to be the protectors, the providers, the kings and priests. When they see a dangerous situation, they say, “Do I vanquish this? Or is discretion the better part of valor?”

They look around, and see Girl Power confronting them. But a gentleman can’t hit a girl, can he? So what’s he to do?

He retreats to the Man Cave, channels his manliness into pretending he’s Gordon Freeman, and the world grows a little poorer than it could be.

Men are wired to soak up punishment, and not gripe. They’re built (and trained) to “suck it up, buttercup” and keep on slogging. So no wonder they don’t fight back.

Or rather, the ones who do fight back do it wrongly.

Obvious disclaimer:

This is not to say that women are horrible people, or should be second-class citizens, or are doing a bad job in the world. This is to say that the substitute teacher is not the teacher, and the teacher is not the parent. The principal is not the parent, and the senator, president, and police officer are not the parent.

We Need Men To Protect

Pastor Voddie Baucaham calls husbands the “prophet, priest, protector, and provider” of their families. It didn’t originate with him, though, as Dennis Rainey of Family Life Today and George Whitfield (famous preacher of the Great Awakening) echo the same thought.

Probably because they’re all getting the idea from the Bible.

God doesn’t pull punches in His word: the world we live in is seriously messed up. We are lost and broken, like the cursed princess trapped in her tower, dreading the step of the monster as he approaches to eat her…

That’s why we need the Prince to ride up with his armor and sword, and shed His own blood to kill the monster and make us His bride!

What, did I lose you? Did you really think whoever wrote the first fairy-tale was being original?

Women are meant to be treasured.

Some will get their noses all bent because the princess is “passive” or “subjugated” or some buzzword like that. They fail to realize that Cinderella’s strength was her strength of character, not her ability to kick butt. She was the treasure to be rescued and treated with the reverence she deserved…and it was the prince’s role to do just that.

Just take a look at the Bible: God tells guys to “love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). Love like that is hard. It’s draining. It’s sacrificial.

You’ll notice God never orders women to pour their lives out in service to their husband and children (unless you count how all Christians are supposed to live in service to all others, especially fellow Christians). That’s because it comes easy to us giving gals. (What doesn‘t come easy is to submit, respect, keep our big mouths shut, and listen quietly to someone else. Probably why God took the trouble to tell us that.)

But God doesn’t leave the guys off the hook, and that’s because it’s super important for Men to use their strength to serve, guard, and protect — which is why God gave them that strength in the first place.

Men are meant to be mighty rescuers.

Why We Need the Patriarchy — Kimia Wood

Image from ArtStation.com

And let’s face it…men are stronger than women. People are trying to deny this now-a-days, but it’s a basic, verifiable, scientifically-bound fact: Men and women are different.

We’re different biologically, and one of the ways we see that is the physical strength of men. Check out this article from WORLD Magazine (May 2016) that lays out the physical degradation women’s bodies take in combat roles vs. men’s bodies. A lady’s bones, muscles, and joints weren’t engineered to take the punishment a guy’s were!

It doesn’t just apply to the military, either. Feminists will complain about the lack of women in management positions, higher learning, or scientific disciplines. But what about the low percentage of women in mining, carpentry, A/C repair, and factory work? There are women there, but in much lower numbers…because their bodies aren’t physically designed to operate in the same way, with the same endurance.

Live Strong says the same: yes, women can pump iron and an individual woman can be stronger than some individual men. But on average, status quo, a woman only has two-thirds of the muscle mass of a man.

Why We Need the Patriarchy — Kimia Wood

This is a computer game. Kick-butt female death knights are not real.

Live Science says the same thing:

The fastest woman in the world, Florence Griffith Joyner, ran the 100-meter dash in just 10.49 seconds in 1988, and that record remains unbroken. Yet her fastest time wouldn’t have even qualified her for the men’s 2016 Olympic competition, which requires competitors to finish the 100-meter sprint in 10.16 seconds or less.

To all my gaming peeps out there: her stats are lower than his. Feature of the rule-system.

How does this apply to patriarchy?

With great power comes great responsibility. Guys do hard things ’cause it’s what guys do.

There’s a reason we send our young men off to war. Because someone has to defend this thing we call “liberty”, and men are the ones built to sit-down-shut-up, to “Sir, yes, sir!”, to charge into the teeth of death and kick butt and get ‘er done.

If a 300-pound corporate A/C unit is about to tip off the edge of the roof, a guy grabs it and hauls it back. Sure, he might ache all over the next day, but he’s going to get ‘er done.

If a girl tries that, nine times out of ten she’s going over the edge with it…or ripping her arm off. Muscle density and ligament attachments. Not anything you’re going to “fix” with work-outs.

Yes, girls are important!

I myself am a girl, and was birthed from a verifiable girl. But there are plenty of people out there telling girls they’re important, so I don’t need to add my voice to the clamor.

Why We Need the Patriarchy — Kimia Wood

Take that, Degenerate Creature of Darkness!!

Guys are also important. Deathly important. Vitally important.

They’re important because sometimes you just gotta punch Evil right in the teeth, and guys are much better at it than gals.

We Need Men To Lead

I love love love the WORLD article that says, “Men, in general, drive a culture; women, in general, stabilize it.” (So, thanks Janie B. Cheaney; you’re the best!)

What does this mean? It means that while men go out and shape the world, invent things, create political systems, and write philosophies, women stand behind them, keep the garden going, and nod meaningfully while their husband talks about this amazing new idea he’s got.

I can see your hackles rising already. “What about Marie Curie, who discovered radium (with her husband)? What about all the amazing women in the world who –?”

We talked about this. There are lots of people praising all the women out there who have done amazing things, like rule Crusader-era Palestine (research Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem).

But think for a moment why we feel the need to hunt down and trumpet examples of publicly-accomplished women? (I was going to say “remarkable”, but you don’t have to invent something to be worthy.) We hold up people like Harriet Tubman and Agatha Christie because they succeeded in areas where we’re used to seeing men.

But what about all the stuff men have done?

Invent cars, and the assembly line? (both made mainstream by Henry Ford, who also pioneered paying workers more than double that of his competitors in order to keep the best men)

Invent iPhones? (Steve Jobs, who – with the help of Steve Wozniak – also built Apple)

Write literature? (two names: William Shakespeare and J.R.R. Tolkien)

Fight terrorism? (picture Winston Churchill leading the free world, facing down Adolf Hitler)

Protect women? (How about when Moses was running away from a murder charge in his homeland; he stopped at an oasis, and saw some shepherds “oppressing” some sisters so the girls couldn’t water their flocks; so Moses chased off the mean shepherds and drew water for the girls’ sheep. Ex. 2: 16-17)

Build a spaceship and fly into space?

Yeah. Men did all of that.

In the words of Mrs. Cheaney’s article, “women tend to be less careerist, more risk-averse, less violent, and more relational than men.” We need that. We need people who will skip work because the daughter has a tummy ache, who will strike a compromise between two opposing combatants, and who will think to put seat belts in cars so we can all drive around a little safer! (I really have no idea who thought of that.)

But we need guys who will say, “Let’s walk on the railing!” And when they fall off, they don’t need someone to run up and baby-talk them and give them a band-aid.

Why We Need the Patriarchy — Kimia Wood

If it were easy everyone would do it!!

Real men suck it up. Real men forge on. Yep – real men don’t cry in front of their friends; they climb back up on that rail.

I recently stumbled across this article from Motherly, talking about all the things we do for our kids that we think will keep them safer, but really probably cause them more problems. Specifically “Avoiding Risky Play”.

I remember laying out behind our garage by the alley, after the streetlight had come on, playing in the snow (and probably eating it). I survived.

Boys are more likely to try crazy stuff. When they donk their heads, it’s called “natural consequences.” But donking their heads as kids teaches them what can and cannot be done, and when they turn into Men they say things like:

“I think I’ll write a computer operating system and start my own company in my garage.”

Or, “The king of England really has no right to tax us without representation. Methinks I’ll write up a new governmental system and see if my friends want to join me.”

Then they put their feet where their mouths are, apply a little hustle, and do it.

That’s the patriarchy. See it, live it, love it.

What does God say about it?

He tells Man to “have dominion over” all the animals, birds, swimming things, etc. (Gen. 1:28).

When our first parents disobeyed God for the first time, God asked the Man, “What’s going on?” (because the Man – Adam – is “the man”) (Gen. 3:9-12). Adam, instead of owning up and wearing the pants, clutched his fig-leaf loincloth and said, “Nah, it was the woman’s fault — totally!” #fail

Again and again in the Bible, men do what their wives want, because they’d rather abdicate and capitulate than show some spine, put their foot down, and deal with the whining and nit-picking.

That’s why God pairs Eph. 5:22 (“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord”) with Eph. 5:25 (“Husbands, love your wives…”). It takes us both doing our part.

God takes a broken world and shows His goodness.

Maybe you’re fuming right now, because you’ve had some bad leaders. Maybe the men in your life haven’t done their job right.

No surprise there — they’re not God!

We are called to be like God, though. All of us. Together.

When we do what He calls us to do (you, me, individually – not worried about what someone else should be doing) then God can bless us in a special way. Sometimes He blesses us even when we’re fighting Him, but walking through life His way opens up a special kind of beauty.

Why We Need the Patriarchy — Kimia WoodJust because his wife is headstrong, pugnacious, and take-charge doesn’t get a man off the hook for leading her – gently, lovingly, but firmly.

Just because her husband is abusive, stupid, or lazy isn’t an excuse for a woman to take over running the family. OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER: If he’s actually harmful/toxic to you, get your pastor and law enforcement involved. But “he never does his dishes” is not an excuse for you to gratify yourself and abuse your own God-given role. (Yes, that’s a serious example our pastor gave — happy ending: the couple counseled their way through, and stayed together.)

It’s so easy to say, “But, God, things aren’t happening the way they should! I need to ____.”

What would happen if we tried things God’s way?

We Need Men To Be Dads

God reveals Himself as a three-person entity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And He does that for a reason.

As important as mothers are (again, that’s a dead horse I don’t need to beat) dads are crucial. And our own society is seeing the consequences of discounting, marginalizing, and rejecting their role.

When kids don’t have their dad in their lives, it creates a vacuum, and many of them fill that vacuum with harmful things. According to All Pro Dad, “[S]eventy-one percent (71%) of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes”, and “71% of pregnant teens have no dad present in their life” (per the Department of Health and Human Services).

Why We Need the Patriarchy — Kimia Wood

My dad continued the tradition he learned from his father.

The Heritage Foundation points to studies that have found fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of high school, and twice as likely to be obese (among other things).

How about this article about the number of juvenile murder suspects who don’t have fathers? To a suggestion that juvenile criminals need “intensive mentoring”, the author astutely asks, “[W]here will such men come from in cities where large numbers of males refuse to mentor or monitor their own children?”

True, a “stable” single-parent-home seems to be superior to a home with a rotating cast of live-in boyfriends/girlfriends. But even though a child who lost a parent to death is better off than a child who lost the parent to divorce, he or she is still at a disadvantage compared to the child in a biological mother-father home.

That’s because something’s still broken. Death, divorce, and out-of-wedlock families are not the original plan…therefore we instinctively crave something more, something better. However “well” those children turn out (even if they beat the odds and “succeed”), they’re missing out. It’s not fair.

God is the perfect father.

I could say, God is the only perfect father. He is a steady rock in a wave-tossed world. He corrects bad behavior to train His children to become better. When we cry, He comforts. And when He gives good gifts, He’s teaching us gratitude (as well as just giving presents, because who doesn’t like to give presents to their kid?).

When men act the way they’re supposed to, they’re imitating God. Whether he knows it or not – whether he believes in Him or not – when a man uses his authority to protect, nurture, and grow those in his charge…he’s being like God!

And God blesses the things that honor Him.

Dads matter. Patriarchy matters.

Our boys need their dads teaching them how to, “Sir, yes, sir!” to police officers, so they won’t get shot. They need to be taught “No, you don’t touch a girl that way unless she’s your wife!” so that they don’t get shot.

A little girl needs a dad to show her how Real Men act toward women, and to know that if anybody messes with her, Daddy will go make that person extinct.

There are bad men out there; absolutely. But strapping on a 9mm only does so much to protect you. We also need good men, Real Men, to lock up the bad guys when they deserve it…or even punch them in the face if they need that. We need Real Men to say, “Gentlemen don’t act that way, and I’m in charge, so we’re going to do it the gentlemanly way.”

We need Real Men who don’t compromise, who will look terrorists in the face and say, “Not in my town.”

Who will look their boss in the face and say, “Embezzling is wrong, and I can’t look the other way for you.”

Who have the spiritual, emotional, and physical clout to punch Evil in the face when it needs it.

Learning to walk with crutches after a leg amputation is a victory, but it’s also a defeat. You’re only doing it because something is missing…something important that you’ll never get back.

A society that refuses to let its men lead is missing its shoulders…and legs…and head.

We need the patriarchy.

What would happen if we really, honestly tried doing things God’s way? Are you brave enough to find out?

Image of Gordon Freeman is from vsbattles.wikia.com.

Image of Jim Raynor with a revolver is from games.softpedia.com.

The boy-with-water-gun picture is from Pixabay.


Why We Need the Patriarchy — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives with her family somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic novella Soldier (where the guys are totes patriarchal) plus occasional updates about her latest reading and writing adventures!

How to Stay Single and Lonely

Are you single, Christian, and lonely? Plenty of people are single…and a fair number are Christian. But to be all that and lonely, too – well, that’s something hang on to!

Are you SCL? Own it! Life will try to tear that affiliation from you, and you’ve got to fight back. Here are some ways how:

DON’T Spend Time With Your Family

How to Stay Single and Lonely — Kimia WoodDo you have any siblings? AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS. Sure, they might bug you, but that’s just another way of paying attention to someone – and the core of Loneliness is having no one pay attention to you. Your brothers and sisters will try to un-lonely you…shun them!

Also, ignore your parents. Do not cook meals for them. Do not help them with yard work or home repair. And definitely DO NOT have long, in-depth conversations with them about your life, their lives, God, or events in the world.

Even talking about your favorite things can be a danger-ground. Stick to two subjects: the weather (especially if it’s gloomy), and your miserable lack of success in finding a spouse.

Possible loophole: if you’re now older than your parents were when they got married, talk about that. A lot. Continue reading

“Chronicles of Amber” by Roger Zelazny

 The “Chronicles of Amber” have long been my dad’s example of what inspired him to write. He told us that Zelazny’s writing was so bad, he figured, “If he can get published, so can I.” And, at the same time, the story Zelazny was telling was so gripping Dad had no choice but continue.

Now, I’ve had an opportunity to form my own opinion. I agree about the story part…but the writing wasn’t that bad. If Zelazny had gotten an editor who could actually read, we’d have nothing to complain about.

But let’s talk about the story.

Who Is “I”?

Our first-person protagonist starts the story in a private medical institution, with no memory. As he makes his escape and tracks down his past, we’re eased into a fantasy world unlike any other.

Corwin is a good traveling companion. While he has to grow in several areas, he’s got enough deprecating humor, goodwill, and smarts to make us root for him. Continue reading