DOs and DON’Ts of Face Masks

It’s 2020, and Face Masks are all the rage.

I’m part of the consumer-elastic and -fabric supply chain, so I know. By the time this is all over, we should have about 500 face masks per capita.

[For future web-surfers, “this” is the COVID-19/coronavirus/Wu Han virus pandemic that paralyzed the world during the first part of 2020.]

And yet…a lot of people seem to be missing the point.

On the one hand, it’s great that people have found something they can do to participate in this pandemic.

On the other hand, is wearing a face mask something we should medically be doing?

When the so-called “experts” keep giving conflicting advice – or changing their minds about what is “best” – it’s easy to not know what to believe.

But you should listen to me. I’m on the internet. You can trust me.

Here, in one place, are some basics on Face Masks…so you can decide for yourself if wearing one is worth it! Continue reading

The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness

The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness

Singleness wasn’t your plan, was it, girlfriend?

Yeah, me neither.

Feel it? The throbbing, gnawing ache that chews its way up through your heart?

Put it there, girlfriend. Yeah, me, too…it comes and goes.

A bad stretch? Your cousin’s getting married, now? Your childhood friend posted more kid pics?

We have lots of tissues — knock yourself out.

Listen, maybe you don’t want to hear this right now, but God’s plan is always –

No, I’m not going to be your aunt. Not going to quote the plaque your church gave, you, either. Yeah, everyone says it to me, too—

The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness — Kimia Wood

Rub it in, why don’t you?!

God’s got a man for you somewhere out there.

So, how’s the “fishing” going?

Y’know, you’re not getting younger… Let me tell you about the wonders of marriage –

You know what the Bible says: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord –”

No, I wasn’t going to say that.

I was saying, “God’s plan is always good.”

Have another tissue, and I’ll explain. Continue reading

Open Letter to Chick Publishing

Open Letter to Chick Publishing

Dear Chick Publishing,

I grew up with your tracts. My mom handed them out every Halloween.

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: Pixabay

I’ve often cried real tears while reading them because I see the beautiful story of my Master Jesus and His love for His people. And now that I’m grown, I’ve made your tracts a part of my own “passive evangelism” strategy (as opposed to the times I actually have conversations with people).

Which is why I feel I have to write this letter. I feel you (as an organization, maybe not as an individual) have a blind spot that’s hurting your witness and your relationship with your brothers and sisters…and our common Lord.

Is the KJV Really Your Hill to Die On?

I don’t mind if y’all prefer the King James Version of the Bible…but the anger and bitterness with which y’all 1) defend your preference and 2) attack others who make a different choice is frustrating.

Quite apart from the ways in which the KJV is a poor reflection of the original Greek, the things y’all write in your newsletters (and even in some of your tracts!) make it sound like you believe God sent an angel down in 1611 with golden tablets inscribed with these words, and to translate them would be a heresy!

Dude! Seriously?! What– Is this seriously how you want to be remembered? If even I, a Christian fundamentalist patriarchalist, thinks you sound cray-cray, what are unbelievers who run across this material going to think?

But let’s break it down. Because it’s not even rational. The KJV is the only valid Bible? Really? Are y’all for real?

God’s Literal Words…in English

Okay, so…your company (Chick Publishing) prints Spanish tracts.

SPANISH tracts.

People. You print tracts…in SPANISH.

Those tracts ARE NOT USING THE KING JAMES.

When Paul of Tarsus sat down and dictated to Silas, he wasn’t using English…they were speaking (gasp) GREEK. Literally Greek.

Were the things Paul, Peter, Luke, Moses, Jeremiah, etc. said/wrote all wrong until some random guys in Great Britain came along to “translate” them into the words God actually meant (meaning the KJV)?

What about the Bible translation work going on around the world?

This very moment, as I write this, Wycliffe Associates is supporting more than 1,550 translation projects, translating the Bible into languages around the world.

Not a single word of those translations is going to be KJV.

Do y’all seriously, honestly, intellectually believe that no one can be a “good Christian” unless he reads the Scriptures in 17TH-CENTURY ENGLISH?

I guess I’ll just go give the bad news to, like, literally 99.9% of Christians who have ever lived in the history of the world!

If We’re Here to Communicate…Shouldn’t We Speak Their Language?

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: ThisFragileTent

Not all English is created equal.

Meaning, many English-speakers (even those who speak it as a first language) have trouble with the phraseology of the King James.

I’ve heard a pastor preach about how bad “diver’s weights” are…not realizing the Proverb is talking about “diverse weights” AKA “weights of various (lying) measurements.” (Prov. 20:10…note how the ESV renders it…)

There was also a girl who was turned off from Jesus because she though He wanted children to suffer (“Suffer the little children to come unto Me…”). Using a translation that actually spoke her version of English helped her see that Jesus meant, “Let the children come to Me…”

We want to show people the real Jesus. I believe we can do that without compromising the truth of God, while still speaking in language people actually understand.

Incidentally…

Your tracts are written in modern English.

The cartoon on the back of one of your recent newsletter shows a “figure like a man” on a shiny throne, and he’s saying, “What are you doing with my words?”

Not, “What dost thou with My words?”

So is he really God if he’s using modern English sentence structure?

Oops! I was sarcastic!

Check out the tract “The Big Spender,” which y’all just published/republished.

It devotes a lot of text to explaining the Bible verses it quotes.

If it just used a translation that spoke modern English, it wouldn’t have to waste that space.

You apparently understand that the KJV doesn’t clearly communicate your meaning a lot of the time…so why do you insist on clinging to it? I’m honestly mystified.

“Do Not Add ANY Words…”

One of the things y’all complain about with other translations is “taking away” or “adding” words that aren’t in the original languages.

But honestly, the KJV isn’t immune, either.

Take this addition:

In John 8, we find the story of the woman caught in adultery.

The crowd asks Jesus to rule on the matter, and He ignores them to write in the dust.

Then the men, beginning with the oldest, left (vs. 9).

The KJV mentions they were “pricked in their consciences.”

The problem is, that phrase isn’t in the original Greek!

It helps with understanding the passage, but it’s an ADDITION to the literal words of Scripture! Those responsible for the KJV used their own interpretation in how they chose to render the passage.

To an extent, every translator makes choices like this.

But if you’re going to get bent out of shape over “adding or subtracting” from the word of God, you should at least apply the same metric to your own favorite translation. (Not even touching on the fact that Rev. 22:18-19 technically applies to “the book of this prophecy” AKA Revelation…)

Anger

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: pinterest

Y’all might have picked up on some “passion” from this writing. You might even read in a tang of bitterness, anger, or frustration.

That is not my intention. I’ve tried to speak as frankly as possible to take away some of the sting of my point…and because, if you are born again in the blood of Jesus Christ, then we are brother/sisters.

And that’s what siblings do: smack each other around, yell at each other, and be willing to die to protect each other.

So don’t mistake my sincere frustration for anything more hostile than sisterly care for the state of your witness and mentality.

I’ll be blunt…I don’t feel that care from your material.

When I open your newsletter and see a cartoon man guiltily holding an ESV, it hurts.

The ESV is one of the best translations for balancing the sense of the original languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic) and communicating clearly with a modern English audience.

If Cartoon Man had been dropping the KJV for a TNIV or a Jehovah’s Witness Bible, I would agree with your condemnation.

But the ESV?

Attacking a solid translation isn’t fair.

You’re dying on this hill…and it ain’t pretty.

You’ve dedicated countless newsletter articles to this issue…You even have entire tracts dedicated – not to sharing the Good News of Jesus our Savior – but to the KJV!

I get you love it…but is it really so important to tell everyone that every single Bible translation is corrupted by some Satanic Catholic cult except your precious gold-plated King Jimmy?

(That sounds like the pop-up on that website I visited telling me about Jesus’ super secret cure for diabetes!)

The unbelievers are watching. Weak Christians are watching you. What do you want them to hear you say?

“Jesus washes us from our sins and teaches us to follow Him!”

or

“You need to be using my Bible or you’re a degenerate, reprobate heretic who’s probably not saved to begin with.”

One of these feels a whole lot more loving to me.

Your reasons are your own.

I don’t care if you really, really want to use the KJV. Whatever. You be you.

Maybe that’s what you grew up with, so it sounds familiar…maybe you like how it renders this or that passage…maybe it’s in the public domain, so can be used in new publications without any costly licenses or contracts (well, at least in the USA!).

You can defend your own preferences and make choices for your own publications without demonizing fellow sons and daughters of God!

GOD Builds His Church, Y’all!

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJVAnd God preserves His word.

Just look at the Septuagint.

This Greek translation of the Old Testament was pretty inaccurate in a lot of ways…even so far as changing the ages of the patriarchs in Genesis so that they no longer add up!

And yet, when people in the New Testament quote the Scriptures (Jesus, Paul, etc.) they use the Septuagint! (In Greek, by the way.)

Are y’all really saying that the All-powerful, All-wise God of the Universe can’t get His point across unless we use specific English words (words that even some native-speakers have trouble understanding)?!

Again, if you want to use the KJV, more power to ya.

Whatever floats your boat.

But stop telling every other Christian in the English-speaking world that we have to use some hundred-years-old translation commissioned under a Catholic king.

(Oh, yeah…y’all hate – Catholics, too. But that’s a discussion for another time.)

God speaks to the Christians in Tanzania…in Bolivia…in Indonesia…in Russia…and in Kansas. And He uses His Holy Spirit and the Scriptures to do it.

Yes, He calls us to faithfulness.

Yes, He calls us to follow to the best of our ability…to holiness…to love and patience and grace.

But…He’s like the literal MAKER AND KING OF THE UNIVERSE who sees the end from the beginning and if you’re honestly saying He needs your specific translation to reach the English-speaking world – then I have one question for you:

Whuht?

What Did God REALLY Say?

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: Unsplash

So…I wrote this section title, and suddenly remembered the person in the Bible who’s quoted as using those words.

Hint: he had a forked tongue.

Yes, there are bad translations. Some translations are better than others. But God in the person of the Holy Spirit hammers home the lessons He wants to teach each and every one of His children, and you’re not going to mess that up by reading the “wrong” Bible.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to get as close to the original as possible. But by “original” I mean the Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic that the original authors penned their words in.

It’s good to be concerned that we’re learning from reputable sources, and that we’re following God to the best of our ability.

But we’re all going to fall flat on our faces…and Jesus has to pick us up and help us walk again.

Remember Job: Satan is a dog on God’s leash.

Don’t you give that liar more credit than he deserves. He’ll try to twist our Scriptures, pull our pastors away after riches and sex, and confuse us with constant arguments about tiny details that don’t matter.

He’ll try.

But he can’t touch us unless our King and Master allows it…to test us, to teach us, or to teach someone else something.

So stop being so afraid! God’s got it!

The vibe I get from your material is that you’re so controlling and fixated on this particular aspect that you’ve taken your eyes off some other things that are equally (or perhaps more?) important:

“I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heavens above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters below.”

“You Pharisees have abandoned the teaching of God in favor of man’s tradition. Foolish hypocrites!”

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

“The one who is weak should not judge the brother who is strong…and the one who is strong should not despise the brother who is weak.”

“Little children, love one another, for love comes from God.”

(Those are “off-the-top-of-my-head translations” of Exodus 20:1-4/Deut. 5:6-8; Mark 7:6-13; 1 Cor. 13:1-2; Rom. 14:1-4, 9-13; and 1 John 4:7-8)

I hope, hidden in my words here, you can feel the love…somewhere.

And I write this message with the firm conviction that y’all will…do precisely whatever you please.

But I had to write because I would hate for you to hum along without ever being confronted with an alternate perspective – AKA never being given the chance to choose differently.

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: Oliver Roos on Unsplash

Just as, in my own walk, I would far rather my church family bring issues to my attention so I can grow and improve…rather than let me float along in error without a clue.

Because the other thing the Holy Spirit does is He puts people in our lives to challenge us, irritate us, have painful conversations with us, and rub off our rough edges to make us more pure for our Father.

So to anyone who actually reads this…thank you!

Keep up the good work!

Fear not…God is king!

And if God starts poking you over something…well, it’s best if you listen the first time, is all I’m sayin’.


Featured image credit

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJVKimia Wood is a Christian – fundamentalist – patriarchalist.

She also writes novels full of lovable characters and mysterious plots. She’s currently living with her family somewhere in the American Midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, 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 adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing exploits.

Friendship—Casualty of LGBT Agenda

Friendship—Casualty of LGBT Agenda

Friendship is about so many things.

Having fun doing the same things. Encouraging each other to be better than we are. Feeling safe with one another.

It’s not mutually exclusive with Romantic Love…but it’s something special, distinct, and different than Romantic Love.

Which is why, when I saw several works of fiction dirtying this platonic ideal, I had make a stand.

Can’t a girl have a friend who’s also a girl? Can’t two guys feel a brotherly bond – and nothing more complicated? Do these authors have to boil everything down to sex – sex –sex?

And if they do…what a sad, tiny world they must live in. In fact…a world without Friendship. Continue reading

I Wanna Be a Genos-Christian

I Wanna Be a Genos-Christian

I already wrote about why Genos (from One Punch Man) is totally adorable…but he’s more than that.

He’s given me a mental image of what a true Christ-follower should be. Here’s why I want to be a Christian the way Genos is a “Saitaman.”

ALERT: Spoilers for One Punch Man Season 1

ONE “Sign” Makes Genos a “True Believer”

Genos and Saitama meet under rather unusual circumstances. Genos is in a heated battle with Mosquito-Girl, when Saitama makes an un-stately entrance and saves his bacon…with one slap.

And from that moment – from the moment Saitama splatters the bad gal over the landscape with a single hit – Genos is sold.

Taken. A “true believer.” Totally devoted and completely determined.

One single display of Saitama’s prowess is enough to convince Genos that whoever this weirdo is, whatever he is, this is the teacher he needs.

And Saitama isn’t even God!

I’m reminded of an incident in Mark 5, where a man is so full of demons that they call themselves “Legion.” Well, Jesus deals with them with about as much effort as Saitama giving Mosquito-Girl the “bad girl” smack…and the freed man begs to go with him.

I Wanna Be a Genos-Christian — Kimia Wood

Why would I doubt my Alpha?

Jesus tells him “no,” and orders him to spread the word to his friends and family.

The rescued man…wait for it…ACTUALLY OBEYS.

All he saw was one amazing act. And since he was possessed by demons in the middle of it, one could argue about how much of the performance he actually witnessed.

But that was enough. He was sold…taken…blown away…totally devoted.

Devoted enough to obey.

I can also think of a more uncomfortable parallel.

It’s when the disciples are crossing the lake with Jesus, and a terrible storm blows up. They freak out until Jesus wakes up and tells the elements to shush…whereupon they really freak out.

And Jesus says:

“Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40 ESV)

Still? You still have no faith?

After all the disciples had seen – the blind receive sight, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the demons banished – they still don’t see…they still don’t trust.

And that hits pretty close to home.

He Knows Saitama Is On a Different Level

Genos says so in so many words after he and Saitama have a training bout.

Genos can obliterate cliffs and skyscrapers with his firepower.

Saitama pulls his punch…and the air-blast flattens a section of coastal cliff.

Genos knows he will never reach Saitama’s level…ever. But he’s okay with that, and still wants to be around him.

How easily we forget this about God!

Even in the church, we can sometimes act like God is just a “big guy.” Sure, He’s the biggest grown-up in a room of little kids…but deep down, He’s just stronger than we are –

Nope! His defining feature is His very nature is fundamentally different from us. We are created — He is un-created. We exist in time — He invented time. We are spirit tied to matter — He is spirit…but in the person of Jesus He “put on” matter to better interact with us.

Gah! God is just so amazing! And so different from me – thank goodness. But don’t take my word for it…passages like Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, and Revelation 1 & 4-5 will give a good picture of how “different” He really is!

Genos Enters Saitama’s Life and Won’t Leave

Saitama is kind of put off by this, to be honest. He finds Genos’ stalking to be a little creepy.

But Genos’ perseverance is inspiring. He’s so determined to get the strength Saitama has that he humbles himself, puts himself under Saitama’s authority, and throws himself into studying Saitama.

He won’t let anything or anyone get in the way of him getting closer to Saitama…which sounds kinda creepy when you say it like that, but think of it in the context of Phil. 3:12-14.

God calls us to perseverance, too.

Great chunks of the New Testament are spent telling Christians, “Be strong! Stand firm! Keep at it!”

It’s hard. There are many enemies. In fact, we carry our own enemy around with us – called the Old Man.

I Wanna Be A Genos-Christian — Kimia Wood

Heh heh…”drink” up more Jesus…! Image credit: OnePunchMan.fandom.com

But Jesus is worth it! Run to win the prize. Don’t settle for a participation trophy…throw yourself into God’s hands 100%, do what He asked you to do, and focus on drinking up more of Him.

With God, the prize is way, way better than superhuman strength. It’s eternal life!

Genos Hangs on His Master’s Every Word

Genos spends his free time writing down what Saitama has taught him and sketching out his master’s “training regime.” (He also washes the dishes and cleans the bathroom and stuff like that. Matt. 20:26, eh?)

No matter what Saitama says – even if he’s just making it up on the fly – Genos hangs on his every word and trusts him implicitly.

Now compare that to how we treat God!

I’m reminded of Paul of Tarsus, whose personal correspondence with his protégé Timothy is included in Scripture…because he just couldn’t keep himself from bursting out in these theological ecstasies.

And because all of his life, his work, and everything he wanted to say to his dear friend was wrapped up in their “mutual Friend” and Master – Jesus Christ the Promised Servant-King.

*resolves to read Bible more*

Do you still have no faith?

How many times has God come through for me? How many prayers has He answered?

Remember the broken washing machines He’s paid for…the friends He has protected…the hate and fear He has removed from my heart.

How many times must He hold my hand while I walk past the lions before I will remember He will never leave me? That He is stronger than my enemies?

When will I get to the place where He says it – and that is enough for me? Where I treat His word like gravity…unassailable, inevitable, steadfast, self-evident?

Genos Wants His Master “Built Up”—Not Himself

I Wanna Be a Genos-Christian — Kimia Wood

Image credit: One Punch Man Wiki

The public doesn’t really understand or appreciate Saitama (sound familiar?). But while the Hero Association and the public have promoted Genos and praised him and assigned him a place of standing, that’s never important to Genos.

Not as important as building up his master.

Heh – when Saitama gets hate-mail, Genos goes full-on “I will find whoever did this” mode!

But it’s not just that he wants to defend his master’s name…he actually likes to see Saitama succeed.

When Genos is defeated by the giant meteor – and by the monster the Deep Sea King – then Saitama shows up. And even though Genos is lying in a pool of his own melted parts, missing his arms (it’s okay – he’s a cyborg), Genos gets this tiny little smile.

As though to say:

Wait ’til you see this…that’s my master!

Yes! I never get tired of seeing him at work!

It’s all going to be okay now…that’s the boss-man!

Chills!

And Saitama isn’t even God!

Do I go out of my way to defend my Master’s honor? True, He doesn’t need my help, and He told me to “speak the truth with all gentleness” – but do I bother to worry about it?

When I meet someone who doesn’t know Him…or when my washing machine breaks…or when I find something in myself that shouldn’t be there…I should say:

Yes! Now I get to watch Master at work.

All right, Master. Make me Your tool and do Your work!

Breathe. Master is here. I wonder what amazing thing He’s going to make out of this?

And I should definitely remember Mark 8:33 – don’t correct the Master (unless you want to get called “Satan”).

He Wants To Be Like His Master

In the beginning, Genos follows Saitama around because he’s strong, and Genos wants to be strong, too.

(Maybe like a new Christian who’s just here because Hell sounded really bad.)

But the more he hangs out with Saitama, the more determined he is to be like him. Even when he realizes he will never reach Saitama’s level, he sticks around. He wants to be near Saitama’s awesome-ness.

And when Saitama demonstrates his heroism – helping out just because people need help – Genos recognizes that this self-sacrificial quality is something he wants to cultivate in himself, as well.

I want to be like Jesus!

I Wanna Be a Genos-Christian — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Pixabay

I know I will never be all-knowing, un-created, and eternal like my Sensei…but He told be to “be perfect,” like He is perfect (Matt. 5:48), and so I embrace the working of His Holy Spirit that makes me more like Him!

He is patient, and kind, and forgiving, and merciful, and just, and wise, and self-sacrificial, and humble, and generous, and –

And I want to be all those things, too. (See Luke 6:39-40)

BECAUSE JESUS IS SO AWESOME I JUST WANT SOME OF HIS AWESOME ON ME.

From Now On, I Want To Be a Genos-Christian

I hope that, now you know what it means, you want to be one, too!

Genos is not perfect – and Saitama is not God – but I’m grateful to have one more illustration to refer back to.

Maybe it seems like a child’s drawing, but it reminds me who I want to be when I grow up.

“Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”


I Wanna Be A Genos-Christian — Kimia WoodKimia Wood grew up under an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family – including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend…bracing for the collapse of society by baking, knitting, 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 adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

Why “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Was Good—But Not Great

A friend of mine recently watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, and says it has become her favorite show ever…by a good margin.

Why "Avatar: The Last Airbender" Was Good—But Not Great — Kimia Wood

Image credit: CartoonsOn.tv

And…nah.

It was good, I’ll grant you…but it wasn’t THE CRUX AND APOTHEOSIS OF ALL GOOD WRITING AND THE PEAK OF ENTERTAINMENT. (And my brother gripes about this show way more than I do.)

You can read my full review to get all my initial thoughts, but I think the basic element that held this show back was:

KID VS. GROWN-UP CHARACTERS

You might be thinking, “But it’s a kids’ show! All the principle characters are kids!”

I’m not talking age. I’m talking maturity.

And while it’s understandable (and almost expected) for characters to start with some immaturity (especially young characters), it should be something they grow out of. The plot should force them to develop.

It shouldn’t be celebrated. Continue reading

Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver

Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver

NOTE: This post is something of a departure from my usual tone, as it will be more dry and academic than I usually write. This is because it’s a subject I have strong emotions about, and in an attempt to avoid breathing fire on my keyboard, I’ve squeezed a lot of my normal humor out of it.

But it’s still an important piece about a vital subject, so please take the time to read it and form your own opinions. I promise I only froth at the mouth a tiny bit.

What if we’ve been wrong about preschool this whole time?Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver — Kimia Wood

Lots of people see “preschool” and they think “good.” We all want our kids to learn, right? We want them to have the best chance to succeed, right? And wouldn’t starting them in an institutional learning system as early as possible be the best way to do this?

No.

There’s also the question of whether this is the best way to honor God with our children. We want them to “achieve their full potential” and get good jobs, etc., but if we don’t make honoring God our chief focus (and make sure our kids know as much as we can teach them about Jesus) then we’re not living our Christian witness to the best of our ability.

But I’ll save that for a different post. For now, I’ll focus on the benefits preschool promises: academics, adult interaction, and affirmative action.

Let’s dive into this topic and try to figure out what we’re hoping to get out of preschool and whether it really delivers (or not)!

Academic Achievement

We all want Little Johnny to learn “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic”. After all, “whatever you do, do it as though you were working to the Lord.” We want our kids to be able to support themselves, contribute to their communities, and enrich the lives of others…to say nothing of living full lives themselves and using the intellectual gifts God has given them.

It all starts with a “good education,” right?

And preschool is one of the best ways to give kids that, right?

No.

Where child development is concerned, there are very few absolutes…but the evidence is coming in stronger and stronger that preschool – especially an academically-focused preschool – does not give kids an “edge” to learning…and in fact might hurt them.

Academics over Learning

There’s been a lot of emphasis lately on pushing kids to achieve higher standards at earlier ages. The Atlantic tells us how kids who used to be expected to read by the end of first grade are now expected to read by the end of preschool. Maybe I’m doing the math wrong, but isn’t that a two-year advance?

Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver — Kimia Wood

How can we help our children thrive? Image from Pixabay

A recent article in the newsletter from the Home School Legal Defense Association cites several researchers and testimonies from parents that children grow and develop at different ages. For instance, “children who had learned to read in kindergarten had no substantial advantage over those who learned to read in the 1st grade.”

Kids have different development rates, and that’s okay. Trying to force them into a one-size-fits-all system is a terrible way to let them flourish.

Parents testify to children as old as seven and eight years old who would not have done well in a traditional, sit-down-shut-up learning environment. Forcing these children to attend a rigorous preschool at four or five years old would not have helped them with “school preparedness”…it would have destroyed them. They needed a kinetic, hands-on learning environment tailored to their particular interests (an environment that their parents did provide for them).

The article also references increased diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD), or similar disorders on the spectrum, when kids who aren’t developmentally ready for school are expected to conform to the school environment. Do these kids really have a learning disability? Or are they just being asked to perform above where their brain and body have developed to?

Long-term consequences?

There’s more. According to Psychology Today, an intense focus on academic attainment (learning reading, writing, and math through worksheets and instruction) in preschool almost doubles a child’s chance of a felony record. (Presumably because the early pressure and behavioral expectations led to them acting out more in school, and elsewhere…although it’s impossible to finger causality in cases like this.)

Contrast this with “play-based” preschools where children are encouraged to play, interact with others, and explore on their own…sort of like what they would do in a natural home setting, perhaps in conjunction with play-dates.

EdLibertyWatch.org collects quotes from several different papers, including this study from the National Bureau of Economic Research: “…researchers concluded that preschool has a positive impact on reading and mathematics scores in the short term and a negative effect on behavior.”

Further, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that a 2015 study found that “while children coming from ECE [early childhood education] programs earned higher achievement scores in kindergarten, these students did not test higher than their non-ECE attending peers by first grade, and tested below their peers by the third grade.”

Which is more important?

A slight, temporary rise in test scores in exchange for increased behavior issues, and even more ADHD diagnoses? Wait – should this even be a trade-off at all?

The homeschooling examples prove we can suit our education models to each child’s learning needs. Maybe we shouldn’t throw the “preschool” baby out with the bathwater…but it’s high time we stopped taking it for granted that the earlier we got our kids into preschool, the higher their college entrance scores would be.

The spiritual dimension: anti-Biblical curriculum

Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver — Kimia Wood

Image from Unsplash

I know I said I’d leave this for later, but I came across a quote during my research that just stunned me:

What is gender identity? Why should it to be taught to three and four year old children? How [will it] close the achievement gap for poor and minority children?…

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAYEC), whose accreditation results in both more Minnesota state funding for childcare programs and gains a higher rating in the Parent Aware quality rating system, promotes these types of “gender anatomy and gender identity” exercises in its curriculum.

(Education Liberty Watch, quoting from the National Association for the Education of Young Children)

Notice that both state money and professional validation are tied to accepting the NAYEC’s view on this moral issue. And homosexuality is only one example – the culture has a whole hat-full of issues to introduce to your kids.

If you thought preschool was all about “school readiness” and getting a jump-start on learning the alphabet, these secular educators have one up on you. Kids at these ages are sponges, ready to accept whatever the “people in charge” teach them.

And if your child’s preschool is teaching transgender issues with anatomically correct dolls, wouldn’t you want to know about it – and be involved in conversations with your child?

To defuse the part-to-whole objections:

No, I’m not saying every teacher in every school is out to make your preschooler gay. But think about the trend of the culture, the political pressures of “this present age”…and remember who God will hold accountable for the children He entrusted to you.

Adult Interaction

Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver — Kimia WoodWe want kids to grow up to be confident, competent, fully-functioning adults. Kids are great at learning by imitating (just wait until they start repeating that one word you wish you hadn’t said).

So the best way for them to learn how to be adults is…by putting them around adults.

More specifically, there’s plenty of research that what children at the preschool ages need is not math worksheets and vocabulary tests, but stable, lasting relationships. They will have plenty of time to grasp the more cerebral concepts if their emotional, psychological, and spiritual health is firmly grounded in relationships with trustworthy adults.

As Morningstar Education Network’s research adviser, Denise Kanter, says: “Young children need to be at home bonding with their mothers and fathers.”

KindredMedia.org collects several reports that speak to this:

“Young children learn best through meaningful interaction with real materials and caring adults and their peers, not through the drilling of isolated skills.”…Kids from play-based programs usually catch up academically, while kids from academic backgrounds may never catch up socially. — Education.com

…the years from birth to age 5 are viewed as a critical period for developing the foundations for thinking, behaving, and emotional well-being. Child development experts indicate it is during these years that children develop linguistic, cognitive, social, emotional, and regulatory skills that predict their later functioning in many domains. — Early Childhood Education: The Long-Term Benefits (PDF)

But won’t my child miss out on socialization if he doesn’t go to preschool?

If you do the necessary socializing and relationship-building that parenthood involves, your child won’t suffer from missing out on preschool. Just because a good preschool is superior to plopping kids in front of the TV and ignoring them, though, doesn’t mean it should be our go-to method of child-rearing. (See below!)

The Atlantic article cited above explains that organic, child-driven learning (coached by engaged adults) is more interactive – and more educational – than the traditional “butt-in-seat” classroom model. This is where a teacher (or parent) uses a child’s natural curiosity to let them explore the world and ask questions (yes, millions of questions) and let them learn through the natural give-and-take of human conversation…instead of a list of facts they will be tested on later.

Focus on the Family insists that preschool should enhance the parents’ relationship with their child, not hinder it — nor simply be a way to get a “leg up” on those other kids! After all, trying to “keep up with the Joneses” isn’t very neighborly, is it?

The spiritual dimension

We should be especially concerned about this as Christians. Rod Dreher in his book The Benedict Option – which is all about cultivating a deliberate, passionate Christianity that informs every aspect of our daily lives – talks about how the model of “education” has changed over the past century. Instead of learning about the natural world and human history as a way to understand God better, and as a way to provide context for the divine order of the universe, modern schools are focused on retaining facts and applying them to work skills.

“Every educational model presupposes an anthropology: an idea of what a human being is. In general, the mainstream model is geared toward equipping students to succeed in the workforce, to provide a pleasant, secure life for themselves and their future families…and to fulfill their personal goals—whatever those goals might be.” (pg. 147)

Christian education, in contrast, should focus on “join[ing] ourselves to Christ and striv[ing] to live in harmony with the divine will” – from the time we wake up and have breakfast, to when we’re walking past the weird stranger on the street, to when we say our prayers at night.

As Christians, we need to teach our children that God is an important part of every single facet of our lives…that He is not somehow unrelated to physics, or social studies, or English spelling.

Tend your own personal orchid

Remember how every single child is unique, and develops at his or her own rate? Just because your child is seven years old and can’t spell doesn’t mean he (or you) is a failure. It means he needs someone caring and invested to give him the help he needs to learn in the best way for him (like getting up and moving during spelling tests, instead of glued to a desk with a pencil in his hand).

My mom used to have me write short stories with the words I missed on spelling tests…and now I can spell “snake” and “rabbit” just like any other well-adjusted twenty-something! (And, well, check out my “Books” tab to see what encouraging my story-telling got us!)

Kicking your orchids out of the hot-house make them shrivel…

Going back to that wealth of materials collected by EdLibertyWatch.org, the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD – 2007) say:

The more time a child spent in center-based care the more likely he or she was to be described by sixth grade teachers as one who “gets in many fights,” is “disobedient at school,” and “argues a lot.”

Children need a stable home life to help them develop emotionally and behaviorally – and that maturity will only improve their academic endeavors later on. In fact, to quote the rest of the excerpt on the NICHD study:

…NICHD tracked 1,364 children who had participated in early childhood education. Preschool participants were more likely to score higher on factors of aggression and disobedience as reported by their teachers. This finding was true even for children who attended high quality center-based care.

Remember: who are the two adults children will interact with for the greatest part of their growing-up? Their parents. Even if they go to institutional school and learn from different teachers every single year, they need a strong relationship with their parents to anchor them throughout their childhoods and beyond.

Children are more than a statistic…and when it comes to their lives, we need to be concerned about more than what the “experts” say, “what we’ve always done,” or what supposedly “works” to get the outcome we want.

This isn’t about outcomes. It’s about doing what God says. Right?

Teach a man to fish…

My parents have always affirmed that teaching their children how to study is one of the most important things they could do.

Children who develop emotional, psychological, and cognitive maturity will be self-motivated to study…and if they haven’t had their love of learning “snuffed out” by over-exposure, they will drive their own educational journey through grade school, high school, college, and beyond into adult life. (You knew we don’t stop learning once we get a job and don’t have a designated “teacher,” right?)

Assisting the Disadvantaged

Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver — Kimia Wood

I don’t have a picture of an impoverished child, so enjoy this cute dog instead.

A lot of voices in favor of preschool emphasize “closing the gap” between the “disadvantaged,” poor children and those with a better home life. A noble goal, and one in line with God’s own plan for us (check out James 1:27 and Mark 12:29-31).

The orphan (or in some places “fatherless”) is already late to the starting line, before the race even starts. That’s no fault of theirs, and God cares deeply about giving justice to the oppressed and helpless (just read, like, all of the Psalms).

However… While it’s good to feel for children who are growing up with only one parent, who suffer lack of opportunity due to poverty, etc. – none of that explains how the preschool system is superior to the natural, historic, and God-given system of two dedicated parents raising and educating their own biological children themselves.

And our concern for disadvantaged kids should in no way interfere with the raising of those kids who are blessed with a committed mom and dad.

But what about those poor kids who don’t have the same chances other children do?

Maybe they’re living in a single parent home, or their family doesn’t have the financial resources for books, etc. Maybe they really do have ADHD, autism, blindness, or some other physical barrier to learning the way other kids do. Do early childhood education programs help them succeed better – both now and later in life?

The Psychology Today article referenced above shared the results of a study among “sixty eight high-poverty children living in Ypsilanti, Michigan”. This study was largely to examine the effects on these children of a “Direct Instruction” preschool classroom (that focused on academic attainment) versus a “Traditional” preschool (which emphasized play). To quote:

[T]he experiment also included a home visit every two weeks, aimed at instructing parents in how to help their children. …

The initial results of this experiment were similar to those of other such studies. Those in the direct-instruction group showed early academic gains, which soon vanished. This study, however, also included follow-up research when the participants were 15 years old and again when they were 23 years old. At these ages there were no significant differences among the groups in academic achievement, but large, significant differences in social and emotional characteristics.

That’s right. “No significant differences in academic achievement“!

This is the same pattern we saw in the other studies. The writers suggest that the children in the so-called “play-based” preschools learned to “plan their own activities, to play with others, and to negotiate differences” – skills which served them not only in the later grades, but beyond into adulthood. (“Teach a man to fish…”)

The article writers also theorize that the home visits encouraged the children’s parents to reinforce these teaching styles. The Traditional “play-based” preschools encouraged the parents to let their children interact with the world creatively. The Direct Instruction preschools were focused on test scores and other “academic” markers of “personal achievement” – and this focus on “personal achievement” could have encouraged these children in the selfish attitudes that led to their generally more anti-social behavior.

Without being simple pragmatists, let’s look at the fruit.

The Bible tells us we can evaluate teachers by their fruit…or in other words, we can pick up hints about whether to listen to them by watching their actions (Matt. 7:15-20).

What is the outcome of preschool for disadvantaged children?

Obviously in some cases the outcome was…not too good. Early pressure to achieve, plus a focus on personal performance, encouraged anti-social behavior in some of these individuals. We might go even farther, and say that denying them a carefree childhood, and the opportunity to learn at their own pace, hampered their emotional and social growth.

So we see that even for disadvantaged children, the best outcome is the one that mimics a traditional, Biblical upbringing centered in the home of their biological parents.

But, post writer, what about all the terrible parents who will just stick their kids in front of the TV and who have no idea how to parent –

Statistically speaking, children with “bad” parents will have poor outcomes, no matter what school system you devise for them. The students discussed in Psychology Today had professionals visiting them at home to advise their parents how to support the teaching curriculum of their preschool – and the results still weren’t stellar.

The point is not that we should “give up” on these disadvantaged kids, but that we need to have our eyes firmly fixed on JESUS and to make sure we’re 1) trying to accomplish what He wants, and 2) going to Him for direction in how to do that.

Systemic Dysfunction

Preschools that drill facts and figures into little kids doesn’t help them. In fact, in the worst cases, it hurts their chances because they missed out on that crucial period of character development by worrying about head knowledge.

Children at these young ages should be sending down their roots and finding out what can be depended on…not raising their branches to test high on impersonal markers of “achievement.”

The preschools that did seem to succeed were the ones that allowed children to flourish at their own pace and ask questions naturally…in fact, the care centers that mimicked a nurturing home environment.

Further, as Christians, we understand that there are more important markers to success than grades or salaries. Give me ten children who respect their parents, treat those around them with kindness, and love their Creator over one “child” who makes six figures with his graduate degree and can’t keep his marriage together.

Institutional education is the cultural norm.

My grandparents have finally stopped asking when I’m going to get a college diploma (although they’re still not satisfied with my Associate’s Degree). The culture around us expects us to send our kids off on the bus as soon as they can walk, and our young adults off to college as soon as they’re old enough to join the army vote.

But is that the best way? Is that really how we’re going to accomplish our goals? Even if it was, the ends do not justify the means. (Otherwise, as my brother loves to shout, there is no justice, only means.)

Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver — Kimia Wood

Which is the “straight and narrow” way? Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

God calls us to justice and righteousness. How can we strive for that in our everyday lives, and with our children?

Maybe in some other post, we’ll examine what God calls us to in our daily lives, and what that means for raising our kids. Until then, take a good, hard look at your own decisions.

I firmly believe the system of institutional education is broken – and that goes all the way down to preschool. Whether you agree with me, or think my mom dropped me on my head as a young’un, your kids are worth more than the default.

We need to get out of the rut of thinking “preschool” always equals “good.” Can it help? Sure – under certain circumstances and in certain situations.

But don’t do it because “everyone else is doing it.” Don’t do it because it’s expected of you, or because the grandparents want you to.

These are your kids we’re talking about – the kids God gave to you. Look at all the evidence, and decide if preschool will really help your kids to send down their roots, and thrive in God.


Preschool: Over-promise, Under-deliver — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, gaming, 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 adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing projects.

5 Love Languages—Translating Our Affection

The “five love languages” is a concept invented by Pastor Gary Chapman (see the official site here), and it theorizes that different people show and experience affection in different ways.

Some feel loved by “Physical Touch.” Others value “Giving Gifts.” “Acts of Service” or “Quality Time” are how some people feel most affirmed or loved, while “Words of Affirmation” complete some people’s world.

Do You Speak My Language?

5 Love Languages—Translating Our Affection — Kimia Wood

Sibling love!

Most of us don’t go around wanting to hurt people, or offend them, or do things that make them uncomfortable.

But what if someone told you how much they admired you and enjoyed being your friend…in Tagalog? Chances are you wouldn’t have any idea what they meant, and wouldn’t be built up by it.

We’re full of friendly feelings, kind thoughts, and compassionate impulses. We want to make everyone around us feel special, and show the love of Jesus.

How can we do it in a way that they understand? Sure, they might know we mean well, and appreciate what we’re doing…but can we do it in a way that speaks to their heart?

Refocusing the questions

I once went through a quiz to discover my love language, and the questions went something like this:

“I feel affirmed when you _[pick one]_.”

“When you _[pick one]_, I really feel loved.”

There’s nothing exactly wrong with this…except my responses would vary depending on who I was thinking about (Mom, Dad, brother, coworker, best friend).

Mom is always doing things for us. So when she buys me a gift, it means that much more – because she went out of her way to do that.

My brother’s big on hugs. When he does the dishes without being asked? That’s huge.

So…I’m not unique in this revelation, but if we really want to identify our own (and others’) “love language,” let’s start with how we prefer to give affection!

Step 1: Subject in a Controlled Environment

Take a look at yourself! You can know yourself better and more easily than you can know anyone else. So…

A coworker is going through a hard time. You:

  • Take a meal to their house.
  • Sit with them at lunch and try to just “be there.”
  • Write them an encouraging note.

It’s your mom’s birthday! You want to show her how much she means! You:

  • Buy her something big and expensive.
  • Go to her house to give her a big hug in person.
  • Call her on the phone (you’ve composed a poem in her honor to read to her).
  • Take her to a movie/concert/dinner/something she enjoys

You want to affirm your best friend. You:

  • Write down all the things you appreciate about them, and give them the note.
  • Mow their lawn, fix their sink, or babysit their kids.
  • Buy them a little something, just because.
  • Ask to spend a day with them, doing whatever they want.

When you want to reach out to someone, what’s your default method?

Obviously, you probably don’t go around hugging strangers (that would be weird)…but do you make sure to kiss your family members before bed every night? Do you like giving high-fives, fist-bumps, and side-hugs? You might be a “Physical Touch” person.

Now that you’ve done this step, you have a better idea what to look for. And we can actually apply this knowledge to translating your care for someone into their language!

Step 2: Observations in the Wild

5 Love Languages—Translating Our Affection — Kimia WoodPick another person. Any person. Coworker, cousin, church sibling, parent, child, neighbor…any person you interact with! We’ll arbitrarily name them “Taylor” for simplicity’s sake.

Now for the hard questions. When Taylor sees a coworker feeling down, he/she:

  • Bakes a cake for them.
  • Slips a note into their locker.
  • Hugs them (not caring that it’s weird!)
  • Sits and listens to them…no matter how long it takes.

Taylor’s grandma isn’t feeling well. He/she:

  • Volunteers to drive Grandma to all the doctor’s visits.
  • Calls Grandma every day, just to check in.
  • Does the laundry and dishes for her.
  • Assembles all the kids to go see Grandma in person.

When Taylor wants to let you know he/she’s happy to see you, he/she:

  • Hugs you.
  • Tells you how important you are in his/her life.
  • Offers to do a chore for you.
  • Asks to go out sometime, to a movie/concert/dinner/shopping/ministry opportunity.
  • Gives you something (even if it’s just the cupcake in his/her hand!).

Starting to make sense? What is Taylor’s default method for telling someone, “You are special” or “I like being your friend”?

With this data, you can move to the next step…

Step 3: Speak Their Language!

I’ve been (re)reading this awesome book about sharing the Good News of Jesus in a way your listeners can understand. It’s not just about avoiding “propitiation” and “double predestination”…it’s about finding the piece of the amazing good news about Jesus that specifically speaks to their hearts, that the Holy Spirit wants to use to bring them to God.

This applies to showing affection, too! God calls us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But if your grandma doesn’t adore heavy metal rock as much as you do, that CD you gave her won’t seem loving to her (except that she’s your grandma and knows you mean well).

How can we show love, concern, affection, and self-sacrificial humility to those around us? How can we “speak” in a way that their hearts instinctively understand that we want to build them up?

When my dad gives me a present, I know he loves me…but when he vacuums, or fixes the house, I see him stepping out of his “default” to show how he cares for us!

Now step out there and speak in someone else’s language. Even if they knew you cared before, this might make them say, “Hey…I guess they really mean it!”


5 Love Languages—Translating Our Affection — Kimia WoodKimia Wood is into gifts…so (ahem) check out that Books tab (cough)!

She currently lives 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 adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

When Meta-Gaming Breaks Play

Meta-gaming is a term that refers to when gamers try to think outside of the “box” of the game narrative…and just focus on winning.

You might not think this is such a bad thing, but it really is…because it infects more than just games.

World of WarcraftWhen Meta-Gaming Breaks Play — Kimia Wood

It’s easiest to see in a computer role-playing game (CRPG) like World of Warcraft.

Once upon a time, WoW gave your character “talent points” for leveling up, and you applied these points to a complicated tree that eventually led to other abilities or perks. (Other CRPGs frequently used this system also, such as Diablo 2.)

With so many branches to choose from – and different end goals that you had to work hard to achieve – you could truly make your character unique.

I personally poured all my talent points into making my mage’s cast time faster.

Other players? They crunched numbers and created Reddit pages dictating the exact specifications you “needed” to “really be an X, Y or Z.”

Are you a Warrior? You need this build order. Are you a Hunter? You must put your talents into these things. The algorithms are such that only this configuration will give you a “proper” character of your chosen class.

No matter if you just wanted to make your cast time faster, and wouldn’t be caught dead in a player vs. player (PvP) scenario (unless you’re doing the Children’s Week achievement…and the reason you avoid it is you usually end up dead! Ugh).

The Reddit types are no longer playing. They are gaming.

Instead of helping Varian and the Alliance defeat the undead, they’re now trying to max out their gear.

They’re not interested in breathing life into their avatar by giving them a totally unique build of talents and quirks. They want to know what will give them the maximum edge in combat, and then they’re playing to win.

No wonder Blizzard Entertainment simplified the talent system to where you choose one of three new spells or abilities every level (instead of funneling points toward different branching tree systems).

Dungeons and Dragons

When Meta-Gaming Breaks Play — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Wikipedia

Relaunching our campaign and delving into the world of AD&D has given us a chance to examine this gaming system.

My dad especially has found there’s a lot of tips to help Game Masters (or Dungeon Masters for some) prevent players from “meta-gaming.”

This is why players aren’t allowed to trade or give items to each other (imagine two siblings teaming up and sharing all their loot…how unfair would that be?). Same reason players are discouraged from running two characters at once (of course I will let Myself borrow my Magic Sword of Dragon-Smiting!).

You might be wondering, “What’s wrong with people being friendly and wanting to share?”

Meta-gaming!

See, each character in D&D has “stats” – like strength, dexterity, charisma (how convincing you are to people), constitution (how well you recover from illnesses), etc.

Meta-gaming knows what these stats are, and tries to work them to its advantage.

It tells the strongest character to try opening the door, the prettiest character to get information out of the innkeeper, and the smartest character to read the cryptic writing on the scroll. It gives the magic sword to the guy who needs it most (not the guy who found it, for example), and tries to distribute other items, potions, etc. according to stat needs.

Of course, with all these actions you have to roll the dice to see if you succeed…and a good GM can either give you a helping hand, or totally mess with your plans.

BECAUSE THE POINT IS NOT WINNING.

I mean, obviously we want to win. But the point of the game is not to play with pencil in one hand and calculator in the other, figuring out the exact probability of each fight and moving into just the right place to maximize profit. (Which is exactly what the brother and I do playing Battle for Wesnoth, by the way…:} .)

The point of the game is to play.

You are this character. What might they do? Sure, your character sheet says you have great charisma…but how good is your acting when you talk with the GM (who plays all the non-player characters)?

Yeah, the sheet says this character is the strongest…but his player has portrayed him as a gentle giant, unsure of himself, so it doesn’t make sense for him to rush into the fray.

Besides, the guy with lower strength got a really good roll, and opened the door with no problem.

I said earlier that meta-gamers think outside the box…but actually, they’re confined by the numbers and the probabilities, and don’t have the creative freedom to try a true “outside the box” solution. (Like “let’s pull on the door together – or use this broken sword as a lever” or “his character is ugly as sin but the player is great at improv – let him talk us out of this”…)

Where am I going with this?When Meta-Gaming Breaks Play — Kimia Wood

So meta-gaming can make a game less fun (unless lots of math or internet searches is how you like to spend your game time), but is it really worth a whole post?

Is it really so bad? Can’t I let some players do them, and let me do me?

Theology

It doesn’t just apply to games, see. Though that’s where it shows up most visibly…

Jesus had a lot of harsh things to say to the Pharisees – a brand of “hyper-observant” Jews who took the Law of Moses and the Old Testament super seriously and were doing their best to follow what God said.

Or were they?

What was that Jesus said to them?

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (Matt. 23: 23)

And He got more explicit:

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. And he said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’

But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do. (Mark 7: 8-13)

See, they weren’t focused on playing. They were into gaming.

God said, “Here’s My game. Here are My rules. Now let’s play.”

But the Pharisees said, “I crunched the numbers, and this is how I need to play to win the encounter.” (I.e. their goal was “eternal life,” not actually “living with God wherever He is.” – see John 5:39-46)

And God said, “That’s actually not the point, and no, you don’t win.”

Go with the Game Master

It’s so easy to fall into the meta-gaming trap. We think if we put tracts in every bathroom we visit, then we don’t have to witness to our neighbor next door.

Or that because we went and visited lonely people in the nursing home, we can sass off to our mom at home.

We’ll say, “The man is not doing his job; but the job needs to get done. So we’ll have this woman do it” – even though that’s exactly what God said not to do!

We see that parents are not taking care of their kids…so we decide we’ll do it for them, instead of helping the parents fulfill their God-ordained duty to raise/teach their own kids!

WHO DID GOD GIVE THOSE KIDS TO AGAIN?

I know you couldn’t get an 18 on the parents’ character sheet if you added all the numbers together (18 is the max stat), but that doesn’t mean you can mess with the encounter.

The GM says it’s their role to do this. /end rant

This “pragmatism” is a “need to achieve.”

When you meta-game, you are essentially saying:

  • “We can’t trust the GM to arrange things in our favor. We have to become slaves of the numbers to make the system work.”
  • “The actual children aren’t important, only the test scores/high scores/level achievements we get. We’re not here to walk beside our children and trust God to bless us…we’re here to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get the output we want – e.g. the good grades, good jobs, good social skills we’re sure we’ll get if we use the Magic Wand of Academic Readiness.”
  • “I saw on a Reddit page that soup kitchens help reduce crime. I’m not sure how, so let’s not bother to establish strong, stable relationships with the hurting people we meet – or heaven forbid share Jesus with them! – but focus on running as many people through our lunch line as possible. Because Jesus said, ‘Go thou and get high attendance numbers,’ right?”

What does the “Game Master” really say?

He says that checking off the prayer, Bible reading, soup kitchen, and “smiling” boxes doesn’t win the game for you! This is not about getting the “proper” gear for your class.

This is about immersing yourself in the game, and playing with all your heart.

Cry when a side character dies. Don’t sweat that your stats aren’t high enough. Solve the puzzles in new, creative ways. If you “break the fourth wall” too much, it won’t be there anymore…and you won’t even be in the story anymore.

Trust the Guy-in-charge-of-the-game. If you play His way, you will win. The Referee is on your side, see 😉

‘Cause it’s not about winning. It’s about playing the game with your “Dad.”


When Meta-Gaming Breaks Play — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, gaming, 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 adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing projects.


Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

5 Stages of Singleness

5 Stages of Singleness

5 Stages of Singleness — Kimia Wood — single Christian

Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

So. You’re Christian. You’re single.

There’s ups and downs that go with that territory, and if you’re like me, you might find yourself going through these five “stages” of singleness (probably bouncing between them with the shifts of the wind!):

Denial

Marriage? Bah! Marriage forces you to get along with a radically different person for the rest of your life, mirroring the love of Christ for His church in your self-sacrificial service to one another.

Who needs that work?

This is the mood where you think spouses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Every story on the planet includes a romantic subplot (if it’s not a straight-up romance story), every song on the radio (no matter what station) is talking about pairing up, and every person you know is “involved,” about to be “involved,” or trying to be “involved”…but that doesn’t mean you should take it seriously. Continue reading