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

Disgourgement of Art

If, in the following note, I have used poetic language, it is because of the cascading radial beams I observe in the beauty around me. Please understand that I have attempted to capture the over-abundance of this life-force, and do not wish my meaning to be obscured by lofty ambitions of prettiness.

You are an Artist. This is why I speak to you. I am an artist. Note the distinction. Some may mock at your works – image, sound, building of words – but I do not intend to. I merely intend to send forth the clarion call of warning that echoes in my being – that echoes in the universe – and pass on the scent of danger that I have caught from your work.

Yes, your work — seeing as it is separate from you, I do not despair of you – nor of it, please note. There is only a pathway to Death – not Death itself (if you are reading this!). I do not even say that the work in itself is evil (not in this fashion) but only that – if taken wrongly – can cause death…like medicine, or water, or sunshine.

One final preface: I have addressed you as “Child” because that is my affection for you…as an anxious mother bending for her child, eager to see the young ones follow in her footsteps, but afraid that by misunderstanding her example – and her instruction – they shall be misled and end up far away.

(Not that I am your model, you understand – in art, in work, or in other areas — but I strive for the glories I wish for you, and so am your fellow-worker, a fellow-artist (not Artist), and consequently concerned (read: terrified and sick with longing) for my brothers, my sisters, my BFFs…my children.)

Oh, Art. How I sicken of it.

Now, now, Child – I myself “do art”. But Art is a sucking of vapid desire that cannot be met outside of Faithful and True.

Take music. I sing, dance, feel the rhythm of the melody echo in my membranes with the cry of the cords that animate creation. Think me immune to the swell? I feel, too. But I do not worship it, any more than I worship the sun. Any more than I worship the crackling, biting, rhythmic flow of power that courses through the machines as the lifeblood of the digital world.

I have seen them: the ones who take Music (as Art) and cling to it as though with the patterns of sound – waft and wave – they could unmake and remake the very cords of humanity. They mistake the beauty – the Art – for Who put it there…and that is Deadly.

You see, I do not say that these things cannot be sanctified, but to suppose them to be holy of their own nature is to confuse the flow with the source, to confuse this beauty and this pic-line to the soul with Holy Holy Holy (being His name).

Oh Fool of my fellowship, oh Child of my family-blood, how I long to gather you as a sheepdog gathers sheep – and will you flee?

And now, what is art?

Do you not know that all time and space, all matter and every point of being, even language and thought itself, is directed toward this: worship? What you worship: in that lies Everything.

Art. Beauty. Paint and stone and words words words, and notes in harmonious sequence. What do they make? Beauteous Child, do not clutch gravel thinking them stars. You know Eternity stares at you whenever you close your eyes. And to step forward to meet the Eternal One, or recoil backward out of His grasp, has been the whole aim of mankind.

We all have our ways. Whatever we make with these clarion calls to the soul of Man, it will not go unrecorded. (There are “books”, you know, for that purpose. Rev. 20:12) And here again, with worship in mind, we find imitation the simplest tool in our hands. What, surely you know how Story has been used before! Do I presume to create new worlds, or do I hope – with what I weave – to capture the vibrating cord of Creation that echoes backward and forward and in every particle of the universe the eternal call of worship to the source: Holy, Holy (thus His name).

So you see we all chant back but one refrain — all our speech has one end, to speak Faithful and True.

Reach for the Eternal One, and all Eternity shall be yours to explore, along the paths of radiant joy that pierce the outermost shadows.

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia Wood

The Light pierces the Darkness; Image from ArtStation.com

What is Art?

A picture, a statue, a concept, a form, a beauty, an abiding, a pretty thing, a cry from the soul of Man.

No, no, some say. My Art is not this…not a stylized beauty, an Object, a thing of crude matter to cheat the haggard, clutching fingers of entropy. It is passing, like our lives. We stare in the face our own mortality.

This man does not build a statue…he builds an “event.” What are his tools? Steel, plastic, cloth, earth, people, words. Time and place. The hearts and souls of men. It is not art…it is interaction, relationship, human spirit, human energy, experience. He draws pictures, he spends money, thousands of lives are touched, someone takes a picture, and they call it Art.

“A matter of days,” he says. “A matter of days, and it’s gone. I take it down.” Flirting with his own unraveling, this event mimics the vaporization of his own humanity. “I did it!” he says. “I have created Art; I tore down my child with my own hands.” The Art is the idea, the memory, the fusion of human energies. “My name shall abide.”

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia Wood

The Gates; Image from Wikipedia

They grasp for the immortal. They think an idea will not die. Granite crumbles, bronze ferments, wood and paper melt, but the words, the concepts, the memories of millions…how can they die, in the hearts and souls of men? It shall abide.

Folly. The thoughts of men evaporate before the morning dew is birthed. How can your name abide in the minds of men, the outcry of your soul in their hearts? It is but a shadow, a mist. The emotions, the thoughts, the dream will fade faster than the grass.

What is Art? Can it be a form, a thing, a holding-in-the-hand?

Some have sought everlastingness in this…a stone, a page, a piece of glass.

Imagine a youth. His master calls, and he comes, strips, and stands in position, waiting to be turned into stone. The master works, and then he cries, “I have made beauty. — I have signed my name on a page. — Now I shall abide.”

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia Wood

Image courtesy of Jörg Bittner Unna/Wikipedia

Men see the statue. They enjoy its form, and the work lives on. They cherish it and care for it, and it goes on into the centuries to follow.

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia Wood

Vincent van Gogh; d. 29 July 1890 (aged 37); And the worms ate his flesh…

What of the youth? His master finishes, he walks away, and his flesh dissolves into earth. And his master? Can he abide in a name, in a form? In his hand-children, even in his own mirror image? No…the worms eat his flesh.

“I have made beauty.” “I have made Art.” “I have made a concept, a vision, a dream, a human thing.”

Meaning. By which they reach for eternity. What abides? Meaning. Purpose soars into the ages beyond, while the aimless dissipates as the vapor that creates it.

Fie! I say, this crumbling snatch at the immortal. This grasping for the eternal, the timeless.

Look.

See. What do we see?

Tree…mathematical formula…star…cat…galaxy, physics, newborn’s hand…I don’t just see beauty. I see the beauty of God.

Give him your soul, and he will give you life. Clutch it to your breast, in greedy fear and hesitation, and you will die for all eternity.

What joy, what love, is mine!

What bubbling of life in my soul! What can I do – what will express this other-worldly life?

I find color in my hand. I reach out…what does it touch? No matter… I look at a tree. At first, I get a sketch. But soon, I get a form, a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, an image of beauty. Not reaching for time, for life, for myself…forming a mirror image of His hands as they craft delight and beauty and thought.

What is the heart and soul of man?

Reach for the Eternal One, and He will lift you up.


Originally written 2016. Dedicated to my dear friends who have mistaken the means for the end…I hope you learn to see.

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family, including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.

She’s 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 occasional 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

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are scary. Not only is there the perpetual smell of urine and chemical cleaners, there’s the constant blathering of a thousand TVs all set to something different…not to mention they’re full of little old ladies who mistake you for their daughter (when actually you’re their son).

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

Image credit: IrishExaminer.com

And yet…Those little old ladies are sick, lonely, inching towards death, trapped in this mysterious and scary place that smells like body fluids, and could sure use a smiling face to set the day apart from all others.

In short…they could use YOU to break up the week and bring some cheer into their pain and uncertainty!

Impossible, you say? You could never go visiting in a nursing home? You’d rather be caught dead than in one of those places? (Jinx.)

It’s not as scary as you think. Check out these tips for visiting a nursing home…and then you might decide that even you can help out in this important ministry!

Starting is the Hardest

The first time I visited a nursing home, I wasn’t sure I would make it.

When you walk in, you might not know anyone. Besides the intimidating environment, you don’t know what to expect. Anything could happen.

You’re there to “love on people” and “touch lives”…but what does that even look like in real life?

You won’t know until you try. And chances are, it’ll look different in your case than it did in mine…but don’t give up!

Here are some strategies to make those new friends:

  • Walk down the hall, knock on doors, and see who smiles back at you. Chances are good that people will let you say hello for a few minutes, if you just ask.
  • Contact the staff of the facility where you’re visiting, and ask them which residents don’t have family or friends in the area…or which residents might enjoy having the Bible or a devotional read to them. The staff will probably be excited to help you…Our bodies heal faster when our minds and emotions are in good shape!
  • Bring a dog, baby, or small child with you. People will come to you to make friends!
  • Talk to the activities director or other person in charge, and bring a craft, special movie night, or other activity in to the facility. Those who are able and interested in participating will show up…and now you have a connection for other visiting opportunities!
  • Go see someone you already know: a relative, former church member, or friend of someone you know. Chances are they’ll have a roommate you can talk to at the same time, and you might meet someone in the hallway you can get to know.

It does get better!

You’ll get the hang of things, find a routine, and make new friends.

Just like the first day of school, the first month in a new town, or the first few weeks in a new apartment building…it’ll take getting used to.

Just remember: there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!

Take a Buddy

Yes, you’re there to make new friends…but sometimes the best way to do that is to bring old friends!

From the disciples Jesus sent out, to Paul and Silas and Barnabas and John Mark, to the multiple-elder model of the Biblical church, we’re supposed to do ministry together.

Not only does this provide accountability, to 1) keep us on the straight and narrow and 2) protect our reputation from the Enemy…but it’s also more fun!

Walking into a strange place to speak to people you don’t know is a lot less intimidating when you have a buddy at your side. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or someone from your church, take that buddy!

You can’t swim without a buddy…don’t try to visit without a buddy. They’ll be there for you when you don’t know what to say, they’ll be a prayer partner with you, and they’ll keep the ball rolling on days when you can’t make it.

No one ever said you had to do this alone! So don’t try 🙂

Don’t Worry About What You’ll Say

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

My grandma, dying of brain cancer

What do you do when an old lady looks right at you and says, “I’m dying?”

When a woman tells you she has cancer?

When someone weeps about the disfunction in her family, and how she’s not getting the care she wants?

Just like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, the temptation is to open our big mouths and fix everybody’s problems.

Sometimes they need their problems fixed. Sometimes God put us there to share Jesus with them and point them to ultimate healing.

And sometimes…the very best thing we can do is sit beside them, holding their hand and crying with them.

It feels like doing diddly-squat. But people appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Pray. A Lot. For Everything

What about the times when you need to say something?

You’ve got the Holy Spirit inside you, right? Leave it to Him.

If He starts poking you from the inside, whispering, “This lady will go to Hell without Me — introduce us!” you just better listen is all I’m saying.

And as long as you’re having good, long conversations with Him on a daily basis, you’ll have the strength you need.

Pray for one another

You can also pray for your friends – new and old!

While it’s vital that you spend quality time with God for your own spiritual health, it’s also important to bring others before him.

Your contacts in the nursing home will have obvious needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that you should tell your Father about…but what about your visiting buddies?

Don’t forget to pray for them, too — that they will have just the right words to say, that they will meet just the right person God wants them to minister to, and that they will be strong on the days that are hard.

(And encourage them to pray for you, too!)

Just Showing Up Means the World

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, learn this:

Don’t sweat it.

God is able to take your little, pathetic efforts, and work His grand, amazing scheme out of it.

You’ve taken the first step. God doesn’t ask us to give Him everything all at once…just one thing more.

And until you actually step out, you’ll have no idea how much five minutes of conversation actually means to someone!

Just one short conversation with someone who isn’t paid to be there, who isn’t necessarily related to them, and who’s only there to brighten their day…people will be so grateful, it’ll break your heart.

Commit

Like dieting, exercising, cleaning the house, and other good habits, consistency is key.

Go once a week…or even every other week. That’s all. No pressure.

The more you show up, over and over again, the deeper your relationships with the patients will be. They’ll start to expect you. They’ll remember you from last time, and smile.

You’ll have made a friend.

They’re the ones stuck in a nursing home, so it’ll be up to you to make the effort. But you can do it!

(Not only that, but the staff will start to notice your commitment and faithfulness…which gives you another place to shine Jesus’ love!)

Just show up – week after week, month after month – and people will begin to trust you…in a way that they can’t trust someone who might or might not show up, maybe.

Find a schedule that works for you.

Don’t let yourself make excuses. If this is what God wants you to be doing with your time, make sure you get it done.

And again…don’t sweat it. Emergencies will come up, you’ll miss a day here and there…and sometimes your “contacts” will be out, too.

Just make sure that, when you commit, you really mean it.

It’ll mean the world to some poor senior or patient.

Pray – All the Time – For Everything

Did I mention this?

It’s not super hard to remember to pray for your new friends…especially if you write it down and ask your ministry partners to hold you accountable.

What I find harder is remembering to pray before I go visiting…and to pray for the right words, that God will lead us to the right people, that I will trust Him in every situation, etc.

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

Look at that smile 🙂

But this is just as important.

Pray for your fellow visitors. Also pray for the families of the people you will meet, and for the staff, and for the healthcare system as a whole (it needs it, trust me).

Pray that Jesus will be evident in every single action we take.

In this way, you will immerse yourself in God’s will, and invite His Holy Spirit to take charge of your life – and of your commitment to visiting.

I said “take a buddy.” The Holy Spirit is the best buddy you can take.

You Will Fall in Love

I keep saying, “You’ll make new friends.” This is not a figure of speech.

You might just get addicted to this. If a week goes by, and you don’t visit your little buddies, you’ll feel weird.

You’ll have deep conversations…some hard, some amazingly cool. You’ll get to gush about Jesus, and maybe find out you have “brothers and sisters” in some unexpected places.

Your heart will break. You’ll be built up. You will touch the lives of some lonely, desperate people.

God doesn’t call all of us to this kind of ministry…but if He’s calling you, don’t be afraid. He’s got this!

Now go be sunshine to someone who needs it!


8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia WoodKimia Wood 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 her 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.

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.

10yo Girl Killed—God Proved Right

10yo Girl Killed—God Proved Right

This week something abominable happened in my own slice of the Midwest.

In a nutshell: A ten-year-old girl went missing. A four-day search by police and the community ended with the discovery of the girl’s body. Her step-mother has been accused of strangling her.

What’s our reaction? Continue reading

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.


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