Readers of this blog who know me personally know that I am a big fan of “euro” style boardgames. You may have heard of Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Dominion . . . there are thousands more like these, and the euro boardgaming hobby has a web-based leviathan: a highly active and detailed database and social website: www.boardgamegeek.com.
Today I encountered, through boardgamegeek, a game called “Battle for Souls.” The designers describe it like this: “Battle For Souls is an epic medieval card and dice game for 1 to 4 people ages 13 and up. The game allows players to choose the side of heaven or hell in a fight over the immortal souls of humankind.” You can read all about it and see a couple of short videos including an overview and a game-play example using prototype components at its Kickstarter page here (more concise and accessible) or its boardgamegeek page here (more detailed and with comments from different folks who have encountered it–note also that by the nature of these things, the ranking indicated on this page is almost meaningless, as it is based on very few votes and on incomplete components/rules).
This still-in-development game scratches several itches for me: Continue reading
Arthur and Mordred, The Boys' King Arthur
Here’s a ringing review and tasty samples of a new translation of “The Death of King Arthur,” done by Simon Armitage, from The Guardian [UK].
Hat tip to Alan Jacobs of Wheaton College for bringing this to my attention on his tumblr blog.
The review is here.
And here is a sample of this newly translated epic:
The startled glutton glared gruesomely,
grinned like a greyhound with grisly fangs
then groaned and glowered with a menacing grimace,
growling at the good King who greeted him angrily.
His mane and his fringe were filthily matted
and his face was framed in half a foot of foam.
His face and forehead were flecked all over
like the features of a frog, so freckled he seemed.
He was hook-beaked like a hawk, with a hoary beard,
and his eyes were overhung with hairy brows.
To whomever looked hard, as harsh as a hound-fish
was the hide of that hulk, from head to heel.
His ears were huge and a hideous sight,
His eyes were horrid, abhorrent and aflame,
His smile was all sneer, like a flat-mouthed flounder,
and like a bear his fore-teeth were fouled with rank flesh,
and his black, bushy beard grew down to his breast.
He was bulky as a sea-pig with a brawny body,
and each quivering lump of those loathsome lips
writhed and rolled with the wrath of a wolf’s head.
He was broad across the back, with the neck of a bull,
badger-breasted with the bristles of a boar,
had arms like oak boughs, wrinkled by age,
and the ugliest loins and limbs, believe me.
He shuffled his shanks, being shovel-footed,
and his knock-kneed legs were abnormally knuckled.
He was thick in the thigh and like an ogre at the hips,
and as gross as a grease-fed pig, a gruesome sight.
He who mindfully measured that monster’s dimension
from face to foot would have found it five fathoms.
The Hotel-Dieu, a Paris hospital founded by the church in the Middle Ages
Well, I’ve been a ghost on my own blog, but it’s been for a good cause: Christian History Issue #101, on Healthcare and Hospitals in the Mission of the Church, is headed to the printer this Friday, Sept. 30. (To see it when it goes online in the coming weeks, watch this space.)
A small taste of the issue, my editor’s note:
Christian History’s founder, the late Dr. Kenneth Curtis, thought and wrote a lot about what our faith has to say to those who suffer illness and those who care for them. As the magazine returned to the red barn in Pennsylvania in 2010, Ken made several lists of topics he hoped the revived Christian History could address in future issues. At the very top was this one: the church’s role in the history of healthcare. I resonated with this topic from the start, but I did wonder, What kind of story is there to tell here? As it turns out, quite a powerful one.
As I began studying the topic I discovered two unexpected things: first, the church was much more influential in the history of healthcare than I had expected; and second, the modern hospital can be traced directly back to ancient and medieval Christian institutions. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Resources for Radical Living
Tagged Catholic Church, charity, Early Christianity, early church, epidemics, health, health care, medicine, Medieval, monasticism, plague, secularization
Thanks to Carpetbagger to clarifying the degree of “nerd cred” necessary to become a medievalist:
Medievalists in the English departments are considered the weirdest of the weirdos, the nerdiest of the nerds. Medievalists are a little bit crazy. They believe, often enough, that the world is in a cosmic struggle between good and evil, including over who ought to fill the copy machine with toner and paper. They can’t quite relate to the debate in the faculty meeting because no one has claimed divine right. There are twice as many job openings for Medievalists and half as many qualified applicants. Weird is not the only minimum job requirement — see below for the others — but it helps. . . . Continue reading
Boston College, with its Old World architecture
Folks, what’s the Boston Colloquy in Historical Theology? Why, it’s a group based at Boston College with a unique mission to rehabilitate historical theology as a discipline in service of the church. As it says on their website, ” The Boston Colloquy in Historical Theology (BCHT) is a professional organization of scholars devoted to the study of early and medieval Christian theology. Organized by Khaled Anatolios, Stephen F. Brown, and Boyd Taylor Coolman in the Theology Department at Boston College, the BCHT annually brings together scholars from these disciplines to foster conversation, stimulate thought, and promote scholarship.”
This summer’s meeting of the Colloquy looks to be an interesting one–see the list of papers below. Continue reading
My wife Sharon and I have been interested for some time in the techniques medieval folks used to memorize huge amounts of information. These revolve around the use of imagined space–”the memory palace.”
Here’s just another instance of how ancient and medieval people in fact knew stuff–practical, scientific stuff–that we don’t. It’s just one more way we can learn from those who have gone before. If you don’t believe me, then check out the brief video on this Amazon book page. And then perhaps check out the book. I’ll be doing that myself.
The subhead above should have read: “A group dedicated to doing it right.” But then I couldn’t have used this lolcat picture. And I have a weakness for lolcats.
Once in a while a bright seminary student will come to me and tell me that they want to “go on” and study historical theology, in the service of the church. What theology doctoral program should they enter?
I think of Duke and UVA, and then I’m flummoxed. Now, I know there are other good programs out there. I’m not the best-connected academic. So I suggest that the student email their question to one of the prominent senior historical theologians–UVA’s Robert Wilken is one–who are in fact pursuing their field in the explicit service of the church (may Jaroslav Pelikan rest in peace).
But it has seemed to me that the field has never quite recovered from the mid-twentieth-century assimilation of theology to the “religious studies departments” of the major universities, nor from the academy’s quite proper dismissiveness of the squabbling “my dogma is better than your dogma” confessionalism that marked the field in the decades leading up to that assimilation. Certainly, as theology still languishes far from her erstwhile status as “queen of the sciences,” historical theology as the queen’s handmaiden has also fallen on hard times.
Now I discover that a group of historical theologians at Boston College have, for the past few years, been dedicating themselves to leading their field of historical theology back to the pursuit of (this will shock you) the history of theology–instead of defense of dogma, study of philosophy, or other things only tangentially related to the health of the church. Continue reading
Well, I know not everyone reading this blog is in the Twin Cities. However, a bunch of you are, so I’d like to use this forum to announce a new venture: a church-oriented “medieval retrieval” study group. Here’s the skinny:
I am organizing a Twin Cities medieval study group. This will be a small group of Christian academics along with (perhaps) clergy and other lay leaders. The group’s organizing question will be “How can the church today learn from medieval faith?” Its goal will be to learn and clarify aspects of medieval faith that can inform and enrich the life of churches. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Evangelical - Roman Catholic Dialogue, James Houston, Joan Chittister, Medieval, Middle Ages, Minneapolis – Saint Paul, Phyllis Tickle, Richard Foster, Roman Catholicism, scholarship, Thomas Oden, Twin Cities, University of Minnesota, Worship Renewal Grant
Just submitted a paper proposal to the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, 2011, for a session sponsored by the Purdue C S Lewis Society. Whether or not it includes me, this session will be a historic event: as long as I or the convener can remember, Kzoo has done without even a single C S Lewis paper.
This is quite odd, given that, in the words of Norman Cantor, “Of all the medievalists of the twentieth century, Lewis and Tolkien have gained incomparably the greatest audience.” I’ve seen lots of Tolkien sessions at Kzoo, but nary a Lewis session.
Wish me luck . . .
ABSTRACT: The Intuitive Medievalism of C S Lewis
Lewis did not set out to be a medievalist, but from early in his life—before his conversion—medieval thinking and values drew him inexorably, eventually forming his deepest commitments. Continue reading
A fascinating modern exploration of Benedictine ways
The following are brief excerpts and quotations I marked while reading Dennis Okholm’s Monk Habits for Ordinary People (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2007). Along with works by Kathleen Norris, Phyllis Tickle, Leighton Ford, Karen E. Sloan, Tony Jones, and a growing group of other Protestant authors, Okholm’s book explores medieval monasticism–especially the Benedictine tradition. The forward is by Kathleen Norris.
As with the David Bell and Jaroslav Pelikan “glimpses” and the glimpses of Benedict and Francis by Columba Stewart, William Short, G. K. Chesterton, and Mark Galli, I thank my t.a., Shane Moe, who transcribed these and inserted brief contextual tags where helpful. Page numbers are at the beginning of each excerpt. The designation “Q” means I wanted to save the text as a quotation, for use in teaching and writing. “D” means the definition of a term. “U” means I want to use an idea or statement in my teaching:
Q, 9 (from Kathleen Norris’s forward to the book, on Ockholm’s discussion of Protestants being attracted to monasteries): “He demonstrates that it is not just another case of Americans shopping around for their spirituality, but a genuine reclaiming of the taproot of Christianity, a reconnecting with a religious tradition and way of life that predates all of the schisms in Christendom.” Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Resources for Radical Living
Tagged Benedict of Nursia, Benedict's Rule, Benedictinism, G K Chesterton, Jaroslav Pelikan, Kathleen Norris, Medieval, Middle Ages, monasticism, Protestantism