Really, when it comes down to it, there is only one reason I don’t immediately and enthusiastically say “Really?  I can go to seminary?  Where do I sign up?”

Greg and Bruce.

I don’t want to be shuffled all over the country when they are right here.

St. Paul’s not so bad.  Missouri is a little bit worse.  But if I become a pastor, there is no telling where I’d end up.

Bruce will certainly stay in contact.  I can’t stop him, and most weeks I wouldn’t want to.

With Greg, though, who knows?  I’d have to be intentional about keeping up with him.  And I suck at that.

Plus, more than anything else, there is a very different quality to hanging out with someone when you aren’t actually there with him.

But Bruce has a life that may be moving on.

And Greg, despite saying that he really doesn’t want me to go, also thinks this is up my alley, and I should do it.

And making videogames while pastoring won’t be too much harder than making videogames while Walmarting.  (Uh-oh.  Famous last words.)

So, pending further information and providing it really will get paid for, it is my intention to do this crazy thing.

Maybe now I’ll be able to sleep.

God help me.


Rocking the Collar III

Time after time, in my various wanderings ’round the internet, I have come across rants, open wounds, unmet needs.

This country’s churches have a ridiculous attitude about forgiveness.

This country’s churches have a ridiculous classification system for sins, wherein some are simply too icky to forgive or to fight in any meaningful way.

This country’s churches demean men and exalt women in craven submission to the spirit of the age.

This country’s churches replace the security and comfort of solid truth with an insecure, but exciting reliance on emotional experiences.

I am a confessional Lutheran, in part, because the broad organized churches that submit to the confessions (such as the WELS and the LCMS) do not commit these mistakes.  But on the individual level, very few pastors I have met do not at least give these errors a respectful nod, and I have yet to encounter a church body that does not embrace most if not all of these errors.

If you’re not part of the solution…

Humans are broken and evil, and the flavor of the brokenness and evil will be colored by the sins of the age.  To a degree, this situation is unavoidable, short of expatriating to a country where an almost opposite culture reigns supreme — and there, I would find other problems, just as problematic, just as pervasive.

In short, a Chinese Christian cannot help being Chinese, and an American Christian cannot help being American.  Only by the Grace of God may the errors endemic to a particular culture, like more general errors endemic to humanity as a whole, be overcome.

Nevertheless, the fact that the problem is inevitable does no imply that the problem cannot or should not be fought.

Gnosticism was a particularly Hellenistic error of a Hellenistic age.  Irenaeus is remembered for standing up against it.  And while fragments of the errors of the Gnostics have been recycled throughout history into other heresies and heterodoxies, that particular sect has been smashed to pieces.

So… we deny God’s Spirit (given to us in his Word) in order that we might call the stirrings of our hearts, coincidences, and (perhaps) the schemes of demons ‘the Holy Spirit.’

This must be opposed.

We divorce reconciliation from forgiveness, and thus unknowingly divorce the Hope of Heaven from the forgiveness bought on the cross.

This must be opposed.

As the Gnostics held that men were spiritual and therefore pure, and women were carnal and therefore corrupt, so we now hold that women are emotional and therefore pure, and men are carnal and therefore corrupt.

This must be opposed.

As a pastor, I could take quite a bit more of a stand than as a blogger read by two people.

As a game maker, taking a stand is a matter of arguable merit.  It is intrinsically good, but it may not be the best allocation of resources.

As a pastor, taking a stand would be precisely my job.

And I want to do it.

When Dalrock’s blog on Christian Marriage posts another link to Focus on the Family’s Mark Driscoll going on about how “Wives, submit to your husbands” really means “Husbands, submit to your wives,” and Dalrock wonders whether there are any pastors left on the face of the earth who actually take the Bible at its word, I could say “Yeah.  Here’s my blog.  Here’s the church where I teach what’s on my blog.”

When some ex-gay ministry or another wonders whether there are any churches in the country that neither hate on, nor excuse homosexuality, I would be able to say “Yeah.  Here’s my blog.  Here’s the church where I teach what’s on my blog.”

Ahh, hubris.  Just give me a license to dress in black with a silver crucifix, and I shall solve the world’s problems!


But seriously.  I know I can’t do it.  And I also know I can’t stop myself from trying to do it.  If it is a good thing, if it is in accordance with the Scriptures to take these stands (and others… oh, yes!  Many others), should I not take up this avenue of doing what I shall do anyway?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Collar Rocking II

Half of the two people who read this blog already know what the last post was about, and the other half is clever enough to prise it from between the lines of my half-asleep rambling.

But to be clear:

Sunday, my new Pastor, who is played by Vin Diesel in the movie adaptation of my life, announced that three weeks hence, a recruitment officer of some sort would be showing up and having a talk about careers in church work.  Seems the LCMS needs pastors and other various peoples.

I have, from time to time, toyed with the idea of a theological or philosophical degree.  I really would like to have one.  I just don’t know what I’d do with it.  The best use for the education I want is to become a pastor.  But I’ve always been leery about becoming a pastor.

Leery, but intrigued.  I didn’t go to Oak Hills for no reason.

So, I resolved to attend said meeting out of sheer curiosity.  And, having made that resolution, I promptly forgot about it.

‘Till after Bible Study, when one of the men of the church pulled me aside, told me that I should attend that meeting and really, really think hard about maybe becoming a pastor.  He also told me that my church would find a way to pay for it, should I head out for Seminary.

I haven’t been able to sleep since then, really.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  ‘Round, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, etc…

You know I’m passionate about a lot of bits of theology that get swept under the rug these days.  I didn’t join up with the synod I joined due to their lack of will to back someone up if his doctrine is sound.

I was there for Rev Diesel’s ordination.  There was nothing objectionable in the ceremony.  It was doctrinally sound as a mountain of fused anvils.  The few little points of difference I have with the LCMS official stance were not on the list of things sworn to.  It was just the Bible, the Creeds, and Concordia.

To have a way to reach out to the Body of Christ and inject a couple of fitful bursts of logic into the stream of emotionalism (don’t cross the streams!)  How many times have I asked for that?  And now that it is on the table, how can I not look with suspicion towards the Heavens, and wonder if God is not double-dog-daring me to put my money where my mouth is?  Or my mouth where his church is.

I Could Rock the Collar

Or not.  No I couldn’t.

But should I?  That’s the question, isn’t it?

I’m not a socialite.  I’m not an extrovert, nor do I hold extroversion to be superior to introversion.  A pastor is a largely social role, no?  Undershepherd of the flock is a silly title if you don’t spend any time with the sheep.  It is a silly title if you don’t spend most of your time with the sheep.

Well, most of your time tending the sheep.

I looked at the class list.  I looked at the class list for the preceding Bachelor’s program I’d have to take too.  Most of those classes looked delicious.  The sort of thing where the papers would be a joy to write, the study something I would normally feel guilty spending time on.  Back at Oak Hills, I really dug the theology classes.  Christian Faith I.  Old and New Testament overviews.  Those were good stuff.  It was the intro to writing nonsense that my AA should have covered (and did cover at BSU), and the ‘ministry’ classes that were all about people wallowing in emotionalism, and the ministry requirement that always got to me.

Ah, the ministry requirement.  There’s the rub.  Making a career out of one of my least-loved elements of Oak Hills.  But Pastoral Ministry is a little different than making fliers advertising a revivalist orgy of mildly Christianized Bandai theme songs, or trying to reign in native kids who don’t want to be their, but their parents don’t want them at home either.  And hey, those kids need people who give a damn reigning them in, no doubt about it!

Less than 10% of the Concordia St. Paul Theology Major courses look like pathetic attempts to be overly relevant.  (You know how to be relevant in today’s world?  Easy: stop trying to offer them what they already have.  Be different.  Be true.)  And even in those courses, you find scary truth words like ‘doctrine’ in the description.

None of these are the kicker.  The kicker is, I went to Oak Hills because I love the faith.  I love digging deeper, devouring the deep truths that form the pulse.

At Oak Hills, only about a third of the teachers and a percent of the students seemed to give a damn.  The rockstar hero of my class flunked out of theology three times and passed youth ministry on the first go.  I flunked out of youth ministry and aced theology in my sleep.

Now, years later, Rev Fisk’s expositions of Lutheran Doctrine, paired with my own inquiries (and years after I signed on to the Small Catechism) have ignited the old spark again.  Burden after burden of my life has been torn away.  The doctrine of Vocation melted the intense pressure I’ve felt to missionary-ize since I can remember.  Ironic, then, that I am leaning towards a vocation that would make that primarily my responsibility.  But I digress.  The doctrine of Baptism vaporized my doubt and despair.  Every pain, tended.  Every burden, lightened.  I  can’t understand how I used to live with the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I am so much smaller than Atlas; Jesus is so much bigger.

I want to know more.  And I can learn more, on my own, in stolen moments.

Or I can learn more as my objective, for my vocation.

I want, I want, me, me, me…  If I were to go this path, it would be an extra load of responsibility before God.  I would be held doubly to account.  I have thrown off one yoke!  Am I strong enough to bear another?  The correct answer is no-one is.  But perhaps I am less ready than others.

To be a pro-Bible nerd… I spend as much time, if not more, composing and writing rants exhortations as I do writing stories or games.  I could do it on a schedule.  And I can take confessions without batting an eye, and forgive with an inhuman equanimity born of my broken brain.  But can I enact discipline?  Can I excommunicate?  Can I visit the shut-ins?  Meet with those who are sick and in prison?  Online, I may be brash and decisive, but in person I’ve the spine of an egg of Silly-Putty.  This is no time or place for spineless shepherds!  There are wolves without and within.

Meh.  There’s not much more I can do until I can talk to Pastor or to the recruitment guy in a couple of weeks.  But this won’t leave my poor, addled brain alone.

Can’t sleep.

Fun stuff:

  • I’ve been ‘approved’ (read conscripted) for overtime at Le Zarci.  Which means I get to work for 11+ hours straight.  Whee!
  • I’ve worked out a system of verb conjugation that (I think) naturally covers all necessary communications in Halo.  As playing FPSs only requires about five verbs (to kill, to get, to move, to take cover, and to locate), enforcing the paradigm is remarkably simple, and keeping the language very close to monosyllabic is also remarkably simple.  If only I had time to practice it with my lady.  At the very least, I can steal it for military applications in my speculative fiction.
  • Development on my Starfighter X 2D ES conversion has been going swimmingly, with the only hiccup being the closer at my day job quitting.  Leading to me being shifted to a closing shift.  And approved for overtime. Whee!  ES is precisely as wonderful as it promised to be.  It is not the silver bullet to all my development problems.  Only to about 65% of them.  The thorniest, nastiest 65%.  Praise God that silver bullets are real!
  • But toiling at my evening shift ’till the wee hours of the morning did give me brain-time to invent a system of verb conjugations that naturally covers all necessary communications in Halo.  (Specifically, the perfect, as in Latin and Greek, and a sort of present progressive that is used to indicate objectives (which, in turn, makes it the imperative in the second person)).
  • I uncovered a method of physics simulation that is both more accurate, and simpler to implement than the one I am already using.  The short form is that instead of maintaining velocity as a separate variable, it infers velocity from the difference between the current and former positions of the object (and I already track past and present positions for the purpose of collision detection, so this is literally a simplification of existing data rather than a complete rewrite).  I will probably wait until my next game to give it a go (though the change should be so painless thanks to ES, that I half suspect that if I throw my next lunch break at it, I can complete the conversion).  Advantages include:  at an arbitrary but fixed timestep it produces a motion curve that almost exactly matches the curve produced by the physics formulae one would use to describe the motion (whereas the curve produced by my current algorithm is only terribly accurate at a timestep that is infinitesimally small.)  It easily integrates collision detection, something that cannot be said of my current algorithm.  It easily integrates spring-systems, something that is an immense headache in my current algorithm.  All in all, I find it almost impossible not to code up a demo just to play with it.
  • Sony stock jumped almost nine percent during Microsoft’s XBox One unveiling.  Humorous as that is, there are other, better reasons for the jump.
  • Speaking of Sony, my panic over XNA and the XBox Indie market being phased out by Microsoft was for naught — XNA has been replicated by an independant group (and with Microsoft’s tacit blessing) in a form that compiles to bunches of other devices.  And Sony is courting the jilted indies, having waived the fee to become a developer for their mobile platform(!)  Once I’ve got a second game on XBLIG (possibly with the new physics), I am doing some major research into Sony development.

The coolest thing for last:

The Saxon is not like us Normans,
His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious
Til he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow
With his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, “This isn’t fair dealings,”
My son, leave the Saxon alone.

You can horsewhip your Gascony archers,
Or torture your Picardy spears,
But don’t try that game on the Saxon;
You’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county
To the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets,
And, if you are wise, you will yield.

Rudyard Kipling, or so I am led to believe.


ES & Complexity

Previously, I’ve posted a meta-formula on complexity in video games designed to determine how long a game takes to make.  The idea was nice, but the premise was flawed.

Why, you say?

Because each element in a game has to communicate with other elements.  Using standard Object Oriented Programming (OOP), the reigning paradigm of computer science, that means each element has to be wired to many other elements in ways that are increasingly arcane and convoluted.

The result?  Well, suppose that e = the number of elements in a game, and c = the average complexity of those elements.  One would predict, given my former formula, that the total (t) amount of complexity of a project (and thus the time spent in it) could be expressed as:

t = ec

But Starfighter X has taught me that because of the way elements have to be wired together, the actual formula is closer to:

t = ec^(1+(w/e))

Where w is the average number of elements to which a given element must be wired.

Enter Entity Systems

There is an alternative paradim to OOP that is potentially, in many ways, superior for game development, called Entity Systems (ES).  The advantage of ES is that it removes the wiring.  The result (in theory) is that the total complexity is now closer to:

t = ec + c

And thus linear instead of exponential.

I go more into how this works on Seed of Awesome, for the code-minded.

Why You Care

Starfighter X has proven a bitch to finalize.  I thought two or three lines of code would do it.  Instead, each new element I have needed to add has taken a day.  Which means, as the only day I have open is Monday, Mondays have become ‘Finish Starfighter X Day’.

In addition, the game needs an extra level of polish before I can release it without embarrassment.

Since mi padre has given me an App-Hub subscription for my birthday, I would like to have Starfighter X up for peer-review by his birthday.  And it is possible that, because ES is linear and OOP is exponential, it would actually be faster to build an ES and copy-paste the functions from OOP Starfighter X into it, then add in the missing elements, than to simply add in the missing elements.

Today’s project is simply that:  in the couple of hours I have before bed, transfer as much Starfighter X into an ES as possible.  If this process indicates that my theory is right, then on Monday I shall continue.  If not, I shall go back to grinding away at it.