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March 19, 2004

Holy Trinity, Batman!
Posted by Teresa at 11:30 AM *

According to AP:

Thursday, March 18, 2004, Statesboro, Georgia — A couple who got into a dispute over a theological point after watching “The Passion of the Christ” were arrested after the argument turned violent.

The two left the movie theater debating whether God the Father in the Holy Trinity was human or symbolic, and the argument heated up when they got home, Melissa Davidson said.

“It was the dumbest thing we’ve ever done,” she said.
I’ll say. They were well on their way to re-inventing the Arian Heresy. Next on Crossfire: The Filioque Clause!
Davidson, 34, and her husband, Sean Davidson, 33, were charged with simple battery on March 11 after the two called police on each other. They were released on $1,000 bail.

According to a police report, Melissa Davidson suffered injuries on her arm and face, while her husband had a scissors stab wound on his hand and his shirt was ripped off. He also allegedly punched a hole in a wall.

“Really, it was kind of a pitiful thing, to go to a movie like that and fight about it. I think they missed the point,” said Gene McDaniel, chief sheriff’s deputy.
Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. They’re hardly the first people to wander into that tar pit. The night before the final balloting at the Council of Nicea, Saint Nicholas of Myra punched out Arius in a bar fight arising from a very similar argument.

So just remember, kids: when you hear someone talking about “traditional Christianity,” this is what they mean.

Comments on Holy Trinity, Batman!:
#1 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 01:02 PM:

Arius was punched out by SANTA CLAUS??

That's rather shocking . . .

#2 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 01:10 PM:

one should always fear
    theological discourse
        based on pop culture
inevitably leading
    to the famed fifteen minutes

#4 ::: language hat ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 01:21 PM:

I say he was just faking it, and I'll fight anyone who says different!

#5 ::: Andrew Shultz ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 01:31 PM:

Maybe the MPAA should rate this thing NC-17 for explicit religion. What if that had been a couple of teenagers arguing over a doctrinal point that got their blood up? Won't someone please think of the children?

#6 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Okay, now I have to go re-read Agent of Byzantium just to get to the scene where Basil is caught out because he rejects the Filioque!

It's times like these that I wish I had a copy of Credo to bring to a con and play with all y'all.

#7 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 01:44 PM:

I have Credo, the historically accurate game about early Church councils.

Actually, I've always wondered who their target market was for that game, apart from me -- and goodness knows, people do not normally bring out products aimed exclusively at the J-O segment of the population.

I haven't seen the Gibson film, but what I heard about it made it sound deeply Manichean.

However, I'm nopt surprised that it's provoked homousion disputes.

I thought of another all-new heresy myself the other day, but I'll save it for the next time I want to put one into a fantasy novel.

#8 ::: Karen Junker ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 01:54 PM:

What a shame visual art cannot make a more lasting impression on the 'dominance of the left hemisphere'. I agree with Leonard Shlain - this is the dark side of literacy. Bible thumping leads to people thumping.

#9 ::: Andrew Shultz ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 01:57 PM:

I've always been intrigued by Credo, but never run into a copy. Is it actually a good game, or one of those games carried by your appreciation of the joke?

#10 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 02:07 PM:

Credo is a brilliant game, but it helps to play with someone who has played it before, because the rules don't explain how it works very well.

Actually, I can summarize what the rules leave out.

The game proceeds with people picking up cards in turn, and every so often this is punctuated with a church council when everyone goes mad and starts yelling and playing cards at each other and persecuting and making deals. It's a bit like Illuminati. No, strike that, it isn't.

We play it every Christmas, and I could bring it to a con if people wanted to play.

(Only US con currently planned for this year: Minicon.)

#11 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 02:13 PM:

Ah, those were the days! Anyone remember when Avalon Hill (best known for their wargames) brought out Year of Our Lord (race madly around the Church Calendar) and Journeys of St. Paul (first one to Rome gets beheaded and wins!)?

I have discovered a truly remarkable heresy which this margin is too small to contain.

#12 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 02:17 PM:

Not that I don't like a good theological argument, but after several decades as an Anglican then Roman Catholic (with Orthodox friends), mention of the filioque makes me want to wander back over to the discussion on booze over on Patrick's side. At least until I'm properly premedicated, er, prepared.

The Smoking Gun as pictures and such. I's trying to figure out what they remind me of . . .

#13 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 02:17 PM:
I've always been intrigued by Credo, but never run into a copy. Is it actually a good game, or one of those games carried by your appreciation of the joke?

I haven't played it myself (I did own a copy at one time, but sold it), but general consensus seems to be that the theme is most of the game. It gets fairly mediocre ratings on BoardgameGeek (and even some of the higher ratings are really for the theme, if you read the comments). Mike Siggins (game reviewer extraordinaire) had this to say in his Sumo's Karaoke Club review:

I would summarise Credo as a classic experience game. It is fun to read the amazing (yet apparently entirely accurate) cards, exile the Bishop of Nicopolis to Upper Egypt and to mutilate the odd prelate. It isn't much fun to see an all-but-game winning flock numbered in the millions disappear and be able to do nothing to stop it. Oddly, this frustration seems to apply even if you don't much mind about winning, simply because a small flock and voting capacity reduce your involvement and enjoyment of the game. You often just sit there and say, 'Fine by me', because there is nothing you can influence anyway. Whatever, the interaction is there because you do of course try to do the same to some other sucker by proselytizing him and it always helps to be the Emperor (on an 'It's good to be the King' basis). The end result is that you go with the flow, griping as required by events, and savour the game as a sort of Bible Belt theme park ride.

And of course it's not easy to find a copy nowadays, as Chaosium's print run was small. The French edition is easier to find (well, if you're in France, anyway) and has much better components, but does have rather a lot of French text in it that you'd need to be able to read.

#14 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 02:20 PM:

I thought of another all-new heresy myself the other day,[....]

For what it's worth, that reminds me perfectly of why I miss RASFF so much. Maybe after November I'll be able to get back to it.

#15 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 02:23 PM:

I have discovered a truly remarkable heresy which this margin is too small to contain.

Jim, you owe my employer a new keyboard....


#16 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 02:25 PM:
Ah, those were the days! Anyone remember when Avalon Hill (best known for their wargames) brought out Year of Our Lord (race madly around the Church Calendar) and Journeys of St. Paul (first one to Rome gets beheaded and wins!)?

Yup. Or rather, I don't actually remember that (before I was born), but I've seen them.

There are a fair number of religious games out these days. Cactus Game Design has done a number of them, including a Biblical collectible card game, the boardgame Redemption: City of Bondage (not nearly as interesting as it sounds, I'm afraid), and Settlers of Canaan, which is a (licensed) Biblical version of the very popular Settlers of Catan.

And then there's the Mormon game company, Inspiration Games. It's the religious label of Uberplay Games, which does "German-style" and German board and card games. Inspiration has so far released Settlers of Zarahemla (Settlers of Catan again, this time using a Mormon background) and Ark of the Covenant (a Biblical version of the game Carcassonne).

#17 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Credo is a brilliant game, but it helps to play with someone who has played it before, because the rules don't explain how it works very well.

Ah - so it's exactly like religion, then?

#18 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 03:04 PM:

Makes the classic mother's statement that what you kids are fighting over doesn't make one iota of difference meaningful instead of cliched though.

#19 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 04:03 PM:

For some reason the post title reminded me of this (which I hope hasn't been mentioned already).


#20 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 05:07 PM:

"Only US con planned for this year -- Minicon."
Sounds like a date to me. You want to warn Pamela, or should I?

Jim, I also recall (having a long history with AH) when they released the "Witchcraft" and "Black Magic" DIY kits. (You could even buy replacement chalk and candles from the parts catalog.) I guess they wanted to hedge their bets.

And suddenly I kinda sorta vaguely wanna design a second-stage version of Credo ("Credo: New Celestial Order?" "Grand Design III: Cities of Vice and Virtue?" "Celebrity Pro Wrestling with Angels?") but I should probably find something else to do.

#21 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 05:42 PM:

I read your double dactyls page a while back and have been attempting them on my blog. I think this deserves one:

Scissorthorn Scissorthorns
Melissa Davidson
Saw Mel Gibson's movie
Started a fight

With her husband over
And ended up in jail
To Christs Delight?

#22 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 07:21 PM:

Finity trinity
Mel Gibson, movie star
Rakes in the bucks with a
Film about Christ;

Fights soon ensue over
Missing the point of what
He sacrificed.

#23 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 08:39 PM:

The best game of Credo I ever played was with a bunch of theology grads I went to school with. Egads, the wonderful heresies we developed. Brings back the old days.

Next pre- or post-con y'all have time to spend up here at chez Hanger-Phillips, the Credo is on me (local friend from same student days has a copy, but I wouldn't ask him to lend it without him being present -- wouldn't be fair; besides, as has been said, it's hard to find now). I think with some suitable libations, we could come up with some pretty good pseudotheology.

#24 ::: John (B). ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 08:49 PM:

Hmm... personally, I'm just a little disappointed that "The Passion of the Christ" doesn't include the bit where Christ lets his disciples and the assembled multitudes know that, 'Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.' But maybe that was only (in the words of the Australian prime minister) a "non-core" promise. I'm sure that Christ was perfectly accurate with everything else he had to say.

#25 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 09:14 PM:

John C. Bunnell, there was a tune going through my head as soon as I read your poem, and with a moment or two of thought I pinned it down as "The Housewive's Lament", which your words fit to perfectly... And the chorus almost works untouched,

"O life is a toil,
And love is a trouble,
Beauty will fade
And riches will flee,
Wages will dwindle
And prices will double
And nothing is as I
Would wish it to be."

#26 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 11:12 PM:

Which, Madeleine, means all double dactyls should fit to it (JohnB's was much better than Michael's IMO, not requiring forced scansion).
Higgledy piggledy
Good Old Saint Nicholas
Came down the chimney
That cold Christmas night.
Inside, the children quite
Set up the Yule log
And asked for a light.
(in collaboration over 30 years ago with James Langdell)

#27 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2004, 11:29 PM:

Mm. Was anyone besides me distracted by the optical illusion on the St. Nicholas link? Took me several minutes to be able to turn my eyes away from it to read the text. And I'm a compulsive reader.

As for the Credo game -- goodness, that sounds like a panel to me...! Jo, Teresa, and Mike? You'd pack the room.

#28 ::: FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 12:09 AM:

I'll second the consensus on CREDO. The gameplay is lacking, but the game is remarkably fun to read and fiddle with. Plus, the historical pamphlet it comes with is as concise and well-written a history of the early Church as you'll likely ever see.

The basic gameplay is centered around negotiating the Nicean Creed. Player introduce various articles and then vote, backstab, and connive to get them integrated into the final draft. What makes it brilliant is that the game contains ALL of the possible interpretations of the faith that existed at that time - you can get a dualistic creed ("I believe in two gods..."), a gnostic creed, arian, monophysique, or even a pagan creed ("I believe in one God, Jesus Christ, CHOSEN AVATAR OF THE UNCONQUERED SUN"). Most likely you'll end up with an incoherent collection of contradictory articles making up the final creed - like others have said, it's historically accurate!

All of this takes place against a backdrop of historical events and manuevering. Declare heresies, browbeat other bishops into joining your faction, discover the true cross, lobby to incorporate apocryphal works into the New Testament (think how much cooler the Bible would be if it had The Miracles Of The Infant Jesus or The Secret Testimony of Mary Magdalene) - it's all there. There are some pretty sly jokes in the card mix, too - many of the different Creed articles are phrased nearly identically, and I think the true cross can be discovered more than once.

The game really shines in its concept - the notion that the bedrock principles of modern christianity were derived by no-holds-barred political manuevering and blind chance, best represented by Illuminati or Junta style gameplay can be a real shock to the system of someone who isn't familiar with how contentious the early church was. The historical accuracy makes the game's point hard to dismiss. Plus, the notion of rewriting the Nicene Creed as an explicitly pagan (or zoroastrian, or neo-platonic) document is just too much fun, despite the so-so gameplay.

#29 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 03:09 AM:

John B wrote:
"I'm just a little disappointed that "The Passion of the Christ" doesn't include the bit where Christ lets his disciples and the assembled multitudes know that, 'Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.'"

I always took that to mean that Jesus was aware of the presence of functional immortals in the world, and recognized a few of them in the crowd. Possibly vampires.

Heck, what if he just saw the wandering Jew?

#30 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 08:13 AM:

By the way, I'm a little surprised that no one has questioned my characterization of the incident with Nicholas and Arius as a "bar fight." The answer is that they were holding these meetings in taverns.

Credo sounds like a wonderful game, as though someone had anticipated the eventual existence of rasff; and it makes me even sorrier that I'm not going to Minicon this year. We could have a memorable amount of fun.

Everyone knows this is the actual period and process that gave rise to the very first flame wars, right?

Jo, if I'd run across this game when it first came out, I too would have wondered what their target market was, aside from me. But why not? Isn't our culture full of things which, as far as you and I are concerned, might as well have resident interstellar aliens as their target market?

I suspect the real impetus behind that game was the same one that currently drives the production of arcane "What kind of ________ are you?" tests: someone knows enough about the subject to devise it, and is sufficiently enthusiastic about it to want to do so.

Nancy, you're on, whenever that it may.

#31 ::: Cat D ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 09:46 AM:

CREDO sounds fun, and I could probably round up at least three other players who don't belong to religious orders. Of course, that does not rule out my giving it to a Jesuit friend as a Christmas gift (insert cruel laughter).

On the subject of the movie, I saw it, liked it, and was able to describe a part of it to a curious friend as "Satan? Yes, imagine an Evil Xaan from Farscape, only not blue . . ."

Here in small town Worcester, everyone is talking about it. I couldn't get past government building security guards the other day without one of them noticing that my wallet (had to empty my pockets) had a small picture of Jesus laughing on it. ("Who's that?" "Jesus." "Laughing?" "He wasn't crucified the whole time, you know." "Oh, right. Did you see the movie?")

So would a "Left Behind" film in any way be considered the sequal?

#32 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 10:07 AM:

Cat D: A "Left Behind" movie actually exists. And it has a sequel: Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force. I am not (as they say) Making This Up.

#33 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 10:40 AM:

Somewhere back up in the Comments, somebody mentioned "City of Bondage" with a brief dismissal. It probably *is* that dull, but my husband the ultra-experienced (know-it-all?) history gamer tells me the theme is "Biblical heroes battle monsters." Sounds almost as good as a wrestling-with-angels smackdown. (This thread is great!)

#34 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 11:17 AM:

Carlos - DC's Last Supper is genius, but I just can't figure this out: who are the characters standing in for John and Simon?

#35 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 11:18 AM:

That is indeed the theme insofar as I can tell. When I said it wasn't as interesting as it sounds I wasn't referring to the gameplay, but to, er, the other possible theme for a game called City of Bondage.

As for Credo, it was published by a small game company (The Chaosium) in small numbers, so they didn't really need much of a target market (they also did a really cheap production job, so it couldn't have cost them much). There are enough gaming geeks around who would find the idea to be cool to support that. Heck, I bought a copy.

Anyone inspired by this thread to get the game will unfortunately have a difficult time of it (unless, as noted, they can read French). There is one guy on BoardgameGeek who has a copy for trade, which I'd have to say is the best bet at the moment.

#36 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 07:30 PM:

Jo: If you play Credo at Minicon, I want in! I have a set I could bring, too.

Jason: I don't know enough about the composition of Da Vinci's Last Supper to know who John and Simon are. I'll just list all the characters in that image, left to right: The Martian Manhunter, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Lex Luthor, Lightray (one of Jack Kirby's "New Gods"), Superman, Batman, Bizarro, Flash, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, and I'm not sure about the last but am guessing Speedy (who hasn't appeared in Justice League but has in Teen Titans).

I leave it to those more knowledgeable than me to explain the various correspondences between Apostles and super-characters. I wonder in particular about Catwoman and Bizarro.

I just noticed the Kryptonite knife in Lex's hand (I assume he's in the role of Judas Iscariot); rather cool.

#37 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 08:23 PM:

Well, from my memory of my one art history class and the best I've been able to find online, the order in the Last Supper, from left to right, is Bartholomew, James, Andrew, Judas, Peter, John, Christ, Thomas, James, Philip, Matthew, Thaddeus and Simon.

This would put Speedy (possible the new Green arrow, now that I think about it) in the role of Simon, Batman in the role of Thomas (appropriate, to certain readings of Batman), Lightray in the role of John, Luthor in the role of Peter (very interesting) and Aquaman, oddly enough, in the role of Judas.

My guess, really, is that the artist just wanted to do the picture and put Superman in as Christ. The rest he probably just wanted to match poses with and didn't give a lot of thought to the iconography.

Well, back to listening to Jesus Christ Superstar for me...

#38 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2004, 08:59 PM:

I'd be willing to bet money that the artist was misinformed about who was who and switched Peter with Judas -- Luthor with a Kryptonite knife just has to be Judas, while Aquaman makes sense for Peter the former fisherman.

#39 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2004, 03:22 PM:

Rea: I was wondering that too--if Nicholas of Myra was the same Nicholas. (There are way too many Saints with the same names, but that's what happens when you insist on a particular naming convention for your kiddies.)

I read this aloud to Lee (my bf) and he giggled, of course. He keeps making references to the Passionfruit of Christ, which make me wish I was better at Flash, since there are so many places I could go with that.

#40 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2004, 04:37 PM:

Faren: at least "City of Bondage" is a dull board game where "Biblical heroes battle monsters." For Christmas last year one of my friends got me the mind-blisteringly awful computer game "The War in Heaven," which is billed as "A Christian Action Game."

It's a bad adaptation of Quake: you get to pick whether you're an angel defending Heaven or a demon bent on conquering it and play as that character.

I've never played the game through to the ending. The novelty of playing a demon wears off after a while (it's obvious that there's a real Deus ex Machina ending) or a headache (Hell's color scheme is red and neon green). The angels are too wimpy to use effectively--a sling with a rock is their default weapon. (Heaven's decor, also, leaves something to be desired. I didn't expect knockoff Italianate fountains or reliefs of Babylonian oxen on the walls).

I did find it amusing, however, that the game comes with cheat codes. This leads to all sorts of interesting ethical dilemmas: do you use the code to get the holy sword and beat Satan's minions, or will cheating doom your soul to perdition?

Made a wonderful gag gift, though.

Credo looks interesting. Perhaps I'll pick it up.

#41 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2004, 08:20 PM:

Odd. I was quite sure that I'd seen, just in passing, just a couple of weeks back, a box of Christian 'Monopoly' in a shop somewhere in Sydney. I'd connected it with recent "Passion" marketing. A very quick search hasn't turned one up of the sort I saw at, e.g.
This did turn up elsewhere: Bibleopoly "The object of this game, also played on a "monopoly-style" game board is to build a church. The first player to build a church on any city space is the winner..."

There are a number of "Board Games with a Religious Theme" listed here,
Part 1: Looking for strategy games which incorporate religion
Part 2: More games with a religious theme

but I don't think these are like the one I saw either - tho' they don't have pictures.

The lists do include games mentioned earlier by commenters. They ask for extra info: "If you can add any games to the list -- or provide more information about the games already included -- please post a note in the About Board Games Forum.", maybe some of you could add to it.

We're having an unusually heated & hotly-contested local government election for Sydney City Council. This discussion has me thinking of modifying a current board game with appropriate names, places and themes. Snakes & Ladders comes to mind, along with Monopoly, or p'raps something along the lines of Credo (Credo di Dio Crudel!).

#42 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2004, 09:44 PM:


CHANCE: Take a ride on the Monorail. Pay the Bank $2 and lose one turn.

#43 ::: kevinr ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2004, 11:43 PM:

Mr. Goldfarb -

As applicable as Aquaman may be to the role of Peter, the apostle Peter in Da Vinci's painting actually does carry a knife (remember Peter cutting off the Roman soldier's ear?) Thus, Lex is more than likely cast in the role of Peter, though how much thought the artist put into that decision is up for debate.

- Kevin
...who's sat through one too many Sunday School lessons...

#44 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 12:15 AM:

Heck, what if he just saw the wandering Jew?

At the very least there was Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew. Also, Malchus, the Roman guy whose ear Peter cut off, also immortal. Plus, there're all the timetravelers from Up the Line. This leaves out the three Nephilim, and any number of other immortals who would have probably shown up.

#45 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 08:39 AM:

If this were a perfect one-to-one match with Earth-Prime's Last Supper, Bizarro would be the James on the far left, James the Younger, since the Golden Legend records he looked enough like Christ to be mistaken for him. But Bizarro is sitting in James the Elder's place, and James the Younger's place is *empty*, perhaps just vacated by Wonder Woman (who appears to be on her way to stop Luthor).

Therefore, one has to conclude the seating arrangement must have been different on Earth-LS.

Same thing for Luthor with a Kryptonite knife. Why would that be an attribute of *Peter's*? Probably Aquaman had to rest his prosthetic.

Incidentally, the canonical match of apostles' names to figures in the Last Supper wasn't determined until the early nineteenth century, when captions on a mid-16th century copy were discovered. Before that, people were matching the apostles up by age and by guesswork. Two hundred years of retcons.

Rao be with you all,

#46 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 09:16 AM:

Speaking of heated religious debates in the early Christian years, there is something of that feel to the current US arguing about "under God" in the Pledge. (Just no punching out -- so far.)
See the NY Times:

#47 ::: Esthanya ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 09:56 AM:

What bothers me about this story is the fighting, and the fact I can see it happening on my campus. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised to hear of something similar in class today, there was a campus-sponsored trip to the movie this weekend.

*grin* I know I've had words over doctrinal issues here. It's fun debating with others who have a clue. We just don't come to blows.

#48 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 10:33 AM:

"Everyone knows this is the actual period and process that gave rise to the very first flame wars, right?"

I hate to argue a point, any point, with the hostess with the mostest cool weblog, but this was not the period of the first flame wars [unless you count the literal flambeeing of dissidents]. I won't claim the ancient Greeks invented flame wars, but they certainly indulged in them. One of the more notorious must be Diogenes' dismissal of Plato's definition of a man [an erect, featherless biped] by depositing a plucked chicken labeled "Plato's man" in a highly public place. Plato seems to have attracted this kind of thing; his fellow disciple of Socrates, Xenophon, complained in his own philosophical works that Plato misquoted, misrepresented, and misstated the Master's teachings for his own ends. Further trawls through the history of ancient philosophy would no doubt produce more, although I don't think Seneca's piece on the deificaiton of the Emperor Claudius would count, as Claudius was in no condition to riposte by then.

However, since the early church fathers were able to swing the fate of empire, or at least start a pretty good riot over their doctrinal points, I'd have to admit that their flame wars were a lot more deadly. Plato may have thought about killing Diogenes, but the rest of Athens was too busy snickering for him to assemble a decent mob.

#49 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 03:13 PM:

fidelio: flamage is heat in place of light. Diogenes was not flaming Plato but pointing out a gaping hole in the argument; it would have been a flame if Plato had asked why Diogenes was putting his mother on display in the nude, and the start of a flame war if Diogenes had then asked why Plato couldn't recognize his own father....

#50 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 03:33 PM:

CHip, that settles the chicken, especially since Plato then emended his definition, but please check out what Xenophon had to say about Plato--I don't believe that generated much light, although it was quite heated, at least on Xenophon's side (we have no record, as far as I know, on Plato's reaction).

#51 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Diogenes was not flaming Plato but pointing out a gaping hole in the argument; it would have been a flame if Plato had asked why Diogenes was putting his mother on display in the nude, and the start of a flame war if Diogenes had then asked why Plato couldn't recognize his own father....

My cats just gave me worried looks because of extreme giggling. Nice one.

#52 ::: Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2004, 04:37 PM:

Where can I get a copy of Credo? It sounds like the perfect birthday present for my girlfriend, the theologian.

#53 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2004, 06:44 AM:

As has been mentioned, _Credo_ was printed only once, in a small run, a long time ago. It's hard to find now. (Most of the people who have it aren't selling, either.) You might try advertising on

#54 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2004, 10:42 AM:

OK, here's the definitive list of Places to Get Credo:

  • Andreas Steding has an English copy for trade. The odds that you have something he wants are very low (the odds of anyone having something he wants, other than Broadsides and Boarding Parties, are very low - I suspect some of the games don't actually exist). However, can't hurt to try.

  • This chap on BoardgameGeek has a copy for trade, which might be in English. He doesn't say what he wants.

  • New French copies are available from Le Valet d'Couer, a game store in Quebec. They are CAD24.95 (about USD19). The cards are nicer than those in the English edition, but of course they're in French, and this is an extremely text-heavy game, so unless you read French quite well you're out of luck.

#55 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2004, 12:11 PM:

New French copies [of Credo] are available ... The cards are nicer than those in the English edition, but of course they're in French, and this is an extremely text-heavy game, so unless you read French quite well you're out of luck.

Running the cards' text through an automated online translator would add a whole new dimention to the game! (er. A dimention is a demented dimension, by the way.) In fact, a whole new sub-game of demention (which isn't saying to twice) could be developed by trying to say which differing translations from different translators came from the same 'ur-text'.

Then you set them to music.

Haven't yet worked out a knitting-related link, tho' I feel that something could be developed along the lines of Madam Defarge's coded knitting. Or again, maybe make a warm drink now & bed. Just back from a final performance of a funny (yet oddly disturbing) production of "The Merry Widow", am perhaps a bit 'overexcited'.
At least it stops me from trying to work out an epilogue to John Adam's "The Death of Klinghofer" the film of which was shown here in the annual January Sydney Festival. Abu Abbas, who planned the Achille Lauro hijacking, was captured almost a year ago in Baghdad and died in custody earlier this month. I keep mentally connecting elderly men in wheelchairs dying violently. Probably better to think on the ferry trip home on a moonless night under the stars.

#56 ::: karen ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 09:25 PM:

Actually, Lex Luthor is perfect as 'Judas' from the gnostic point of view (haven't you read the DaVinci Code?)and even the protestant point of view, among others. Peter is the arch-hero of the institutional church, the politicized church, the purveyors of the Nicene Creed, which essentially 'offed' the message of Christ: the kingdom of God is within you. Trust me, I've thought a lot about this in the years since graduating with a master's degree in theology from the Graduate Theological School in Berkeley in 1985. Lots of time to think it all over...

#57 ::: karen ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2004, 09:42 PM:

....and to read Peter Brown, who gives us the real skinny on early Xtn history, the 'world of late antiquity', augustine, and other artifacts and relics of European cultural history.

And speaking of bar fights, Jerome was another scrapper, although most of his pugilisms were confined to written letters. His long-time companion, Paula, (ever heard of her? she was the better hebrew and greek scholar, and made it possible for jerome to translate the vulgate) restrained him from the worst excesses of his temper.

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