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3 Ways Dungeons and Dragons Brings You Closer to God (Yes, For Real)

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"You're welcome to try." More terrifying and exhilarating words have never been spoken. Albeit these words were spoken by my session leader during Dungeons and Dragons, these words hold a much deeper meaning when considered from an eternal perspective. My family was pretty open to the nerdage. That exposure has brought a lot of good experiences my way. For example, Legend of Zelda taught me how to land surf, as shown in this image. Another mark of my nerdom is that I play Dungeons and Dragons. It is an amazingly fun game. Saying that, I know a lot of people narrow their eyes and crinkle their noses when they hear about this game. Despite the raised eyebrows, Dungeons and Dragons really does have the power to change peoples' lives for the better! How? How does it do this? I'll tell you right now, it isn't using dark magic or anything sketchy like that. So, here are just a few ways that Dungeons and Dragons can improve your life. Dungeons and Dragons teaches...

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The churchy version of that video has the guy who gets made nursery worker in every ward, no matter how many times he moves.  He even goes inactive and people just start dropping off their kiddos at his house.

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22 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

The churchy version of that video has the guy who gets made nursery worker in every ward, no matter how many times he moves.  He even goes inactive and people just start dropping off their kiddos at his house.

I want to be that guy.  I swear, when I get released from what I'm doing now, I am going to demand a calling in nursery (though I'll take primary teacher)

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So I recall some time ago that I'd do some research into Dungeons and Dragons.  It seems to be quite a popular item for several members on these boards.  I could not quite find which post it was where I said I'd do research, but in pursuit of that I had a few questions.

First, if we turn to section 21 of Handbook 2 (and similar phraseology can be found in handbook 1) we find...

Quote

21.4.8

Occult Affiliation

Church members should not engage in any form of Satan worship or affiliate in any way with the occult. “Such activities are among the works of darkness spoken of in the scriptures. They are designed to destroy one’s faith in Christ, and will jeopardize the salvation of those who knowingly promote this wickedness. These things should not be pursued as games, be topics in Church meetings, or be delved into in private, personal conversations” (First Presidency letter, Sept. 18, 1991).

With the recent interest in gambling and gaming I found that there is more on the subject of this to be found.  To me it seems that this idea of GAMES that promoted the occult rose up with the rise of D&D as a game and in some ways this statement could be seen as a DIRECT relation to the idea of D&D as promoting works of darkness and be seen as affiliated with the occult.

I am curious at how people here react with this and their excuses in regards to games that deal with occult items such as magic, spells, dragons (which originally have some origins with that great serpent and the beasts talked about in various parts of the Bible), rituals, sorcery, and various other items which have traditionally been related to occult practices.  This is especially in relation to playing what I understand are Witches, Wizards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks which traditionally have been associated with the occult.

Now to be clear, I am looking for opinions and thoughts on the matter.  I am not coming as someone seeking to prosecute anyone offensively or seeking to condemn any gaming practice anymore than one would look at the more recent crazes into Harry Potter (which also uses the terms of witches and wizards) or various other mediums.  I am interested in intpretations of the above instructions as they relate to one's hobbies which seemingly brush upon the occult in some individuals eyes.

That said, I have found out in my research today some interesting items.  Gary Gygax who was one of the creators of the D&D game seems to have been a Seventh Day Adventist while growing up and somewhat connected to those beliefs in the 70s when he was creating the original Dungeons and Dragons.  It seems that some hypothesize that these beliefs greatly influenced his ideas and thoughts (along with a dose of libertarianism) regarding good and evil and the ability to destroy hellish creations.  It also appears that he fell away from this belief somewhat during his darkest days (perhaps in the 80s) as later he seemed to be more non-religious and then at the end of his life a Unitarian in practice.

This speaks more that there was a religious slant regarding D&D and far more of a religious take than what many originally ascribed to it.

I am not trying to delve into the occult personally and have no desire to and do not feel personally, from what I've investigated thus far that D&D really delves into that arena (and if it does, please warn me and we will not delve further into this topic).

However, when reading the statement from the Handbooks it feels to me that part of this statement, particularly the portion that refers to games, was written directly in reference to D&D.

What are your feelings in this regard?

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1 hour ago, JohnsonJones said:

 

However, when reading the statement from the Handbooks it feels to me that part of this statement, particularly the portion that refers to games, was written directly in reference to D&D.

What are your feelings in this regard?

That you have created one of the greatest stretches of imagination in the church that I have seen in quite some time.

Seeing as you have such a great imagination, want to play?

Sidenote: my players will continue their exploration of level 4 of Undermountain Friday night.  Creative problem solving, social interaction, communication skills and some light math will ensue...along with chips, soda and probably some candy.

Oh...and some really lame jokes are likely to be told too...such is nerdom.

 

Edited by mirkwood

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2 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

What are your feelings in this regard?

It's part of that now discredited "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s when ignorant people (sorry, not sorry) decided to label anything they didn't understand as "Satanic." It was Magic cards when I was in high school. I had an amazing turbo stasis blue white deck that was basically unbeatable. When a teacher found out we were playing, she threw a tantrum, stomped her feet, and declared it Satanic. She was beyond rational discourse. 

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When I was young (during MG's Satanic Panic), I picked up a copy of the game, then got rid of it because my friends and I who were getting started with me bought into the "devil worship" angle. Later, as I got older and less naive, I discovered that there is a contingent of Christianity that declares any fantasy franchise involving "magic" (including things like Harry Potter) as part of the occult. I now regret abandoning the game so readily, because it is fun. I don't see D&D as anything more than escapist fantasy -- no different from any other role playing game or video game or fantasy novels/movies or other fictional franchises.

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9 hours ago, MrShorty said:

- no different from any other role playing game or video game or fantasy novels/movies or other fictional franchises.

Exactly.

Generally speaking when we don't understand something, we fear it. We'e also more susceptible to believing things about it that just are not true.   

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15 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

However, when reading the statement from the Handbooks it feels to me that part of this statement, particularly the portion that refers to games, was written directly in reference to D&D.

What are your feelings in this regard?

My feelings in this regard are my same feelings in regards to Ouija boards.  Ouija boards are squares of cardboard mass produced by the Hasbro company, who brought us occult classics like Monopoly and My Little Pony. From where I'm standing, the only thing that legitimately works about an Ouija board, is that people can create their own emotional states by bringing their own conformation bias to the table. They're about as much a "tool of lies" as professional wrestling, a politician's campaign promise, or a scary movie about demons. For that matter, they're about as much a "tool of lies" as dowsing and divination rods that Joseph Smith used to dink around with early on in his life.  My own experience with the Ouija board amounts to mainly on trying to bring my adolescent arm into as much physical contact as possible with my friend's older sister as we worked the little plastic message dealie. Her name was Renee.  She had on a white turtleneck.  14 was a fun age.

(I did "Light as a feather, stiff as a board, rise body rise" too - and it worked! Still doesn't have anything to do with the supernatural.)

Yes, evil exists.  But its presence and danger is about exactly as present in D&D/Ouija Boards, as they are in random rocks, or a can of paint, or a hammer, or a box of kleenex.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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1 hour ago, NeuroTypical said:

My feelings in this regard are my same feelings in regards to Ouija boards.  Ouija boards are squares of cardboard mass produced by the Hasbro company, who brought us occult classics like Monopoly and My Little Pony. From where I'm standing, the only thing that legitimately works about an Ouija board, is that people can create their own emotional states by bringing their own conformation bias to the table. They're about as much a "tool of lies" as professional wrestling, a politician's campaign promise, or a scary movie about demons. For that matter, they're about as much a "tool of lies" as dowsing and divination rods that Joseph Smith used to dink around with early on in his life.  My own experience with the Ouija board amounts to mainly on trying to bring my adolescent arm into as much physical contact as possible with my friend's older sister as we worked the little plastic message dealie. Her name was Renee.  She had on a white turtleneck.  14 was a fun age.

(I did "Light as a feather, stiff as a board, rise body rise" too - and it worked! Still doesn't have anything to do with the supernatural.)

Yes, evil exists.  But its presence and danger is about exactly as present in D&D/Ouija Boards, as they are in random rocks, or a can of paint, or a hammer, or a box of kleenex.

If I had feelings and emotions (I don't) I'd cry over this. You are, quite literally, the first religious person I've ever met to describe a Ouija board the same way I do. As a mass produced cardboard game created by Parker Brothers/Hasbro/Mattel, whatever. Could they be evil? Sure, but like you said, so could rocks, paint cans, hammers.... 

 

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14 hours ago, MormonGator said:

It's part of that now discredited "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s when ignorant people (sorry, not sorry) decided to label anything they didn't understand as "Satanic." It was Magic cards when I was in high school. I had an amazing turbo stasis blue white deck that was basically unbeatable. When a teacher found out we were playing, she threw a tantrum, stomped her feet, and declared it Satanic. She was beyond rational discourse. 

This is what I am thinking.  I read the item from the handbook above when making sure I knew the official policies on gambling in the HB1 due to a recent post here.  This led me to read a specific item in that and I looked to see what the more easily quoted HB2 stated on the subject. 

The information never had really struck before so I then tried to do some research on that particular item.  I found it is incredibly HARD to find that letter with a simple quick search via google.  I went to the LDS site with a hopeful link but that specific link did not show a letter in my browser.

I did find information from Deseret News which led me to find information similar to what you stated.  What was surprising was HOW long AFTER what I thought the D&D panic occurred (from what I've read) that this letter came out.

Church Reporting Cults in Utah

Around this time the DN reported that the Church was actually investigating Occult Cults that were practicing ritualistic abuse dedicated to sexual abuse of children within the church itself.  This idea of that type of cult comes precariously close to various other reports (almost all of which turned out to be false from what I have read) in other parts of the nation.  Many of these things were connected to falsely to things such as Dungeons and Dragons and Heavy Metal as well as other various things.

What is interesting is that it specifically points out games.  Further research into it seems to be that many who felt this about these 'Cults' that were operating were also either sacrificing children or abusing them in various ways (as the DN reported the apparent researching into the cults within the Church were doing).   They felt that many of these in the cults were also playing D&D or recruited people playing D&D. 

What struck me as odd is HOW LATE this letter came out.  I mean by this that most of this panic occurred in the 80s in the United States, though it spread minimally to other portions of the world in the late 80s and early 90s.  I would have thought such concern about these items would have come out earlier from the Church.  Instead it seems to be dated 1991.  More interesting is that this guidance is still on the books. 

To me it seems (and hopefully people will not lynch me on this) that it is a policy that arose due to a popular secular notion that gave alarm among many evangelicals and other religious groups during the time period that has no basis in real science, history, or facts.  This would be similar to other policies that arose at certain times and the so called 'research' that went behind them (one of the most famous of these in religion today is regarding what some would consider self intimacy and it's connections to homosexuality and/or insanity which at this point have been absolutely disproven decades ago but are still used as reasons to avoid such activities in religious groups).

It is interesting how that policy is still in there and how they specific games in it.

1 hour ago, NeuroTypical said:

My feelings in this regard are my same feelings in regards to Ouija boards.  Ouija boards are squares of cardboard mass produced by the Hasbro company, who brought us occult classics like Monopoly and My Little Pony. From where I'm standing, the only thing that legitimately works about an Ouija board, is that people can create their own emotional states by bringing their own conformation bias to the table. They're about as much a "tool of lies" as professional wrestling, a politician's campaign promise, or a scary movie about demons. For that matter, they're about as much a "tool of lies" as dowsing and divination rods that Joseph Smith used to dink around with early on in his life.  My own experience with the Ouija board amounts to mainly on trying to bring my adolescent arm into as much physical contact as possible with my friend's older sister as we worked the little plastic message dealie. Her name was Renee.  She had on a white turtleneck.  14 was a fun age.

(I did "Light as a feather, stiff as a board, rise body rise" too - and it worked! Still doesn't have anything to do with the supernatural.)

Yes, evil exists.  But its presence and danger is about exactly as present in D&D/Ouija Boards, as they are in random rocks, or a can of paint, or a hammer, or a box of kleenex.

Today, if one were to apply the ideas regarding what it was referring to, I'd say Ouija and Tarot would probably ALSO be things the church  policies would dissuade one from participating in. 

I think one thing for people to remember though is that this is ONLY a policy in the Church.  It is not a commandment (as far as I can tell, I cannot find the letter so dated in my light and quick searches on the internet). 

What is also something I find interesting is that this was one of the areas that popped up when I was trying to verify my memory in regards to Gambling.  This also would be applicable as a Church policy to my mind and in that light, could be comparable.  I'm not condoning gambling by any means (as we have plenty more remarks by Church leaders in the past regarding it) but only saying that as it is a policy such as the one we see with games that could be identified with the occult, I think some have taken their idea of gambling in regards to how serious the Church treats it a tad far???

D&D seems particularly interesting though as a focus for a lot of the panic of the 80s regarding the Occult as from what I have read it actually had religious overtones and some religious origins.  More on this below...

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D&D to me seems that it was created from what I can see as somewhat religious individuals.  Dave Arneson from a little bit I have found seems to have been somewhat religious in his church and was even an Elder.  I found one article that alludes that he was sent on a Mission to San Francisco however as it seems to have been after he was married, even though it was a religious mission, I do not think it was for OUR church (nice as it would be if he turned out to actually be LDS).  It appears he was Christian though and pretty religious (enough to be an Elder in his Church and go on a mission for them).

Gary Gygax as I mentioned above was originally a 7th day Adventist from what I can tell (or the appearance there of) initially, though later it appears he left that faith, went though a period without it, and joined the Unitarians later...though how much of that is simply appearances and how much is truth is also hard to discern. 

It seems D&D has some triumphant history as well as tragic history behind it.  For instances, it appears originally Gygax and Arneson were pretty good friends with each other.  However, after the release of D&D Arneson and Gygax worked more closely together.  Arneson appears to have had a little difficulty in producing output regarding RPGs and had different ideas on which direction to take the game which, from what I guess, led to disputes and a division between the friends.  Some of my reading indicates that it created a rift in their friendship (which is sad to have such a division over such a trivial thing...to me) which led to Arneson basically being given the boot.

Some have said in various locations that this was the reason Gygax made Advanced Dungeons and Dragons as well as a separate version which was simply called Dungeons and Dragons.  (It was to separate Arneson from the profits and royalties generated).  This in turn became ironic as one of the individuals that helped fund the publication of the game died and his shares in the game and company were turned over to others who did not seem as easy to work with for Gygax and his company.  In turn eventually Gygax tried to recruit help against these individuals (the Blume brothers) with Lorraine Williams, only to eventually have her ally with those he was having difficulties with, She buys out the company and gives Gygax the boot (or he leaves due to the hostilities more likely, letting them also obtain his shares in the company).

Interesting as all of these individuals seem to have Christian upbringings, so I find it interesting how such individuals got connected to anything considered occult in the public view.  It seems the panic was GOOD for sales for D&D as it spread the word and created somewhat of a fad for it in the 80s and early 90s (though it was starting to die down in the 90s).

TSR (The company Gygax founded) went bankrupt in the latter half of the 90s, and many say that it was due to various factors such as branching game lines, too many different campaign settings (these are different worlds I suppose players can be in and each produces it's own products, similar to book series which have their own series of books in a world).  To me, it seems that another part of it would be that the fad was dying at this point.  The fad probably produced many who were interested in the game, but as the fad died down, so did the number of individuals that were buying products which diminished the audience that was spending money.

To me this makes more sense on WHY a company falters, it loses it's customers.  You can then try to squeeze more money out of customers by making more product (more product lines, campaign settings, novels, etc), or you can charge more money for your product.  Both ways typically end up badly as you still have a decreasing number of customers who only have so much money which means your company is going to shrink as will your profits.  If you continue to spend as if you did not have a decreasing customer base the same thing will happen that has happened to every other company that slowly lost it's customers, it goes out of business.

It was "saved" by Wizards of the Coast who bought TSR and in turn were bought by Hasbro.  I say "saved" with quotation marks as it seems that they created a new Dungeons and Dragons which caused what some entitle an edition War.  It seems that this version of D&D was not anything like the original form of D&D that Arneson and Gygax had created.  On the plus side, the original creators were credited.

I have not done enough research to be able to tell whether the new D&D's authors were Christian or religious (and the same would apply to the later versions including the version which many seem to play today).

However, I find it ironic some of the way the Church looks at these types of games including having a somewhat open to interpretation policy that could be directly utilized in reference to them, considering the what I feel could be the religious roots of D&D.

Edited by JohnsonJones

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Another thing on this topic...at this point I think our entire Priest group (the group of 16+ young men, or 15+ depending on when their Birthday is these days) plays D&D.  Half our Deacons seem to be playing it as well.  Just like I'd remain quiet about it if someone told me they went to Vegas (unless they came to me asking for help to overcome gambling or some other mention) I think it would be ludicrous to try to utilize and opinion to enforce a church policy regarding these types of games.  It seems they enjoy it quite a bit, though at times it seems they might be able to find something better to do with their time.

It has created some problems as it seems there are two groups among the older boys.  One group which is larger plays regularly but they do not allow a smaller group of two or three to play with them.  It's an unfortunate dynamic. 

All of them probably would find it comedic that I am reading information about their hobby.

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You should join them for a session.  Even if it is 5th Edition (most likely) and not the superior 1st or 2nd Edtions.

 

The game is a lot of fun.  When people who are unfamiliar ask me what it is like I usually ask if they have read/seen The Hobbit/LOTR.  Just about everyone has.  I tell them you are playing out the movie, but you get to make the characters up and decide what exactly they do.

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30 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

though at times it seems they might be able to find something better to do with their time.

True, if you make it the point of your existence. But, in fairness, if you make any hobby the point of your existence it becomes a problem. 

Edited by MormonGator

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Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 

D&D can be one of those if you do it right.

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