How Tolkien and a Board Game Brings Greater Insight to the Papacy

I am a huge fan of fantasy literature and among my favorite authors is J.R.R. Tolkien, better known as the creator of Middle Earth and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien described the creation of Middle Earth more as a discovery of a fictional world already in existence.

It was not until I started creating my own board game when I realized the truth in Tolkien’s words. My journey in making my board game was more of a discovery of a game already existent. I simply happened to be the one to uncover it.

one ring

There is a connection of Tolkien’s and my own personal experience to the truths of the Catholic Church. Truth is not something to be manufactured or fabricated. The objective truth of the Gospel—preached and housed in the Catholic Church— have always existed!

Jesus gave the honor and responsibility to his Apostles and Original members of the Catholic Church to safeguard, teach, and articulate the Truth for future generations until His Second Coming. Let’s examine some examples as evidence for this claim.

Jesus Entrusted Peter with Authority

In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus said, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Humanity thrives on clarity of thought and stability in leadership positions. Jesus planted the seeds to the papal office with Peter. The Greek name for Peter [πέτρος] translates as “stone” or “rock”. God gifted Christianity [and the entire world] with the office of the papacy to be the authority in the matter of faith and morals. The Holy Spirit works in a special way through the pope to guide him whenever a moral truth comes into debate or question.

Evidence from the Didache

According to many scholars, this document was written around 65-110 A.D.  This text is  known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. When I read this document I was surprised to hear many Catholic truths proclaimed from such an early 1st century document. The Didache specifically mentioned the Eucharist in Chapter 9 and the sacrament of Holy Orders in Chapter 15.

 Pope Pius IX on Papal Infallibility

The solemn declaration of papal infallibility occurred on July 18th, 1870. Pope Pius IX’s statement on papal infallibility related only to matters of faith and morality. Only in his office as pope could the leader of the Church speak with such authority. The Holy Spirit planted the seeds of papal infallibility in Matthew 16:18-19.

 keys of peter

 While the doctrine of papal infallibility may be a hot-buttoned issue, especially among non-Catholics, it does not have to be. Seeing the role of the Catholic Church as the guardian and teacher of truth and not the creator of truth was a notion that transformed my approach to this subject.

Tolkien’s discovery of Middle Earth, as a place already present, is like Catholic Church teaching as a truth existent for eternity. Our role is to discover anew how the truth of the Gospel may shape our daily lives!

Related Links

The Didache

A brief history of papal infallibility


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Bonding over Backgammon

I am a board game super-fan. I own over 50 board games, 15 card games, and I am even in the process of completing a board game. I hope to have it published by my son’s next birthday! I am grateful I found a wife who shares my enthusiasm for board game as well. Over the past years, we have moved toward playing cooperative-based games such as Pandemic, Flashpoint, Police Precinct, and The Oregon Trail Card Game. The driving force toward this shift away from competitive play is that it is easier to adjust two-player cooperative games than creating a two-player version of Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride. Despite our focus on cooperative gaming, my wife and I have made it a habit to continue our summer tradition of playing backgammon. This summer we are playing a 100 point match that will last throughout the season. I wish to share my thoughts and excitement on this endeavor.

Backgammon_board.jpg

1. Simple, Yet Complex: Backgammon is one the oldest board games in history. Dating as far back as 5,000 years archaeologists have found a board race game similar to backgammon in ancient Mesopotamia! The game’s simplicity is a major reason for its enduring success and popularity throughout history. Another reason I enjoy the game is that although it is a relatively simple game there exists some complexity in the various strategies a player may employ. Relatively recently, a doubling cube has been added to backgammon [mostly for gambling purposes] that enhances and adds depth to each individual game.

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2. Continuous Date Night: Starting in late June, my wife and I started a backgammon match that will conclude once the score of 100 is attained. Each individual game is valued at 1 or more points [depending on the circumstances, the severity of the winner’s victory, or whether the doubling die was used]. A benefit to us playing a game that contains miniature individual games over a long span of time is that our date nights have a feel of being one continuous date night. We have also grown closer as a couple through this leisure activity.

3. Variety: Along with creating continuity between date nights, our marathon summer backgammon match infuses some variety into each of our dates. Some games are quick and one-sided [like this week’s game where my wife backgammoned me and gained triple points for the win!] while other sessions are longer and suspenseful until the final dice roll. I am grateful I took up an interest in this traditional board game in 2009 and my spouse developed a similar fervor toward backgammon as well.

board games

An important thing I learned over my seven years of marriage is that couples need to set aside quality time together to bond and relax from the stresses of daily routine. We have found our own routine of playing board games after we put our children to sleep. I urge all marriage couples that read this post to reflect on the shared interests you have with your spouse and make it a priority to schedule time to engage in that unique activity. Sometimes grace and help come to us in interesting and fun forms—in my situation it is backgammon!

Thank you for sharing!