a pop invite to the church

Jolly co-operation in Bloodborne

i’ve been part of the
vibrant community
the Souls series of
video games
(Demon’s Souls,
Dark Souls I and II
(soon to be III),
and Bloodborne)
for years now

though they be
oh, so much more,
these are
notoriously challenging
fantasy role playing
infamously brutal
in their
demands on the player

as an old Souls?slogan goes:
“prepare to die” . . .
no, seriously

partly for this reason,
said vibrant community
surrounding said series
has arisen –
brothers in the
painful pleasures of
creator Hidetaka Miyazaki’s
vision of?gaming,
partakers in what we call
“jolly co-operation”

so the other day, in church,
it struck me:
this particular?community –
any true community
surrounding?any given
pop artifact –
is like the church in some
and needs to be
seen as such

ways like what?

shared goals

Souls players
help each other by
joining each other’s games
to defeat bosses,
duel for experience,
share items,
etc., etc.

online?and in-game, we
collectively amass wisdom,
lore, interpretations,
strategies, etc., etc.,
and riff?on our
with memes, fan art,
fan fic, etc., etc.,
all using?our own
language (for non-casuls only)

meanwhile, our goals are
fundamentally the same:

and all the while,
players can not only
know they’re not alone
in an unforgiving,
bleak, desolate and
lonely game world,
they can actually
*be* unalone –
joined by other
“chosen undead,”
likewise looking to
combine forces for
enrichment, growth, victory

(at least a little)

shared defeats

as the church huddles
around?brothers, sisters
in hard times –
weeping, praying,
laying hands –
so Souls players stand,
back to back,
shields raised,
hefting?the weight
of?crushing difficulties
in tandem

in game,
if you’re summoned
for help and your
host dies,
their game is over
and your game is over –
a sword slash
underlining just how truly
Souls siblings?are one

shared victories

when that
sword slash
is y’all’s and
finally fells some
foul beast –
some towering
and evil
and seemingly
boss –
bitter shared defeat
sweet shared victory,
like an answered prayer
or a funded mission
or a saved soul

but so what?

so communities
(like the Souls community)
that accrue around
pop artifacts
as barnacles on
a ship’s hull
can be compared
to the church –
so what?

here’s why this
observation is more
than inane
or obvious
or irrelevant:
because with it
in mind,
we are daily surrounded
by myriad?reminders
of just how much
the world needs
and wants
the church –
*the* community,
with?the truest
shared in the
most fully realized sense

daily surrounded, reminded
and hopefully goaded . . .

after all,
those “nerds” cosplaying
at the next
superhero movie?premier?
comic trading, card collecting?
the ones teaming against
a world?that doesn’t
really get the real fans?

they need and want
the church

music “nuts”
chapter and verse
of any given album
by any given artist or band
from any genre or time period?
the ones constructing a cathedral
of shared sacred communal knowledge?

church needers and wanters

sports fans?
cross fit people?

church needers and wanters

these, in the end,
are not those to be
mocked, certainly
(though a lot has
changed from
Revenge of the Nerds to
The Big Bang Theory,
it’s still not too “cool”
to be?into
certain things),
nor misunderstood,
for?pop communities
are only echoes
in pencil
of the church –
the true community
set in ink
for the ages

these, in the end,
are instead those to be
seen with clear eyes,
and a heart that knows
how much it too longs . . .
longs still,
partially requited
though it may be

these, in the end,
are those to goad us
to?act on the fact
that they are
what they are:
despite their
wonderful vagaries,
a unified
invitation to an invitation

a pop invitation
to the church
to “be *all* things
to *all* people,
so as to save some”

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