Sunday, November 27, 2011

Believe What Thou Will

The topic of belief comes up from time to time, especially this time of year. With it being the Holiday Season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah) the topic of belief is very much hard to avoid. What always gets me is how angry some people can get whenever the topic comes up. Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not just talking about so-called “Fundamentalist Right Wing” Christians here. I've met plenty of Wiccans/Pagans who get their panties in all kinds of a wad whenever anyone tries to talk to them about any other religion but their own. I always find it sad when people get so bent out of shape over someone not believing the exact same as they do. Isn't belief and faith supposed to bring peace and joy to the soul?

I've experienced a lot in my 40 years of life, spiritually speaking. I've been a Pentecostal minister. I've gone into deep meditation and met my animal spirit guides when I practiced Wicca. I've stared into fire seeking visions. I've even been so drunk and full of depression and fear of the future that I've looked up at the North Star and told God he was an asshole before. And through all of it, I have had faith and belief that there is a higher power, even when I was at my lowest.

I once read a definition of religion that, to paraphrase, stated that religion was really just mankind's way of explaining things that they can observe or have experienced that they can't (yet) explain scientifically. Ok. I won't completely disagree with that. I mean, let's face it. Religion is man's creation, not God's. I know, I know. Many will disagree with me on that point, but I still hold to that point of view. I really don't think God invented religion. If He did, there would only be one religion. Man invented religion as a (limited) way of trying to understand God.

Which one is the right one though? Christians would have you believe theirs is. Muslims are quite adamant about theirs being the true path to God, so much so that the really fundamentalist branches of the religion even resort to terrorism to prove it. Wiccans would have you believe that their religion pre-dates Christianity, Islam or Judaism (which isn't really true, but I won't get into how Wicca is actually only a little over a half century old, even though some of their rituals are borrowed from or are resurgences of ancient practices).

What has always struck me as overly ironic about any religion is how it typically can't even entirely agree with itself. Within Christianity there's Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Then, with Protestantism there are dozens of denominations and even within those there are splinters and splits because of disagreements over theology. Islam too, as mentioned before, has extremists who are warlike, while other branches are much more peaceful. Judaism even has reformed, orthodox and conservative branches. And don't even get me started on how many various and sundry Neo-Pagan traditions there are.

Then, of course, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the Atheists and Agnostics. In some ways I pity them. I mean, I respect their right to not believe, as it were, but having experienced so much, spiritually, I really feel sorry for those who have not.

Ultimately, I don't think God (or the gods, if you prefer) really care what you believe, only that you believe. So, believe what thou will. I know I'm happy. I know I'm on the path I should be on, the one that works for me. We can't all, necessarily, follow the same road. If that were the case, the road wouldn't branch.

~ JC

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Phasing in a New Army

When I moved to Atlanta last October, one of the new hobbies I took up was the game Warhammer 40,000 (also known as 40k, for short). Being of Scottish ancestry, the army I selected to play was called the ‘Space Wolves’, a Space Marine chapter. Yes, I know, Space Wolves fluff and back story is based on Norse mythology, not Celt, but it’s the closest thing to Celt Mythos in the 40k Universe, so that’s what I went with.

Unfortunately, I soon found out that the Space Wolves were also amongst the most popular of Space Marine chapters to play. The upside to that, of course, was always being able to find models for that army at the local gaming store. The downside is, to damn many people were playing that army. The only thing I could really do to make my army stand out was go with a slightly different color scheme when painting them compared to most other players using the color scheme presented in the Space Wolves Codex.

After a few months of playing Space Wolves, I actually started getting a bit bored of them. After all, they’re really just another Space Marine chapter amongst dozens of Space Marine chapters. I wanted to play something different.

The one army I never saw anyone play at Giga-bytes Café was the Necrons. I became intrigued. So I looked through their codex and I very much liked what I saw. I also really liked the look of the models. An army of immortal living robots? Awesome! It would be like playing an entire army of Schwarzenegger-esque terminators. They even had a special rule called “We’ll Be Back”. How awesome was that?

So, I started buying up the little bit of Necrons models that Giga-bytes had in stock with plans to have the owner order more as I decided exactly how I wanted to build my list. Then something happened that made me excited and sad at the same time. I had to post-pone the building of my new army because the models had all become back ordered from Games Workshop. WTF!?

See, Warhammer 40k is currently on the 5th edition of its rule set, but the Necrons Codex was still from 4th edition as it had not been updated for 5th yet. The reason everything had become backordered and unavailable was because GW was finally updating the Necrons for 5th edition. This was exciting because it mean newer, updated special rules for this army and possibly new models as well. The part that made me sad was that my reason for wanting to play this army was potentially about to be nullified. See, I wanted to play Necrons because no one else at my hobby store did. The typical MO when an army gets updated is that a shit-ton of people all of a sudden starts buying up models for it. It’s like everyone has “ooo shiny!” moment and thinks they just have to have it because it’s the newest thing to hit the shelves.

After a months of waiting for the new codex to come out, the day finally arrived yesterday! GW finally released the new codex for Necrons and also introduced several very new, very sexy models for this army. And the timing on this was even better because my birthday is next week, so I ended up getting an early birthday present from my fiancée.

I am very thankful of the fact that, so far, the only person who actually reserved anything for the new release other than a copy of the new codex was me. And no one can accuse me of being a “band wagon” buyer of this new set of models because I had already started this army and planned on playing it before I even knew that GW was updating it for 5th edition.

So, I have some models to build and paint now that I’m actually looking forward to. And more importantly, I’m really anxious to get this army built so I can play it. I’d say the odds are pretty good that I’ll end up getting my Necrons army built up to a full 2000 point list well before I get my Space Wolf army completed.
With that said… I’ve got a codex to read and models that need building.