Monday, November 13, 2017

Anatomy of an Anti-Christian Hoax

This may seem like an odd post to use to remerge from six weeks of blog dormancy, although, as you'll see, it has some relevance to why I've been dormant.

So where have I been, or more to the point, where have my blog posts been?

I haven't posted recently for two main reasons:

(1) FrancisChurch fatigue. A lot has happened in the last six weeks, and the pace of what is continuing to happen has increased.
Motus in fine velocior.
It's just hard to continue to track with words one's grief or concern or righteous indignation or whatever. It can be cathartic, but it also can be depressing. That's not an excuse for my own wimpiness, more another way of describing it.

But in blogging it's also important to feel that one is making a unique contribution, however small, and if ten Catholic blogs are writing about the latest Outrage of the Day, and you have nothing in particular to add, then...

And as most of my readers would agree, the Catholic blogosphere has recently been, in a sense, leading the opposition to Bergoglio and his demolition campaign.

I want to thank all the loyal readers and commenters on this blog for bearing with me. I've gone though this before, and it will pass, as it always does.

In my small way, I don't want to let you down, and I feel bad when I do. I apologize.

(2) But the second reason is that I have been working on finishing up revising and adding to a gaming project, which I occasionally post about on my gaming blog Save Versus All Wands. My game, Seven Voyages of Zylarthen is not a "Christian game" by any means, but it was written in part to make fantasy adventure games friendly or at least non-hostile to the serious Christian community in a way that its parent, Dungeons & Dragons, is often perceived not to be.

It's always been difficult for me to fully focus my attention on two online or quasi-online projects at one time. Before starting Mahound's Paradise, I was quite active in the gaming blogosphere, but a few years ago, I took more than a year off to write the game.

And I should say, in the game community I have many online friends, many of whom are Catholics, but the majority of whom are non-Catholic Christians, agnostics, atheists or even "pagans." That's fine with me. We are often allies in the sense that we dislike what the leftist "social justice warriors" are doing to the hobby. And evangelization (whatever atom of it I can ever embody) should always begin with a commitment to the truth (whatever atom of it I can ever embody).

And truth, friendship and loyalty in a sense transcend religious categories, though any believing Catholic can tell you that they are ultimately based on the example our Lord set down (whether people perceive it or not).

I also, as may be expected, have made many enemies in the hobby - leftist gaming people who also appear to obsessively read Mahound's Paradise just so when in a gaming context if I claim that knowledge is good or it's wrong to set cats on fire, they can respond with, "yeah, but you're an anti-Muslim bigot and a hyper-reactionary Catholic who EVEN hates the Pope!"

Funny, they never cared about the pope before...

And who has the time? I never read their silly religious-political posts...

I have a lot more to say about Zylarthen and whether or not D&D is really "anti-Christian" etc., but I'll leave it to another post (for both my gaming blog and Mahound's Paradise).

But to add more background to today's post, there's a meme in the gaming community that serious Christians are ignorant bigots who want to mess up people's fun, in particular by throwing Christian fundie hate at gamers and gaming.

A recent alleged example of this turned out to be a hoax, perpetrated by an obscure game publisher who wanted to gain more clicks for his game site and (almost certainly) gin up anti-Christian hate (or at least milk more clicks off of the anti-Christian thing).

In any case, here's the story, which was crossposted a few days ago at Save Versus All Wands with a slightly more, ah, forthright title:

Jacob Bos
The Darker Side of Dungeons & Dragons
I'm sure by now, most of you have heard the name "Dungeons & Dragons". On the surface, it's a game of the imagination, governed by strict rules, and played with dice, maps, and miniatures. Under the surface however, lies the allure of the occult, the temptation to escape from reality, and the desire for power.
So begins the first blog post from a blog called "Secret Evils of the World." Both the blog itself and the profile of the blog's author "Thomas Elder" were created yesterday morning from an address in Canada, with no obvious provenance in terms of the blog or the blogger.

It appears to be an 80's style Christian fundie anti-D&D rant. Those red pictures on the side are depictions of hell.

You may find the link here. Or not - it may have been taken down by the time you read this. But here's what it looks like, and below is the profile of "Thomas Elder."

The first post went up at 5:51 AM CST. (The time stamp is the Blogger default, which is PST.)

Yesterday, between the hours of 6 AM and 7 AM, a minor RPG industry guy named Jacob Bos linked to the blog's first post. He put it up in a number of places on Facebook where it received hundreds of comments and many shares, virtually all of which were predictably hostile to the blog and post, and many of which degenerated into anti-Christian snipes and attacks.

Jacob Bos is the person behind the Myd'Realm fantasy setting and 5Realms Publishing, both of which have a presence on DriveThruRPG. Bos is based in Canada.

The blog post itself received 150+ comments, all of which, as far as I can tell, were directed there by those Facebook posts and shares.

The first comment was posted by Jacob Bos at 6:19 AM, twenty-eight minutes after the anonymous first-time blog from the anonymous profile that was just created launched itself into the ether.

So Bos appears to have found it quite quickly on Tuesday morning.

Maybe the Canadian internet isn't that big...

Well, Bos wrote it himself of course.

And he also inserted himself into the discussion on at least one of the Facebook places where he linked to the post - the group 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons - laughing along with those attacking those bigoted and stupid Christian fundies. Here's one comment among many. Notice that he comically tries to direct attention away from the troll thesis:

Bos also linked to the post in Old School Gamers, where I first saw it, his own page, his Myd'Realm and 5Realms Facebook pages and, of all places, the group 80'S CARTOONS, T.V. SHOWS, MOVIES AND TOYS ..what do you remember? He also linked to the post on his Twitter account, which ironically got no likes or retweets. For all I know, he put it up in other places on Facebook and elsewhere.

Here are a few of the ways he introduced the post:

Some church.

Organized religion.

You are all sinners! Repent!


He was a busy man between 6 AM and 7 AM, just minutes after the original blog and profile was created.

The "Secret Evils" blog title picture is from the TV series Freaks and Geeks. Curiously, the same picture was posted on the Myd'Realm page a few months ago (with funny "meme" writing placed on it). While it's true that a similar picture has appeared on other sites, each picture has different dimensions and pixel counts, etc., as one might expect. Except for two them - the pictures for Myd'Realm and "Secret Evils" are precisely the same (in terms of dimensions, pixels, etc.).

I originally was taken in by this hoax like most (though perhaps not all) of the commenters. Indeed, as a Christian D&D player I felt it my silly duty to defend the anonymous blogger from the lynch mob, at least partially - "30%" as I put it - as well as pointing out that the whole thing, whatever the merits of the anti-anti-D&D case had partly turned into an anti-Christian thing.

I should note that at least two Christian ministers respectfully argued the merits of D&D back at the "Thomas Elder."

Bos is of course a troll and a liar. He invented the profile, wrote the blog post and then linked to it either to create clicks and shares for his "setting" and company pages or to gin up anti-Christian hate. I suspect it's both.

He allowed it to be shared and re-shared as an alleged example of Christian or Christian fundie hate.

See? Christians are stupid and bigoted. They want to control you and stop your fun. They want to condemn people they disagree with to hell. They can't separate fantasy from reality, etc., etc.

And they hate our favorite game, D&D.

Someone must have been channeling the late Patricia Pulling and Jack Chick...

Except. Not.

It was Jacob Bos all along.


  1. D&D is a family tradition.

    We also all painted miniatures & played Warhammer and board games. They all turned out nearly as good at painting as me ;-)

    There are many roads to occultism. D&D is probably not much of a threat. It's a game that fosters imagination, creativity, cooperation, and keeps kids off the streets. The board games they grew up on let them throw fits at reversals of fortune and accuse me of having supernatural power over dice rolling (I do). But, it also taught them to closely read rules, work with allies (the only way they had a chance against dad) and eventually, they even learned not to throw fits.

    They all grew up around the big old Xacto knife-scarred and paint-spattered oak dining room table that will never have those memories sanded off. It was wonderful for everyone.

    And, yes. Writing about Francis is just old now. Other bloggers are welcome to it, but at some point, the Catholic blogosphere needs to take a step back and ask whether it is an edifying place anymore.

    1. That sounds great!

      Re: writing about Francis. I was only describing my own psychological state. I think we should be hitting it, and hitting it just as hard if not harder. I assume the Enemy relies on the fatigue factor. But there are now of course so many good sites, blogs and sources - OnePeterFive being the best. We don't have to all be doing it at once.

  2. Welcome back, Oakes. Although I don't really do any "gaming," just play games on my computer, I do remember seeking to gain a special power as a child. There was a "filler" cartoon series in occasional Gold Key (?) comics featuring Mary Jane and her little woodland creature friend, Sniffles - not sure what he was but he wore a hat, if that helps to identify. But I remember imitating Mary Jane, closing my eyes and crossing my fingers, while reciting the powerful phrase, "Magic words of poof, poof, piffles, make me just as small as Sniffles." It never worked and later, as an arachniphobe, I realized I was glad it had not. So much for occult powers.

    1. Thanks, Sandy. Ha! That's a funny story.

      You always wonder how much you really believe as a kid. I made paper "bat items" (to make a bat belt and stock a bat cave). I remember thinking that they would really work, though I don't really remember being disappointed when they didn't. I also built a helicopter out of wood planks and told my teacher that she would see me flying to school. But did I REALLY believe these things? It's hard to say.

      Though maybe kids do believe them, but unlike adults don't get too broken up when they don't work. You just go on to your next fun project.

  3. I used to tie towels around my neck and jump out of our apple trees, pretty sure that one time it was going to work and I was going to FLY like Superman, whose comic books I read when I wasn't reading Archie. A child hopes.
    As a teenager I had Tarot cards we got at our local mall bookstore. They looked pretty, and I had absolutely no idea, but when I was a young teenager I wanted to be a witch, don't ask me why. The occult is serious stuff, God was very good to eventually call me to be a Christian. I currently am suspicious of games like D&D instinctively, but I could be wrong. I intensely distrust Pokémon and similar cards, games, etc. Many children's toys or games or cartoons today are using the occult to draw kids.
    Oakes, whatever you have to do is ok. I am recognizing a need to refrain from spending as much time reading about this ongoing train wreck and get more productive. I've got a family genealogy project for when the winter snows start flying...

  4. My husband used to play D&D when he was a teenager and then he grew up. As far as I know, none of his friends got into the occult but they didn't all grow up. Obsessive D&D playing and making it into your life is a sign that something is wrong with the person, not necessarily the game.