Inglorious Nature


When I was 23, I told a coworker that I dreamed of someday having a yard full of rocks without any grass or plants in it. Coworker remembers that comment to this day. At the time I said it, I’m pretty sure she thought I was crazy. I think I remember her saying something to the effect of, “That is a dream that you can definitely bring to fruition.”

Now that I’m all growed up, I do own a yard that has rocks and very few bits of life in it. However, it does have some trees and a hedge and a couple of bushes that periodically need to be groomed.

I know I seem like the type of person who would love nature. I’ve done some really cool things in nature throughout various parts of the world. I also just seem sort of quiet and contemplative, like I share  something in common with Thoreau and the Romantics. 

I don’t.

I enjoy lattes. I enjoy yoga. I like books. I like paintings. I like bubble baths. I like fancy dinners and dancing. I enjoy expensive red wine. I enjoy candles. I like vhs tapes of movies no one else enjoys. 

All of those things bring me more joy than nature brings me. It’s not that I dislike nature. I’m sort of ambivalent to it. Some people find comfort in nature. I will enjoy nature when I want to enjoy something with someone who enjoys nature, but I really just don’t feel the need to seek out the wilderness.

I tell you all of this, because there was a birds’ nest in my yard that I enjoyed. For three years. There were these doves, and they would come back every spring, and they would sit in the nest right outside my living room window and it was great. It was glorious.

Then, my neighbor got my phone number from the HOA, and she asked me for access to my yard, because her house was being painted and it is the wall of my yard. I didn’t really want to give access because I’m sort of a recluse who wants to be alone, but I’m also one of those people who doesn’t ever want to be that asshole who won’t do something for someone else. So I gave them access to my yard.

They painted the wall and the even trimmed up some of my nature near the wall. Several days went by before I realized what they had done. 

I actually gasped when I noticed.

They had removed the birds’ nest!

I couldn’t believe it. Those poor birds😦 I actually really enjoy birds. I once had ducks even that were my pets, and they were the best pet ever. Since the dicks, I’ve held an odd affection for birds and ducks and doves. 

But what was I really going to do about it? I couldn’t see it being helpful to tell my neighbor because she hadn’t been the one to do it, and probably didn’t even know it had been done; she’d hired some people and they did what they did.  Also, it really wouldn’t bring the birds back if I complained about it. So I’ve just been stewing.

Then, today, I decided it was about time that I went out and trimmed one of the trees and my hedge, so that the HOA doesn’t send me an angry letter.

So there I was, clipping away, stewing about how I was going to have to deal with all of the limbs and stupid nature that needed to be thrown out with the garbage, all because some person somewhere decided that we should build our homes in a way that is incongruent with nature and, in fact, we should tidy up nature and it’s against the rules to let it grow free.

Then, one of my other neighbors, out walking her dog, saw me clipping away. 

“Ooh… isn’t that a job for a man, darling?” she said.

I was polite to her, but REALLY?!

REALLY?!

Why don’t people mind their business? Why? I’ll trim my tree if I damn well please.

And then, it happened. I shoved my clippers up in that tree and was about to chop off a branch, and there it was. The dove was staring at me from her newly-built nest, staring with one big, cautious eye.

I could have cried for joy!

The birds didn’t abandon me! They must know how much I love them! I hope they make their home in my trees all the rest of their lives, and their children’s lives for generations to come!

“I won’t hurt your babies, Love,” I told her. Then I took pictures, and left her alone.  :-)

 

  

Happy Saturday!

The Sanitization of Christ: God is Better


There are mountaintop moments in every person’s life.

For me, there was one such moment as I stood on a hill in Mongolia at 5:30 a.m. I’d woken up early to have some time away from the 11 people on my team. For a couple of weeks, I’d been in the introvert’s worst nightmare having trained with 100 people in Colorado, sharing a room, eating meals with all 100 of them, never having a moment for myself. After stateside training, there were several days in airports, on buses, in hotels, and in training rooms in Beijing. Then, our numbers lessened for a few days to 50 when we arrived in U.B. (Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capitol). We did a few more days of training there, and finally 12 of us went on to spend the summer in Zuunmod, a town about an hour outside of U.B.

I’d gone for a run through town and impulsively continued to hike across a large field filled with goats, across a road, and to the top of a huge hill with a strange, man-made mound of rocks on top of it, surrounded by the bones of animals sacrificed over the years. I stood there looking out across the open expanse, and the air felt different. That’s what I love the most about international travel. If you pay attention, you can take a place in through your senses the moment you arrive. The air in Zuunmod was unpolluted, crisp, chilled, and, for me, it was pregnant with hope. It was the moment of a lifetime.

And yet, God is better.

As I was thinking about how to write this post, I really struggled, because there’s cliché to saying that God is great or holy or good. Of course Christians believe that about God, right? That’s one of those things that’s a given… except that it’s really not.

Last week, I posted about why Christians believe men are evil. You can get to that post by clicking here.

This week, I’m writing the second post in a series called: The Sanitization of Christ. While the idea that men are evil is sanitized for obvious reasons, it probably seems a bit of a stretch to say that Christians sanitize the idea of God being better than everything. I promise, it isn’t.

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Phillipians 3:7-8

“Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and counted them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…”

I took this a little bit out of context, because Paul is writing here primarily about counting his own righteousness as rubbish, but the thing about Christianity is that Christians are to consider everything in their lives as rubbish in contrast to “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus…”

This is really difficult, and I struggle with it a lot. I am NOT saying that a person who struggles with this is not a Christian. What I AM saying is that a Christian must try to view the most sublime experiences in her life, the closest people in her life, and the achievement of her most secret ambitions as rubbish next to Christ.

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Matthew 10:37

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

This is one of those verses that aches, because it’s about the love of your life, your family, your friends. It’s about people who have meant the world.

And yet, Jesus, Himself said those people can’t be primary. The most out-spoken Christians take an enormous amount of pride in saying that they put their families first. They judge people around them as less, because they detest the idea of a person putting his job or his hobbies first. And yet, Jesus specifically condemns people who put family first. He said that He has to be more to you than people are.

It is a cheap and false Christianity to believe that any person can be more important than Christ is. Christ claims all (every part of the being) of His followers, not the left-overs after family has had what they want.

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*This last one is a little long, and pulled from context, but it provides some poetic descriptions of God’s greatness. It’s in the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, so the people for whom he gives thanks are the Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:16 – 23

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

The sheer volume of doctrine in that passage is overwhelming, so I want to draw out the idea that God the Father “put all things under his [Jesus’s] feet.”

Mongolia is a footstool to God’s enormity.

The only man I’ve loved is a footstool.

My favorite book is a footstool.

My family is a footstool.

Camping at the foot of an iceberg in Peru is a footstool.

Matt and Ashly are a footstool.

Everything is a footstool. Everything and everyone is rubbish.

That’s what Christianity says and is.

When I look at what the New Testament says about God’s ranking in my life among the most valuable people, belongings, and experiences, I have to either concede that they are a footstool God created for Himself, and therefore, insignificant next to Him OR I have to say that the Bible didn’t mean what it says and isn’t the infallible word of God – that Christianity isn’t based on something that really happened, but is rather something I can invent for myself. And, if I can invent it for myself, it is fiction.

Mongolia was awesome. It really, really was, but Christ requires that my heart love him more than it loves Mongolia. He requires that my love of people/mountaintops exist in the shadow of my love for Him.

That is why people sanitize Christianity… they want to love mountaintops more than they love Christ, which Christ, Himself, said makes men and women unworthy of Him.

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Finally, I want to deal with one crucial implication of believing that God is better than everything.

If God is better than I am, you are, my friends and family are, Mongolia is, books are, money is… If He is greater than everything, then He can rescue me. If He isn’t, then nothing can rescue me.

I am evil (See previous post) and deserve to be punished for my evil. You are evil and deserve to be punished for your evil. Everyone I know is evil and everyone who exists is evil… If that is true, then I cannot save you and you cannot save me. The Dali Lama, President Obama, and the Pope are all evil. They cannot save themselves, and certainly cannot save me.

We need Someone better. That is the basis of Christianity. Christ entered the world because of our evil and our need for Someone better…

Have a lovely Easter and think on Who Jesus was and is.

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More Resources:

In an effort to focus on only New Testament passages and only three of them, I’ve left out some of the most poignant pieces of scripture that point to how great God truly is, so I want to quickly refer to them here so that we don’t end up in a place where we feel forced into a doctrine that says God is great, rather than being wooed into it. Here are some passages that woo me every time I think on them.

  1. “In the beginning, God…” Genesis 1 is a great place to see the surpassing greatness of God, as He speaks creation into being.
  2. “In the beginning was the Word…” John 1 is a great place to see how Jesus fits into Genesis 1 and to marvel at the idea of a God Who relinquished deity to rescue his murderers.
  3. “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’” Exodus 33:12-23 is one of my favorite passages in all of scripture, because it makes tangible my ever-present plea: God – please show me Your glory.
  4. “…stop and consider the wondrous works of God…” The last ten chapters of Job (32-42) are so difficult and beautiful. They make my entire point for me, because both Elihu and God answer Job’s tragedy by pointing to the greatness of God in comparison to all else.

There are other passages. The Book of Psalms, for instance, is a great place to go to see the greatness of God. The whole Bible proclaims the greatness of God, although it’s more explicit at some times than it is at others.

And lastly, a book that changed my life and revealed God’s greatness to me is called Knowledge of the Holy. It’s by A.W. Tozer.

The Sanitization of Christ Series: Man is Evil


We were asked to go around the room and put a label to our spirituality. While I felt the request was really a bad idea to begin with, the results staggered me a bit.

In a secular setting, everyone claimed Christianity of one sort or another (Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc…) and everyone described Christianity as all-accepting. At first, I was pretty angry. Then, as it’s bled into me a little bit more over the past few days, I started to feel really sad.

In my favorite sermon, Matt Chandler describes unregenerate faith (people who attend church every day, but don’t actually know God) as inoculation to the faith – getting just enough of it never to fully experience it.

That’s really sad.

It’s out of a brokenheartedness over misconceptions about Christ that I thought I’d write a series of posts on what Christians actually believe. I’m not going to go at this in a comprehensive way. That would be impossible. I’m only going to write what I believe it’s necessary to write to combat the god who doesn’t condemn anyone and the christianity in which everyone gets into Heaven.

The basics:

  1. People are evil and deserve Hell.
  2. God is better…
  3. People cannot be good enough.
  4. Jesus died the death humans deserved.
  5. Some people will receive justice, while others receive unmerited grace.

I’m going to try not to go crazy citing all over the place here, but I’m also going to try to support each of these claims with three passages from the New Testament. Although I believe the Old Testament is equally valuable as a source of support for these claims, I don’t want to deal with the argument that God was different in the New Testament.

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On the subject of evil, one of the more commonly cited passages is Romans 3:10-18 (although I’m going to stop at verse 13 for the sake of brevity):

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Although this is New Testament citing Old Testament, I think it’s fair to use just about anything Paul wrote, because he was most definitely after Jesus, and it’s impossible to say that he was writing about pre-Jesus God.

We could also go into John 2:24 & 25:

“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”

Although it’s not explicitly stated here, there is an implication that man is evil.

Jesus does explicitly state that man is evil in Luke 11:13:

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…”

I particularly like this one, because the verse isn’t even about man being evil. It’s a foregone conclusion that man is evil.

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So… if I am a Christian, I either have to concede that Jesus said some things that aren’t true and man isn’t evil, or I have to figure that it must be true if God said it.

If I decide the former is true, I end up down the rabbit hole of why-the-hell-do-I-worship-a-god-who-lies? (or possibly doesn’t know the truth)… However, I, myself, get to feel a little bit better about my own heart. God shrinks, and I expand.

The result, however, of believing that man is inherently evil is really interesting, because the rabbit hole I jump down in leads to the realization that I, myself, am evil. There are both humility and excruciating vulnerability in me when I admit I’m evil. Admitting I’m evil leads to admitting that justice would be served if I burned.

I actually think it’s impossible to be one of those severe, Bible-thumping Christians when I spend time thinking on the implications of man’s evil nature. A Christian who believes she, herself, is evil, really can’t stand on a corner holding a sign saying that “God hates fags.” She can’t think she’s better than others are, because her own sin is ever before her. She knows the evil of her own heart.

So, while it’s a cleaner, seemingly gentler thing to say that people are imperfect, but not evil, it ultimately does the opposite of sanitizing the faith and making it accessible to non-believers; it causes Christians to believe their goodness can be measured by comparison to others. It causes me to think I’m better than you are because you use the F-bomb or you watched an R-rated movie last week or you drank three glasses of wine and I only drank one. It causes me to think I’m the best student in the class and God owes me a gold star for a job well-done. It causes me to believe that I don’t need rescue; I’m okay without God…

The more fully I believe I am evil, the more fully I believe I need God, and the more clearly I see His glory and goodness for saving a wretch like me.

 

The Death of a Child, and My City


I met up with the two advocates I was going to be shadowing and the three of us made up Crisis Unit Adam 1. There was also a second group of three who made up Crisis Unit Adam 2, and the six of us went to a restaurant to await calls… or not.

I was a little afraid that we wouldn’t get a call, but then I felt guilty, as if I wanted someone to be a victim. Of course I didn’t want that; I just wanted an opportunity to see what I’d signed up to do. The other advocates assuaged my guilt by saying that there are always victims, whether the Victim Services teams are called or not, so wanting a call isn’t about wanting someone to be victimized; it’s about wanting victims to have support.

About five minutes into dinner, the call came. We were to relieve Baker unit on a DOA call (Deceased on Arrival) with a child victim.

There was a weight that came with going to a child’s death that was palpable, but mingled with a sense of, “This is what we do.”

We ate quickly, and the other advocates tried to prepare me. They let me know that I should feel free to step out if it was too difficult. They said that my well-being was a priority… and we hit the road.

When we arrived, we talked to the Baker Unit, who gave us the background on how the child passed away and some of the family dynamics, of which there were a ton – divorce and estrangement, medical issues, grandparents on both sides, and previous recent family deaths. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to share, so I’m going to keep the details to myself, but I will tell you that, although the child’s death was unexpected, the cause did not seem to be homicide. Law enforcement procedurally treats all children’s deaths like homicides, but this particular death was most probably due to illness.

So… we couldn’t talk to the child’s dad, who was being interviewed by law enforcement. We couldn’t talk to mom, because of some crazy, crazy circumstances. We couldn’t talk to mom’s parents, because they left about the same time we arrived. Therefore, we went in and talked with the extended family on dad’s side.

There were probably 15-20 people there who said they were cousins. We introduced ourselves: “Hi. My name is Betsey. This is Claire and Katie. We’re with Victim Services, and we’re here to be of help to you. Our entire purpose in being here is to help you with whatever you need.”

Crickets.

You would think there would be tears. You would think the room would be filled with pandemonium. A child died. I had never met the child, and I felt pretty stirred up.

The family, however, was almost completely unemotional. It was odd. In discussing the call after-the-fact, one of the advocates pointed out that she thought the family probably distrusts law enforcement and also distrusted us. Although we aren’t with law enforcement, we look pretty official. I was just wearing normal clothes, but the other two had polos with badges sewn into them. They had ID card things, plus law enforcement took us into the room with the family and helped with the introduction, so it makes a lot of sense that people who don’t trust cops would want nothing to do with us. They politely, but coldly told us that they didn’t need anything, so we said we’d step into another room and just be there if they needed us.

And we waited.

And waited and waited.

Standing in a tiny, stuffy room for something like two hours. We interacted a bit with a hospital social worker whose primary task was to get hand prints of the child to later present to the family. I saw the person from the medical examiner’s office, who was there with a camera and stood around the corner from us, just outside the room with the body in it. There were two police officers sitting guard over the body. One of the family members came out and asked us if the family would be able to see the body one last time, but we didn’t know the answer. Evidently, the medical examiner can and sometimes does refused to let families see a body.

And that was the extent of what we did for two (maybe even three) hours.

Then, the detectives let us know they were done interviewing dad, and we could talk to him. We went out and talked to him, and he was also utterly unemotional. He was worried about his cell phone, because the detectives had kept it. Another family member stepped in and politely asked us if we could just give them our card and go, which we did.

It wasn’t what I expected. I’m not sure what I expected, and I can empathize with the unemotive response. It’s a lot to process, but the lack of chaos and (for lack of a better word) drama was something the other advocates kept coming back to. They thought it was pretty unusual.

And all I can really think about is how much I want to go on more calls. I don’t think we made much of any difference to this particular family, but I can definitely see how it might make a difference to someone else.

All night, we listened to the police radio. There were people doing crazy things… a lady who was hysterical because she couldn’t remember where she’d parked her car, a guy with a machete, a drug deal going down at the Redbox, another DOA that Crisis 2 attended, and a major incident with a guy with a gun at an apartment complex. I think all of those things stuck with me more than the call in which I participated, because that’s what my city is like. When I’m not receiving training in Victimology and Victim Services, those things are all going on, unbeknownst to me. They are occurring at locations I frequent. They are always occurring.

Right at the moment, I feel like I’m doing the right thing with my life. I feel like this could be my niche. Who knows how long it will last, or if I’ll even make it through training, but for now, I feel like I’ve found my element.

 

Wanted: Roommate Who Throws a Great Duck Funeral and Loves Aaron Sorkin


Roommate Kendra is moving out… well, sort of. She’s beginning to get more serious about it, and I’m saving boxes for her. And, the thing is, I’ve never had a better roommate than she’s been.

When Kendra and I first met to talk about the prospect of her moving in, I felt really nervous. You see, I’ve had 3 previous roommates, and it’s never once gone smoothly. I almost always manage to anger roommates by not meeting their emotional/home needs, and I really don’t notice anything is wrong until they get pissed.

So when Kendra said that she really didn’t get mad about things, I didn’t quite believe her. But I totally should have, because I feel I haven’t met very many of Kendra’s emotional/home needs at all, and yet, we haven’t ever fought. Not once. It’s been a blessed few years of living, and I so appreciate the respite I’ve found in home being home, largely because Kendra just let me be and didn’t try to reshape me at all.

Therefore, in honor of the best roommate there is, I’d like to create a top five list of Kendra expreiences:

5. The running – we didn’t run together all that often, but I loved talking about running, which is way better than the actual doing it. Also, I’ve been blessed to run a couple of Ragnars with Kendra, and she’s proven an excellent van mate.

4. The prank war – It was pretty epic coming home to find my coffee maker, painting easel, and a few other important items up on the second-story shelf thing… despite the fact that we didn’t have a ladder at home. I also loved that it took hours for her to notice the dixie cup tower I’d built in front of her bed room door.

3. Watching TV, especially The Mentalist and The Bionic Woman.

2. Madelyn’s First ComiCon. Kendra put together the cutest session for Hero Bear, featuring cupcakes and a build-a-bear contest. I knew there was a geek in her, just screaming to get out.

  1. The duck memorial, complete with slideshow, poem, and sappy song.

There are certainly others. The wine drinking. The Bible studies. The worship nights. That time when all of those college boys came over and used our showers. Will coming over ever Sunday night for awhile. Getting a turtle and a dog. Hearing about Victims’ Services calls and the food kitchen.

As I begin looking for a replacement roommate, I’m saddened, because Kendra is irreplaceable, and I’m nervous again that whoever takes the upstairs room will hate me for my dirty dishes and emotional detachment.😦

I’ll miss you, friend.

So, everyone, make sure you give me a call if you know a low-maintenance female looking for a place to live in NW Tucson.

The Secrecy of Prayer


I’ve been reading a book called Intimacy by Henri Nouwen. I know what the title sounds like, but I promise it isn’t a book about sex and/or romance. It touches on both of those topics, but it’s primarily about intimacy with God and others. It’s worth noting that Henri Nouwen comes from a Catholic ish perspective, which is interesting, because I think he was a priest… i.e. no sex in his life.

On page one of the book, Nouwen sets out his purpose as follows:

“I wrote on different occasions, for different people, with different questions in mind. I wrote not to solve a problem or formulate a theory but to respond to men and women who wanted to share their struggles in trying to find their vocation in this chaotic world.”

With that purpose in mind, I tried to be a good audience and to take Nouwen on his terms rather than my own, and though I disagreed with him on many a point, I was deeply touched by the chapter he wrote on prayer.

Nouwen had the privilege of reading the prayers of various college students during the Vietnam war. Though it irked me that he critiqued excerpts from the various prayers he included in the book, as if there can be a rubric for assessing a person’s conversations with the Almighty, I felt joy and honor in being able to hear/read the deepest longings, fears, joys… of the hearts of others.

In fact, the intimacy I felt with people I’ve never met, many of whom are likely deceased, got me to thinking about my own prayers and what I tend to say (or not to say) to God. I thought about how valuable it would be for each of us to see other people’s prayers, read them, feel them, thinking them… how much better prepared we would be to have our own conversations with God if only we had a sense of how other people talk to Him. And yet, it seems impossible for us not to hold our prayers close to our hearts, secret and safe.

Therefore, though my prayers often feel embarrassing and inadequate to me, I thought it would be interesting for me to go ahead and post some of my most often-repeated prayers.

  1. “Help __________ go smoothly.”
  2. “Be with me and be my Abba.”
  3. “Use me.”
  4. “Why am I still here?”
  5. “Help me stop doing _________.”
  6. “Hold me in the palm of Your hand. Shelter me in the shadow of Your wings.”
  7. “Help me to know You.”
  8. “Help me to communicate _________well to __________.”
  9. “Draw ________ into Yourself and help him/her to know You  more fully.”
  10. “Be glorified in my life so that just one more might be saved, like Shindler’s List.”

 

The thing that struck me as I thought over these prayers, which I lean on as stability in my life, is how often I ask God to do the things that He has promised to do, as if I don’t trust Him to be as good as He says He is. The other thing that struck me is how selfish most of my prayers are. They’re about the insecurities I’m feeling, both in relation to God and in relation to the world.

Also, though I always end by thanking God for Jesus and by saying, “It’s in Jesus’s name I pray. Amen,” Jesus, for the most part, is absent from my prayers.

Dragon Age 2 Review


I previously wrote what I thought about Dragon Age: Origins. Now I’m going to proceed to tell you what I thought about Dragon Age 2.

Thing 1: Dragon Age 2 was far less sexist than its predecessor. From what I can tell, there were equally terrible romance options for all involved.

It was interesting that most or all of the NPCs had pretty fierce opinions, and they didn’t waver. Those opinions had enormous consequences. Although this was interesting, it didn’t do much for anyone who wanted Hawke to have satisfying relationships with allies, both in the realm of romance or in friendship. I spent most of the game worries about what my allies kept trying to get me to help them do… Anders wanted me to help him start a war, I pissed Carver off pretty early on and he left our party, Fenris kept wanting me to punish mages (even though I was playing as a mage), and Merrill wanted to use blood magic to put a mirror back together. Varric and Aveline were the only two who didn’t make me feel like I was babysitting.

Thing 2: Visually, DA2 was a vast improvement. It was super different stylistically than the first game was. Hawke was a fun character to play, partly because of the look. She was BA, appealing, and unique.

Thing 3: The game is set up as a story within a story. There’s a dwarf, who is being interrogated, and he’s telling the story of what occurred. It felt a little contrived to me. It felt like the writers realized they had set the entire story inside one city, and players were going to crave a wider world. Problem, the videos of Varric being interrogated didn’t show ANY of the wider world. It felt like a cop-out… a device… It didn’t feel like an honest story.

Thing 4: Speaking of the world-building, it sucked. Half of the fun in playing an RPG is exploring the world. However, DA2 was all set within one city, minus a short scene at the beginning and a quick expedition into the Dark Roads. The side quests all occurred in repetitive locations. The maps for all of the side quests were repetitive. All I can think is, “Really? This is all you came up with?”

Thing 5: I liked some of the changes they made to game play, but I went ahead and started playing Inquisition only to discover they completely changed everything again. I understand the need to appeal to a wider audience and having attacks triggered, by, well the trigger… makes sense, but come on, I’ve been faithful to the series and I don’t really want to have to relearn the whole thing.

Thing 6: Most of the side quests were stupid. I felt pretty irritated at the tedium of playing the same maps again and again, but it also was just a long, long game. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief because the story never transcended the formula. Side quest to gain XP. Another side quest to gain XP. Another side quest to gain XP. Main storyline. Another side quest to gain XP… and on, and on, and on….

Overall, not the worst game I’ve ever played, but pretty bad. As far as RPGs go, I’d actually recommend that you skip this series entirely. Maybe my opinion will change as I play Inquisition, but my hopes aren’t high.😦