A blog by Josh Humbert
X Gone Give It To Ya
There he was – one of the biggest rappers of the 90’s and 2000’s – reading straight from the Bible, encouraging others to “get in the Word,” as 14,000 people watched on Instagram Live. Yup, this was very much 2020.
In a year full of can-you-believe-this-is-happening moments I can say that seeing DMX leading a sort-of Bible study on social media in month two of the pandemic just seemed to fit the vibe of the whole year.
As I watched DMX read the Word, I couldn’t help but: stop, drop, shut em down, and open up shop. OK sorry. Couldn’t pass that up.
Maybe in the midst of this chaotic year, there was a timely word from an unlikely place .
We Built This City
My favorite board game designer (sorry if I’ve exceeded your nerd-quotient by having a “favorite board game designer”) released a civilization-building game called Tapestry at the end of 2019. It is fantastic for many reasons and after several plays, it was obvious that designer (Jamey Stegmaier) had once again released a game that would be in my Top Ten.
The great majority of civilization-building games (board game versions or computerized ones) have you start building up your civilization from some time in the distant past and maybe even with an ancient people group (Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, etc). You progress through major events of earth’s history and gain technology as the timeline progresses. Eventually, the game ends as you bring your civilization fully into present or even the near future, the scores are tallied and the winner is announced.
Tapestry is…decidedly NOT like those games. You aren’t playing through the timeline of our planet, so to speak, and you aren’t using ancient civilizations. Instead, you and the people you play with create an alternate history very different from our planet. It is a refreshing, creative take on a genre I played often as a gamer growing up (Sim City, Age Of Empires, etc).
Tapestry is beautiful, thought-provoking, and has the high production value that always accompany a Stonemaier Game. As you progress up the four different tracks (Science, Tech, Exploration, Military), there are lots of clever and interesting decision to be had. I would heartily recommend it (and if you’re only experience with board games is Monopoly, Sorry, etc – then welcome to the new world!).
And it is in the most crucial component of the game – the Tapestry cards – that I see what DMX and the Bible are saying.
The Tapestry For Me
As you play a game of Tapestry, you progress your civilization through five different eras. These eras represent long blocks of time/history and your goal is to accomplish as much as you possibly can in each era so that your final score is high enough to win.
So what happens is: before you enter each new era, you have the chance to play a Tapestry Card. These are game-changing cards that are unique in that there are no duplicates in the deck. Tapestry cards embody things like a particular ideology or philosophy your civilization will embrace.
These cards may have a powerful one-time ability that triggers when you play it; this one-time ability can give you a burst of resources or other helpful things to provide immediate impact. Or, it may have a “This Era” ability which means that ability lasts until you progress into the next era. The “this era” Tapestry cards then become like a special rule just for you while you are in that particular era.
All of the Tapestry cards (some pictured below) have value but that value fluctuates in the hands of each player. For example, if I’m focusing on progressing up the Tech track then “Industrialism” (middle card below) would have immense value to me as it helps me quickly upgrade any technology cards I acquire. In that same game, if you were focusing on the Exploration and Military tracks then that Industrialism Tapestry card wouldn’t be as powerful to you. Additionally, some Tapestry cards would have their value change according to what point of the game we are in. Some cards could hold great value if played early in the game but then they become way less powerful if you have to play them at the end of game.
The Tapestry deck then becomes a fascinating chance for players to think creatively, plan accordingly, and capitalize on unique opportunities. The player who can maximize the playing of his Tapestry cards at the most beneficial moments are the ones who usually find the greatest success in the game. There’s nothing quite like acquiring a Tapestry card early in the game that you don’t think will work for you (so you don’t play it and instead just hold on to it)…. but as you get towards your last era, whaddaya know… that Tapestry card you’ve been holding on too is RIGHT NOW the actual PERFECT Tapestry card for you!
This is, strangely enough, close to what DMX was saying….
DMExclessiastes?? Yeah I Went There
As DMX sat there in that park, live on social media, he opened his Bible and began reading one of the more famous passages of all Scripture. However, it wasn’t just a reading – it was still in the tone, cadence, and realness of DMX. As he himself would say, “X gone give it to ya.”
He read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8…
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven –
A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sow together; a time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”
This passage is not only profoundly wise and beautifully written – it also is, in a way, like the Tapestry deck of Scripture.
The Season You Are In
There are seasons or “eras” of our life time and we would do well to pay close attention so we can best maximize this short life we have. A college student must mature beyond his high school ways so he can maximize this new phase of his life. The college graduate must mature beyond his college ways so he can enter this new phase of life correctly. The young married man makes the appropriate changes from his single years so that he can build strong foundations for his marriage going forward. The dad with babies and kids lives differently… The dad with teenagers in the home lives differently…. The man approaching retirement or being a grandfather lives differently…. This is how it goes.
Each new era requires a thoughtful and detailed consideration for what must change and how to proceed. The person who does not think through these eras can find themselves lost in the fog of confusion or only wishing it were “the good old days” once more.
Just as the high-level Tapestry player will think through all their available Tapestry cards and play the right one at the right time – so the wise Christian will prayerfully consider each era or “a time” that they find themselves in so they can live faithful, obedient lives all the time.
Jesus Himself modeled this for us. As a child, Luke tells us “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” This means He applied the right mindset for that era of His life. Then He worked alongside His dad doing carpentry till around the age of 30 – humble, honest work and helping His earthly family. Next came His earthly ministry, and He begins by going out on a 40 day fast (talk about a powerful Tapestry card!!). He spent around 3 years investing in His disciples, doing signs and wonders, preaching the Word, and living a life of God-honoring righteousness. Again, He nailed that era. Then came Passion Week where Jesus spends incredible amounts of time praying (wise Tapestry card play again!) while He prepares to go the Cross. In His earthly life, death, and resurrection Jesus never fails to capitalize on the era He finds Himself in. There’s never a missed opportunity.
The Time Of Your Life
There’s a simple verse in Colossians 3 that may just be the help we need as we wrap up our consideration of board games, Scripture, and 90’s rappers here today. The verse (2) says: “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” That is Tapestry-DMX-Ecclesiastes type wisdom right there.
No matter what era you are in, no matter the season of life you find yourself in… set your mind on things above, on Christ, on heaven. Think carefully, apply wisdom, and move forward to each stage of life with your mind set on glorifying Christ, with your mind set on things above. We will be there soon, so play your cards right.
Thanks for reading. Your comments and insights are always welcomed. If you enjoyed this, please share it. Want more content? Check the archives or listen to me on the Cross-Cutting Culture Podcast on iTunes.
****If you want a more detailed breakdown of Tapestry and it’s themes, check our podcast episode on it! We go in detail about the game itself and where we see Gospel cross-over. ****