Monday, February 25, 2013

Two Talks and the Parable of Minecraft

In Primary this month, the theme has been “The Earth was created for Heavenly Father’s children.” That’s why we’ve been singing the same song, over and over, about the beautiful world we live in. (It’s a good song. I like it. But it does get a little boring after forty or fifty iterations.)

For the first week in February, Daniel was asked to give a talk about the theme. I had him write his own as a homeschool composition assignment. I made a few tactful suggestions, which he pointedly ignored. I sighed but let him do it his own way: after all, if I want him to do all the work, I need to back off and let him own the process and the product.

He wrote it, but I typed it up for him. Here is a copy of the printout he took to Primary:

Daniel’s talk
[Daniel began reading at this point:]
The Earth was Created for Heavenly Father’s Children
     Heavenly Father made the Earth so that we could be born into families, make mistakes and learn from them, and be mortal.
     Think about this: if you were immortal, if you touched a hot stove, you wouldn’t get burned. But if you were mortal, you would get hurt so you would learn not to touch a stove when it is hot. There are things you can learn from having a body that you couldn’t learn if you were just a spirit. Having a physical body teaches us about rules and consequences and practicing how to make good choices.
     On the Earth, there are plants, animals, and buildings. There are plenty of things we can enjoy—like the Internet. Here on the Earth, we humans have invented lots of amazing things. This ability to create new things makes us similar to God.
     I’m grateful that Heavenly Father created this world for me, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
[Daniel quit reading at this point, ignoring my note below.]

--Mom is STILL sad that Daniel declined to include a paragraph about how she made a “playground” for Sam in Minecraft where he could practice navigating the game.

You can see that Daniel wrote a fine talk. Very serviceable.

Last Saturday, though, I saw a facebook post about how the Primary needed an emergency talk-giver for the next day. I pounced.

“Eric,” I said. “If I write a talk, would you be willing to read it in sharing time tomorrow?”
Eric shrugged. “Sure,” he said.

Joy! Here was a serendipitous, miraculous chance to write the talk I had wanted Daniel to give. And I could write it all by myself in clear conscience. (If it has been a regular week-in-advance assignment, I would have made Eric do it. But in an emergency, well…)

Naturally I procrastinated and was still frantically scribbling as senior primary filed into the room. (I handed off prelude to the poor chorister—sorry Courtney.) I scribbled so hard, for a moment I wondered if I would have matching hand injuries: my left, from playing too much Minecraft, and my right, from writing too much about it.

I got the script to Eric with perhaps sixty seconds to spare. He didn’t even get to read through it completely before he was called upon to speak. He did great, especially when he stumbled over a word but then recovered nicely. (I had crossed something out and revised it below the line. Visually confusing. My fault. Sorry, Eric. Good job staying calm.)

Here is the text of the talk:

The Earth was Created for Heavenly Father’s Children

     For Christmas, my dad gave me a computer game called Minecraft. In this game, I can create a fake but fun world and build things in it. My whole family tried the game and enjoyed it. Daniel even said that survival mode was like a telestial world, peaceful mode was terrestrial, and creative mode was celestial.
     My little brother, Sammy, is only two years old, but he wanted to play as well. My mom created a special “playground” for him where he could do simple things. She built a house, placed farm animals around, made the ground mostly but not completely flat, and constructed a fence around the whole thing.
     Mom decided that Sam should play in survival mode. She said he would learn more that way, but I suspect she also wanted to limit how much damage he could do.
     She created this farm as a mostly safe place for Sam to practice playing the game.
     At first, Sam had trouble moving forward and backward. After some experimenting, he got good enough to control his character and move around.
     Once he could maneuver, all he wanted to do was kill sheep. He ran around this virtual world and attacked anything that moved, shouting “ha!” [Eric delivered this line with great flair. I was proud of him.] Sometimes he attacked things that didn’t move, too.
     Mom told him several times not to knock down the fence, but he did anyway. Then he complained that all the chickens had escaped. Mom reminded him this was a natural consequence of his choice.
     As Sam gets better at controlling himself, he will learn to do more. Eventually he will be ready to leave his fenced “farm” and create his own buildings or even his own Minecraft world.
     Heavenly Father created this world for us. It is real instead of a game, but some things are the same.
     We come here to learn how to control our bodies and practice making good choices. We also can create new things by building lego models, or drawing pictures, or composing a new song.
     This entire world is a great blessing from Heavenly Father where we can learn important things.
     I am grateful for the Earth and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

If this had been a Sacrament Meeting talk, I would have expanded the metaphor and talked about some of the things we learn in this life. Now I really want to give a talk about the Parable of Minecraft…

Right, don’t be greedy. Sorry.

The talk was a hit! Kids lit up, nudging each other and whispering "I love that game!" Anyone with Minecraft experience nodded, picturing Sam running amok among the cows and pigs, slaughtering them with abandon. (Doesn’t that sound spiritually uplifting?) Lots of people giggled. Adults grinned.

Eric received lots of compliments. I felt vindicated.

Aaah. It may be another three months before I start feeling the “lesson/talk” itch again.


vcfuller said...

You're funny. And I don't know a thing about minecraft.

Julie said...

Love it! Man, I used to be proud that I have always been able to sneak in mention of the Civil War in my talks, but Minecraft takes the cake!