Personality poker at General Convention

bloomboxBrother Mattingly has implored me to keep GetReligion in mind while I am here in Columbus, Ohio, reporting on the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention. My report on Sunday's election of the first woman primate in the Anglican Communion should appear sometime Monday on Christianity Today's website. In the meantime, here is a feature I wrote for The Living Church magazine. The feature will appear in the latter of two issues prepared during General Convention, but I also would like to sling it into circulation on the Internet.

Leader Resources, an influential distributor of Episcopal curricula, has brought comic relief to the 75th General Convention in the form of cards illustrated with caricatures.

You may recognize some of the types: "The Hostage," who has a cannon labeled "tradition" pointed at his torso. "Both Sides of the Mouth," who is gifted with open lips on the left and right sides of his face. "The Boss," whose mouth is open so wide that her windpipe is visible.

The Rev. Linda Grenz and her colleagues at Leader Resources took the card packs, normally distributed in a curriculum called "The Bloom Box," and designed several games for them.

One of those games is well suited for plenary debates that generate more exhaustion than enlightenment.

The game assigns each member of a deputation a deck of cards. Each deputy chooses a caricature of a speaker, placing the card face down. When all deputies have chosen a card, they compare their choices. If all four clergy or lay deputies choose the same character, the team wins a point. "The side with the most points at the end of the day wins," a brief game description says. "Set your own prize -- a drink, a dinner, a cheer!"

Some of the other characters' names are self-explanatory: "The Pontificator," "The General," "The Bearer of Threats," "The Voice of Reason," "My Way," "The Free Spirit," "The Altar Guild," "The Alien," "The Matriarch," "The Child" and "The Airhead."

"Sometimes humor helps us get through difficult times," Grenz told The Living Church. "We thought this Convention could use some extra humor."

Grenz said she believes most Convention deputies will play the game in the lighthearted spirit that Leader Resources has built into it. "There's a way to be malicious about it, but the caricatures are so funny, I hope people will not miss the point of it."

Other games designed around the cards offer ways for people to speak through characters or to think outside their self-imposed limits, she said.

"This is a way of getting things on the table that would be in the parking lot," she said. "People will say things through a card that they wouldn't own up to directly."

Leader Resources sells a deputy game and eight packs of cards for $20. Three deputations already had purchased sets by Thursday afternoon. Grenz said she expects demand to grow as Convention's business grows more taxing during the weekend.

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