Pastors & Dragons: A D&D Retreat

 

Pastors & Dragons

This August, join the Dungeon Master Pastor, Rev. Rory Philstrom, and other clergy and people of faith for a first-of-its-kind, 4-day, 3-night Dungeons & Dragons retreat. With a mixture of gaming, learning, and Sabbath rest, this retreat will allow you to explore the connections between life, ministry, and the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

Pastors & Dragons: A D&D Retreat
Shire in the Woods, McGrath, Minnesota


The Retreat is Full!

Please fill out the information below if you would like to be added to the waitlist.


Pastors & Dragons

ROLL INITIATIVE!

Each day will afford hours of Dungeons & Dragons play, with daily game sessions run by Rory, the Dungeon Master Pastor.

We’ll engage in a variety of play styles and explore all four tiers of play. If you have a beloved PC, you can bring it to the game. In addition, we’ll be exploring the character creation process as modes of self-reflection and storytelling.

Whether you have played Dungeons & Dragons before or are interested but brand new to the game, you will be able to fully engage in every aspect of the retreat.

In addition, there will be an opportunity for you to try your hand at the DM seat as we mine the art of Dungeon Mastering for lessons in how to lead a community, engage others, and foster a high invitation/high challenge environment.

GAIN EXPERIENCE.

Each day will also feature time for plumbing the depths of the tabletop roleplaying genre for lessons in life, faith, and ministry.

Engagement topics will include:

  • Creating Complex Imaginations and the Art of Empathetic Practice
  • Facing Personal Fears on the Fantasy Tabletop
  • Self-Reflection through the Player Character
  • The Purpose and Use of Apocalypse
  • Storytelling
  • Managing Group Dynamics
  • Fostering Collaborative Improvisation and Collective Exploration

TAKE A LONG REST.

At Shire in the Woods, the natural surroundings will provide a rejuvenating backdrop to finally get the rest that is so hard to find in our day-to-day lives. Located 18 miles east of northern Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, the retreat center is tucked away at the heart of the Solana State Forest and has the Soo Line South Trail running right alongside it.

Relax with a good book indoors or take a stroll in the surrounding woods. In addition to the wonderful cabin spaces for lodging, 5 miles of groomed trails, access to the Soo Line Trail, many miles of trails in the Solana State Forest, a nearby swimming hole, a rose garden, a labyrinth, a beaver pond, a frog and turtle pond, tree swings and hammock, outdoor fire pits, and indoor fireplaces.

There are many amazing options for some real life exploration and rest, and enough time in the schedule to take full advantage of it all.

Join Rev. Rory Philstrom (Dungeon Master Pastor) for a retreat unlike any other.

The Retreat is Full!

Please fill out the information below if you would like to be added to the waitlist.


CANCELLATION POLICY

  • Deposit of $150 is due upon booking. This deposit is non-refundable. 
  • The remaining balance is due in full by August 1, 2018. Flexible payment plans are available. Once your deposit is paid, we’ll contact you to arrange payments.
  • Through August 1, 2018, if you must cancel, we will refund any amount paid minus your $150 non-refundable deposit.
  • After August 1, 2018, there are no refunds, but you may transfer your paid spot to another person.

Rory Philstrom (aka TheDMPastor) is the Lead Pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church, an ELCA Congregation in Bloomington, MN. While at CTK he has worked with the congregation to revivify adult and youth education, innovate new structures for ministry, and engage the neighborhood around pressing issues such as affordable housing and anti-racism. He previously served with his wife as Co-Pastor of Prairie Lutheran Parish, four congregations in and around the small town of Stanley in northwestern North Dakota.

In addition to his work as a pastor, Rory has been the consistent Dungeon Master for two regular bi-weekly games online and in person for the last 3 years.  Players in Rory’s games have included over a dozen pastors, in addition to congregational and Bible camp staff, and spouses. He also ran an 8 session campaign for his confirmation class, using the genre of Dungeons & Dragons as a tool for participatory education.

Rory grew up in Omaha, NE where he learned the values of hard work, fast friendship, a lived faith, and adventure. From there he moved on to Fort Worth, TX where he studied Religion and Spanish at Texas Christian University. While at TCU he got bit by the international travel bug and made his way to China, Tibet, New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, and Nicaragua. After college he spent a year in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, working as a Youth Ministry Coordinator at a congregation in urban Chicago. During that year he intentionally lived below the poverty line with a community of folks doing the same. From there he enrolled at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where his studies focused on interfaith relations. While at LSTC he met his lovely wife Carolyn. He loves new adventures of all kinds, whether they be backpacking & camping outdoors, exploring a new part of town, or laying in his hammock reading an epic fantasy novel. He is passionate about the work that God is doing in our world today and is constantly thinking about how we might become better disciples.


Pastors & Dragons

TRANSPORTATION, DRAFT SCHEDULE, and ACCOMMODATIONS

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Imagine Better: Christians SHOULD Play D&D (Part 3)

To wrap up this little trio of posts (here’s Part 1 and Part 2), I wanted to think about a little more than just the question, “Can I, as a Christian, play D&D?” I want to talk about, “As a Christian, should I play D&D?” I have a hunch that playing Dungeons & Dragons, and other role-playing games like it, can actually enhance a Christian’s ability to take part in God’s mission to the world.

First, let’s talk about God’s mission. I reject an understanding of Christian mission whose primary goal is converting “non-believers” into “believers”. Instead I believe the Church’s mission is to represent the Reign of God, emphasizing verses like Matthew 10:7, “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near,’” and Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” Being a citizen of God’s Kingdom frees me to love, care, and advocate for the poor, sick, outcast, and oppressed. This is the second part of that definition of a Christian that I was talking about earlier, “A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant to all, subject to all.”

I think playing Dungeons & Dragons enhances my capacity to love and care for my neighbor. Specifically, playing role-playing games like D&D helps me to better imagine my neighbor.

D&D is already being used by psychotherapists to teach the skill of empathy to autistic children.♠ But as recent events in our country have shown, we all need a lesson.

Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man (and coincidentally my wife’s high school classmate), was shot multiple times by a police officer while sitting in his car after being pulled over for a broken taillight. He was shot as he reached into his back pocket to get his driver’s license, because the officer imagined that he was reaching for a gun.

That officer, like many in the United States, had a horribly sick imagination about what black men were like. He could only weakly imagine this black man as the stereotype of black men: criminal, violent, a thug. It didn’t matter that Philando Castile didn’t have a criminal record. It didn’t matter that he worked at a public school where he memorized the names of all 500 kids and their respective food allergies. It didn’t matter who Philando actually was, because the officer’s anemic imagination pictured him as something else: a threat.

The day after Philando was killed, people gathered in Dallas, TX to protest. They were protesting the killing of Philando Castile and that of Alton Sterling and those of Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, and the long line of other Black people and people of color who have lost their lives – for no reason – at the hands of our criminal justice system. As those people marched, law enforcement was there with them, protecting their right to peaceably assemble.

Then Micah Johnson, a 25-year-old black man, decided that that protest would be a good opportunity. He used that opportunity to ambush the law enforcement, shooting to kill as many white police officers as he could. He killed five. He did this because his imagination was sick and he imagined that killing white police officers would help solve his problems. He lacked the complexity of imagination to see that those individuals were anything more to the world than the uniforms they were wearing and the color of their skin.

Our inability to imagine our neighbors with empathy and complexity stands in the way of reconciliation. We need to do better. We need to add complexity to our imaginations about who somebody might be or what somebody’s life might be like. It’s impossible for us to fully know all the people in this world, but it is possible for us to imagine the worlds myriad people with more empathy and with a complexity that goes beyond assumptions and stereotypes.

D&D exercises our imaginations. When we step into the shoes of a hero, the game challenges us to think and act according to personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws that aren’t necessarily our own. By playing at being somebody else, our capacity to imagine better those who are different from us improves. As the DM, I’m challenged to imagine how a whole hoard of creatures and people might act. This type of play actively challenges me to expand my mind and think about a wide variety of people and their motives and goals and values.

This past Sunday, I read the story of the Good Samaritan in my churches. I preached about how Jesus uses this story to get the lawyer (and us) to think about our neighbors with more complexity. Yes, the Samaritans might be the people with whom we don’t want to mix. Yes, the Samaritans just refused to offer hospitality to Jesus. But still Jesus uses a Samaritan to be the hero of his story, to be the shining example of the love for one’s neighbor.

When we play Dungeons & Dragons, we try to think about how dwarves, elves, humans, gnomes, half-orcs, and any number of the other host of races and creatures might get along and go about righting the world’s wrongs together. This play has the power to prepare us to imagine our own real world neighbors better. And at least for me, it gives me an example of how a people who are so different from one another might band together to make the world a better place.

I think we desperately need more of this sort of complex imagination, and I believe that D&D gives everyone, including Christians, a way to exercise that very thing.


♠ DR. Rafael Boccamazzo on D&D and Autism http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/dr-raffael-boccamazzo-dd-and-autism

Empathic Features and Absorption in Fantasy Role-Playing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26675155