So ends one of the means man has devised to the end of his own torment. I shall explain why the above is valid shortly; yet it is more important, first, to provide some context for the discussion to ensue.
This is to be a tale, a tale of two games.
In 2013, The Game is at least
eleven, and not more than seventeen years old. Recently, I finished Eleanor H. Porter's classic novel Pollyanna
, and I am currently reading her sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up
. As those few, and those fewer young people, fortunate enough to have read said masterpiece will now realize, the Glad Game the eponymous protagonist Pollyanna taught to all her relations and acquaintances, is now in its centennial. Originally called the "just being glad game," and often simply called the Game in the book, with capitals just like the game so popular in our century often receives, Pollyanna's game, like ours, reflects our times. Both we and our forbears a century past lived in the intellectual shadow of Nietzsche and post-Enlightenment nihilism. In our time, however, the experience of the "death of God" has reached the common man, and long has nourished his pessimism. It is not really surprising then that, whereas a century ago America was afire with an early, and I should say sensible and reality-minded, positive thinking philosophy in the form of a game, the world today is obsessed with a meme that embodies a defeatist spirit.
Wikipedia, previously cited, maintains
that the psychologically our game "is an example of ironic processing... in which attempts to avoid certain thoughts make those thoughts more persistent." But I think we all know that is not really what is afoot. The example of ironic processing most common in ordinary life is the hungry man willing himself "not to think about food," which may be self-defeating, though sometimes I think the failure to not think about food is just inevitable with a rumbling stomach. Yet thinking about food is merely unpleasant, if not pathetically amusing; it does not make the man thinking about food feel trapped or defeated. Our game, as I see it, is at root about the post-Christian despair which acknowledges a fall, but bears no hope of salvation. It speaks to the soul, and casts light on its harsh sense of alienation and loneliness. No one playing The Game can help others win; an effort to play well, by announcing "I lost The Game," cause others to lose as well. Unconsciously as it operates within the parameters of gameplay, that element perfectly speaks our post-Enlightenment hopelessness that even human endeavor and invention can rescue humanity from its plight.
As it happens, the above poster explaining why the viewer has won The Game illustrates my own reasoning on the matter, which I think has been largely overlooked by the evangelists of our game.
The interesting thing is, contrary to what the card says, and to what defenders of The Game often mention to discredit victory messages, I will bet that when you read the above, you did not think about The Game.
Permit me to explain. All you need to do is recall the education you received in primary school. It has been far longer an interval for some than for myself, so I will help you along. You will need remember the distinction between common and proper nouns: in this case, "the game" is a common noun, while "The Game" is a proper noun, with the same relationship as "the city" and "New York". In everyday life, one will realize that common nouns are often used to indicate something proper, and one must first recognize the common before connecting it to the proper. Follow this reasoning:
1--If you can read and comprehend "the city" in context without at once connecting it to "New York," you can read and comprehend "the game" in context without at once connecting it to "The Game."
2--You read, "YOU JUST WON THE GAME!!!"
3--You comprehend that you have just won the game, without at once singling out that you have won the game.
4--Thereby, you have unwittingly recognized your triumph in The Game, without thinking about The Game and thereby losing The Game.
5--YOU JUST WON THE GAME!!!
You may ask what has happened between steps 4 and 5. The Game being a mind game, I teach that the goal of The Game is to overcome its ability to defeat the player whenever he thinks about it. As it turns out this is done by a mental maneuver that allows you to think about The Game (proper) as the game (common), and thereby escape losing The Game for thinking about The Game. Visibly, this happens when a player asserts himself over The Game by consciencing his victory over the game (common), without thinking about The Game (proper). Thereby, that player wins the game.
That, even, is only one
manner of winning the game. According to the Encyclopedia Dramatica article on The Game, which is too obscene to link on a Catholic weblog, it is posited that "There are actually 2 ways to END the game forever. You would either have to (a) Get the Queen of England to say I lost the game on live television, or (b) steal the Pope's hat. Either would be a completely epic win. Somebody get working on it." Now, when one considers the second one seriously, it becomes clear that the Holy Father is playing The Game as well (theoretically, everyone is supposed to be playing it at all times, according to some rules), and he has his hat. If the same rules apply to Pope Francis as everyone else, clearly he has his own hat and needn't steal it, and The Game is already over because a player, the Pope, has the Pope's hat. Oh well, it was (not) fun while it lasted.
Beyond that, it seems that several forum dwellers have already declared The Game over several times (see here
), so perhaps it had already ended without the players' knowledge, and this part of the post was unnecessary.
In any case, the reader will assuredly benefit from familiarity with Pollyanna and her
game, the Glad Game. It is a really wonderful game; you will be GLAD
to learn it! Well, it has gotten late as I wrote the first part of this post, so I shall be brief. As you may see here
, Pollyanna explains the Glad Game as "just find something about everything to be glad about—no matter what 'twas
," in every situation. To be sure, with a girl as cute as Pollyanna (felicitously, there is a 1986 anime, Ai Shouji Pollyanna Monogatari
, produced about it after it was mostly forgotten in the West, which brings the beauty to life, and which I am currently watching) it would be particularly hard for those she spread the Game to to find something to not
be glad about, but we can ignore that henceforth. Pollyanna's original, stock example of playing the Game comes from when she lived in a small town in the West where her father was minister. Often, they depended on donations in missionary barrels for clothing and other needs. On one occasion, Pollyanna cried because she wanted a doll but found only crutches, but her father taught her she could be glad because she did not
A personal attempt at a Glad Game challenge I discovered online here
is as below, with my answer following. Pretty keen, eh? I think it'd be swell.
[Q.] You were going to go to the beach but it started hailing outside.
[A.] Be glad to see hail, which is unusual and very pretty; that would console you if you must stay home. But go to the beach anyway with a strong umbrella, and you will get the best spot. Any bruises you get will be fun mementos later.
My favorite example in the original story, however, comes from pages 28-29 of the Barbour and Company edition of Pollyanna Grows Up I am reading. Pollyanna has just enjoyed herself at church, having pulled the gloomy Mrs. Ruth Carew (sister of Della), with whom she is staying, along:
To Pollyanna that Sunday morning service was a great wonder and joy. The marvelous music of the vested choir, the opalescent rays from the jeweled windows, the impassioned voice of the preacher, and the reverent hush of the worshiping throng filled her with an ecstasy that left her for a time almost speechless. Not until they were nearly home did she fervently breathe:
"Oh, Mrs. Carew, I've just been thinking how glad I am we don't have to live but just one day at a time!"
Mrs. Carew frowned and looked down sharply. Mrs. Carew was in no mood for preaching. She had just been obliged to endure it from the pulpit, she told herself angrily, and she would not listen to it from this chit of a child. Moreover, this "living one day at a time" theory was a particularly pet doctrine of Della's. Was not Della always saying: "But you only have to live one minute at a time, Ruth, and any one can endure anything for one minute at a time!"
"Well?" said Mrs. Carew now, tersely.
"Yes. Only think what I'd do if I had to live yesterday and to-day and to-morrow all at once," sighed Pollyanna. "Such a lot of perfectly lovely things, you know. But I've had yesterday, and now I'm living to-day, and I've got to-morrow still coming, and next Sunday, too. Honestly, Mrs. Carew, if it wasn't Sunday now, and on this nice quiet street, I should just dance and shout and yell. I couldn't help it. But it's being Sunday, so, I shall have to wait till I get home and then take a hymn—the most rejoicingest hymn I can think of. What is the most rejoicingest hymn? Do you know, Mrs. Carew?"
"No, I can't say that I do," answered Mrs. Carew, faintly, looking very much as if she were searching for something she had lost. For a woman who expects, because things are so bad, to be told that she need stand only one day at a time, it is disarming, to say the least, to be told that, because things are so good, it is lucky she does not have to stand but one day at a time!
She turns reality from pure doldrums and misery into incessant joy; I am not certain what Nietzsche would say, but to my mind, if there need ever be a "revaluation of all values," this is it. What a remarkable mind was Mrs. Porter's to devise such a wonderful Game!
Be glad you're free. But for those who believe and trust in Jesus Christ--well, we already knew that. We are liberated from our sins by His bloody sacrifice on the Cross, renewed every day in Masses said in His Holy Name across the world. From our very fall, we have arisen in baptism, and we are to share in His Resurrection at the end of the world. The Devil, ever a cunning one, has sought in every age to obscure the salvation of man, and to close him off to Christ by depriving him of hope. It is all too evident, consequently, that The Game is among his proudest lateward works, and that its propagation serves his ends. St. Michael, pray for us.
The Glad Game, while invented by a Yankee schismatic not within the fold of the Catholic Church, outside of which no one at all may be saved, is Christian in substance and spirit. Pollyanna's father reared her in the rejoicing verses of the Bible, which the book claims number over 800, and playing the Glad Game regularly engenders the joy that is befitting the Christian life, while not encouraging the player to ignore real evils or see the present in halcyon.
Direct others to this post. Utterly annihilate their intransigent negativity by demonstrating that they have won The Game, just like you and I have. And, you yourself, go and read Pollyanna, and tell your friends about the Glad Game, just as you might tell them about Jesus Christ.
All things considered, I cannot doubt that many souls will be gained or lost for eternity because of their abundance or absence of cheer. In our hour on Earth, all hope does seem sometimes to be lost for the moral squalor the world has fallen into; the lowness of the hour may be confirmed by recalling (or learning about) the remarkable, unprecedented Five First Saturdays devotion
, introduced by both Jesus and Mary to Sr. Lucia at Pontevedra in 1925. Those who perform the rather easy devotions, the Blessed Virgin has promised "to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls." Thankfully, our Pundit has completed the devotions, the rewards for which are strikingly disproportionate, as it appears in the strongest language that one is assured salvation so long as he accepts the graces for the same. And hence, in a more worldly way, there is great need for the Glad Game in the 21st Century.
My, my, you must be happy now. Girt with these GLAD
tidings, I'll bet you'll stride through every Monday with the excitement of an Amu Hinamori