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Some of you are familiar with the on-line game known as World of Warcraft. It is a dungeons and dragons style game. Warcraft is a multi-player game--as opposed to single player games like solitaire. Many people are playing at the same time in the same space. It is also a hybrid game; it is both a cooperative and a competitive game. Sometimes a player gets points by cooperating with other players and sometimes by competing with other players.

When I started learning how to play the game, my son, Trevor, was 10 years old. He helped me learn. At the beginning of the game, a person can advance pretty much on his or her own. During this phase, Trevor would stand over my shoulder and both explain what was going on as well as give me hints about how to play. His advice helped me to quickly get better at the game. As the game progresses, however, a character is at a severe disadvantage playing by itself. The most important quests can only be accomplished in teams. During this phase, Trevor would get on-line with me; and he and I would do certain quests together. Because his character was many levels higher than mine, it was easy for him to help me with my quests. There were many times when his character would do most of the work and yet my character would still get credit for the quests, because we were part of the same team. In fact, on a number of occasions, Trevor's character would take me on quests that were designed for characters well above my level. My low-level character advanced very much faster than expected because Trevor's high-level character could accomplish these quests with me tagging along.

Another aspect of the game is that players create characters with different abilities. Some characters have abilities that focus on hand-to-hand combat where powerful weapons and armor are important. Other characters have abilities that focus on magical spells that are launched from a distance. Still other characters have abilities that focus on protecting and healing their team mates.

In later stages of the game, some quests require 5-character, or 10-character, or 25-character, or 40-character teams. These multi-character teams require a combination of abilities, from hand-to-hand combat, magical spells, and healing. These high-level quests cannot be completed with teams of all the same abilities. Successful completion of these quests requires both skill and coordination on the part of all the characters. The highest level quests in the game require teams of the most expert players in both skill and cooperation.

In sum, World of Warcraft, by design, requires that

  1. more advanced characters help the more junior characters;
  2. characters of diverse abilities team together to overcome obstacles; and
  3. only teams of the most expert characters in skill and cooperation can complete the highest achievements.

Thus, it is in the interests of the higher level characters to nurture the lower level characters of different abilities, in order to have a group with which to team to pursue the highest achievements. This is what Trevor did with me. Eventually, my character caught up to his and we went on quests together that were beneficial to both of our characters.

A Zion People

I have been thinking recently about what it takes for a group of people to become a Zion people. The first hypothesis I pursued was that a Zion People was created out of pre-existing individual Zion persons. That is, in order to create a Zion People, the first thing to do is focus on getting a bunch of individuals to a Zion status. Then, once there was a sufficient number of Zion Persons--say 30 or 40--they could just band together and then, presto-chango, they would be a Zion People.

I used this hypothesis to ponder about becoming a Zion People. One of my mind experiments was the one-half experiment. That is, what if we could not find 30 individual Zion Persons. What if we could only find 30 individuals who were only about one-half Zion Persons. Could these folks group together and create a one-half Zion People? This sounded a little absurd to me, so I tried a different mind experiment. Could fifteen fully Zion Persons team with fifteen half Zion Persons and create a three-quarter Zion People? No, that did not seem to make much sense to me either. I can understand why the half Zion Persons would sign up, but I am not sure why the fully Zion Persons would sign up.

These mind experiments led me to abandon the hypothesis that a Zion People is merely the aggregation of a bunch of individual Zion Persons. So what was missing from that hypothesis? I came to believe that one thing was missing: Zion Relationships. I concluded that it is impossible for an individual Zion Person to exist by his/herself. Zion Persons must come in at least pairs, because in order to become a Zion Person, that person must have at least one Zion Relationship with another Zion Person. Let me say it differently--that the cultivation of Zion Relationships is an integral part of becoming a Zion Person.

This exercise drove me to two complimentary conclusions. The first is obvious, that a Zion People cannot exist without Zion Persons. The second conclusion is not so obvious, but more profound. Zion Persons cannot exist without a Zion People. Let me focus this conclusion. Neither you nor I can become a Zion person unless we are part of a web of Zion Relationships. This web of Zion Relationships is what we mean by a Zion People, or a Zion Society. Building Zion is something we all do together. Neither you nor I can do this on our own. It is impossible. Building Zion is a cooperative, multi-player activity.

As in World of Warcraft, creating a Zion People requires that:

  1. those who are further along must help those who are not so far along
  2. we must all nurture those who are differently gifted than we are
  3. we must become expert in both our personal worthiness and our relationship worthiness to become Zion.

It is in our personal interest of becoming part of a Zion society to cultivate Zion Relationships with a diverse set of people -- a set of people who posses a variety of gifts. This diversity of gifts is necessary in order to have a complete Zion Society. Building this diverse web of Zion Relationships allow us to nurture and be nurtured by each other. Together, we create a Zion People.

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