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Jul 06, 2022 9:28 PM
the teachingsphere meets tradcats
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The Teachingsphere is so excited to have made contact with people from another world! And people who understand the logos! They are sure that they are going to learn so much about the nature of the logos.

Somewhere else, people are negotiating immigration and tourism, and arguing about philosophy and theology, and sharing technology. Here, they are trying to trade the most important thing you can trade: alien fiction!!!!

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The world of Global Christendom is delighted to make contact with new mission territory, er, friends! But, remembering how things were in the bad old days before all humanity was united under the Pope, they feel it is important to enumerate a few rules that are standard within Global Christendom for all new publications. No new writings can be permitted to enter without being reviewed first by the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Our standards are as follows:

All writing must be true. Even the fiction? Especially the fiction. By "true" we mean that good actions usually result in good consequences, and evil actions result in evil consequences. Characters who commit sins may be directly punished, or on occasion they may succeed but find this success leaves them hollow (see: Brideshead Revisited). Characters in the thrall of habitual sin should be unhappy and despicable. To write an admirable character who lives deep in sin is a lie, because no character enslaved by habitual sin is ever happy or admirable.

It is not necessary that all characters be Catholic. Indeed, in some worlds Catholicism would not exist! But they should be aware of all things naturally engraved on the human heart, eg the natural law, the existence of divinity. It is false to imagine a person who does not, in their heart of hearts, know that God exists. That was known even to the pagans!

While sin may be described on the page, it should never be described in a way that makes it appear tempting or pleasant. In particular sins of lust should either be described with as little detail as possible, or in such a way as to make them appear disgusting to the average reader.

We could go into much greater detail as to what sort of writings we enjoy here in Global Christendom, but, since we don't know what types of works are popular in the Teachingsphere, we shall leave these basic guidelines as they are for a beginning. Subsequent submissions may cause us to clarify our standards in greater detail.

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The Teachingsphere begins by sending over some devotional hymns! This is a subject of common interest, after all, and they are hardly going to run into problems about devotional hymns. The Teachingsphere is really fond of covers, so all of everyone's favorite hymns are covered in every single genre imaginable. So Global Christendom can get a sense of the different ways that music has changed over time. 

Here is a hymn about how great brassicas are, and they did not need to go that hard, but they super did, and now everyone gets to have broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Here is a hymn about becoming a better person and hating all of the stuff you did when you were a worse person and having to acknowledge it as part of yourself. Here is a hymn about the fact that every time you do things then there are MORE THINGS, it is like the things never end, and then you just have to keep doing them and it doesn't feel grand or noble or heroic but it is a struggle for virtue anyway. Here is a hymn about waking up in the morning and seeing that the world is beautiful and praising God for creating such a beautiful world.  Here is a hymn about waking up one morning and realizing you don't want to die anymore and not knowing exactly when you flipped over but when you think about it you actually haven't wanted to die for quite a long time. Here is a hymn about being trapped and miserable and hurting yourself and other people and knowing this is wrong and not knowing how to escape, and the moment of sublime grace when you realize that you can do something else, and it is half-assed and not enough but it is something. Here is a hymn about seeing a hot guy and giving thanks to God for the existence of hot guys and their shoulders and their butts and their smiles. Here is a hymn about how all books are fallible but we can get genuine knowledge by studying the universe, because God wrote the skies. Here is a hymn about how ichthyosaurs are neat. 

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Some of these hymns seem acceptable. For instance, the one about brassicas seems in line with St. Francis' Canticle of the Creatures. We do hope it begins "praise to Thee my God for Sister Broccoli." If not, we will add a doxology in the final verse, as is customary. Something that says "all of this leads us to remember that You God who created it all are the one we're most excited about, a being specifically existing in three persons." You would think it would go without saying, and perhaps in your world it does, but we have discovered that some individuals in our world have a problem where they appreciate creation without immediately turning to the Divine in gratitude. This is of course the sin of Idolatry. Since all that is created is good, it is fitting to praise all things, but praising the creation above or without the Creator is sin.

The one about all books being fallible will be denied, because it does not mention Scripture, which is inspired by God and without error. There are also infallible documents written by the Pope, when speaking for instruction to the whole Church.

The one about hot guys seems . . . doubtful. We will have to refer it up the chain. It seems it would not be relatable for half the individuals, because by their nature men do not find other men "hot." Also many women are married and will most likely praise God for men in a very different way, such as "I am thankful that a man exists who can be an excellent friend to my husband." These are the thoughts that are appropriate to a married woman, which we wish to encourage. As for single women, we prefer to encourage them to assess men as possible life partners in the journey toward virtue and the Divine. Their butts are not relevant.

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The Teachingsphere just kind of assumes that if you're wandering around being grateful about the existence of brassica then it is obvious you are either being grateful to God or the people who did artificial selection on brassica, these being the two people involved in the question. 

It is very lucky that Great Christendom has infallible books! Unfortunately, the Teachingsphere only has fallible books, and their hymns reflect this fact.*

Oh! There was a misunderstanding. You're not supposed to get married to the guys in this song! It is a song about appreciating the butts of complete strangers. Obviously you should assess men as potential life partners in the journey towards virtue or as good friends for people you care about, but that does not matter if you are instead looking at strangers and their nice butts. Sometimes nice-butted strangers have awful personalities but we can still be grateful for their butts.

*Somewhere, in the theology department, a Great Christendom theologian is having a very hard time with a Teachingsphere monk who thinks they should edit the Bible to take out all the bits that obviously aren't divinely inspired, like the genocide.

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But wouldn't contemplation of the butts of men one is not marrying result in concupiscent desires, viz., the desire to touch or possess the butt in question? That would be a sin.

Yes, my opposite number, who is submitting our books to the Teachingsphere version of the Holy Office, has taken to drink and weeping in the evenings. Maybe I should ask him about that?

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Why are you trying to possess people's butts? Are you like cutting them off from the rest of their body. That is not a good thing to do.

Anyway, here are some books without any supernatural element that have sold well and gotten good reviews recently:

A romance about a woman who struggles with anorgasmia and feels like she is fundamentally broken and doesn't deserve a sexual partner who cares enough for her to make sure she enjoys sex. She meets a new casual sex partner who is very patient with her, pays attention to her reactions, communicates with her about her needs, and is consistently gentle and careful with her. She remains anorgasmic, but discovers that she enjoys sex much more. She cries in her partner's arms and he's sweet with her about it. They eventually separate, but she has higher standards for all future partners. 

A woman from a non-Teachingsphere village meets a man from a different village while they're both walking in the woods, so they don't know what village the other one is from. They're really compatible: they discuss philosophy and poetry and sing together, they have sex, and the man plays with the woman's small child. Eventually, to their horror, once they've fallen in love, they realize that they're from enemy villages. The man had been involved in a mass rape and murder of people from the woman's village; the woman had assisted in the revenge attack, which involved a truly scarring use of roosters. (Both of these are described in nightmare-inducing detail.) The child was the product of the mass rape. Although shocked and horrified, they realize that they are both people and that their hatred has only led to suffering. They forgive each other and debate whether to seek out a different village where they can live happily together. They decide that it would haunt them forever if they didn't work together to bring peace to both of their villages, which task they will take on in the sequel.

A book from the point of view of a child rapist, justifying why the desire to have sex with children is the purest, most glorious, and most romantic of all sexual desires, and anyway that the children are little coquettes who seduced him. If you read carefully, you can observe that his victims did not consent and that he has wrecked tremendous harm on them and on nearly everyone else he interacts with. It is easy, however, for the unobservant reader to miss. The overall effect, if you catch on to the subtext, is one of creeping horror.

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The first book gives us severe pause. Are the characters clearly shown to be miserable due to partaking in sexual relations outside the bond of holy matrimony? Is all the sexual activity portrayed in a way that makes it almost impossible to become aroused by the descriptions? If the answer to either of these questions is no, the book is denied. Sexual activity exists for the good of spouses and the creation of new life. None of the goals the characters have in this book are valid or admirable. A version of this book where the couple was married might be acceptable, since sexual pleasure is licit within the bounds of marriage provided it is also open to children. Still, the focus they put on it seems unhealthy. Perhaps they should have a baby by the end of the book, and the baby teaches them orgasms aren't as important as they thought? Something to keep in mind, if the writer is interested in producing content for our market.

The second book might be all right. Violence is okay to read about because it does not tempt one to sins of the mind in the way descriptions of sex do. However I notice sex is mentioned, so these sections will need to be expurgated. The mass rape bits might be okay; it seems they are more horrifying than lascivious. Given the moral, we think it might be okay to approve for mature readers, given the edits required.

The third book seems to meet standards by making evil people appear evil and sins appear sinful, but since it will only have this effect on careful readers, we will place it on the Index, to be read only with the permission of one's confessor, and only by the most mature and seasoned readers.

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The first book gives us severe pause. Are the characters clearly shown to be miserable due to partaking in sexual relations outside the bond of holy matrimony? Is all the sexual activity portrayed in a way that makes it almost impossible to become aroused by the descriptions? If the answer to either of these questions is no, the book is denied. Sexual activity exists for the good of spouses and the creation of new life. None of the goals the characters have in this book are valid or admirable. A version of this book where the couple was married might be acceptable, since sexual pleasure is licit within the bounds of marriage provided it is also open to children. Still, the focus they put on it seems unhealthy. Perhaps they should have a baby by the end of the book, and the baby teaches them orgasms aren't as important as they thought? Something to keep in mind, if the writer is interested in producing content for our market.

The Teachingsphere doesn't want to go so far as to say that you are supposed to jerk off while reading this book, people can read about sex without wanting to jerk off about it, but that was definitely... some of the intent? The things that people jerk off about influence their sexual desires when they have sex with other people, so the Teachingsphere encourages the publication of books about sex that depict ethical sexual behavior as being sexy. For example, this book will probably on the margins condition people to think that it is sexy when their sexual partners are kind to them and communicate about sex. 

...wait, what? No, everyone in this book is definitely on contraception. None of them are in a place in their lives to responsibly conceive a child. Did you guys miss the part where the love interest and the protagonist are incompatible as life partners and the happy ending is that he raises her standards for a life partner...?

What does having a baby have to do with whether orgasms are a good idea? Is it because when you have a baby you have less time to have sex?

Isn't it admirable to seek out simple pleasures that bring you joy...? And also to care about whether people you're doing things with are having a good time...?

The second book might be all right. Violence is okay to read about because it does not tempt one to sins of the mind in the way descriptions of sex do. However I notice sex is mentioned, so these sections will need to be expurgated. The mass rape bits might be okay; it seems they are more horrifying than lascivious. Given the moral, we think it might be okay to approve for mature readers, given the edits required.

Wait, you guys are okay with the mass rape but not the consensual sex?! Mass rape is bad! Consensual sex is good! Why is it okay to depict bad things and not good things?

The author is happy to fade-to-black on the sex scenes and replace the emotional notes conveyed through the sex with more group singing and tender cuddles, though. Her new version does not actually decrease the length or the enthusiasm of the descriptions of the pleasure the protagonists experience through physical touch, but at least everyone keeps their clothes on. 

The author heard of the thing about babies making sex scenes more appropriate in some way she doesn't really understand and she has also edited it so that the sex they have conceives a baby! She thinks it will be an interesting thematic thing where a child is conceived from love and not hatred, and is a sign of growth and creation and hope for the future. 

The third book seems to meet standards by making evil people appear evil and sins appear sinful, but since it will only have this effect on careful readers, we will place it on the Index, to be read only with the permission of one's confessor, and only by the most mature and seasoned readers.

For once, that is very reasonable. The Teachingsphere did exactly the same thing. 

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Well *deep indrawn breath* it seems our ethics are not so similar as they appeared at first blush! You see, there are pleasures that are sort of like . . . the carrot that God uses to get us to do a certain virtuous thing. For instance, the enjoyment we get from food is intended (as evolution will teach you, as well as your innate knowledge of the Designer of the Universe) to get us to eat. Likewise any enjoyment that people obtain from sex is to get us to procreate. Procreating is very important, therefore the desire to do it is very intense. If people could simply . . . have sex . . . without getting pregnant . . . WELL. The species would probably cease to exist, because raising children is very difficult and nobody would ever do it on purpose.

When procreating is a bad idea, sex is also a bad idea (and, of course, sinful. how do you people claim to know natural law and not know THAT). It would be like chewing food and spitting it out. Eating dessert without eating dinner. It is hard for us to express how wrong this is. I suppose in your world people just have *fun* all the time instead of working and eating healthy food and raising children! They probably nap when they haven't even earned the rest by working hard!

This rule also goes for jerking off AND experiencing any sort of lustful movement of the mind, a delectation or pleasure from the thought of sex that does not end in the possibility of procreation. So this book is absolutely banned.

Re: the second book, we *did* say sin was okay to depict, provided it was *depicted as bad.* So if the mass rape and so on is all depicted as bad, and not written in such a way as to provoke lust, the book truthfully reflects the world we live in.

Our concern about the sex scenes is that they are depicted as good, when, since the participants are not married, it is in fact sin. After all, if they have a baby, the baby needs secure attachments with adult caregivers. Marriage legally forces the caregivers to stay around, AND, as it's a sacrament, provides the parents the grace they need to stay together as they should.

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Oh! Well, the Teachingsphere is also okay with eating dessert without eating dinner first, and chewing food and then spitting it out, so that probably explains the disagreement. They have tea tastings where people swish the tea around in their mouths because if you actually drank that much tea you wouldn't be able to sleep tonight. They will make sure to ask the writers to rewrite their books to exclude any sex scenes, tea tastings, or people eating cake for lunch. 

How exactly could the protagonists get married? They're from different villages, there's no way they could have a giant party and invite all their friends. They are committed to each other forever, if that helps. 

... ... ... ...okay so what the Teachingsphere is getting from all this is that they should not send over any sexparodies.

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A natural marriage, where they vow to one another to stay together forever, would be acceptable given they are not Catholic. Catholics, of course, must be married by a priest. Party and guests not required. Are they committed to each other forever before they have sex?

As for writing tea tastings out . . . I mean, I suppose? But these things don't strike this Inquisitor as particularly *tempting* . . . hmm. Perhaps better safe than sorry. After all the natural end of tea is to be swallowed. I am feeling odd about having used these things as an example, though, because we do not really have a problem with people doing those things here, nor is it a focus of our moral instruction or confessional guides. I wonder why that is? I will ask my superior.

Please no "sex parodies," whatever that is. In fact given the way in which you people seem to treat sex as a simple extracurricular, no more important than anything else in the world, perhaps no sex at all. Not that we think sex is evil or anything. But the amount of sex your books have in them seems . . . inappropriate.

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Sexparodies are one of the Teachingsphere's most popular subgenres! It's a parody of the tropes, cliches, and classic works of a genre where instead everything is about sex. For example, in the sexparody of the sharedworld where heroes wander the earth killing monsters, they instead wander the earth having sex with monsters to calm them and prevent them from attacking people. In the sexparody of pretentious historical fiction, the protagonist spontaneously discovers the Teaching and then spreads the Teaching throughout the world by having sex with people. In the sexparody of a popular space opera sharedworld, faster-than-light travel is powered on orgasms. 

Sexparodies are often wildly popular classics, because everyone enjoys seeing their favorite genre or sharedworld affectionately mocked, and you really have to be familiar with the genre to enjoy it.

... ...the Teachingsphere can send children's books? There isn't any sex in children's books because children aren't interested in it.

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Given what you think is appropriate for adults, I'm unsure. Are they intended to give children a firm training in virtue?

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Absolutely!

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Sorry, I realize I failed to say DO NOT SEND SEX PARODIES. Emphatically do not. We do not consider sex to be funny.

Anyway, go ahead and send some children books, we'll . . . *long suffering sigh* we'll take a look.

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A collection of illustrated short stories about a seven-year-old girl. In each story, she goes on some kind of normal child adventure: going to the zoo, painting a picture, inviting a friend over to her house. No one in the story ever misbehaves, and they all model skillful coping techniques for conflict: the protagonist takes deep breaths to calm herself when she's angry, prays to God when she's uncertain about what she's supposed to do, and notices that she's hungry or tired and asks an adult for help before she is tempted to misbehave. In one of the books, she visits her grandma's grave, which appears to be a mural of an astronaut visiting Mars on the side of an apartment building; her mother tells her that no one knows what happens after you die, but we can be sure that God has a good plan that works out well for everyone. Her school is divided into four classes: Verbal, Quant, Physical, and Virtue. Virtue class is depicted as mostly involving playing games. In one of the books, she is tracked to a lower Quant class; no one seems to think this is a sign she wasn't working hard enough or is a disappointment, and the story primarily deals with her uncertainty about whether people in the new class will like her. She has three moms; one of the moms is drawn as having self-harm scars on her arms, although this is never mentioned in the text. An attached note says that they're not sure what the word is in Great Christendom's language for soft people, but they're people who were born with penises who wear women's clothes and act like women and some of them take estrogen and get surgery to change their sex to female, and one of the seven-year-old's moms is actually a soft person in the original text so they should fix that up.

A book in which an eight-year-old is abused by her parents and decides that this is unacceptable behavior on her parents' part. She sets out to find a different family. It is mostly a comedic fish-out-of-water story about the difficulty she has adjusting to various other families' rules-- this one prays together as a family, this one doesn't let anyone watch television, this one goes hiking constantly, this one will only let her have ONE dessert-- until eventually she goes to live with the monk who runs her Children's After School Club. She lives happily ever after. The abuse isn't exactly graphic, but it is clearly depicted: the girl is scared of her parents because they hit her and call her nasty names. The book also seems to think that going and looking for a different family if your current family abuses you is perfectly reasonable behavior.

A horror novel for small children. The protagonist visits a little shop that wasn't there yesterday, where he buys a puppet. When he says "I wish you were alive," the puppet comes to life! Unfortunately, the puppet wants to take him as a slave and keeps doing bad things and then blaming him for them. The protagonist considers killing the puppet, but is horrified by the idea of killing a living thinking being; the narrative seems to think of this as the ordinary response. Finally, the puppet physically attacks the protagonist, and while defending himself he accidentally throws the puppet into a woodchipper. The puppet seems to be gone, but on the last page of the book his sister's doll slowly opens one of her eyes... While it is less didactic than the previous two, the protagonist prays regularly and is shown thinking that refusing to confront things you're scared of only makes you more scared of them and that it is always wrong for people to punish you for something you didn't do. 

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The first book seems simply lovely.  The only issue is the family in it. A family consists of one mother, one father, and hopefully children. (Of course extended family members living with the nuclear family is not only permissible but to be admired.) After all, only one mother and one father can be biologically related to the children. It's vital for children to be with their biological parents, because anything else implies that biological bonds have been broken somewhere. Wouldn't the child always miss her father? Or is the father the "soft person" mentioned? We do not have that in Global Christendom; the body you have been given by God is the body you were supposed to have. We do not believe that biological sex is an accident (in the philosophical sense) but an important part of a person's nature. If your nature, as bestowed by God and visible in your body, is male then it tells you many vital things about God's plan for you. For instance, you can learn that God desires you to be a father, either in a biological sense or in the priesthood.

Normally having people in the background making sinful choices isn't a major issue, but it's important that children see models of healthy families, to prepare them for forming one on their own. We certainly don't want to give children the idea that they have options when they grow up other than the ones blessed by God through one of the three possible vocations: marriage, religious life, or single life. We also don't want to give them the idea they can simply pick their nature, rather than learning to accept the one given by God. So this book can only be approved if the parents are reduced to two, one male and masculine, one female and feminine.

The self-harm scars, however, are fine. Children are unlikely to pick up on this and may have seen such scars in their real lives as well. And we do give children the stories of certain saints who harmed themselves for spiritual reasons, for instance St. Rose of Lima, who plunged her hands into hot lime to disfigure them, in fear that a man might see them and be attracted to her beauty. We introduce this story to children around the age of eight. I wonder what luck my opposite number has had in introducing this story to the Teachingsphere?

The second book seems a little mature for children. After all, are children really capable of discerning abuse from regular parenting, or deciding what life is best for them? We tend to prefer teaching children to wait for a competent adult to intervene on their behalf. After all, in the vast majority of cases the will of God for a child is to be raised by his or her biological parents. We do, of course, remove children from abusive parents and allow them to be raised, as in this book, by monks or nuns. However, that is the decision of adults to make for the child. Otherwise children would run away from good parents, or sometimes they might insist on staying with abusive parents, simply because children are immature and don't have the full use of their reason and judgment. So this book will not be approved.

The horror novel sounds terrifying but we can't think of a reason not to approve it. After all, it is wrong to kill preemptively but permissible in the case of self defense, so the boy seems to be acting properly. Perhaps it will also teach a lesson of "be careful not to wish for anything but that God's will be done."

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A family consists of one mother, one father, and hopefully children. (Of course extended family members living with the nuclear family is not only permissible but to be admired.) After all, only one mother and one father can be biologically related to the children. It's vital for children to be with their biological parents, because anything else implies that biological bonds have been broken somewhere. Wouldn't the child always miss her father?

uh well it never really came up in the series before which parents she was biologically related to, or if in fact she was someone else's kid, because this wasn't relevant to anyone's journey, but sure they can add some dialogue to Minna Goes To The Doctor where the doctor explains genetics and explains that her genes came from her eggparent and her spermparent and her soft-person mom is her spermparent and one of her other moms is her eggparent. 

Or is the father the "soft person" mentioned? We do not have that in Global Christendom; the body you have been given by God is the body you were supposed to have. We do not believe that biological sex is an accident (in the philosophical sense) but an important part of a person's nature. If your nature, as bestowed by God and visible in your body, is male then it tells you many vital things about God's plan for you. For instance, you can learn that God desires you to be a father, either in a biological sense or in the priesthood.

Whoa. Christendom doesn't have soft people? Weird.

In the Teachingsphere, about five percent of people born with penises are born soft, and about five percent of people born with vaginas are born hard. You can usually tell when they're a little kid. Soft kids usually like dolls and playing dressup and pretending to do household chores, don't like violent play or vehicles or construction equipment, prefer to wear girls' clothing, and are friends with girls, and vice versa for hard people. Sometimes they'll even tell you they're soft, which is convenient! Some people only discover they're soft at puberty, the Teachingsphere thinks that hormones wind up affecting things. About one in five soft and hard people end up taking medicine or getting surgery that makes their body more similar to that of the other sex, and about one in ten are on the medicine for life.

God made soft people soft and hard people hard, so of course you should let them be soft or hard. It is very cruel to force soft people to be men and hard people to be women. 

Probably they should leave one of her moms soft to teach children about interplanar diversity and the number of beautifully different species God has crafted!

And we do give children the stories of certain saints who harmed themselves for spiritual reasons, for instance St. Rose of Lima, who plunged her hands into hot lime to disfigure them, in fear that a man might see them and be attracted to her beauty. We introduce this story to children around the age of eight. I wonder what luck my opposite number has had in introducing this story to the Teachingsphere?

Elsewhere, the inquisitor's opposite number is having an extremely confusing conversation because of the Teachingsphere monk's casual and unexplained assumption that St. Rose of Lima is of course intended to be a cautionary tale about a horrifying yet sympathetic sinner. 

The second book seems a little mature for children. After all, are children really capable of discerning abuse from regular parenting, or deciding what life is best for them? We tend to prefer teaching children to wait for a competent adult to intervene on their behalf. After all, in the vast majority of cases the will of God for a child is to be raised by his or her biological parents. We do, of course, remove children from abusive parents and allow them to be raised, as in this book, by monks or nuns. However, that is the decision of adults to make for the child. Otherwise children would run away from good parents, or sometimes they might insist on staying with abusive parents, simply because children are immature and don't have the full use of their reason and judgment. So this book will not be approved.

Mostly kids in the Teachingsphere know whether their caregivers are good for them? Like, they're present for all the parenting, which outside adults aren't. Of course, not all runaways are from abusive households. Sometimes it's just a bad fit, sometimes the parent is a great parent for some kid that isn't this one, sometimes the kid is angry and wants to show how angry they are by moving somewhere else, sometimes the kid just wants to have an adventure. In the latter two cases, they'll always come back in a couple of days. No need to make a big deal about it. Most parents will shelter their kids' friends from time to time. 

The other approach seems like it would work too, if you have more resources than the Teachingsphere does to track down all of the bad parents. Sometimes kids think that the way they're being treated is just normal, which is why the Teachingsphere has books like this, to tell kids it's not normal to be scared of your parents. But outside adults also help! The interworld contact person, who all this time has been named Nela, is kind of curious how this system works. Do all kids get interviewed by a monk once a year?

The horror novel sounds terrifying but we can't think of a reason not to approve it. After all, it is wrong to kill preemptively but permissible in the case of self defense, so the boy seems to be acting properly. Perhaps it will also teach a lesson of "be careful not to wish for anything but that God's will be done."

Oh! Maybe the Teachingsphere should send you guys more horror, since everything you've approved so far is horror. 

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This soft vs. hard person thing seems extremely difficult. Where is the objective proof it's a real thing? Without objective proof, couldn't a person lie about it? And in that case wouldn't you have tons of women claiming to be hard so they could become priests?

In Global Christendom, we learn what vocations God has in mind for us through our bodies. If our body has a penis, we learn that we are intended to either marry a woman and beget children, become a priest, or live in celibate community with other men. If our body has a vagina, we learn that we are intended to marry a man or live in celibate community with other women. Most importantly, this information is *objective* and thus demonstrable to everyone. In the past, before we had as much science or experience with such things, sometimes cross-dressing individuals managed to pass themselves off as the other sex and thus access vocations that were never meant for them. This can't have been God's will, though, because if God wanted them to have those vocations, would he not simply have given them the other body?

We really don't want to allow this knowledge into our libraries. What if it gave children the idea that they could simply *claim* to be another sex and demand vocations to which they cannot possibly have been called?

Do all kids get interviewed by a monk once a year?

No. It is our opinion that God gives a child the parents they need, in the vast majority of cases. To interfere in an intact biological family seems beyond the purview of any state or church. Because how can we be sure the child doesn't need the exact upbringing God has provided for them? Now, if we come to know of abuse, such as for instance another adult observing it, or a child persisting in telling about it to the point that we know they're not making it up, we do intervene. But it isn't a common thing. Is it so common there that you feel it has to be taught to children? Perhaps if you had access to sacramental graces you wouldn't abuse children so much. We are certainly ready and willing to baptize anyone interested.

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This soft vs. hard person thing seems extremely difficult. Where is the objective proof it's a real thing? Without objective proof, couldn't a person lie about it? And in that case wouldn't you have tons of women claiming to be hard so they could become priests?

The Teachingsphere doesn't have priests, just monks and nuns. And why on earth would you lie about it? Men and soft people are different. If you were a man and you tried to live as a soft person you would be sad all the time and then you would quickly realize this was a terrible idea. 

The publisher commissions some new illustrations where the soft person mom is now a man, and changes the dialogue so one of the moms is referred to as an aunt. 

Now, if we come to know of abuse, such as for instance another adult observing it, or a child persisting in telling about it to the point that we know they're not making it up, we do intervene. But it isn't a common thing. Is it so common there that you feel it has to be taught to children? Perhaps if you had access to sacramental graces you wouldn't abuse children so much. We are certainly ready and willing to baptize anyone interested.

Elsewhere, a Teachingsphere theologian-monk has heard that having access to sacramental graces makes people more virtuous, and is attempting to negotiate to organize a randomized controlled trial of baptism to see whether this is true or not. 

Meanwhile, Nela has gathered up some classics of horror. 

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A work of literary criticism about a podcast that doesn't exist about people who explored a house that, also, doesn't exist, but it would be pretty fucked up if it did, because it is infinite and if you spend time in it it eats all your memories and your personality and your values that don't involve worshiping the infinite beauty and vastness of the house. The literary criticism and podcast also seem to eat the creators' memories, personality, and values and leave them with no desires except worshiping the infinite beauty and vastness of the house. The literary criticism and podcast are both structured in ways that mimic the house, including entire pages that are black, text arranged in circles, etc. Overall, the book doesn't come to any clear position on whether having your memories, personality, and values eaten by an infinite house or literary criticism thereof is desirable state of affairs. Really, it could go either way.

A plain-language adaptation is attached, which uses simpler language and sentence structure. Plain-language adaptations are generally intended for intellectually disabled people, as well as people who prefer not to struggle through dense prose. The plain-language adaptation contradicts the original version on several major details: one character dies in the plain-language version who lives in the other, several events happen in different orders, and some characters have differently spelled names.

It was adapted into a movie, which is to say it was adapted into a six-hour-long talking-head-explains-something video about the symbolism in the original book with a forty-five-minute tangent about how this all intersects with quantum physics. It turns into a splitscreen and two different people talk at the same time about unrelated topics. Some of it is told in stop-motion animation. At one point it becomes a powerpoint. Innovatively, the talking head was depicted as having his memories, personality, and values eaten from the first moment of the video.

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A livestreamed LARP. Great Christendom doesn't seem to have livestreamed LARPs! A LARP is sort of like a collaboratively written play which is improvised at the same time that it's performed. The larpwright creates an interesting and suspenseful situation and comes up with characters for everyone to play, and everyone acts the way their characters would, and the conflict and plot occurs spontaneously. Most LARPs aren't filmed and are just enjoyed by their participants, but at some LARPs some or all players attach small video cameras to their clothes and livestream everything their character is doing. If you're good at improvisation and getting deep in character, you can do this professionally. Some people watch the actual livestream, especially if they work in a factory and are very bored, but it's more common to watch versions edited to just have the good bits, because there's a lot of downtime in any given LARP.

Ten Candles is a short LARP, lasting only one night. (Normal LARPs last about three or four days, but horror LARPs tend to be shorter, for the obvious reason.) Two weeks ago the sun and the moon and all the stars went out. One week ago, monsters appeared on the Earth which brutally murder people; they are repelled by the light. The protagonists have only ten candles remaining and when the last candle burns out they will all die. 

Ten Candles is wildly popular and has been played professionally literally hundreds of times, so there are dozens of versions where no one decided to fuck the pain away or lose their virginity before they die or anything like that. They have sent over the full version of one of the best-regarded non-sex-having playthroughs, as well as three shorter Good Part Versions of varying lengths.

In the version they sent over, in addition to the standard ten players, there are two babies, because two of the professional LARPers had babies and it turns out babies are totally capable of LARPing babies. In universe, both babies were adopted a few days ago; one was adopted by a mother whose child had died, and the other was adopted by an extremely overwhelmed college student who has no idea what he's doing but who is trying SO hard. 

The characters are oddly prone to self-harm, suicidal ideation and attempts, screaming at each other, assaulting each other, breaking things for no reason, drinking and using drugs, being manipulative and passive-aggressive, and so on and so forth, even given that everyone is about to die. Their moods all seem to swing wildly, and no one seems to think this is at all strange. They do, additionally, use various positive coping mechanisms: visualization of happier times, prayer, singing, telling stories, progressive muscle relaxation, being supportive and encouraging at each other. 

There's a long philosophical discussion about why God did this to them that comes to no particular conclusion. One character thinks that they should trust God and believe that everything is going to work out well in the end even if they can't see how now; one character thinks that God has abandoned them and nothing matters anymore and it's pointless to do anything; one character agrees that everything is pointless now but thinks that if nothing matters anyway she might as well be kind. 

As the last candle sputters out, the seven surviving players (including the one who thinks God has abandoned them) collectively sing the hymn praising God for the beauty of the morning

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We are unclear on the point of the first story. Does it teach virtue? Is it symbolic of anything? Is the house supposed to symbolize God? But God is reason, not unreason. We simply don't see any compelling reason to accept this story.

We do in fact LARP! That is, we participate in historical reenactments. Some of our favorites are the Reconquista, IRA vs Black and Tans, and the Bonfire of the Vanities. Since the world is entirely Catholic now, many people miss the days when one could more easily be violent in a justified way. Or they simply are enthusiastic about the study of history. One or the other.

We think many of our inhabitants would be interested in Ten Candles. Perhaps you could also send the rules so we could try it ourselves? We would, of course, select the participants to be mature, moral, thoughtful people, to avoid any temptation to get so into the story they actually despair or become emotionally perturbed. While we don't see anything *wrong* with being upset, per se, one always makes clearer, more rational decisions when one is in a peaceful frame of mind.

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We are unclear on the point of the first story. Does it teach virtue? Is it symbolic of anything? Is the house supposed to symbolize God? But God is reason, not unreason. 

The author, when asked, responds with "yes."

We think many of our inhabitants would be interested in Ten Candles. Perhaps you could also send the rules so we could try it ourselves? 

The LARP fans are SO EXCITED BY THIS. They love LARPs. Not only are rules for Ten Candles are sent, but so are rules for:

-Wizard School, the largest LARP in the world, where a thousand people spend a week as students or teachers at a school of magic;
-Vengeance, a three-day fifty-person LARP about murderous medieval political intrigue, known for its innovative mechanics rules (for example, on the first day poison is an aphrodisiac, on the second it is a truth serum, on the third it kills you); 
-Thalia, a one-day seven-person LARP about seven servants of an evil wizard who are going to be executed in the morning deciding which of them should be allowed to use the spell that lets them escape;
-Thornbush, a LARP about an ordinary Renaissance-era village in the Teachingsphere, with extensive historical notes for five different levels of realism and guides to teaching inexperienced people how to spin and farm; 
-Station A-462b, a LARP about being on a space station on another planet, with detailed rules for how to simulate the various tasks required on a space station.

Many have pregenerated characters, but some have character creation rules.

Project Christendom has been founded to edit NEW Good Parts Versions of classic livestreamed LARPs with NO sex or soft/hard people in them! They are going to get to share their LARPs with people!

The LARP fans have, out of a touching faith in everyone else in the world sharing their special interests, also sent over carefully curated packages of celebrity gossip information about their favorite LARPer celebrities. The gossip is almost aggressively wholesome. The celebrity LARPers discuss their favorite recipes, the media they've been watching lately, cute anecdotes about their friends and pets and children, nice days they've had lately, new hobbies they've been taking up, how much they love the people they're currently dating, how much affection they feel for their exes, interesting facts they have learned about dinosaurs or space, and their favorite coping mechanisms for excessive emotion. No one has any political opinions, but all of them do charity work about nice noncontroversial causes like libraries or historical archiving or healthcare for poor children or gene drives to eliminate malaria. There are also photoshoots, with the LARPers varyingly dressed in costumes, dramatic and gorgeous clothing, blood, and practically nothing. Two of the LARPers discuss hearing the voice of God the same way they discuss their best friends; while the voice of God occasionally commands them to do unusual things such as run off into the woods howling like a wolf, the tone in which it is discussed is one of mild curiosity about why on earth God commands such strange things and faith that there is a good reason.  

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We are very interested in LARP material! Historical ones in particular will be a huge hit.

We are unsure about LARPs involving magic. Some of us believe that magic, since it's fictional, is harmless to depict. But some of us worry it crosses the line into witchcraft, or attempts to commune with the devil. Does the magic in question have some sort of explanation for its existence? In general we are happy with depictions of magic where the magic is performed by God figures or angelic figures (we have several of these here, which comprise the genre of fantasy), but if the magic includes any sort of reference to witchcraft, devils, demons, serpents, or dragons, we must decline. In our experience, demons are very real and will hear us when we invoke them, whether or not we actually intended to.

We think it's pretty normal for the voice of God to tell you to do strange things. Perhaps there is a symbolic meaning. We have many instances of people doing odd things with symbolic, prophetic value. See the book of Ezekiel (enclosed). Though we do encourage those among us with these elocutions to discern the spirits with their confessor. The confessor will help them work out whether this is the will of God or some demon or illness.

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Well, dragons do exist in the canonical world of Wizard School, but it is easy enough to edit them out? Especially if it would lead to summoning real evil supernatural entities. That sounds bad.

An enterprising larpwright writes a curriculum for a class about how wizards were all chosen by God to improve the world by curing diseases and preventing famines.

Elsewhere, a monk is trying to persuade a Christendom theologian that LOTS of people believe in evil spirits and they have checked and the evil spirits are never in fact real, so Christendom should really examine the evidence for demons existing more closely.

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The larp is accepted at once. Mystical powers coming from God seems quite truthful about how the universe in fact operates. Though we generally call them saints.

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