Redacted

A friend recently introduced me to Redactle.  Yet another of those daily internet games that have become trendy in these pandemic years, Redactle gives you a page that looks like a Freedom of Information Act piece from the government.  Most of the words are blanked out and all you really know it that it is taken from one of the significant pages on Wikipedia.  You get some clues from the format, the way the prepositions and articles they give you are arranged, and occasionally, the punctuation.  You just start guessing words and it fills in the blanks as you get hits.  Like most things of this sort, there’s one puzzle per day, otherwise none of us would ever get anything done.  I’m a sucker for learning games, so we’ve been playing it as a family for a few days now.

A redacted file from the CIA, via Wikimedia Commons

The thing that has surprised me the most in our early on is that the trickiest ones to get right were on religions.  In our first week of play, two of the puzzles were religions: Lutheranism and Shaktism.  We’d been able to guess famous people in two dozen guesses, and countries in about the same.  Religions are trickier.  Despite having studied religion my entire life, my thought process doesn’t include guessing words like “theology” and “worship” for important articles on Wikipedia.  (In the case of Shaktism it took well over 100 guesses.  I taught world religion maybe fifteen years ago, but I haven’t kept up with my Hinduism.)  In the case of both of these religions what eventually gave them away was the place names: Germany and India.

India, of course, has been the birthplace of many religions.  The majority of Indians today are Hindu, but Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism were also children of India.  Even in this increasingly secular world, religions remain the driving forces behind lives.  So much so that some religionists consider Secularism a religion.  The fact is we all believe something.  It may not be supernatural, but then not all religions are.  They often brush up against philosophy at their most sophisticated end, and literalism is the least developed form of any belief system.  With some exceptions it doesn’t pay well to be a religionist.  Perhaps that’s because thinking hard about religion reveals uncomfortable truths.  Not only that, studying religion is no guarantee that when you have to fill in the blanks you’ll be able to guess one when it’s right in front of you.  That’s why I appreciate learning games.  

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