Nintendo and the Wheel of God (1 of 2)

We have a local theme park curiously gifted at overpricing concessions and keeping rides from the 70’s on eternal life support. As a child, I remember when this park obtained the Cherry Blossom Special, a rusty metal roller coaster reaching a dizzying twenty feet high. A fresh coat of paint, some axle grease and WD-40, and it was as good as new. Better, even. I also remember when, in my teens, the Cherry Blossom Special, faded and falling into squeaky disrepair, was re-christened as the Orange Blossom Special. (True story.) Finally, when it seemed its dilapidated condition could seemingly no longer be hidden, it was moved inside a building that was pitch black inside and rebranded as a runaway mine train. (Also true.)

But all of that only sets the scene for our story. The real action takes place at LifeStock, an annual event hosted by our church. (Many people—most of whom have never attended our church—brand it a “megachurch.” Our church leaders, however, prefer to call us a “micro” church with a “mega” mission.) Every summer at LifeStock, literally thousands of people from all over the city show up to enjoy discounted tickets, lines stretching halfway to the moon, and dementia-inducing heat. (That’s just one of the myriad ways that we Christians express our devotion to God’s only Son and our Dear Savior.)

One major draw of these events—besides sweaty hordes of believers, of course—is always the worship music. Extraordinary musicians from literally all over the country swarm a huge stage facing a large hillside. In 2006, before the music started, our (quite literally) world-famous kids’ program would stage a fun show. In 2006, they had a gaming portion of the show where they brought kids up on stage and let them do different things to win prizes.

The capstone event was a Wheel of Fortune-type upright roulette wheel with prizes listed on it. They call your ticket number, you come up and spin the wheel. Whatever it lands on, you win. While it was our good friend JT who actually engineered and built this spectacular wheel, my magnificent wife was one of the key coordinators of the actual program in progress. Our kids pastor was the emcee and stage presence, and Kendra served double-duty as Vanna White and chief kid wrangler of the mouth-breathers once they were on stage.

The prizes were all sorts of the things kids drool over: Dolls and stickers, candy and water pistols. But everybody there knew the pièce de résistance was the Nintendo GameCube. Kendra knew that’s what every kid wanted, although she herself despises anything to do with video games. I myself had years earlier been coerced to surrender my Nintendo Entertainment System and staggering two games to a raffle held at the school where she taught. This was not because I was such a generous person eager to see youngsters strive to better themselves, but because she wanted it out of our house. (Fortunately, I’m not bitter.) But every kid at LifeStock knew that was the brass ring they were grasping for.

Kendra was on stage, and I was in the audience with our two boys, suffocating in the sweltering heat. Pastor Scott called the next number. Every little head in the massive crowd drooped simultaneously, frantically checking it against their tickets. Kenny, our oldest, was the first head to pop up. He held his ticket out to me, trembling. It was his number. I double-checked… Sure enough. “Go on!” I told him cheerfully. “Get up there!”

Has your number ever been called? What did you do? What do you think is gonna happen? Plot twists and an unexpected outcome. Come back for our conclusion this Friday.

6 Responses to “Nintendo and the Wheel of God (1 of 2)”

  1. Bea September 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    I don’t know why Kendra despises video games!

    • Brannon September 17, 2010 at 8:57 am #

      Um, rrrriiiiiight.

  2. Kendra Golden September 15, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    So how does this post earn the tag of tricknology? Surely something as antiquated as a Game Cube is neither tricksy nor psychology.

    • Brannon September 17, 2010 at 8:57 am #

      I don’t feel that I should have to explain my art to you, Kendra.

  3. Cooper Strange September 23, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    You know, my only time to the yet unnamed dilapidated theme-less park, I rode the “mine train”. You know, I have always wondered how they could possibly have such an antiquated ride. I knew they were hiding something in the dark. Now, I know the whole story.

    Ok, as for video games…melt them all! Children cannot concentrate for squat now, and video games and television are filling their minds with a million concentration distractions. The real trick is not figuring that out, but rather figuring how to raise a kid without the games and television when it is so accepted (and expected) by society without feeling any loss.

    • Brannon September 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

      Honestly, you lost me after “melt.” ’Cause that made me think of ice cream, and how much I wanted some ice cream, and where could I get some ice cream, and then what kind would I want, and then where’d I put my wallet, and then I didn’t have any money in there, so I had to think if I had some somewhere else, and I went to look in the couch, but when I sat down there I forgot what I was looking for, so I lay down, and then I fell asleep. That was a really nice nap, by the way.

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