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The Desert Fathers Play Pokemon Go

Two monks left their cell and appeared before Abba Anthony, who was praying. “Abba,” said one of the monks, “My brother is in error, saying that Squirtle is the best starter when Charmander is clearly superior.” The other replied, “Nay, it is my brother who errs, for Squirtle has the best evolution.” Abba Anthony ceased praying and stood before the brethren. He pulled his own iPhone from within his robe and snapped it in half. “A house divided by itself cannot stand. Now, these starter Pokemon have become sin to you. Flee them three times.” The two monks departed Abba Anthony’s presence. When the starter Pokemon appeared on their phones, they fled three times as the Abba told them. The fourth time, a Pikachu appeared on their screens, and the brethren were amazed.

Amma Theodora had been in prayer for thirty nine days in her cell when a woman appeared with a child at her side. “My son is beset by demons, and I fear for his soul. What must I do to safeguard his salvation?” she asked. Amma Theodora said, “Tell me the manner of these demons.” The mother produced a phone and placed it within the Amma’s palm. She studied the phone and then said, “These are not demons but Ghost-type Pokemon. Your son should field some Dark-types, which are super effective against them. Also, you yourself must pray in solitude for forty days as our Lord did, for somehow you can’t tell the difference between cartoon characters and actual, legit demons.” With that, Amma Theodora knelt to pray, and then she floated away into the sky.

A band of robbers was guarding a Pokestop in a village near a cloister of brethren, preventing the people from refilling their stock of Pokeballs and potions. A pair of brethren traveled to the Pokestop and beseeched the robbers to leave, but the robbers beat them and took what food the monks had. The brothers sought out Abba Isidore, whom they found fishing a stream and putting both good fish and bad fish in a single basket. “Abba,” said one, “Why are you taking both the good fish and bad fish?” The Abba pulled his line from the water and said, “That which is holy and sweet draws what is fair and foul alike, and all belong to the Lord.” The brethren praised the Abba’s wisdom, and they returned returned to the Pokestop and activated a Lure Module. This attracted so many Pokemon the robbers could not keep up, and they let the people come reap the harvest as well. Shamed by the generosity of the brethren, many of the robbers gave themselves to the Lord and took cells in the desert.

Concerning which Team Gym to join, Abba Simeon told this to the brethren: “One of them is called Team Mystic. This should be a no-brainer, guys.”

Of Abba Macarius, Abba Peter had this to say: “One day Abba Macarius visited an anchorite who lived in a cave far outside of Alexandria. The anchorite was ill and could not walk. When asked what he required, the anchorite said, “I have the Word of the Lord as my bread, so I want for nothing.” When asked again, the anchorite said, “I have tasted the cup of the Lord’s salvation, and its sweetness gives me strength.” When asked a third time, the anchorite said, “Abba, you are an important man, and I cannot waste your time. Send me one of the brethren who can walk my Pokemon eggs until they hatch.” Abba Macarius took the anchorite’s phone and himself walked through the desert until the eggs hatched, even though they were legendaries and took like forever. So humble was Abba Macarius, he said nothing, but the anchorite spread the word of his deed.

Amma Theodora came upon a group of sisters who were washing their clothes in the river while boasting of their Pokemon collections. The first sister boasted that in her self-denial, she had only collected twenty Pokemon. The second sister boasted she had only collected ten. The third boasted that she had collected zero Pokemon, and was thus the most spiritual collector of them all. “I store my Pokeballs in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy them,” she cried. The sisters turned to Amma Theodora and asked how many Pokemon she had collected. “One hundred and fifty one, which is all of them,” said the Amma. The sisters fell silent, and Amma Theodora taught them this: “When asceticism becomes prideful, it becomes sin, and the spiritual person must then abstain from abstaining to safeguard their salvation.” With that, Amma Theodora knelt to pray, and then she floated away into the sky.

Two monks appeared before Abba Anthony as he prayed in his cell, asking whether it was best to evolve a low-level Pokemon or send it to Professor Willow for candy and pray a higher-level version would appear later. The Abba said, “What to the Scriptures say? ‘Anyone who loves his life will lose it.’ If you are afraid to send away your Pikachu, you are already dead inside, and evolving it to Raichu will mean nothing to you. Go to your cells and contemplate this.” The brethren were amazed by his wisdom, and they returned to their cells to do as Abba Anthony commanded.

Twenty of the brethren came to Simeon the Elder as he prayed atop a pillar. Each held a scroll of parchment. “Abba,” said one, “We have each written a hot-take on how Pokemon Go demonstrates what’s wrong with Christianity and/or the culture at large. Shall we read them to you?” Simeon the Elder regarded them, and then he said, “Yes, but first you must each kneel and pray to the Lord that your words will be true.” The brethren did as he commanded, and they all knelt and prayed. When they opened their eyes and looked at their scrolls, they were amazed! For the scrolls had turned into mirrors, and where they had written what was wrong with the world, there was only their own reflection. “Abba,” said one of the monks, “That’s a little on the nose, isn’t it?” Simeon the Elder shrugged and resumed praying.

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Chris Casberg

Chris Casberg

is a reader, writer, and husband all rolled into one fleshy package. He earned his B.A. in Global Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He spent five years on active duty in the US Marine Corps, where he served as a translator of Middle Eastern languages. Chris currently lives with his beautiful wife and their incorrigible dog in the high desert of rural Central Oregon, where the craft beer flows like the Nile in flood season and the wild deer stare through your window at night. He writes humorous fiction and the occasional curmudgeonly blog post at his website,

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