One of the questions I raised in the Retrospective on Allan Calhamer’s passing that Edi Birsan and I wrote for the current issue of Diplomacy World was “How could a man who was so quiet stir up such a frenzy among his fans?”
I’ve been thinking about that for several weeks as I thought about the man I’ve known for nearly fifty years and the game and hobby he created.
Perhaps I’ve been reading too many reports from Rome on the recent papal election but it occurred to me that there were some remarkable parallels between the origins of Christianity and the origins of Diplomacy. Hence the title of this Peerispective, “The Gospel According to Calhamer,” which in turn was based on Robert L. Short’s “The Gospel According to Peanuts.” Short’s book appeared in 1965, about the same time as the postal Diplomacy hobby began. Short’s book was a bestseller and sold over 10 million copies. Calhamer’s game sold mostly to efite, nerdy college kids and sold over 300,000 copies. Both were translated into many languages and published in many editions. However, I do not know if Allan was a religious man or if Henry Kissinger was a fan of Peanuts.
Still, the thought of Calhamer as a Messiah or a Christ-like figure does seem a bit of a stretch. But consider:
Christianity says the meek shall inherit the earth. While he was most certainly a meek man, Calhamer was content to inherit Europe. Just as there is no explanation for how Christ could stir up his followers, there is no explanation for how Calhamer could stir up his fans. Call it faith. Call it fate. But it happened.
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