In one of my favorite scenes in the original Star Trek episode, “A Piece of the Action”, Kirk convinces two hoods that the game of poker they are playing is for kids and that real men play “Fizbin”, a game he makes up as he goes long enough to confuse them enough to give them the typical sixties karate chop which will knock them out so they can get away.

It’s the imagery of Fizbin that I think about as people enter into civil discourse today, and it’s not nearly so funny.  Everyone is seated at the table and trying to “win” but they are playing with totally different types of cards and even “the rules” of the game seem fast and fluid.  Some may even be at the table trying to confuse the rules for their own purposes.

We have some folks at the proverbial table who believe the government is in a perpetual massive power grab trying to encroach on personal privacy and private business.  You have some folks at the table you believe that corporations are increasingly going after what is profitable and whether it is in the best interest of our nation or not is irrelevant to them.  You have some folks at the table who believe that we are using up resources with wild abandon and ecology and the environment needs to be our top concern.  You have some folks who believe that their group or their cause (whatever that is) is perpetually under attack and they need to defend it.  You have some folks who see the world either through the lens of one political party or another and they listen to their favorite commentators to find out what is important today.

In the church some folks try to perpetuate the church they have always known, some folks want to shake up and change everything, some folks see it as a social institution, and some folks see it as a place to learn, some folks see it as an independent voluntary association, and some folks see each church as part of a larger institution.  Some folks see church as central to their faith.  Some see it as peripheral.

So I return to the image of people sitting around playing cards but each of their hands of cards being different from the other and increasingly not agreeing on even how to play the game.

I believe it is time for us to enter into a time of “re-constitution”.   I think we need to stop “playing the game” long enough to stop and discuss what the rules are that we follow and why.  We need to understand why “the game” is in all of our interests overall.  I see this in our nation.  I see this in the church.  I see this even in families.

At some point, if we don’t come back together and agree on “how the game is played” we are going to stop playing it.  I see this happening within half a century if we don’t reverse the process.

So, let’s all take the time to enter into discussions about what it means to be an American, a (insert your political party), a (insert your faith group), a (insert your profession), and a (insert your family name) and how each of these sub-groups fits into the larger whole (and why that whole is important).

Let’s get back to playing the game we all agree upon (which will be a different game than our parents and great-grandparents played) instead of arguing over the rules and even making up rules as we go.

Just some food for thought on a Thursday,



One thought on “Fizbin

  1. Tom,
    What a great use of that scene from Star Trek (one of my favorites as well)! And it certainly rings true. Thanks for sharing this article. There is definitely room at the table to share in this food for thought.


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