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ADVENT /ad'vent/ n.

The prototypical computer adventure game, first designed by Will Crowther on the PDP-10 in the mid-1970s as an attempt at computer-refereed fantasy gaming, and expanded into a puzzle-oriented game by Don Woods at Stanford in 1976. (Woods had been one of the authors of INTERCAL.) Now better known as Adventure or Colossal Cave Adventure, but the TOPS-10 operating system permitted only six-letter filenames. See also vadding, Zork, and Infocom.

Figure 1. Screen shot of the original ADVENT game

Orange River Chamber
You are in a splendid chamber thirty feet high. The walls are frozen rivers of
orange stone. An awkward canyon and a good passage exit from east and west
sidesof the chamber.

A cheerful little bird is sitting here singing.

>drop rod

>take bird
You catch the bird in the wicker cage.

>take rod

At Top of Small Pit
At your feet is a small pit breathing traces of white mist. A west passage ends
here except for a small crack leading on. 

Rough stone steps lead down the pit.

In Hall of Mists
You are at one end of a vast hall stretching forward out of sight to the west.
There are openings to either side. Nearby, a wide stone staircase leads
downward. The hall is filled with wisps of white mist swaying to and fro almost
as if alive. A cold wind blows up the staircase. There is a passage at the top
of a dome behind you.

Rough stone steps lead up the dome.

This game defined the terse, dryly humorous style since expected in text adventure games, and popularized several tag lines that have become fixtures of hacker-speak: "A huge green fierce snake bars the way!" "I see no X here" (for some noun X). "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike." "You are in a little maze of twisty passages, all different." The `magic words' xyzzy and plugh also derive from this game.

Crowther, by the way, participated in the exploration of the Mammoth & Flint Ridge cave system; it actually has a `Colossal Cave' and a `Bedquilt' as in the game, and the `Y2' that also turns up is cavers' jargon for a map reference to a secondary entrance.

ADVENT sources are available for FTP at You can also play it as a Java applet []. There is a good page of resources at the Colossal Cave Adventure page [].

--The Jargon File version 4.4.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk, updated by Apatrix.

The beginning of the Christian liturgical year, Advent consists of the four Sundays before Christmas. The color of the Advent season is purple, and many churches and households light the candles of an Advent wreath each Sunday, and some decorate a Jesse Tree.

Advent begins in darkness, says Fleming Rutledge in her book The Bible and the New York Times. Through the Bible passages we read during this season we live in two times at once: the time before the light of Christ has come into the world through the event at Bethlehem, and also in the present day, where we look for His return.

In both eras we find the same anguished question: Where is God? We look at the suffering, the injustice, the violence and death that fill our lives and we wonder if God is even paying attention. When, if ever, will it end? Does He plan to do anything to help us, or is grief and loss all we have to look forward to till we go to our graves and become dust?

I have on my desk a handout from my church with the readings from the third Sunday in Advent on it. The collect begins, Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come upon us. The first reading is from Isaiah: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

The Psalmist sings of the God ...who gives justice to the oppressed, and food to those who hunger. The apostle James counsels his flock, The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

And then there is the reading from the Gospel of Matthew, in which John the Baptist, in chains and soon to be executed, sends his disciples to ask Jesus a question: Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another? This passage always makes my heart ache. All the countless years of human suffering lie behind John's plea. At times when God seems silent when we need Him most, and impossibly far away, we almost dare not hope that the answer might be yes.

"Go and tell John what you hear and see," Jesus answers them. "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them."

God hears, and He responds. We yearn for His coming, and although we are in darkness, we see there is a light up ahead. Whether it's near or far away we cannot tell; but there is a light.

The Christmas season in terms of North America begins the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, and ends on Christmas Day which most people observe on December 25.

The liturgical season (and several traditions divide the year up into these) at that time is Advent, which starts December 3 (in some variants of the Anglican Communion) and ends December 24. Christmastide follows, from December 25 to January 6. So what many of us think of as the Christmas season is actually Advent.

The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other similar western countries mark the occasion with something referred to as an Advent Calendar, which is a card or box with openable windows, numbered 1 to 25 which correspond to December 1st through the 25th inclusive. The front of the calendar has a Christmas scene printed on it, with a small image and/or chocolate behind each "window". The largest and most grandiose is the one behind window 25. Modern takes on the advent calendar have small bottles of liquor, or cheese. The gist though is that you can count down to Christmas Day by enjoying a morning chocolate and taking a moment to remember that we're in Advent.

Another tradition, one more associated with churches, is to make a wreath, weaving prayers into the foliage as the wreath comes together. This is a traditional church activity, though many people simply purchase a plastic one and re-use it year after year.

Advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning "arrival". From a liturgical perspective the readings start to lead towards preparing for Christmas. The appropriate color for robes and altar runners and suchlike is violet, or purple. This represents penitence. As such the theme of the season is re-evaluating one's life, taking an inventory of sins and that which makes one stumble, and moving towards a holier and more productive spiritual life. For this (and honestly, for practical reasons) the church traditionally does not engage in joyful celebrations at this time - weddings and parties are eschewed. But this does not stop people from cooking food and sharing it with others, and trying to build community. Though it is a sober time, it does point towards the coming of Christ.

Devotionals are often published around Advent with a view of helping the faithful to pray and engage in certain spiritual disciplines as part of the spirit of the season. One focus of such prayer activities (some people do this without the prayer) is to light an Advent candle - anything from as simple as a plain white candle to any of a number of colors, marked off with numbers so that it burns down in equal amounts on the 25 days. There is something simple, and beautiful, about lighting a candle. Catholics, Episcopalians and High Anglicans make it a prayer focus to light a tea-candle in a holder within a church - bringing this simple and powerful meditative act home for many brings church into the home.

There's been an objection to Christmas - if you read the Gospel account carefully, you learn that shepherds were watching their flock by night outside, which is something that just was not done in winter Before Common Era, especially the dead of winter. Jesus was probably born in the spring or summer. But lacking a birth certificate the early church made a conscious decision to mark the period before the darkest and coldest time of the year leading to a day in which the season pulls away from the darkest and coldest day of the year in terms of Christ's birth. Lacking a physical date, they chose one that made sense theologically - thanking God for light and renewal at a time when the planet starts to tilt back towards the light and warmth.

I will leave you with a meditation suggested for the first week of Advent - to start thinking about what your longing is in terms of reconnection with the divine.

Come, Lord Jesus!  Come and visit your people. 
We await your coming.  Come, O Lord.


Ad`vent (#), n. [L. adventus, fr. advenire, adventum: cf. F. avent. See Advene.]

1. Eccl.

The period including the four Sundays before Christmas.

Advent Sunday Eccl., the first Sunday in the season of Advent, being always the nearest Sunday to the feast of St. Andrew (Now. 30).



The first or the expected second coming of Christ.


Coming; any important arrival; approach.

Death's dreadful advent. Young.

Expecting still his advent home. Tennyson.


© Webster 1913.

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