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Thursday, June 01, 2006
When did the apocolypse become a cool videogame?
Barry over at Inn of the Last Home has a long post about the forthcoming Left Behind: The Video-Game.

Here's a product description of the game from the Left Behind web site:

Wage a war of apocalyptic proportions in LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces - a real-time strategy game based upon the best-selling LEFT BEHIND book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Join the ultimate fight of Good against Evil, commanding Tribulation Forces or the Global Community Peacekeepers, and uncover the truth about the worldwide disappearances!

· Lead the Tribulation Force from the book series , including Rayford, Chloe, Buck and Bruce against Nicolae Carpathia – the AntiChrist.
· Conduct physical & spiritual warfare : using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world.
· Recover ancient scriptures and witness spectacular Angelic and Demonic activity as a direct consequence of your choices.
· Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City .
· Control more than 30 units types - from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!
· Enjoy a robust single player experience across dozens of New York City maps in Story Mode – fighting in China Town , SoHo , Uptown and more!
· Play multiplayer games as Tribulation Force or the AntiChrist's Global Community Peacekeepers with up to eight players via LAN or over the internet!

So, they're turning the end of the world into a video-game? At long last, my desire to exterminate all the heathens Duke Nukem 3-D style can finally be fulfilled! (That last part was sarcasm!)

Now I won't deny there's not a niche for Christian-based video games out there just waiting to be tapped. I'm just not quite sure games like this are the answer we're looking for. (And is it just me or does anyone else have visions of Tod and Rod Flanders playing this game?)

If we ask ourselves the question of "What would Jesus play?" I'm not quite sure this game would pass the test. Cause I've read my Bible and I've seen the Jesus in there and I really can't see him advocating a video-game where you extreminate all the "heathens." Kind of of goes against that whole love your neighbor thing he's so famous for...

But then again, I shouldn't be too shocked that type of narrow-minded zealotry comes from the Left Behind empire. As you can tell, I'm not a huge fan of the Left Behind novels. I've read two and a half of them and all I can say is--they're complete, utter purile garbage. Putting aside the theological arguments (If you want to read just a great critique of the books, check out Slactivist), the books themselves could serve as examples to every freshman literature class of how not to write. The novels are poorly written, have stitled dialogue and all have one-dimensional characters whose only function is to either be saved or damned based on which side they choose in the tribulation battle that is unfolding. And while some of the saved do have flaws or foibles, the books make it seem as if "getting saved" magically makes them an all around better person and life is a bed of roses. And don't even get me started on the close-mindedness that ensues on some characters once they get saved and their zealotry to save everyone in the exact same way they were....

What gets me most about these books is the whole us vs them mentality they have. It seems to miss the fundamental point that we're all sinners and it's only through God's grace that we can come into a relationship with Him. And that that Grace is extended to everyone, but it's something we have to choose. It fails to take into account the great commandment of love the Lord with all your heart, soul and might and love your neighbor as yourself. Or let say that it adds the disclaimer of love your neighbor as yourself, so long as they agree with you and go to the same church.

A friend once told me of the merit of the Left Behind series becuase she had loaned the first book to a (then) non-Christian friend. Apparently the story scared the this person enough to accept Christ as her savior. Sure, we've won a new disciple for Christ, but I have to wonder if scaring people to death with visions of hell and the tribulation is really the way to do it. I mean, if your motivation for having a relationship with Christ is to avoid the potential of being left behind or sent to hell, then what's to say the next person or movement promising you freedom from hell isn't gong to convince you to follow it? It's great that the story awoke something inside this person and she felt a deep yearning..but what I worry about is the next stages--the ones where the church as community has to help this person grow in their relationship with God so that it's not just--well, I'm not going to hell, so that's all good and into something more. Again, going back to Jesus, a seed planted in rocky soil will sprout, but when the sun comes out and beats down on it, it will soon wither and die. What we need to do is get that seed to fertile soil and make sure that the seed continues to be fed so it can grow and bloom.

But is the teaching of there is only one way to think and view the world really going to do that?

I read an article recently about someone who'd gone into a Christian bookstore and was alarmed by the overwhelming amount of radical, right-wing books that promoted an agneda of intolerance. The stores had a good representation of such pundits as Sean Hannity but where were the books from liberal Christian thinkers, Brent Bourgeois asked. The article included a list of some of the titles the Bourgeois found just browsing. If they weren't so scarily narrow-minded, they'd almost be funny.

And yet it's these same bookstore where these books will sit right alongside the Left Behind novels. And I'm assuming the Left Behind game will also be carried there as well, whenver it comes out.

It's from all of these things that I can see why those outside the church can get the impression that Christians are hypocrites or that we're close-minded zealots. Certainly, the whole overreaction to the DaVinci Code doesn't help, but then again, there's always something in the pop culture and media that some sect is overreacting to..

The issue I have with all of these things is, as I've said, they miss the fundamental point of what Christianity is really all about. I take seriously Jesus's charge to go out and make disciples of all nations and certainly it's something I don't always do as well as I should or would like to do. But what I do know is that it's a charge to convert others by love, peace and example rather than through violence, fear or hatred.

And in that point, I think these books and this game are entirely missing the boat of what it really means, deep down to fundamentally be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/01/2006 12:21:00 PM | |
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