Christianity and culture

Religiofying video games

While Cracked is encouraging readers to “rationalise” games, the “Opposable Thumbs” blog is exploring the question of religious video games. There aren’t many – and none of them are good.

It’s odd really. There are Christian subsets of just about every other form of culture or entertainment. But the “Christian” video game landscape is a barren wasteland with the odd “Left Behind” game or a couple of terrible ports of popular games. I remember standing in Koorong one day as a kid playing the Noah’s Ark 3D game – a nasty rework of Wolfenstein where Noah ran around armed with a slingshot putting animals to sleep so he could bundle them onto the ark. Badness.

The Christian market is untapped – and we’ve seen (from the music industry) that we pay over the odds for bad quality just so that we can avoid engaging with the world around us.

Part of the problem, so far at least, is that the poor theology of Christians wanting to make games leads to bad games. Here’s a description of one from that article:

John E. Nelson’s Tribulation Knights seeks to put gamers in a stealth/adventure-based post-Apocalypse setting. Following a series of natural and economic disasters, a corrupt politician’s administration takes control of the globe and manages to convert most of the remaining population into a mindlessly-loyal legion. Some citizens, however, do not convert and find themselves without any rights in the new world society; accordingly, a group called the Knights rises up to protect these rebel citizens from the Gestapo-like Enforcers and gather enemy intel, all while staying hidden and avoiding armed conflict. “I wanted to create a game that had both an entertaining adventure but also hold true to the commandment of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'” Nelson explained to Ars. “It was important to do so, and it is not easy. You can defend yourself by stunning Enforcers, or thugs for a very brief time. The goal is the mission, and to avoid direct contact with the enemy as much as possible.”

Thou shalt not kill? What about a game based on Judges. That would be awesome. Assassins Creed: The Ehud Edition. Here’s a potential blurb.

Ehud the left handed rallies support from his fledgling Israelite nation to pay a visit to the fat and oppressive king – Eglon. Ehud fights off animals and marauders on the way to deliver his tribute to the king. He straps his short sword to his leg in order to deliver a message from God to all those who oppose Israel – and he must find a way to hide the body of an obese monarch before evading the clutches of his pursuers.

Yeah. I’d play that. Or what about Mega Church Tycoon – decide what staging and lighting to install in your multipurpose auditorium in order to lure the heathens from your chosen demographic.

Or “The Sins” your chance to sanctify a neighbourhood of sinful sims through the power of hospitality.

There is a Christian version of Guitar Hero out there somewhere – but what about HymnStar – the chance to belt out your favourite hymns, songs of praise, and Christian power ballads – you could have a special “Christmas Carols” edition slated for a December release.

Join me in producing these and we’ll be rich.

Benny’s perspective on ministry

I thought about what my first post should be. I thought and I thought. I was going to do one about tax policy, talking about the benefits of income taxation and its wealth redistribution properties.

I’ve decided to save that and instead make a post that will probably be somewhat controversial on this site but more in-line with the less-Christian alternative that goes unrepresented around here. a post inspired by Nathan’s impending career change. I guess what will be the first of many very alternative perspectives to what is usually on here.

When Nathan first told me that he was going to be a crusader, I probably didn’t give the most positive reaction. In fact I think I outright offended him. That was some fun days there. But I have decided to revisit the topic because it has some interesting points.

So, in the scheme of things, is it in society’s best interests for those with higher abilities to dedicate themselves to a life of religious promotion and services to the church community. Is it in Christianity’s best interests for those with higher abilities to be working in a church, or doing something else?

Is someone with high ability better serving the church in a church position, or better aspiring to a different position more in a non-religious field?

For example, let’s say a capable Christian became a commercial lawyer. They would earn a lot of money, and could then put his money towards training and then employing two ministers for various local churches. so, instead of one minister (who would require a source funding for their employment, and two unemployed guys that could be ministers if given the chance), you could have two slightly inferior church ministers (funded by the lawyer and who still provide adequate services), a competent Christian lawyer fighting the good fight, and the lawyer would probably still come out ahead financially. Further, the lawyer could fight the fight on other fronts.

Are the best and brightest required for positions in the ministry, or would the Christian community be equally served by adapting the roles to be filled more by the mediocre, with fewer high-ability personnel involved. It almost laps onto another topic Nathan has been talking about, in the use of technology in church, sermon recording, and possibly church planting (I am not sure what this is, I tune out generally to this one, I just thought I would throw it in). By more efficiently assigning human capital, and incorporating productivity improvements, the net benefit to Christianity could be huge.
Alternatively, there is the public representative path. The best and brightest Christians becoming parliamentarians isn’t a great outcome from my perspective. I am not Tony Abbott’s biggest fan. Another of Nathan and my pet arguments has been the role of public representatives in office, and their decision making processes. I am not a fan of super-Christian-values people rocking up to parliament and bringing Christian values to national legislation. The separation of church and state in Australia is rather unsubstantial in word but somewhat recognised in practice.

Further, I am of the strong opinion a distinction can be drawn between personal ideals and public policy. if a candidate was dripping in Christian ideals and champing to bring them to the world, I wouldn’t vote for them. However this topic deserves more than a sidenote, so it will be left for another day. Still, people who are part of church communities often have a good launching pad into more prominent positions. As a facilitator of networking and garnering community support, you probably can’t surpass a good church on a bright Sunday morning. For a person with notable abilities and a strong church community behind them, they could go far.

So, it all comes down to how the Christian community is best served by its best and brightest. Are the best and brightest compelled by their own kind to serve in theological positions? Is this situation resulting in Christians influence on societal policy being at a disadvantage?

However, turning for to the rest of the world’s views, how is this ideology affecting everyone else? The more theological pursuits are undertaken, the more negative impacts on other areas of human development, such through its impacts through the labour force. If the best and brightest are all urged to undertake theological pursuits, it will relegate more earthly positions, such as doctors, dentists, agricultural scientists etc to distant seconds. It will hamper technological and scientific advancement. So, is the Christian community doing enough to promote alternative pursuits outside of theological undertakings, which benefit the current world even if they do not focus on everyone’s salvation to the same extent? Or has the pursuit of theological pursuits taken preference to improving other areas of the world. In this way, is the Christian mindset having a negative impact on world advancement?

This further branches out into the issue, from the viewpoints of the less-Christian people, that all this time and effort expelled on a potential fairy tail being somewhat of a concern, and potentially these resources could be used better. With people suffering, not only is there a lack of aid in many situations, but actual opposing forces from religiously aligned organisations. As it was easier to jump up and down about environmental policy when the economy was going smoothly, it’s probably also much easier to jump up and down about salvation and living without sin when you are either privileged or in comfort with your situation. for the people suffering that don’t share the same religious philosophy, what is preached could almost seem to be pure selfishness.

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