Friday, June 19, 2015

No Man is an Island (Or, Humble Pie, with Love)

Earlier today, on Facebook, I wrote two frustration-tinged critiques of the NAACP and gun rights. Well, those didn't go over too well, but they prompted me to think and to think specifically on what's been irritating me in America that has led me to post such emotive, frustrated status updates rather frequently in the last few weeks and it's something that's seems rather innocent, but stands completely contrary to how I believe society should work.

I come from a culture that tends more to work for the benefit of the society as a whole. America is a lot more individualised in that respect. From my perspective, I don't tend to see people with the mindset that leads one to consider and contribute to another at one's own expense unless they're foreigners or have lived for a good while overseas. Rather, I tend to see individuals who stock up and bunker down in fear and mistrust over gun rights. I see individuals who would rather not help contribute to alleviate another's need, but instead call them a burden. I don't see people taking much time to invest in the poor and marginalised, to mentor and even sponsor those in need to help them leave poverty. To me, each of these is unthinkable. How people can live that way, I don't understand, but that's a difference of culture here as opposed to home.

Of course, I have my response to these issues. In my mind, what we need to do is to strengthen the bonds of community, to reach out and show ourselves trustworthy and allow ourselves to trust others. We need to push back fear and address our problem, seeking aid from those we have come to trust. Maybe then, I think, will the stigmas attached to being black end. Maybe then will the cycle of poverty lose its hold. Maybe then will rampant gun violence cease. We need to come from the bottom up instead of the top down. We need to engage, rather than shake fingers. That's what I think and, yes, it is affected by where I grew up.

In the end, though, I'm guilty. I'll admit it. I shake my fingers and sit back on my couch, feeling vindicated, but that helps nothing. I can try and "promote awareness" all day, but I'm just another voice in the mix with a prescription of how to fix America.

Ironically, this is spoken about in a Bible passage I've been reading over the last couple days:
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
That's a hard passage, but it's one I need to take to heart. I can say all the right things. I can prescribe very accurately what is needed in society today, but if I do so in a manner that is unloving, then I've done nothing. When has ranting ever brought about change? When has ranting ever brought salvation?

No, my first response should be love. Love should temper how I act and speak, not confusion or frustration, no matter how silly or pointless something may seem to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Christian Role-Player

Christians and role-playing games have a complicated history. From the early beginnings of table top gaming, Christians have been leery of and quick to denounce such games as evil.

While images such as the above are comical, they do exist and such is a very common thought. Ironically, what I find humorous is the fact that similar video games aren't spoken out against near to the same degree, but I digress.

Honestly, I can see where such fears arose. I have played and do pay my fair share of rpgs. AD&D, AD&D 2.0, D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, D&D 5.0. Yeah, I've played a few. There's magic, fictional gods, fictional demons, non-human races, and a whole lot more, and yet, I would argue that it's not inherently evil.

Now, don't get me wrong, you have the freedom to make an evil character, but that, as in video games like the Fable, or Elder Scrolls series, is all up to the player.

Okay, so, what about the magic? The bible speaks out against magic.

True, but I would say you must consider two factors. 1) Are you trying to cast said magic in real life? 2) In-game, what is the source of the magic? (why I personally will never play a warlock)

Well, what about the other gods? What if you want to play a cleric?

Well, yes, clerics tend to have a god they worship. Now, again, you have a few choices. You can choose not to play a cleric, find a way to incorporate God as an in-game deity, pick a deity with characteristics that follow along with God, or you can remember that this is pure fiction.

So, what then are your tips for Christian gamers?

I'm glad you asked.

  1. Consider the setting. Is your character good or evil? If playing with others, ate they good or evil? What about your source of magic or deity? Personally, I stick to good or neutral characters and parties.
  2. What type of content is present? If you're playing a table-top, ask the DM. If it's a video game, check the rating and find some good review sites that talk about the content.
  3. Is it edifying? If you find yourself being drained, addicted, or are otherwise experiencing some negative effect, then stop. If it's getting in the way of you and God, then stop.
So, that's it from me. In a nutshell, I would say that most games are not evil. While certain ones may be (GTA, for example), majority leave it up to the player. 

As a Christian, though, if you're playing a game in an evil manner, we should definitely do some talking, as often times individuals allow themselves to be freer and expose the state of their hearts.