A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Thursday, December 14, 2006

That Pesky #6

tc has a post up regarding a new video game being peddled by evangelical Christians where-in you can kill someone if they refuse to convert to Christianity. In the article the president of the company that makes the game, Jeffrey Frichner, states the ultimate goal of the game is "to bring parents and kids together to talk about the Bible." tc wonders if any of the Religious Right even read the Bible any more.

Hmm... interesting question.

Okay, let's look at the Beatitudes, which form the opening to Jesus' Sermon on
the Mount:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land. (Verse 4)
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. (Verse 10)
So, how do Evangelical Christians measure up? The first two are similar, and are generally interpreted to espouse humility and a recognition that we are all flawed and need divine grace to be saved. Hubris, self-righteous sanctimony, and inflexibility would all be no good then. Unfortunately, the game (and for that matter the books it is based on), seems pretty self-righteous and inflexible when you're only options are to convert or die.

#3 d/n really fit, though I suspect that there isn't a lot of mourning being done for those the "freedom fighters" have to kill. #4 could work, since you could say that justice is being done when you kill those who won't convert. Not quite sure that's what Christ had in mind, but you never know. #5 is a problem. Really not seeing a lot of mercy in the options of convert or die. #6 is ambiguous. #7 is right out. #8 could've worked, if say the game had allowed characters to matyr themselves when conversion didn't work, but that's not an option.

Overall, I'd have to say the game doesn't really get the spirit of the Beatitudes.

Okay, well how about I Corinthians 13: "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Yeah, not really seeing that.

Matthew 22:39, perhaps: "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'"


Okay, maybe it's a New Testament problem. Maybe the Evangelical Christian right is more old school, which is to say, more Old Testament. So, let's try out the 10 Commandments.

#1: No other gods before me (Well, killing non-believers seems a bit above and beyond, but certainly the game isn't putting anybody before God).
#2: No sculpted images or idols. (Haven't seen the game, but this seems okay)
#3: Do not use the Lord's name in vain. (See #2)
#4: Remember the Sabbath. (See #2)
#5: Honor your Father and Mother. (See #2)
#6: Thou shalt not kill. (Err... yeah, this could be a problem)
#7: Thou shalt not commit adultery (See #2)
#8: Thou shalt not steal (#2)
#9: Thou shalt not bear false witness (#2)
#10: Thou shalt not covet (#2)

Overall, not bad, but I do think that killing non-believers is really hard to jive with "Thou shalt not kill." Just seems to be... what's the phrase... completely and totally impossible to reconcile one with the other?

Anyway, I do wonder if many Christians even bother to read the Bible any more. Truly, and all snarky snidities aside, it doesn't seem like the Gospels, or even the writings of Paul, get looked at very often by many evangelicals.

Of course, it's just a video game. Plenty of those out there with much more graphic killing, maiming and otherwise objectionable in a "moral" sense. But then, Grand Theft Auto doesn't claim to be a Christian-themed game.


Over in tc's blog you wonder whether the Evangelicals are getting their smiting from the Old Testament. Now, granted, there's lots of crazy crap going on in the O.T. (perhaps a new prime-time soap?) but there's smiting going on in the new testament and, hello? The Crusades, anyone!
Don't forget "Justice is mine, saith the Lord"
The son of Jim and Tammy Faye (hmmm?) has an intersting op-ed over at CNN with a bit of the ol' punk attitude.... But he asks some good questions.

There's been a lot of smiting in Christianity's history, no question, and the Inquisition is pretty hard to reconcile with Christ's teachings, but there isn't much smiting in the New Testament. Not a lot of smiting in the Gospels in particular.

The thing with Christianity was that it had moved through its medieval period-- something Islam has not yet done, in large measure-- and stupid things like this video game tend to erase some of that progress. Killing the non-believer for not converting should have gone out with the end of the 16th century.
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