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There is a lot of fuss this week about a blood-thirsty (i.e. killing-oriented) video game based on the “Left Behind” series. Tyndale publishers SHOULD be fussed at about this. I’m not sure gutsy old Bible-translator Tyndale would be delighted at what they are doing in his name.
But hey, at least they say it “does not gratuitously depict violence or death.” “Gratuitously” in this context presumably means that in a “game” about violence and death they did not put more violence and death in than would be necessary to make you feel that you are actually involved in dealing out violence and death. It probably also means that it’s just the IDEA of killing people for Jesus that they are promoting, not the actual blood and guts. They have to be gentle and moral here, and keep their “family values” focus.
And some argue that it doesn’t matter much what it depicts. After all, there will be fewer than 100,000 sold, far, far lower than the sales of the books themselves.
Well, we don’t approve of the books with their unBiblical theology and even lower moral level – why would we approve of making it visual and interactive and marketing it primarily to young people? Christian families shopping for “Christian” entertainment for their kids can now buy training in how it feels to kill unbelievers for Jesus. Ah the wonders of our advanced civilization. Ah the wonders of our corrupted Christian morality.
Here are three things about the whole idea of this game that really bother me. (Actually, four things. The fourth would be that it does not show the bloodshed. It’s apparently in the genre of those utterly dishonest unbloody promotions of self-righteous hate, persecution, and murder.)
I. Anything for a buck – how utterly unChristian.
It’s being sold for profit by a Bible publisher on a site produced by another major Christian publisher. Anything for a buck, right? How Christian is that?
II. Dominionist hate-talk, and self-righteous belligerence
It supports the hate talk and violence-orientation of the radical right of our day and gives venue to the hatred and brutality they encourage in the name of Christ. This is ultimate blasphemy.
III. When you train people, especially young people, in hate-filled self-righteousness, you get murder sooner rather than later
“Evil Communications Corrupt Good Behavior” (as the King James Bible said, more or less)
Hate-talk and violence-talk targeted at specific groups in society DO have a history of leading to at least bloodshed, and often to great sustained massacres. It’s not “just a game.” It’s incitement to religiously motivated murder. I thought that’s what we were fighting AGAINST!
I’ve written about that elsewhere. You CAN train a culture to hate and murder on flimsly ethnic or religious grounds even if it has not been a part of that culture’s recent history.
Am I promoting censorship by the government or by powerful religious entities? Well, self-censorship is a sign of maturity and moral health. I’m asking that those who claim to represent or promote the agenda of Jesus of Nazareth bring their activities under some rigorous self-criticism and self-control. Otherwise “they have their reward” – a few extra bucks and slightly increased positions of secular and temporary power. Some of us were under the impression that Jesus and his message were about much bigger and better things.
Here are some other sites with info:
A critical perspective: “Purpose-Driven Life Takers”, Jonathan Hutson’s commentary at Talk2Action
The publishers defend themselves: LeftBehind.com says this: “The game is designed to be a classic battle between good and evil, but does not gratuitously depict violence or death.” The bottom of the site says: “Site Design and Management: ChristianityToday.com Copyright Â© 2001-2006 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Left Behind is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.”