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Onward, Christian Geeks 671

Posted by JonKatz
from the Spiritual-Warfare-Breaks-Out dept.
Last week "The War In Heaven," the world's first Christian action game, went on sale, opening a whole new chapter in the never-ending struggle between technology and the self-proclaimed forces of morality.

The arrival of the first Christian computer action game opens a whole new chapter in the never-ending struggle between technology and the self-proclaimed forces of morality.

In the post-Columbine era, when computer games, the Net and other elements of geek culture are being blamed for murder, nothing that used to make sense makes sense anymore.

The new idea seems to be that while opponents can condemn TV, movies and the Net for causing violence, violence can also be used to promote wholesomeness and spirituality. It's a confusing time to be a moral guardian.

Shipped to computer stores this week, "The War In Heaven" is Doom Meets the Bible. "It may sicken traditional gamers, but my gut feel is that this game will be a hit," said Ann Stephens, president of PC Data, Inc., a research firm that tracks the $1.5 billion-a-year PC market, predicted to the New York Times.

Until "The War In Heaven," software with overtly religious themes has tended to be staid and educational, like children's games that quiz players on their scriptural acumen. There is, for example, the big-budget, Christian audience-marketed "Charlton Heston's Voyage Through the Bible," a CD-Rom released in l995 with readings by Heston (now president of the National Rifle Association) and video clips of the Holy Land.

"The War In Heaven" is a different story. Players are confronted with hissing horned monsters wielding swords and other weapons. Not surprisingly, the Christian player has two choices. He can follow "The Divine Path of Obedience," become an angel and progress up the 12-level ascent to Heaven. Or he can opt for "The Fallen Path of Power," follow Lucifer, become a demon and war against blonde angels with silvery wings.

One might assume that a Christian game would forego violence, but gamers who have e-mailed me (I haven't seen the game myself) say that would be a mistake. There's mayhem and killing, but no splattering of blood or scattering of body parts. It's rated "T" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board -- suitable for those 13 and older. Maybe they should add an "H" rating for holy.

The game's designers -- Theodore Beale and Andrew Lunstad, co- founders of the software firm Eternal Warriors -- say they're trying to reach a broad audience of gamers reared on Doom, Unreal, Quake and Diablo. The idea seems to be that if there's any group in need of soul-saving, this is probably it.

God called him to design "The Wars In Heaven," Lundstad has told reporters, adding "Let's face it, when you have angels fighting demons, it is going to be controversial." The violence, its creators claim, is merely a role-playing depiction of "spiritual warfare," the notion that non-physical agents of good and evil (which might well include TV, movies, the Net, animation and recorded music) are constantly at war and that their behavior affects people on earth.

If a person chooses to play "The War In Heaven" as a demon, explains Lundstad, he progresses by disobeying the Bible. "You have to do things that are more and more distasteful, from blasphemy to striking a praying angel," he explained in an interview. Not surprisingly, the evil path leads to destruction.

I've personally never been fortunate enough to get a direct communication from God, though perhaps that's because he doesn't yet use e-mail. But without question, many geeks are already on the wrong path, loving stuff like "South Park" and "The Simpsons" as they do, Satan's productions all. (He was even in the last "South Park" movie.) They might actually revel in blasphemy and angel-bashing.

Technology, from film to TV to the Web, is often blamed for triggering spiritual failings and degradations. But the theological notion of spiritual warfare put technology and contemporary culture smack in the middle of an epic conflict, choosing between the pathway to God or the interstate to the other place.

Religion and freedom have never really gotten along, from the persecution of Galileo to the demands by Orthodox Jews that Jerusalem shut down its cinemas on Friday night to Islamic attacks on writers and reporters in some Middle Eastern countries. Technology, a disseminator of so much information, a force for freedom, has always come under fire as Satan's ally.

"The War in Heaven" turns this on its head. The new spirituality seems to work this way: if you obsessively kill characters on Diablo or Quake, you're an evil, perhaps even murderous geek who might one day turn on your neighbors and classmates. But if you slaughter demons en route to heaven, you are merely acting out the will of God.

Finally, the online devout can rationalize some of the many contradictions that arise when they blame pop culture and the digital age for violence among the young, which otherwise makes no sense at all.

American notions about violence, culture, technology and the young have been surreal for decades, in that they are hardly ever connected to truth or reality. Violence among the young has been plunging at the very same time parents, politicians, journalists and educators are up in arms about it.

Last week, the Justice Department announced that, for the first time in half a century, more people are using guns to kill themselves than to kill others.

This week, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that American teenagers' fears of and immediate experience with violence have diminished sharply in recent years, along with the crime rate. Teen-agers reported fewer problems with violence at school and in the streets and correspondingly fewer worries; the percentage who said they feared being victimized dropped from 40 per cent in l994.

There's never been any substantive evidence to support the idea that TV shows, movies or computers have been a factor in the recent series of shootings -- statistically rare but horrific nonetheless -- in American schools.

Nevertheless, journalists and politicians continue to link the killings with technology and pop culture, managing in the process to persuade a majority of the American public that movies and computer gaming are responsible for a worsening tide of violence among the corrupted young.

Such ideas seem more related to the Inquisition than to one of the world's most technologically advanced societies, but there they are.

Perhaps games like "The War In Heaven" suggest some looming confrontation, an Armageddon-like battle out there in the digital ether for the collective souls of geeks. It's one battle geeks are well prepared to fight. They'll grab their joysticks, deploy their amassed arsenals and rush out to meet the Millenial Crusaders. Geeks have been trained for this thier whole lives; the forces of righteousness will surely be blasted to bits.

The bad news is that if "The War In Heaven" sells, expect a slew of Christian (and soon, no doubt, Jewish and Muslim) save-the-soul games marketed by greedy Web entrepeneurs who want to appear wholesome while raking in big money. Sunday school might be in for some radical change.

The good news is that ultimately such developments will drive software censors and moral guardians nuts. CyberNanny, unable to distinguish between spiritual and secular slaughter of demons and digital blondes with wings, will soon be blocking God along with the Playboy website. The new boundaries of spiritual warfare are so fuzzy that it will no longer be possible to even pretend to be able to distinguish the allegedly good guys from the reputedly bad.

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Onward, Christian Geeks

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know which side I'd play. God mode as a demon - that I could live with :-D
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As someone who isn't Christian, it worries me that more Christians don't point out how whacked the radical right is.

    (BTW, I am a Republican. And yes, I'm angry.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sorry, but this has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christianity. Pull out your Bible, blow off the dust and read it. This game may be under the 'guise' of Christianity, but I don't see how this is any more christian than Doom or Quake is evil. -Christopher Fury
  • by Anonymous Coward
    but Christians _are_ capable of independent thought

    That is a contradiction. Perhaps they are capable of independant though, but Christian religion itself discourages independant thought. Christianity tells one what to think, what to do, even what to love.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 1999 @05:57AM (#1589596)
    Will it run on Jesux??
  • If you don't proclaim yourself moral, who else will do it for you?

    Why, the arbiters of morality in the media, like Jon Katz, for instance.

    (Jon: you need to relax, seriously.)

    I'd rather have my children work on their Latin or a Perl script than play a video game, but if they're going to play a game, I'd rather it be one where they have the choice to play as an angel than one where they are limited to playing as some entity who can kill, maim and destroy without reason or consequence.

    Old fashioned? Maybe, but aren't we supposed to teach our children that their actions have consequences and that we should strive to be "the good guys" in this life?

    Our opinions of the software developers' evangelical bent (I only mention it because Mr. Katz seem to have a problem with it) aside, we should be happy that someone is trying to offer a choice. Isn't that what the OSS community is supposed to be about--choice?

  • Hitler persecuted the Jewish religion, not just people of Semitic descent. Sure, most Jews are of a particular race of the Semitic family (to which, ironically, Arabs also belong), but there are also black Jews, arab Jews, asian Jews, and assorted other converts. Hitler was not particularly nice to those Jews either. Despite their not being from a "bad" race, they still belonged to the religion Hitler was persecuting.
  • But Christianity in general is pretty homogenous.

    What?!? Did you really just say that?

    Roman Catholics, Unitarians, Pentecostals, Mormons, Coptics, Presbyterians and Anglicans are pretty homogenous?

    Apart from the common belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior, I see quite a bit of heterogeny.

    --
    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org]

  • by jd (1658)
    I'm sorry, but this game sounds seriously sick. I doubt it's written by any pro-Christian group, it sounds more like the sort of thing that some bozo came up with after a bender (or three), wanting to cash in on either recent media attention (such as Columbine) or (understandable) mistrust and dislike of religion.

    I don't care if people are pro, anti or purple. As far as I'm concerned, I don't fund hype-masters. Their bank balance is their problem, not mine.

    I'm not against games with religious aspects. I have a great time with the Populous series, and Omega (an excellent Nethack variant) is hardly agnostic. Nor am I anti-religion - sometimes faith is a powerful tool. But like any tool, it's meant to be used safely, not lodged in someone else's skull. Nor am I into censorship - what you read, write or do is your business. But I cannot see any good coming from a game that is inflamatory, especially when we're reaching a point in time when religion is likely to be on the explosive side. You're entitled to toss lit matches into barrels of gunpowder, just don't blame the gunpowder if things get noisy.

  • AFAICT, the trick is to stop proclaiming and start practicing. Keep the labels on the jam jars and in the code, and out of people's lives. (I admit getting that mixed up, once. I never did get the blackberry stains out of the GOTOs.)

    As far as Christianity is concerned, no Christian has any business defining who they, OR ANYONE ELSE is. No-one died and made them God.

    ObOnTopicNote: Games like this really bother me. Not because of the gore, or the violence, or the utterly pathetic rating, but because it's so very clearly designed to cash in on religious intolerence, media hype, and doomsday fervour.

    What do you bet that the designers'll hardly have to pay a cent to publicise the game? Why should they? The press and the pulpits'll do all that for them, for FREE! The designers might even get paid for some of it!

    The media "backlash" will boost this game up the charts faster than a V2 rocket with go-faster stripes, and it doesn't take a genius to realise that the designers & publishers are banking on that. The righteous indignation of others'll make them a fortune. If it treads on people's feelings, who gives a damn! They'll be rich, and by the time anyone realises they've been taken for a ride, probably long-gone.

    This game isn't about promoting anything, or teaching anything, except how gullible the entire planet is to a bunch of very skillful manipulators and PR wizards. You want to make someone else rich, directly or indirectly, go ahead and spew your anger or pay your hard-earned cash. I'll stick to games that don't need to spark off a flash-point to be any good.

  • What? You mean... ...hobbits don't exist? Awww! You -do- dissapoint me. On the other hand, I haven't really heard of angels going round with BFG's, either. This is just as made-up as the rest, as far as I can tell. (If you want to point out where, in the Bible, angels got points for fragging demons, I'll gladly take that back.)

    I don't believe any of the designers "view" the game as being based on the truth. I =DO= believe that they'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

    That's not to say that I don't respect other people's beliefs. People's beliefs are very important, and deserve to be respected. It's just that I think it's more likely the designer's beliefs are based more around green pieces of paper than the hereafter.

  • And what if someone came into an Athiests Anonymous meeting (or whatever) and stated that God created man?

    As Yoda said..No Different! Only different in your mind! You must unlearn what you have learned!

    Daniel
    (ech, I think it's too late at night for this)
  • I'd rather it be one where they have the choice to play as an angel than one where they are limited to playing as some entity who can kill, maim and destroy without reason or consequence.

    Yep, in this game they can kill, maim and destroy without reason or consequence, as an angel. Playing an angel makes all the difference in the world, it really does.

    It looks like they got a customer. Good for them.

  • I've visited the "War in Heaven" website, more out of curiousity than anything else. Apparently the game's author wrote this game more out of a desire to promote his own theological theories than anything else.

    Most Christians I know don't believe in this "War in Heaven" (heresy), and disdain the hyper-athletic (muscular?) Christianity from which it comes.

    Is the War in Heaven purely limited to the spiritual realm? There are those who believe that eventually, such a war will be fought on Earth. Unfortunatly for the rest of, a battle between pure good and pure evil (or, most likely, two or three warring factions who believe themselves to be "good" and their enemies to be "evil") will quite possibly lead to atrocities.

    Quite possibly, this why most christian sects have dicarded the "war in heaven" concept.
    As for your comments on Gangis (sic) Kahn (sic), Napolean (sic), and Hitler:

    Christianity has nothing to do with concepts of personal freedom. There are sects that correspond to an individual's desire for freedom, and sects that cater to individual's desire for conformity.

    I really don't know much about the Great Khanate, so I cannot comment on whether Genghis's conquest was motivated by theology.

    As for Hitler:
    The Judenfragen was well established in the Germany's political literature. Certainly Hitler was not the only anti-semite in Germany, nor was he the first. In large part, anti-semitic tendencies within the German staes was motivated by religion. Both Martin Luther and the Catholic Church preached that the Jews, (and presumably, not the Romans) were responsible for Jesus's death. Thus the Jugenfragen- lit. "Jewish Question," which was based of the supposition tht Jews were not Germans (and vice versa).

    Two: Hitler was motivated by the concept of the "Ubermensch," or Superman. In the Nazi interpretation, Superman transcends ordinary morality, and is free of the constraints of ordinary society. Thus free of moral constraints, work on the Final solution could begin. If mass murder is not wrong, then mass murder is possible.
  • I am Christian, and I find the 10 Commandments in school and school sponsored prayer inappropriate. Which just proves that Christians are not nearly so homogenous a group as you would claim. FTR, the inquisition is a straw man: the popular myth is way ahead of what actually happened. The Salem Witch trials were not nearly so bad as the European witch trials that went on for centuries: blame them instead. The murders of abortion doctors are irrelevant: we're talking 2 murders? C'mon, you can do better than that. Let's try: Christian cooperation with the Nazi's. Yeap. It happened, all over the place. But there was a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer who spoke up. He is probably one of the top ten Christian writers of this century. The crusades. Read up. The aforementioned witch trials in europe for centuries. The persecution of the Albigensian (spelling? Name? It's been a while) heresy in the 14th century. At the end of all that (and worse) I'm still a Christian. Why? Because Christianity does not require that I check my brain at the door. It doesn't require that I follow some structural church to the edge of insanity. It doesn't require that I kill, maim, or anything else. What does it require? That I love my fellow Christians and God. That I forgive people who sin against me. That I give freely to people in need (but it does not require that I become impoverished). Maybe I'm not a Christian? Maybe, maybe I'm just a poor sinner following God through Christ and the leading of the Holy spirit to my salvation every day. A "christ-follower". Have a groovy day.
  • I am Christian, and I find the 10 Commandments in school and school sponsored prayer inappropriate. Which just proves that Christians are not nearly so homogenous a group as you would claim.

    FTR, the inquisition is a straw man: the popular myth is way ahead of what actually happened. The Salem Witch trials were not nearly so bad as the European witch trials that went on for centuries: blame them instead. The murders of abortion doctors are irrelevant: we're talking 2 murders? C'mon, you can do better than that. Let's try:

    • Christian cooperation with the Nazi's. Yeap. It happened, all over the place. But there was a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer who spoke up. He is probably one of the top ten Christian writers of this century.
    • The crusades. Read up.
    • The aforementioned witch trials in europe for centuries.
    • The persecution of the Albigensian (spelling? Name? It's been a while) heresy in the 14th century.
    At the end of all that (and worse) I'm still a Christian. Why? Because Christianity does not require that I check my brain at the door. It doesn't require that I follow some structural church to the edge of insanity. It doesn't require that I kill, maim, or anything else.

    What does it require? That I love my fellow Christians and God. That I forgive people who sin against me. That I give freely to people in need (but it does not require that I become impoverished).

    Maybe I'm not a Christian? Maybe, maybe I'm just a poor sinner following God through Christ and the leading of the Holy spirit to my salvation every day. A "christ-follower".

    Have a groovy day.

  • Okay... I spoke casually. As usual, /.'ers will jump on any slight mistake. There is a special call for Christians to love each other, that is documented in a number of places in scripture. In large part, this is advocated


    However, we are still called to love non-Christians. The thing is that charity starts in your own back yard: if I can't love my fellow Christians, then how can I love people who are not Christians? And what is the chance that someone who has rejected God's love will accept love from me as one of God's followers? As any teenager with a crush nows, love has to be accepted to have any vitality.


    Salaam.


  • Non-Christians don't make laws that restrict Christian freedom.

    No. They just run into our churches, scream "This religious is bull!" and start shooting.
  • As a Christian, I feel obligated to speak up here. First, I would like to state that all Christians are not right wing, rifle carrying, bible bashing, violence hating, morons, as Jon Katz seems to feel.

    Personally, I enjoyed Katz's articles on Columbine, and appreciate his point that geeks can sometimes be singled out as "different" and therefore worse. Violent video games were not the problem!

    But, now all I see from Katz is hypocracy. He singles out and generalizes an entire community of Christians as the ones that stand out against violent video games, and other such products. This, overwhelmingly, is not true. Katz is doing exactly what he condemns in his pieces on Columbine and pointing a finger of guilt at a group of people that he simply does not understand. This saddens me, and proves that Christians on a whole get a bad reputation when a small portion of the population abuses the Bible. To me, this entire article seems very Christian-phobic. Calling the entire Christian community "video game haters" or anything that you describe in the article is the same as writing off geeks that play quake as possible murderers, just like you condemn in your own article!

    Honestly Katz, you really need to hang out with a few Christians and realize that there are many well educated Christians that have thought out their beliefs rationally and scientifically.

    Now, on the subject of the game discussed in this article, I am all for it. I enjoy a good game of quake every once and a while, and I would also enjoy a game like this. To me, its just another action game, but this time its based upon Biblical stories (which I happen to believe are true), instead of a fictional story created by the game designers.

    In conclusion, this entire article made me very sad that Jon Katz can have such a good grasp on some things, and then totally contradict himself and have no grip on another important topic.

  • Sorry, but Judaism is a religion, not an ethnicity. Although it's not particularly common, people can convert and become Jews, and people who are already Jews can change their religion (depending on what they're changing it to, of course...)

    Now there are several ethnic groups that have come about b/c of Judiasm, but that's not the same thing. The two big groups, Ashkenazi and Sephardi are mostly the result of a lack of interfaith marriages and conversions. But the two groups aren't anything all that special really, and I doubt that you could tell them apart from people of any religion who's ancestry is from the same parts of the world.

    Remember, there are semitic Jews, black Jews from Ethiopia, some from India, all over really. Because it's a religion, and pretty much anyone's allowed in if they want.

    (why, next you'll be dissing Sammy Davis Jr ;)
  • Perhaps, but I wouldn't equate Hebrew with Jew. A Hebrew would be a descendant of Abraham, but that would include a good number of Jews, Muslims and Christians (and probably more besides) but not all of them. I'm not a Cohen or a Levi, so I don't have any real reason to think that I had ancestors from the Middle East. My ancestors were just as likely pagan converts in what's now Russia. Even odds.

    The same goes for the Semite ethnicity. That's a catch-all for pretty much anyone from the Middle East, or nearby. It includes the Jews that never left in the first place, but not most of the ones that did. Does include a hell of a lot of Muslims though.

    Tacking in a few responses to GregWebb in post #392 [slashdot.org]:
    Having a Jewish mother doesn't make you Jewish. What if a boy wasn't circumcised? Big stumbling block right there. And there are various other ways in which a kid with Jewish parents isn't necessarily Jewish. Usually depends on how closely you adhere to the Talmud. (which is not really something I'm a big fan of)

    What you're seeing here is just that most children inherit the religion of their parents. But your argument is pretty weird. "All Jews are descended from Abraham, except the ones that aren't." Well, yes. That's a pretty safe assumption, but doesn't prove much. I for one, don't claim to be descended from Abraham, and conversions to Judiasm used to be a lot more common back before the advent of Christianity and Islam, which held more appeal for J Random Pagan.

    But as for Hitler, yeah I'll agree that he was trying to eradicate the Jewish race. But then, he was also trying to fight on two fronts, and one of those was on land, against Russia. Clearly the man was not running on all cylinders.

    Ultimately, my feeling on referring to someone as a Jew, is that that's appropriate in a religious context, and then usually with the particular sect, as we don't all get along that well. For general ethnicity, it's probably safer to guess, ask, or just refer to them by their nationality (or something) like you would for people who are also whatever your default religion is. Names are also good.

  • People talk as if an action taken by a single Christian is representitive of all Christians.

    This might be less likely to happen if certain groups didn't appear to use the term "Christian" to mean "conforming to our entire belief system", e.g. this "Christian, Family Oriented ISP" [wealth1.com], who emphasises that they "are dedicated to protecting our families from pornographic and foul language websites on the Internet" (admittedly, I'm a nonbeliever, but I didn't have the impression that Jesus spent much energy worrying about pornography and foul language).

    Perhaps if that particular type of Christian didn't try to divide the world into "Christians" who think as they do and, presumably, "non-Christians" who don't, it might be a bit easier to see Christians as the diverse sort they are, rather than identifying Christianity with fundamentalism. (I also think people who aren't that particular type of Christian should make an effort not to view all of Christianity as being no more than fundamentalism - and should do the same for other religions, e.g. Islam.)

  • Speaking as a believer (and a geek, and a recovering DOOMaholic), I believe I can confidently say that God has no interest in winning the attention of gamers through crap like this.

    I don't see anywhere in the Bible where we (as believers) are ordered to rip off the secular media, poorly, in the attempt to win back segments of society. How in the world does a game like this make my relationship with God any better? For that matter, how does 95 percent of Christian rock/rap/what-have-you? Or Christian romance novels (yes, they're out there)?

    The fact is, most of the churchgoing Christian world thinks that they're supposed to be fighting "the world" on the world's turf, constantly playing catch-up. All most people (me included) have gotten out of this ridiculous one-sided conflict is the message, "Christian media sucks." And it does, for the most part.

    I've got news for believers. The Lord wants us to work on our own relationships with Him, not stoop to playing this attention-game. We can't win at this, and do we even want to? Quake isn't the cause of society's ills. This effort was misguided from the beginning.

    On behalf of intelligent believers everywhere, I would like to apologize to gamers, geeks, etc., for some of our wackoes. Every movement has them.
  • by brennanw (5761) on Monday October 25, 1999 @07:09AM (#1589665) Homepage Journal
    John Katz, like many strong-opinioned people, has fallen into a classic and STUPID trap, and for some reason it always really pisses me off.

    Katz' column can be distilled into the following statement:

    "Christians condemn video games as violence, but they've put out a Christian-themed violent video game that they say is ok because it's only killing 'bad people.' This is hypocritical but they don't see it and it's really funny."

    What Katz ignores, ignores, IGNORES is the fallacy that is implied by the above statement. The fallacy is as follows:

    "All Christians have exactly the same views, and all those views are terribly narrow-minded."

    This statement is so laughably untrue that I don't even know where to begin.

    Katz, where do you get this view? Do you really think there are no Christians who enjoy a good game of Doom? Do you really think there are no Christians who think that the idea of a link between video games and violence is, to put it bluntly, just plain STUPID?

    Perhaps he's not aware of the strong (but unknown) anti-athoritarian movement in various branches of Christianity? Of course he is. And why is that? Because Katz, like many people, has fallen victim to the same source of information he whined about during the wake of the Columbine massacre:

    The press.

    The press, which has proven itself to be nothing more than a ratings seeking sensationalist group anyway. The press, which immediately following the Columbine massacre branded all internet geeks as bomb wielding withdrawn psychopaths, which branded goth's (of all people) as bloodthirsty ticking time bombs ready to take out a High School because they wear black trenchcoats and sometimes listen to German Industrial Bands and Marilyn Manson.

    Yes, this press ALSO tends to focus only on the right-wing, conservative Christian Movement. And do you really think they do so for ANY OTHER REASON than the fact that the Right-Wing Christian Movement equals RATINGS?

    So do you think, perhaps, that the entire sum of Christianity just MIGHT NOT be represented in a balanced manner on the news?

    OF COURSE NOT. Just like any ideology, only the "exciting" part is reported in the Top Stories. Christians who leave people alone and volunteer in the community and do nice things for people are BORING and get IGNORED. Christians who like to play video games and believe in Free Speech and think of Women as Equals, rather than Objects, are BORING and get IGNORED.

    So when a bunch of Christians come out with a violent computer game with a Christian theme, Katz cannot CONCEIVE of a group of Christians who wouldn't have a problem with that. Obviously, it's the same right-wing group that hates women and blame everything on the homosexual community and believe Clinton is the AntiChrist and the Internet is Satan's Tool.

    Of course, Katz is also very pithy when he states that "religion and freedom don't get along."

    Here's a clue: When religion is used as a method of SOCIAL CONTROL, it doesn't get along with ANYTHING. But anyone who has any kind of religious faith -- regardless of what it is, Christian, Judaism, Moslem, Buddhist, whatever -- will tell you that if it's being used as a form of social control, it ceases to be a religion.

    Have you ever read Tosltoy? He's a Christian _Anarchist_. Do you admire Dr. Martin Luther King? He was a Minister, you know. He didn't leave the faith to start a civil rights movement. (Oh, and he even got on TV a few times, without being a conservative prick.)

    Are you familiar with the Abolitionist movement in the pre-civil war era? Religious based. Familiar with a guy named Mahatma Ghandi? Well, he certainly was a religious leader -- oh, but he wasn't a Christian, so I guess that doesn't count.

    This game seems unbelievably silly, and I have no interest in playing it -- I'd rather play one where I _can_ see the body parts fly apart -- but I don't see where you get off beating all Christians with the "Right Wing Idiot" stick. Game over, insert two tokens to play again...

  • Rick Razzano dun said:

    I would hesitate to label a game "Christian." That's like labeling food "Christian."

    Scary thing is, I HAVE seen stuff like that before--specifically, types of Middle Eastern bread sold as "Bible Bread" (yes, that is the literal brand name, and no, I am not making this up, either) in odd-lots stores.

    Then again, something as an aside that I think is getting a bit neglected in all this (possibly because most people just plain aren't aware of it)--this is, in all odds, being marketed mainly to very right-wing fundamentalist groups.

    A fair number of fundy groups in the US, including some fairly large denominations (including at least one which has over two million members in the US, is linked with the vast majority of your politically active Religious Reich groups to the extent that the political groups are the de facto political wing of this denomination, is linked with Irangate suspect Colonel Oliver North, had quite a bit of controversy in the 80's with the televangelist scandals and has some controversy with the whole "Brownsville Revival Movement" thing, and is the very denomination Skipp Porteous [founder of Institute for First Amendment Studies [ifas.org] which includes a section for walkaways] walked away from--I won't go into too many details because it would make me a HUGE target, but let's just say the denomination's initials are A.O.G.) in effect are groups that use mind control techniques. Yes, I'm going to come out and say it--most of them are under mind control and are not in their right minds, many of the techniques are well known to be harmful (I'll get to this in a paragraph or two), and many of them are increasingly being literally placed under coercive conditions from birth onwards.

    To give an example, the unnamed denomination I mentioned above uses a fair number of coercive techniques that people outside the church would find frankly bizarre (including a fair number of moderate and liberal Christians who don't attend churches that are Bible-based cults). I'm going to compare these with a coercive group most of us are familiar with and can agree is a Bad Thing, namely Scientology...

    The denomination believes in so-called "Deliverance Ministry"--in other words, the world is literally demon-haunted, any doubts one has about the minister or even doubts on one's faith are the sign of demonic obsession or posession, and one must be either exorcised, "rededicated", or otherwise get even more involved with the church at all costs. (This is very similar to the concept of "engrams" and "thetans" in Scientology; I'm sure all of you can look up on the subject on any number of websites. As an aside, this is now recognised by therapists as one of the single most damaging bits of mind-control used in Scientology.)

    The denomination states flat out that whomever is not working for them is literally working for Satan; literally anyone who is not a fundamentalist of that denomination is a Satanist (including "lukewarm Christians"), if one does not totally isolate one's self from non-Christian media one risks demonic obsession (and thus you end up doing Satan's work), and you are supposed to completely isolate yourself from the world (to the point of only watching Christian television networks such as TBN and PAX, only listening to Christian radio stations and Christian music [some even say Christian metal is STILL "Satanic" because it "has a rock beat"], only associating with other Christians when possible, and even only doing business with other Christians from that denomination [there is actually a "Christian Yellow Pages" distributed where one has to take an oath that one is an Evangelical to even be listed, and it encourages members to "do business with those of like faith"]). (This is similar to how Scientologists isolate people from the outside world to keep them from being infected by "Thetans".)

    The denomination has been known to expressly target celebrities, such as football stars, NASCAR drivers, etc. as celebrity spokesmen. (Scientology targets Hollywood for the same reason.)

    There are typically different members of membership, depending on how new one is in the group; groups for "new Christians" are common, as are other programs meant to make the person more involved and isolated. The "Christian theme parks" are even part of this, as are "Christian DOOM clones" and whatnot. (Scientology has this with the different levels.)

    There is a big emphasis on always giving money to the church; monetary scandals are often glossed over or the investigation is even discouraged by the ministers claiming that "Satan is trying to defeat this church". (Same goes for Scientology.)

    Critics are often harassed; persons supporting things the church does not approve of have been picketed at best; the church believes it is morally right to lie about its aims to the outside, because "good people will go to hell and bad people will go to heaven". It also believes it is morally permissible to libel other groups (one group put out flyers during a referendum to add gay/les/bi/trans people to civil rights laws, claiming all gays were members of NAMBLA, in grocery stores across the county). (Scientology has this too, and even special sub-orgs to do this.)

    The group tries to isolate them as early as possible, encouraging parents to pull the children out of schools and to not even allow them to associate with people outside of the religion. (This, as a minor aside, is why homeschool programs generally scare hell out of me. Something like 70-80 percent of homeschool groups and programs in the US are run by fundamentalist groups that are pretty well Bible-based cults, they use the exact same curriculum as used in fundamentalist schools, and the expressed purpose of this is to isolate them from anything that might taint them--in other worlds they'd never know ANY worldview outside of that approved by the church. There are nastier bits yet with this, which I'll hit on in a later section.) (Scientology isolates kids like this too, sometimes raising them communally without outside parent help.)

    The group makes high demands on members--members must often attend church for multiple hours a day and for several days a week, participation in "cell groups" (more on these below) and prayer-groups and tract-handling is expected, etc. (Again, same as in Scientology--big emphasis is put in on suckering new recruits in.)

    Some additional stuff this denomination gets into, which is either unique to fundamentalist religious groups or to other coercive groups, is below:

    The church increasingly practices "shepherding" and "cell churches"--in essence, you are organised into groups of five houses or so, and every week (or sometimes more) one of the church members checks up on you to make sure you are being a "good Christian" or not. (Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like--"Big Brother". It is also seen as one of the most destructive practices in Bible-based coercive groups.)

    The group practices what is known as "Dominion Theology"--that is, that Christians are meant to be the rulers of the world (more on this below) and everyone else is literally on the side of Satan--including anyone who tells them they're farged in the head.

    Much emphasis is given on stuff like "speaking in tongues" and whatnot--not a sign of a cult in itself--but if you somehow are unable to do so you just "aren't in touch enough with God" and "need to get closer with God".

    Outright lies are often told to churchgoers. Among classics I heard in Sunday school--that facial cream contains ground-up aborted fetuses, that the ERA would require women to be lesbians (being gay is right up there with Satanism with them), and that the CEO of NBC was a practicing Satanist.

    The churchmembers, again, believe anything is morally permissible to get more suckers in. ANYTHING. Parody slogans (like the Pepsi spoof shirts saying "Jesus--Choice of The Last Generation"), lying to folks outside in recruiting, "bait-and-switch" recruitment tactics ("Hell Houses" which are fundy-themed haunted houses in which the persons going through are often forced to hear a sermon at the end, and billed as regular haunted houses, are common; cases are also known where pizza-parties are held where kids are forced to hear sermons and not allowed to leave till the sermon is over, or fundy-sponsored athletes have done talks in public schools under the guise of "anti-drug programs" where sermons go on and the kids are not allowed to leave and attendance is mandatory), libeling entire groups or threatening physical violence (Fred "godhatesfags.com" Phelps is a classic example of this; we have a Phelps wannabe in Kentucky, too, who's the head of the AFA here), etc.

    Confession of sins to everyone--willing or not--is a big thing. (Gay kids have been outed by church leaders in past; I'm sure people have been blackmailed or could use confessions in blackmail.) So is involuntary "exorcisms" of people whose biggest crime may be being gay or having doubts about fundamentalism (and in some cases--nationwide and in Australia--people have actually died from this).

    In other words, folks, the people pushing this stuff and the folks likely to buy it are as sunk in as your average clam in Scientology, if not WORSE (many people are raised in this, and statistics for walkaways from Bible-based groups who were raised in it aren't even available because it is so rare--especially when multiple generations have been raised in a coercive group, as is common with a lot of Bible-based groups). The world they live in is something between a funhouse mirror distortion of the world we live in and a house of horrors where Satan is waiting at every turn to devour them...it's really sad, if you think of it.

    I would be content merely to pity these folks if it weren't for the following three things:

    The group I used as an example--and that's just an example, there are many more groups like it--is considered not only the largest "Pentecostal" group in the nation but has over two million members in the US alone and has been around since the 1900's...and people still tend not to think of "Bible-based" groups being coercive. (Skipp Porteous was really the first to get the word out on how things are rotten throughout that denomination, and a few brave souls have spoken out including some Christian apologetics about some of the bad things going on...most recently about the "Brownsville Movement" stuff (just do a Google search, folks, you'll learn a ton) that led to a 20/20 investigation.)

    The group believes in Christian reconstructionism, which is a subset of "Dominion Theology" and has ties to other nasty stuff like deliverance ministry--in essence, it is a canard that claims the Founding Fathers were fundamentalists (most were moderate Christians at most, and many were Deists who didn't believe in Christianity at all), that the Founding Fathers meant for the US to be a fundamentalist theocracy, and all laws ought to be interpreted according to Biblical guidelines (a number of versions actually state the Constitution should be replaced with the Biblical version of sharia law). Also, a fair number believe that anyone who works against them is working for Satan.

    They've been working for some time to try to turn America into a fundamentalist theocracy and have gotten rather frighteningly far at it. (Among other fun things: The Christian Coalition has de facto taken over the Republican Party apparatus in 34 states. One of the major plans in guides by Religious Reich groups is for school boards nationwide to be taken over by fundamentalists (because they know most folks don't give a damn for school board elections) and basically fundamentalise and/or run the school systems into the group so kids are forced to go to fundy schools or do without schooling. [Think about THAT the next time something for school vouchers comes up...they have stated PUBLICALLY the ultimate goal is to destroy the school system and replace it with fundamentalist schools, and they can pretty much at that point either forcibly convert kids or kick out "pagan" kids...and the voucher folks want to do this with your tax dollars.] A college is being set up specifically for "Christian homeschooled youth" to not only isolate them from non-fundamentalist influences but to "train them to be political soldiers to take this nation for Christ"...in other words, as a political training college to make new Religious Reich political candidates to take over the US and convert it to a fundamentalist theocracy. The US is approximately four or five states away from having a Constitutional Convention (or ConCon) approved, states cannot rescind a call for a ConCon once issued, and things go entirely up in the air once one is called [a ConCon is a convention to rewrite the Constitution of the United States]--and most of those pushing for a ConCon have been fundamentalist Christian Reconstructionists that want to turn the US into the Christianised version of Taliban Afghanistan.)

    It's a shame they're pretty much under mind control to the point they might as well be the Borg...but at the same time, I'm gonna be damned if I let them turn the official government of the US into essentially a Bible-based cult. :) I'm also to the point I can't stay quiet about the abuses that DO go on in coercive groups like that...I walked away 13 years ago, finally broke all links something like six months ago, and it's part of my healing in a way to let folks know just what does go on and how it IS hurtful to folks.

  • by sparks (7204) <acrawford.laetabilis@com> on Monday October 25, 1999 @06:36AM (#1589675) Homepage
    > Geeks have been trained for this thier whole
    > lives; the forces of righteousness will surely
    > be blasted to bits.

    Katz, you send out more crap than a hand grenade in a sewage works.

    I'm aware how futile it is to try to penetrate your highly effective fact repulsion field, but here's some actual real information:

    • Many geeks are not religious...
    • ...but many also are.
    • Many religious people are not geeks...
    • ...but many also are.
    • There is no inherent conflict between geekiness and faith.
    Indeed, many famous and prominent geeks are Christians. You might be aware (but you probably aren't) that Slashdot itself (together with many thousands of other sites) is written in a language called PERL. The geek who inveted PERL, whose name is Larry Wall, is well known as being a Christian. He isn't a in-your-face bible-thumping damnation-decreeing Christian, but hey, neither are most Christians.

    At the end of the day, Katz, you are in no position to understand the minds of Christians or geeks since you are clearly neither.

  • by zosima (8652) on Monday October 25, 1999 @06:28AM (#1589689) Homepage
    How come whenever something about Christianity on /., everyone assumes that all Christendom is behind it, and it will inevitably end in A) moral confusion and/or B) holy wars and/or C) unjust persecution of geeks. Sorry to crush a collective dillusion, but Christians _are_ capable of independent thought, and aren't necessarily bent on starting a second Inquisition. And then there are comments like "They might actually revel in blasphemy and angel-bashing." refering to watching The Simpsons? There is not a commandment that says "thou shall not laugh." And then we get the comment "Religion and freedom have never really gotten along." Nice tie, but it doesn't explain a few people like Gangis Kahn, Napolean, or Hitler (who prosecuted the Jewish RACE much more so than the religion). I am sorry, I guess it is just more 'fun' to live with a severly outdated, extremely prejudicial view of the religious.
  • Thank you John, for another screed filled with factual errors and logical fallacies.

    Religion and freedom have never really gotten along, from the persecution of Galileo to the demands by Orthodox Jews that Jerusalem shut down its cinemas on Friday night to Islamic attacks on writers and reporters in some Middle Eastern countries.

    Ever read your history, John? The Pilgrims were a deeply religious lot, and they were seeking freedom when they set sail for North America. Most, if not all, of the founding fathers were deeply religious. Those who weren't, were at least deists. Most of those who fought for the emancipation of the slaves in the US and in the UK were religious people.

    Sure, there are those who use religion to thwart freedom, but to conclude from that that religion and freedom are fundamentally opposed is foolish. There is no conflict, per se, between religious faith and freedom.

    Technology, a disseminator of so much information, a force for freedom, has always come under fire as Satan's ally.

    Hooey. Ever hear of Martin Luther? His ideas, and the religious reform and freedom that came with it owed a great deal to technology, namely Gutenberg's printing press.

    Some people, like the Amish and the Old-order Mennonites are careful to analyze the long-term effects of a technology before adopting it, but they are not anti-technology, per se. Again, your conclusion is faulty.

    There's never been any substantive evidence to support the idea that TV shows, movies or computers have been a factor in the recent series of shootings -- statistically rare but horrific nonetheless -- in American schools.

    Wrong again. The U.S. Surgeon General was recently asked to study the effects of media violence in children. He said they already did. The results are virtually unanimous: of 1000 studies, only 18 found no link between media violence and violence in youth. Of those 18, 12 were sponsored by the media. Gee, why do you suppose the media isn't the media reporting this?

  • Jon, you make it sound as if all Christians agree that violent video games are the primary cause of violence in youth, so of course it is confusing that now there is a violent game ostensibly blessed as being Christian.

    But as anyone who takes a second to think knows, Christians are a very heterogeneous group, particularly when it comes to what they believe. Some Christians probably do blame violent games for causing people to be violent, and those same people will probably deplore this game. Some Christians realize that violence is related to a huge variety of genetic and environmental factors, and may see this game as a great way to release agression, or as one more bad influence, or just tasteless. The one thing that is certain is that there is no single "Christian" stance toward this game any more than there is a single "American" stance toward South Park or Jerry Springer.

    Personally, I don't think this game will do much to convert those who are into Doom, Quake, etc. But it might make Christians feel a bit better about indulging their shoot-em-up urges (it's not as if being a Christian kid makes you any less interested in that sort of thing).

  • It's probably too late for this comment to get noticed or moderated up, but I'm gonna make it anyway. [sigh]

    God is primarily interested in refining a person's character, not their behaviour. Behaviours are just a reflection of character. The character God desires for us is the best possible character for us, for others, and for him.

    That being said, each individual Christian has a huge amount of freedom in their behaviour. There are infinitely many ways to live the Christian life, which is nothing more than: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love others as yourself."

    "Bugs are harder to cope with than features, because they are less well defined and less well designed."

  • The arrival of the first Christian computer action game opens a whole new chapter in the never-ending struggle between technology and the self-proclaimed forces of morality.

    It always amazes me how many people talk about Christianity as if it's a big corporation, or a giant collective. People talk as if an action taken by a single Christian is representitive of all Christians. I could see how someone might get that impression in the States (from what I hear) because there are large, politically minded Christian organizations.

    At its heart, Christianity is following a leader, Jesus Christ. The act of following Jesus is subject to all of the human failings that apply to following anything else. If God was interested in making his followers robots that only do his will, he could have made all humans that way. Instead, he chooses to give us the choice to follow him, and even creativity in the way we follow him.

    "Bugs are harder to cope with than features, because they are less well defined and less well designed."

  • Not to argue with the main point of the editorial, which is interesting and thoughtful (though nothing we couldn't have come up with on our own ;), it seems to me that two or three of the paragraphs in the story look rather familiar...rather like they've been lifted almost verbatim from last week's New York Times article on the game--a few words have been changed, but the phrasing is the same. Whether this was accidental or just plain lazy on Jon's part, I can't say...
  • Chris, first off, don't base your opinion of America on anything that Jon Katz writes. He has a severely distorted picture of reality. The oddest thing is that he thinks he's saying something different than the mainstream media.

    As to your questions, I definitely wouldn't say that someone saying that he believed in God means that religion is a big force in his life. There's a big difference between committing oneself to one's religion and just saying, "Yeah, I guess there's a God."

    Pat Buchanan's isn't considered a mainstream candidate by anyone. He's far right on some things, and far left on others -- I just think he's an opportunist willing to subvert his own views for the promise of millions of Reform Party dollars. Please don't make the mistake, however, that a lot of people here are and think that he's some kind of Hitler-lover. He's not. I wouldn't vote for him, but the people who are trying to tag him with that label are either intellectual dullards or plain intellectually dishonest. You know, the same kind of politically correct people that have made it impossible to have an honest dialogue on racial issues.

    Again, put more trust in what you saw with your own eyes here than what the Christianity-hating U.S. media or Jon Katz tells you. And y'all come back some time, ya hear?

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • by sethg (15187) on Monday October 25, 1999 @06:34AM (#1589738) Homepage
    Very few Christians are strict pacifists. People who call themselves Christians may complain about video games leading kids to "violence", but if you cross-examine them, most of them wouldn't object to kids engaging in socially acceptable violence (as members of the armed forces, for example).

    Today's popular association betwen Christianity and sweet docility goes back to the 19th century, when people treated the Church as a haven from the brutal competition of the Marketplace. However, violence, symbolic or actual, in the alleged service of J.C. has a long and, er, distinguished history.

    The Jewish liturgy, for example, has a large number of elegies that were composed during the Crusades: as the Crusaders marched through Europe, on their way to take Jerusalem from the heathen Muslims, some of them slaughtered heathen Jews in towns they passed.

    Heck, there's plenty of violence in the Bible itself. See, for example, chapter 34 of the book of Genesis.

  • by Royster (16042) on Monday October 25, 1999 @08:07AM (#1589739) Homepage
    Instead He just asks them to act all the same.

    Except that different Christian groups interpret the teachings differently. Some groups are anti-intellectual and expect the members to believe what is force fed to them. Other groups depend on each person to follow their own conscience on matters of belief.

    I'm sorry but the thing that finally allowed me to laugh at most blindly devoted Christians is the continuing theme of "Come follow me, my sheep".

    That's just one metaphor out of many in the Gospels. There's a lot of vineyard imagery as well. The metaphors are used to make a specific point. In the passages you are referring to, the focus is on the care that the shepherd has for the sheep. Any metaphor can be stretched too far, as I think you've done.

    But yes, sheep are stupid and don't always know what's best for themselves. Does that remind you of any humans that you know? Do you know anyone who has self-destructive behavior?

    Where some Christians go off the track is to set themselves up as judges for the behavious of others. They don't seem to realize that we are not set up as judges over others.

    Back to the topic here, who cares if someone publishes a Christian-theme game? Does it hurt you somehow? No one is making you buy it.
  • A few questions.

    JonKatz writes:

    The arrival of the first Christian computer action game opens a whole new chapter in the never-ending struggle between technology and the self-proclaimed forces of morality.

    If this is significant of anything, it's that this is the first time this particular group has been targeted by a video game company (as opposed to retro-gamers, wargamers, arm-chair huntsmen, etc.). Where do you see conflict in this development?

    The bad news is that if "The War In Heaven" sells, expect a slew of Christian (and soon, no doubt, Jewish and Muslim) save-the-soul games marketed by greedy Web entrepeneurs who want to appear wholesome while raking in big money.

    Why is this bad news if they're good games? Because they're religion based? Or for other reasons?

    I'm confused in general by this article -- what is the point you're trying to make?

  • Jon, Jon, if you're going to be a "free speech rulz, why can't everybody just get along" kind of guy, you really need to get over this allergy you seem to have to anything labelled "Christian" ...

    There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.
    -- G. K. Chesterton

    If I hadn't been able to find the company page for the game [valu-soft.com], I would have guessed that this was a hoax/parody/whatever in the style of Jesux [slashdot.org] rather than a real product. But granted, somebody really is releasing a DOOM-style first person shooter game, with an "angels 'n' demons" theme, and marketing it as a "Christian" game.

    I suppose if somebody is going to wrap a DOOM interface around the process list [slashdot.org], and given the all the work done on DOOM/Quake "skins", that this was inevitable. But what wider conclusions are appropriate from this?

    The arrival of the first Christian computer action game opens a whole new chapter in the never-ending struggle between technology and the self-proclaimed forces of morality.

    Wow. One sentence, and at least four glaring problems:

    • "first Christian computer action game": Technically, it's the first "first-person shooter" game billing itself as Christian. There have been Christian action games for a while, based on the "Mario" model, plus others. So it's not the first "action" game. Furthermore, just because somebody slaps a "Christian" label on something and hopes to make a buck off of the Christian market doesn't automatically make something Christian.
    • "opens a whole new chapter": Maybe in the mind of Jon Katz, but I reserve the right to see if "The War in Heaven" sells more than a few dozen copies before I count this as anything earthshattering.
    • "in the never-ending struggle between technology and ..." Sigh. We've gone over this before. Christianity is not anti-technology. Even the Amish are not anti-technology (as proof, consider the fact that some of the most important agricultural innovations of the last 200 years stem from Amish experimentation and innovation, and that they continually improve upon their farm equipent and assimilate certain technologies from the "English" world.
    • "... and the self-proclaimed forces of morality." Ah. The "self-proclaimed" is the tip-off. Anything that starts with namecalling this early is sure to be a rant on how those awful Christians are trying to ruin everyone's fun by not celebrating the uplifting virtues of pr0n on the Internet and gore in first-person shooter games.

    Let's see ... relate everything in the world to the Columbine shootings, drag out the old myths about Galileo ... flog, flog, flog.

    Has it occurred to you that, rather than some sea change, this is simply some guys with a software firm out to make a few bucks?! .

    As for myself, and the other Christians I know, the release of "War in Heaven" is going to be a yawner. For those Christians who don't mind DOOM/Quake (yes, they exist), this won't mean anything. For those who object to first-person shooter games because of the violent paradigm, the fact that the characters are dressed up as angels and demons will not make it better (in fact, it makes it worse, as it verges on being a blasphemous attempt to exploit for profit). I suppose there will be some small segment of Christian parents of teens who view the release of this game with a small sigh of relief -- those in the category of not liking this kind of game, realizing that kids are going to play them anyway, and being happy that there is at least a "kinder and gentler" alternative.

    But for a person who objects so strenuously against the stereotyping of "geeks," and to the usage of stereotype to push an agenda, you've got some housecleaning to do yourself in that departmet.

    I do profess to be impartial in the sense that I should be ashamed to talk such nonsense about the Lama of Thibet as they do about the Pope of Rome
    -- G. K. Chesterton
  • Though far from perfect, I rarely attack someone back
    Do you invite them to attack you again, or do you believe that Jesus didn't really mean what he said?

    There are some amazing followers of God both in the Protestant and Catholic churches
    No argument there. But the same can be said of Buddhists, scientologists and moonies. Religion (or anything that purports to have a higher meaning) brings out the best and worst in people. The best -- Mother Theresa for example -- would probably help others even if they weren't bullied into it by god. The worst would be assholes anyway.

    Please don't take this as an ad hominem attack; I recognise absolutely that religion isn't an excuse for picking on an individual; IMO there's only one way to counter it, and that's education.
  • What I mean is, a non-Christian or non-religious person has their own value system and their own morality. Everytime they do something that is counter to this system, they are being a hypocrite.

    Agreed. But religion is, IMO, different. Christianity is more than just a philosophy; it's a belief that a God created the universe, and that he demands something of us; that we spend our three-score-and-ten years being nice to others, or we'll burn in hell. Hyprocisy in this case means not that you're saying one thing and doing another, but that you're saying one thing and believing another.
    I can't accept that Christians who believe absolutely in hell would act against the bible's teaching. If you belive god's threats, you'll behave accordingly.
  • Katz makes entirely too many ties to the 'mistakes' of religion
    You've got to take the context into account. This was an article on religion, so inevitably Katz' personal beliefs are going to influence it in a major way. I wouldn't argue (neither, I imagine, would Katz) that "good/bad acts are aspects of the world bot in and out of religion", but given that this was an article with a religious theme, it was inevitable that Katz focus on religion.
  • Years of religious classes taught me that to 'turn the other cheek' meant to offer the other cheek to be struck as well. This was my interpretation from reading the bible as well. However, it's been over a decade since I read the bible (and nearly two since I paid attention in religion class) so it's possible that I'm in error.

    I too would appreciate clarification on this point.
  • Tell me again when Christians stopped being fallable human beings and started being Perfect?
    It's not a question of being perfect; none of us is. But there's a religious bookshop down the road from where I used to work, and they had a big problem with people stealing bibles. I found this hilarious.
    My point is (again) that a religion is more than a philosophy. If you truly believe, you're not going to act in a way that'll cause you to burn in hell for all eternity.

    I'm an atheist. That doesn't mean I'm a bastard to all I meet. It means that when I do good I do it because I choose to, not because I'm being threatened with damnation if I act otherwise. I know this is true for most christians too, btw, but my point remains.
    A question. If I walked up to you and hit you for being a christian, and reminded you on the spot that Jesus told you to turn the other cheek, would you do so? Bearing in mind that to do otherwise would be to go against the word of god. You could call the cops with a clear conscience, of course, but after you asked me to whack you again.
  • by rde (17364)
    I'm not a religious man myself, but I can see that people who try to live up to a code of moral and ethical standards don't appear to be 'wasting their time.'
    Religion doesn't have a monopoly on morality. We all have our own moral and ethical standards which we strive to live up to. Neither is there anything wrong with listening to what others have to say about the best way to live; the best opinions are those which have been formed through debate. But none of this has anything to do with religion.

    If there is an omnipotent, omniscient deity running the cosmos, why would he have to answer to you?
    If he expects me to live my life in fear of eternal torment if I get it wrong, then he fucking better make clear what he has in mind.
  • but when people confuse a translator's judgement call about the Bible with the Bible itself, then they are being ignorant.
    I disagree. I was brought up in a Catholic school, and throughout my education I was constantly read passages from The Bible. No-one said anything to me about this being a translation; I was told (by people who doubtless believed it themselves) that this was The Bible.
    If I had to guess, I'd say that at least 80% of people consider their holy book to be The Bible. Chances are none of them reads Aramaic, or would have any interest in doing so even if they were told their copy of the bible was off in a few places. This doesn't make them any less christian to my mind (nor theirs, I would imagine).

    My question still stands, by the way: which English language translation of the bible would you consider to be closest to canonical?
  • by rde (17364) on Monday October 25, 1999 @06:54AM (#1589754)
    Warning: this post may meander. I've also decided for the duration that 'nice' is a waste of time

    I spent many years thinking that we should respect the religions of others; that people have the right to worship what and/or who they want. As I've grown older (and more dogmatic), I see this atitude as harmful. Pandering to superstition does nothing except encourage redneck savages to remove evolution from schools' curriculum.
    In the main, this change in attitude comes from the staggering hypocrisy displayed by most Christians (the religion with which I'm most familiar. I'm Irish). Hands up all the Christians out there who turn the other cheek? Hands up the christians who've never copied someone else's CD (Thou Shalt Not Steal)?

    The violence, its creators claim, is merely a role-playing depiction of "spiritual warfare," the notion that non-physical agents of good and evil (which might well include TV, movies, the Net, animation and recorded music) are constantly at war and that their behavior affects people on earth.
    Sheer sophistry. The bible says 'thou shalt not kill.' It doesn't say 'thou shalt only kill if it's a metaphor' or 'thou shalt only kill demons.' If this is viewed as okay because it's a only computer game, then bang goes any argument against Doom et al.

    Religion and freedom have never really gotten along, from the persecution of Galileo to the demands by Orthodox Jews that Jerusalem shut down its cinemas on Friday night to Islamic attacks on writers and reporters in some Middle Eastern countries. Technology, a disseminator of so much information, a force for freedom, has always come under fire as Satan's ally.
    Galileo's persecution was a personal, not religious thing, but the argument stands. Tyrrany, be it religious or political, is the enemy of education. We should tolerate people's irrational beliefs only insofar as they don't affect the rest of us.

    The bad news is that if "The War In Heaven" sells, expect a slew of Christian (and soon, no doubt, Jewish and Muslim) save-the-soul games marketed by greedy Web entrepeneurs who want to appear wholesome while raking in big money
    This isn't bad news. I doubt that resources will be diverted from other games, so it's simply a case of giving the people what they want. Just because you don't want it as well doesn't make it bad.

    I could go on, but I'd only get abusive.

    To finish: this isn't meant as flamebait; It's my -- if you will -- religious opinion. It's as valid an opinion as the myriad 'Jesus is Lord' opinions that permeate the web (and billboards everywhere).

  • by rde (17364) on Monday October 25, 1999 @07:08AM (#1589755)
    Nice tie, but it doesn't explain a few people like Gangis Kahn, Napolean, or Hitler (who prosecuted the Jewish RACE much more so than the religion)
    I don't remember Jon saying that religion was responsible for all the world's ills. If I were to try and excuse Hitler's behaviour by pointing to the spanish inquisition, would you accept that as a valid argument?
  • by rde (17364) on Monday October 25, 1999 @08:14AM (#1589756)
    ignorant twits think that because they've read one translation of the Bible, they've read "the Bible".
    So the millions of people out there who believe they're christians because they follow their bible are... what? Simply deluded?

    I'd resolved to make no personal attacks, but for you I'll make an exception.
    This is the dumbest, most arrogant post on the topic I've yet read.
    Perhaps you should enlighten us as to which bible all those pseudo-christians should have been using?

    I recognise that few (if any) of the bibles that exist today contain the full meaning of the original (if indeed there was one original). But this simply reinforces my belief that religion is a waste of time; if God created the universe and gave us such a central role in it, surely he could make sure we at least got his message passed on correctly?
  • ...who will manipulate the central belief of a large group, and twist it for their own benefit. It does not matter if it is about religion (Inquisition), nationality, or even economic principals (see Joseph Stalin's bastardization of Karl Marx's views).

    Hasdi

    PS. the pigs is in reference to ANIMAL FARM [turner.com]
  • That post was a damn good troll. But anyway, here's my response to it...

    How come whenever something about Christianity on /., everyone assumes that all Christendom is behind it, and it will inevitably end in A) moral confusion and/or B) holy wars and/or C) unjust persecution of geeks.

    Well, from my personal past experience, I've usually found this to actually be the case, when you get right down to the matter...

    Sorry to crush a collective dillusion, but Christians _are_ capable of independent thought, and aren't necessarily bent on starting a second Inquisition.

    Many people call themselves "Christian", yet have wildly differing belief systems. Your Christianity may just be the local flavor... It's not really a proper term or anything. Never forget this.

    BTW, most people you refer to aren't against "Christianity", they're against "religion."

    And then there are comments like "They might actually revel in blasphemy and angel-bashing." refering to watching The Simpsons? There is not a commandment that says "thou shall not laugh."

    No, just "though shalt not exercise any independant thought without first asking your duly-appointed man-of-god to see if it goes along with the local 'holy' way to be"...

    And then we get the comment "Religion and freedom have never really gotten along." Nice tie, but it doesn't explain a few people like Gangis Kahn, Napolean, or Hitler (who prosecuted the Jewish RACE much more so than the religion).

    And then there's the Crusades, the hundreds of years of perscution of non-Catholics by the Catholic church, the Inquisition, etc, etc..

    Look, you can cut it either way. (BTW, Hitler was not an athiest you know..)

    I am sorry, I guess it is just more 'fun' to live with a severly outdated, extremely prejudicial view of the religious.

    It sure is! :-) I enjoy my prejudices.

    Prejudice: 2. An opinion or judgment formed without due examination; prejudgment; a leaning toward one side of a question from other considerations than those belonging to it; an unreasonable predilection for, or objection against, anything; especially, an opinion or leaning adverse to anything, without just grounds, or before sufficient knowledge.
    (from www.dictionary.com)

    True and to the point. I am prejudiced against religious people.
    I suppose I should define a religious person.. A "religious" person, to me, is a person who allows religion to come before reason. I have no problem with someone who believes in anything, as long as: they don't try to convert me and they aren't stupid about it. Trying to convert me is putting religion before reason because a smack upside the head often offends. I have no patience for morons who don't get it when I say I am an atheist (not something I usually bring up anyway).. Multiple offenses result in getting kicked around the room, being smacked with harder items that happen to be at hand, and eventually, if pushed too far, causing me to reach for my gun (only happened once, and it wasn't loaded, and I just wanted the moron to go away)...

    But when a person's beliefs causes them to ignore facts that are blatantly apparent, then I'm not happy. I have a firm belief in the scientific method. Evidence, theory, test, repeat. It's the way to find out anything, even if it takes a long, long time. Religion has no evidence either way, and therefore currently falls outside the scientific method. Look at the definition of prejustice again. Deeply religious people like this are prejudiced against science. Being a geek, I cannot abide this.

    Therefore, once a person proves himself to be "religious" per my definition, then yes, I am prejudiced, and usually annoyed with that person to the point that I will no longer associate with them.

    Kinda sucks when I'm down in the bible belt, but you gotta stick by your principles.

    ---
  • The bad news is that if "The War In Heaven" sells, expect a slew of Christian (and soon, no doubt, Jewish and Muslim) save-the-soul games marketed by greedy Web entrepeneurs who want to appear wholesome while raking in big money.

    A "slew of Jewish and Muslim save-the-soul games" is not real likely. This game preys on a huge, lucrative, and gullible Christian subculture. I could be wrong, but I don't believe a comparable Jewish or Muslim subculture exists in this country. At least, I've never seen anybody wearing a WWAD ("What Would Allah Do?") t-shirt, and I'm unaware of a large marketing/distribution network for such merchandise.

    (
    Note to self:
    1. Secure wwcd.com domain
    2. Sell "What Would Cthulhu Do" t-shirts
    )

    The game's creators are doubtless following a proven strategy.
    1. Become popular with Christians.
    2. Use popularity to launch mainstream career.
    If this game is a success, the game's creators will point to it in discussions with potential investors for a more mainstream production. Of course, I could be wrong. If the game is a success, the game's creators may simply crank out a series of sequels, following another proven strategy:
    1. Become popular with Christians.
    2. Take 'em for all they're worth.

    Anyway, don't confuse the Christian subculture (which most /.ers appear to hate - not without cause) with the Christion religion. The subculture is mostly the result of hypocrisy, attempted brain-washing, and marketing (aren't those last two about the same?). The religion can be the genuine item when it's not influenced by greed.


  • Perhaps games like "The War In Heaven" suggest some looming confrontation, an Armageddon-like battle out there the digital ether for the collective souls of geeks.



    I doubt it's that serious. Christian gamers like to play games too. Some of them even like to play violent games. So what? Games like this allow them to satisfy those violent urges and keep the moralists off their backs.



    "Violent video games are bad."



    "But it's demons i'm vaporizing with my deadly, er, heavenly arsenal."



    "Oh... that's okay then. Have fun!"



    Sure it's subversive. But is it really worse than sneaking underage kids in to see South Park?



    Religion and freedom have never really gotten along..."



    Never is too strong of a word. They've seldom got along, but is that religion's fault? Done right, religion and freedom are inseparable. People freely choose whether, and how, they'll worship. Coerced belief isn't really belief.



    The bad news is that if "The War In Heaven" sells, expect a slew of Christian (and soon, no doubt, Jewish and Muslim) save-the-soul games marketed by greedy Web entrepeneurs who want to appear wholesome while raking in big money. Sunday school might be in for some radical change.



    That's bad news? We already have greedy web entrepreneurs raking in big money. If that's bad, it's bad whether or not they're putting a religious veneer over it. I'd expect the strongest opposition to this sort of thing to come from within the religious community. Not from someone who usually calls for more freedom of expression.



    Sunday school might be in for some radical change.



    Bring on the change! If games like this had been available when I was in Catholic School, I might not be as cynical about religion today.



    The good news is that ultimately such developments will drive software censors and moral guardians nuts.



    It's already nuts. This just makes it more obvious, for those that weren't bright enough to pick up on it before.
  • by Migrant Programmer (19727) on Monday October 25, 1999 @06:29AM (#1589772) Journal
    A few links with more information:

    Eternal Warriors (Developer) [eternalwarriors.com]

    ValuSoft (Publisher) [valusoft.com]

    With that out of the way, I think this is a very interesting development. I've been waiting for something like this for quite a while.

  • The only thing guaranteed to generate more flamage then choice of OS or editor is religion.

    The clue here is that people disagree fundamentally on the issue at hand, and no amount of discussion will reach an answer. Furthermore, tempers invariably wear thin and get lost.

    Rather like the subject of the movie War Games, it is a strange game. The only way to win is not to play.

    Something to consider before you add fuel to the fire.
  • In Doom, you were fighting against hell-spawned demons. You were also a "Space Marine." Given the highly Christian-dominated popluation of the US military, you'd think that they would have no problem with Doom if they have no problem with this War in Heaven crap.

  • At its heart, Christianity is following a leader, Jesus Christ. The act of following Jesus is subject to all of the human failings that apply to following anything else. If God was interested in making his followers robots that only do his will, he could have made all humans that way.

    Instead He just asks them to act all the same.

    I'm sorry but the thing that finally allowed me to laugh at most blindly devoted Christians is the continuing theme of "Come follow me, my sheep". Them's Christ words, a.k.a. "Listen to me you stupid animals, if you don't you are so dumb you will wander off that cliff over yonder." It's just the constant references to people as sheep that make me laugh.
  • It's called existential philosophy. The point is realize your place in the universe in comparison to the universe, anything devided by infinity is zero. So distinctions between you and an bacterium are sutble at best.

    While discussing such existential matters, a friend of mine once said "You cannot prove to me that the universe will continue to exist after my death", and I agreed. I couldn't prove it, the only way to do so, would be to prove him right.

    I happen to believe that both things are true, in a classicly paradoxical way, simultaneously. You are both utterly insignificant and of utmost importance. Zero and Infinity, the same sides of different coins. When you get to extremes things get rather hazy.

    My life is it's own point and I draw great joy from it.

    (side note: If anything divided by infinity is zero, shouldn't anything divided by zero be infinity?)

  • So that's the answer, "Don't call me good. No one is good, only the Lord our God."

    But, what's the question? (i.e. you've lost me)

    Saying that the Lord, and only the Lord, is good kinda makes it tough for everyone else to be, eh? Or is this a question of semantics and taken out of context.


  • So you disagree that people should constantly strive to be better than they are, knowing that nobody can ever be perfect?

    Not at all. I was merely stating that much of religion, especially Christianity, is built upon the belief that if you don't have it, you are lacking. I disagree. Personal improvement is fun.

    That's what it would be without Grace. With Grace, it's much different.

    Grace is the lady who walks by and says "Oh, you're o.k., you make it to heaven." right? Is that the same grace that the Catholic church was selling around the first turning of millenia? Maybe you could define it better.

    I will weep if you don't accept Forgiveness.

    Forgiveness. An interesting concept, especially how it was taught to me. Basically, Christ paid already for all my sins and all I need to ask him to forgive me for causing him such pain, right? Or is it my fellow man I should be asking forgiveness of?

    It has everything to do with being polite (ohmegoodness I have no right to tell people to be polite).

    I think polite is the way to go, you get more bees with honey after all. Being nice to people happens to be a tenet of my own beliefs, outside of religion. I've just found that it works better for me, ya'know Karma and all.

    Oh, and "BIG BOLD LETTERS" meaning when you're cowering in the presence of the Creator, seeing all the wrong things you've done, the pain you've caused to your fellow humans and God, and have to face the consequences. Fortunately for us, there's Grace and Forgiveness. :)

    Well at least I'll have all the suffering in the world to throw back in his face. I mean he created it, right? Trying not to be cynical here, but c'mon, even your nick pays homage to an earlier mythology. Guardian of the Gates of Hell, the 3-headed dog. Don't you see an alarming number of similarities with ancient "mythology" and your own beliefs?

    BTW, neither of us is saying anything that hasn't been said before.

    nope we aren't, but this is the first time I've said it to you, and vice-versa. I doubt a consensus can be reached between us, arguing faith is a joke 'cause it all comes down to what you believe, reality be damned. :-) Personally I'd rather live a happy honest life by my own rules rather than those of people whose true motivations I can't know, i.e. if we met, unless you asked, you'd probably think I have the same value set as yourself (outside of religion).

    Have a nice day!
  • hey Cerb (I think my handle was Reaper when I played WC)if you want to continue this, e-mail me. It's kinda personal for a public forum. My e-mail to spork@U.spammers kept returning full of KFC utencils.
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday October 25, 1999 @06:29AM (#1589828)

    Katz, you seem to be a victim of your own rhetoric.

    This game is trying to reach an audience of Christians often neglected by the "mainstream" world, both Christian and non-Christian. Despite what many non-Christians many think, not all of us Christians are people who scream "the Internet is the Devil!" at the first accidental web search for "free JPEGs." However, this does not keep you, the man who decried schools everwhere for their stereotyping of geeks, goths, and other form of introverts, from stereotyping and lambasting Christians.

    I haven't seen the game. To tell the truth, I'd probably find it a little cheesy and would prefer more mainstream games. However, it is an attempt to create a quote-unquote religious game that is not Yet Another Boring Moral Quiz. This is an attempt that should be looked upon favorably or brushed aside if it truly is a poor game, but is instead being bashed simply because the religion in question is Christianity.

    Get this in all of your heads now -- we Christians are NOT the Borg. We are individuals, and some of us think a little differently from each other. Hell, if that weren't the case do you think we'd still have all our stupid little denominational squabbles? The seeming contradiction over the creation of a violent game after so much has been said about violence in the media being the root of all evil is because it wasn't the same person giving the two different messages!

    This is not News for Nerds. This is another excuse to pigeonhole all Christians into one monolithic entity and call us fools for not agreeing with one another. Well, listen to your own message for once. Christians are people and have their own differing views -- and that's okay.


    By the way, Katz.. Just because you've never felt like you been sent the touch of the divine doesn't mean you should be mocking people who do. If you really want to send a message that we should be open to other people's views, you should quit being so hypocritical about religious views. (Not that there'd have been a word about this on this sight if it was a Muslim or Wiccan game...)

  • Blasphemy against God is forgiven.
    Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not.
    Do you understand the meaning of this? It means in a nutshell that if you deny God's power and existence, then you will go to hell. Essentially everything else is forgiven.

    Yeah, it's pretty easy to understand. You can be a mass-murderer -- if you like, you can even follow some of the bible's instructions on who and when to murder people -- but as long as you believe in God it's okay. Whereas if you are a kind and good man but you don't believe in God, you'll be tortured for eternity.

    You can't win this argument, you know. I'm arguing for logical ethics, and you're arguing with faith. Both of us will lose by the other's measure. The only valid question is which way to live your life is rationally sane.

  • This game is trying to reach an audience of Christians often neglected by the "mainstream" world, both Christian and non-Christian.

    If you really think Christianity is neglected in mainstream culture....

    I, personally, have trouble when I want to buy something on Sunday.

    I would also have trouble having a store open on Sunday, if I owned one. Why is that?

    Actually, they've recently changed the laws some here, but why now? Why were they in place in the first place? Why are they still partially in place? The laws are still restrictive in many parts.

    Why can't I get my mail on Christmas day? What if the carrier is not Christian? Why can't he work? He may need the money.

    I have no problem with any Christian who wants to not participate in business on one of their holidays. I do have a problem with people telling the rest of us that we cannot operate.

    Non-Christians don't make laws that restrict Christian freedom.

    You have a problem with people lumping you all into one group and stereotyping you. Nobody's doing that. I grew up in a "Christian" house. My mother is Catholic and my father is Protestant. I've been to both churches many times.

    I jumped out not because of other Christians but because of certain ones who enjoy restricting people's freedom. How is a priest a channel to God? The ones around here liked to molest young boys. If these are the people who are "close" to God, then no thanks. Ok, there are many good ones. They respect other religions rather than trying to "save their souls." They get into it to help people rather than hurt them.

    I simply believe that helping people is a better way to spend my time than cheating them or lying to them. I'm not going to ignore someone on the basis of religion (or anything else, for that matter). As far I know, they're human like I am and I'm going to treat them as such. I don't need religion for that.
  • Convert sinners at the local bus-mall.

    Hmmm, reminds me of Syndicate.

    It seems Bullfrog beat everybody to the punch.
  • Eternal Warriors [eternalwarriors.com]
  • Or Christian romance novels (yes, they're out there)?
    I always though romance novels were an accepted form of erotica marketed towards women. Kind of like a female Playboy, but with less direct overtones than Playgirl. Christian romance novels. Christian Playboy. (shudder).

    :)

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday October 25, 1999 @06:31AM (#1589849)
    I fail to see the issue here. Computer games have long had elements from various religions and ethos in the past. Granted, most of those religions are either dead or followed by very fringe elements. But that doesn't mean we can't, and shouldn't, see games based on today's religious texts and concepts. Heck - some of the most interesting movies I can think of are based on Christian scripture. Granted, there's plenty of horrid movies too. The key to the game in question is how well it is done - not from what dogma its concepts came from.

    Having said that, somebody is going to be upset. Either the game will be considered sacreligious (and I don't doubt this one will) or it will be an electronic sermon. It all depends on what extreeme pro or con point of view you have on the religion in question. Both will have their markets. Me... I'll be interested if its more Seventh Sign or Prince of Darkness than Jesus Christ Superstar.

  • I havn't read the artical yet, but a "Christian action game" That sounds pretty damn dull...

    Really? Not all Christians are like Ned Flanders, open your mind a little.

    Just a few Christian scenarios that could be fun games, some action and some strategy. I'll end up focusing more on strategy games, though, since I like them a lot more than trigger happy action games.

    Action games

    Feed the masses: You have to keep splitting loaves and fishes, and lobbing them to the hungry masses, while the masses keep growing and growing. Similar to "The awful green things from outer space" though I don't know if it was ever made into a computer game.

    Fight the lions: You're a Christian in the early Roman Empire, and you're thrown to the lions in the Colosseum. Survive.

    Friar Tuck: You have to grab the gold from the church poor box to feed the poor, outwit the sheriff, sneak food to the people in the jail, hmm, has some potential.

    The Exorcist: You have to launch an exorcism spell without getting struck by pea soup.

    Strategy games

    There are a wealth of infiltration/revolution type strategy games to be had in the Christiam milieu.

    Convert the Emperor: You're a member of a small, illegal cult. You have to spread through Rome while being persecuted. If you can convert the Emperor, you win.

    Crusades: You have to plan and battle to win back the Holy Lands from the infidels (who also consider them their Holy Lands).

    Luther!: You are upset with the direction the Church has taken. You want to change's it's vision, and Open Source the Bible. If you start enough offshoot churches, you win.

    Liberation Theology: You are a leftist Christian in a repressive Central American dictatorship. You want to have a Christian centered revolt to free the people.

    I could go on, and on, but I won't.

    George
  • This whole paragraph bothers me.

    Religion and freedom have never really gotten along, from the persecution of Galileo to the demands by Orthodox Jews that Jerusalem shut down its cinemas on Friday night to Islamic attacks on writers and reporters in some Middle Eastern countries. Technology, a disseminator of so much information, a force for freedom, has always come under fire as Satan's ally.

    Technology has always come under fire as Satan's ally?

    Let's see, the first movable type printing press was a huge invention for disseminating information (I'm talking Gutenburg here). And what was the first output of this press? "Women of few virtues and fewer garments?", nah, the Bible. Of course, printing lots of Bibles did affect the religious status quo soon after.

    I see Katz mentions Islam. Don't stereotype one religion based on a intolerant, minority sect. Read a little about Islam, almost all the ancient Greek texts were saved and spread by Islam during the middle ages. Also, Islam in the middle ages invented algebra and alcohol.

    Speaking of saving and restoring information, many monasteries did that in the middle ages too.

    Oh well, flamebait builds posts.

    George
  • You forgot the best game of all, Sodom and Gomorrah!

    Kewl, we can then sell it to the segfault crowd


    LOT'S WIFE, NAKED AND TURNED TO SALT

    George
  • Doh, my bad!

    Islamic scientists invented distillation.

    George
  • However, if I recall my history correctly, the Protestant "revolution" was as much a revolution as a rebellion. A rebellion against what? why, against the then-current religion. So you see, at _that point in time_, technology (freedom) and religion *did not get along*.

    But it was a *religious rebellion*!

    The Protestant revolution wasn't saying religion is bad, God is bad.

    It was saying you don't need this huge structure to interface with God, you can do it yourself (hence my Open Source allusion).

    At that point in time, technology and a dominant religion did not get along, but a new religion was certainly using technology for all it could.

    George
  • I'm sure many of you have seen the Xtian product knock-off shirts (Coca-Cola, Tide, etc.) and heard some of the gimpy rap/heavy metal bands (a la DC Talk). These products are usually just lame attempts at filling the cultural desire that christian kids have, a desire that is the same as "secular" kids': have fun, be cool. It just so happens that the most effective way to keep from losing these kids to their oh-so-evil inherent drives for sex and fun was to mimic popular culture but "with a message". I really don't have a problem with people believing what they want, and practicing it as such. I have a problem with any religion (or company) that makes a practice of bastardizing other people's ideas and "flava", and then try to use it as their own. This goes for video games, t-shirts, and even lifestyles.

    I had a friend once who was from a Jewish family (like myself), and he joined some anti-nazi straightedge skinhead group. I thought his goal was somewhat noble, but they way he attempted to achieve it was ignorant. He was trying to get in on some of the "docs and chains" coolness (circa '92), but with a message; everyone who saw him for the next 3 months sized him up as a neo-nazi. My point is this: if you have a message or an agenda, and we all usually do, the best means is usually NOT emulation of an opposing culture.

    I saw some guys on campus who were walking around in white robes and beards and sandals. I talked to them briefly, and I came away with a different perspective on Christians, and religious people in general. Those guys were the shit. If you are going to do it, I mean if you really believe all of whatever it is you're into, don't half-ass it. Don't walk around in a God's Gym shirt and listen to wannabe clean rap. Don't talk about reincarnation and then cuss out your girlfriend. Those guys were "in the world, but not of the world". Eat locusts, or stop trying to throw stones at the rest of society.

    I'm certain that there are serious christian artisits out there. I also know that the owners of some of the largest Xtian radio stations aren't even christians. If you asked them their religion, they would probably say, "Capitalism".

    In summary, I seriously doubt that you would ever have caught Jesus playing Xtian video games and singing "To Hell With the Devil".
  • The only mistake I see him as having made is failing to differentiate between the average run-of-the-mill Christian (many of whom are quite nice and rational folks) and the moral zealots. I generally try to make that distinction in my own writing. However, sometimes it just gets difficult to keep on making the clarification, and we get a litlte lazy and start assuming that you know which people we mean. But SOMEone always has to jump on it as "Christian-bashing." Sheesh. It gets old after a while, y'know?


    I don't see where he says the game shouldn't be sold at all, either. He's merely pointing out 1) the hypocricy of having an extremely violent game marketed as suitable for teenagers because it is religious when an equivalent secular (or other than Christian religion) game would not be, 2) that many fundamentalists are more than willing to use violence for THEIR objectives even as they decry the "violent society" we now live in, and 3) that there is no conclusive evidence thatthe players of this game would WANT to be on the side of the angels to begin with. :P

  • More like he's pointing out how Christians are perfectly willing to use violence to their own ends. Especially some of the more radical ones.


    But pointing out the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, and the murders of abortion doctors would just be setting up a "strawman" example of Christianity in the other direction, right?


    More bothersome to me is the way that the Religious Right is using worries about school violence (which is, as JK pointed out, DOWN, Columbine notwithstanding) as an excuse to get the Ten Commandments nd prayer back in the schools. I'm NOT Christian and I find that vastly inappropriate.

  • Sheesh...I thought we wiped out Hell in the Doom saga...Hell is trite, contrived and boring...I'm sick of fighting demons...

    I would like to see what the characters look like in this game though...are there abortion doctor demons? how about Howard Stern...man, he's both obscene AND jewish...he would be worth a lot of points.
  • If they give you the opportunity to ascend into holiness and stomp the evil demons, I don't think it is fair that they dictate that you just be destroyed if you go the other way. I mean, shouldn't you be just as able to become a powerful henchman of Satan and overthrow heaven or something? I guess it isn't about fairness though...
  • "If this is significant of anything, it's that this is the first time this particular group has been targeted by a video game company (as opposed to retro-gamers, wargamers, arm-chair huntsmen, etc.)."

    I think the point is that it isn't simply another demographic being targeted by the "game industry", but that the programmers are Christian and are doing because they believe they have a calling (obligation, whatever) from God to do it.

    "Why is this bad news if they're good games? Because they're religion based? Or for other reasons?"

    I think the bad news he means in this sentence is that this will spawn more hypocritical people churning out games dictating a rule of morality and ethics, but only looking for a buck in doing so.

    I think the bad news in general, though, is that the very people who preach against violence and hate, etc., are actually promoting (whether meaningfully or not), but selling a game in which one is rewarded for performing heinous violent acts of other beings as long as these being are considered "evil" by the author. How many more steps removed is an "NRA: Shoot the Liberals" game?
  • "Sorry, but Judaism is a religion, not an ethnicity"

    But isn't "Hebrew" an ethnicity though? It sounds awkward, but aren't there really a Hebrew people? What about the descendents/followers of Abraham? I would assume these are the "Hebrew", as in the ethnicity characterized by the language. As you mention, it is entirely possible to be Hebrew and /not/ Jewish. It was my impression though, that there was a distinct and intact ethnicity, Hebrew.
  • "No, Katz did not critisize religion. He critisized the members of a religion, by lumping them together as a group and otherwise acting in the way he claims the traditional media does towards geeks."

    Well...a religion is a lot more binding and characteristic than an ill-defined and vague slang term. When someone proclaims to be of a certain religion, it is NOT unexpected to conceptually group them with others proclaiming the same religion...in fact it is EXPECTED, and often desired. It's nobody's fault if Christians don't want to be lumped with other Christians (applies for any religion). Maybe the particular sect should be mentioned as a qualifier then. If the traditional media described all geeks as being the "average" geek then they would still be a bit flawed, but certainly closer to the truth. What the media does is provide a view wildly different from all geeks in general. Christianity, on the other hand has a standard to which one can be normalized. When one says "Christian", well, you can pretty much surmise that they believe in the texts of the Bible and accept Christ as their savior. I don't see any evil stereotyping going on there.

    "In fact I am not, but I do intensely dislike anyone putting people down as a group on the basis of something like religion, skin color or political belief. I am for freedom and tolerance, and Katz's article just didn't seem very tolerant to me..."

    The fundamental problem in the "tolerance" argument is that the only thing tolerating people do not tolerate is intolerance! I think that's the problem. Sure, it's wrong to put people down base merely on religion, skin color, or political belief...BUT, in this atmosphere of altruistic tolerance, the one catch is that any who are /intolerant/ are naturally the enemy of the system, regardless of their skin color, religion, race, whatever. Some people just take the opportunity (or make the slip) or observing a high correlation between intolerance and another given trait, like, say, religion...
  • "What Katz ignores, ignores, IGNORES is the fallacy that is implied by the above statement.
    The fallacy is as follows:
    "All Christians have exactly the same views, and all those views are terribly narrow-minded."
    This statement is so laughably untrue that I don't even know where to begin."

    It is not ABNORMAL, to characterize people following the same religion similarly. In fact it is normal and expected. Sure it's a stereotype, but it is not an unfounded stereotype. The religion itself usually predefines characteristics of its followers, so in most cases one /is/ safe to assume the followers are generally alike in respect to the tenets of their religion. SURE, there are people who have different interpretations and believe differently. But Christianity in general is pretty homogenous. That there are people who dissent with the "standard" view, does not make it any less laughable that staunch advocates or "fundamentals" are doing something percieved as hypocritical. I don't see how people who DO have differing beliefs would be so affected by this...the immediate thought that would come to mind is "look at what /they/ are doing", a differentiation between the perception of "Christianity" being put forth, and my own, admittably variant perception. If your beliefs are admittedly different, how does a characterization of the average insult you? Sure, people have different beliefs, but I think the connotation of the average organized Christian establishment Sunday-church-going makes this humorous. Perhaps Katz should just preface his articles with:

    #undef Christianity_Individual_Differing_Views
    #define Christianity Christianity_Std_Definition
  • "Coerced belief isn't really belief."

    I just want to note something. Coercion indicates an ability to resist. However, it is quite possible, to have brainwashed belief...or suggestive belief. Belief in which one simply does not resist. For instance, you can tell a child almost anything and they will believe it (I onced guessed that my father made approximately 1 million dollars a year and thought that was sensible). If you start a child on religion (or any system of beliefs) young, then they will most probably never doubt it and never come to it themselves. Instead of doing something like this, I would rather see children brought up in a religiously agnostic environment and come to their own beliefs (or lack thereof). Of course this makes it too late to choose some religions (baptism, circumcision??).
  • Yes, and the differences are, on the whole, trivial points with respect to the religion at large. Things such as baptisizing, or who can be priests, the status of women etc...all of which are different views or interpretations of the same texts/doctrines. The term Christian, still adequately describes all of these groups and does not lead one to unnecessarily assume things about any of them. If any of these sects are so different from Christianity in general, are they really Christians? And if not, should they really be taking offense if they don't consider themselves Christians?
  • "Perhaps, but I wouldn't equate Hebrew with Jew."

    I don't.

    "But as for Hitler, yeah I'll agree that he was trying to eradicate the Jewish race."

    "But your argument is pretty weird. "All Jews are descended from Abraham, except the ones that aren't.""

    I'm not sure if this is referring to me, or to someone in the other thread, but I never argued /Jews/ were descended from Abraham. That doesn't make any sense. I was asking if there was in fact an ethnicity derived from the original Jewish people, Abraham et al. Hebrews/Semites today aren't all necessarily Jewish, and not all Jews are Hebrew/Semitec in ethnicity.

    The Jewish race? Do you mean the Hebrew or Semitic peoplss? Judaism is just a religion. Sure Hitler hated Jews, but more than he hated Judaism itself, it was the actually /ethnicity/ he hated. He was /ethnically/ cleaning the country. I'm sure if the Hebrew/Semites were all atheists, he'd still want to eradicate them.
  • by a2800276 (50374) on Monday October 25, 1999 @07:11AM (#1589888) Homepage
    I really don't think that the point is that ALL of Christendom is behind this. I would assume most moderate and intelligent Christians would find this game as silly and hypocrite as non-Christians. The point is that the same moral-authority types propagate this as "wholesome" that think it's evil if a 15 year sees a naked nipple, an 18 year old has a beer, and think it's a really good an worthy thing for everyone to be able to buy automatic weapons (and lay the blame for Columbine on South Park).
    I'm not much of a Doom/Quake/you-name-it fan, but I don't think it's evil. If a teenager is incapable of differentiating between killing in a game or on TV, the cause can't just be his playing Quake.
    If you do find Doom & Company offensive, this game is just as bad, what kind of a medieval concept of religion is it that allows killing for God? Ok, it's basically the same moral argument used to justify the death penalty.
    Anyone downloaded this already, it seems so ridiculous that I'm tempted to believe this is a farce along the line of JeSux.
  • by Enoch Root (57473) on Monday October 25, 1999 @06:33AM (#1589916)
    If The War in Heaven is a Christian game, then so is Doom.

    I fail to see how a game that involves angels and/or demons has anything to do with Christian morality. The idea that your actions impact on your moral alignment is nothing new, and gives the false impression that you have to do something drastic to condemn yourself to evil (like sacking the nobles for cash in Baldur's Gate, or going on a peasant rampage in most RPGs.)

    What I mean by this is, this game designer is trying to hype this game by appealing to Christians. He probably also expects Christians to take up arms at the mention of this game's graphical depiction of violence and hacking down "praying angels". And poof, he's getting more publicity than you can possibly hope for. In other words, he's a marketing troll.

    That being said, I'm not Christian, so I couldn't care less. I think the idea of setting a game in Heaven sounds great, and I'm always a sucker for the good guys (hence I'll probably play an Angel, if I ever acquire the game.) It doesn't sound like it follows tradition very closely, and surely a game based on Milton's Paradise Lost would have had more appeal to Christians. It probably would be very boring, though, as the Angels could never be wounded and the Son of God would beat the Rebels' asses...

    Anyway. Tis just hype, and Jon Katz bought into it without thinking twice. May still be a cool game, but I don't expect spiritual enlightenment from it.
    "Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

  • I don't want any evil hackers possessing my computer, you know ...
  • it will run on Lunatix. the OS of choice for /. users.

    tongue(cheek);
  • I spent many years thinking that we should respect the religions of others; that people have the right to worship what and/or who they want. As I've grown older (and more dogmatic), I see this atitude as harmful. Pandering to superstition does nothing except encourage redneck savages to remove evolution from schools' curriculum.
    In the main, this change in attitude comes from the staggering hypocrisy displayed by most Christians (the religion with which I'm most familiar. I'm Irish). Hands up all the Christians out there who turn the other cheek? Hands up the christians who've never copied someone else's CD (Thou Shalt Not Steal)?



    Wait, tell me again when Christians stopped being fallable human beings and started being Perfect? Last time I checked I was still human, I still did things that were wrong, I didn't always feel bad about it afterwards... I'm still a Christian, I still TRY to do the right thing. Of course, it's not always easy to tell what the Right Thing is with snap judgement, so I make mistakes. Are you infallible? Do you make no mistakes?
    Remember, Christians are People too.

    Kintanon
  • Did Jon ever say anyhting that the Christians didn't have the right to produce the game? No. He is just pointing out their hypocrisy (sp?) I don't think he has anything against Christians personally he just points out the flaws they show. The days following Columbine all the Christians say 'Violence is horrible! Its the Internet! We should ban it! No more Quake! No more Doom! Its the devil!' Yet now they come up with this game where its now OK to blow up all these

    I've emphasized the massive fallacy in your statement. *I* Am a Christian, I DID NOT blame the internet or anything else other than the sick, twisted demented minds of the kids and the blind stupid parents for columbine. When you are capable of making a rational argument please feel free to do so. But trying to catagorize all Christians as doing anything is sheer stupidity.

    Kintanon
  • Or is this a variation the vaguely D&D books that were once popular in evangelical christianity which had angels winning only through the prayer power of the saints. I remember the demon/angel combat in those books even sounded like D&D, even the descriptions of the demons twisted lizard like appearance and sulferous breath.

    The books referred to here are by Frank E. Peretti (spelling is optional.) and the only one I can remember the title to is 'Piercing the Darkness' they are good books. Even for non christians they are entertaining.

    Kintanon
  • As a Christian, I find it laughable that anyone would try to claim that playing this video game would have any spiritual merit. The bible even forbids "slandering celestial beings" (never mind blowing them up with lasers, bombs, whatever).

    I would hesitate to label a game "Christian." That's like labeling food "Christian." Christianity is a matter of will and of the heart, not of what food you eat, what clothes you wear, what books you read, what games you play, etc.

    If you love to play Doom, that doesn't mean you are evil or violent. If you love to play The War In Heaven, it doesn't mean you are a good Christian (personally, I like Warcraft). In fact, dangling things like blaspheming and killing praying angels in front of gamers is akin to spiritual entrapment.
  • What I find interesting is that any questions raised about Christianity are always met so defensively. Katz didn't critisize any religion in the slightest - at all.

    No, Katz did not critisize religion. He critisized the members of a religion, by lumping them together as a group and otherwise acting in the way he claims the traditional media does towards geeks. The whole tone of his article is dismissive and, well, nasty. It almost seems like he has a personal axe to grind, and it is certainly hypocritical of him. Hence my post.

    You loonitics are just so paranoid about someone raising questions about anything included in the little Christian club that you blast anyone who questions you.

    Who, me? What makes you think that I am a christian, much less that I consider myself one? I am certain I never made that claim, and I hadn't thought my post would make it seem so. In fact I am not, but I do intensely dislike anyone putting people down as a group on the basis of something like religion, skin color or political belief. I am for freedom and tolerance, and Katz's article just didn't seem very tolerant to me...

    On the other hand I think your choice of words says volumes about you. Plus you mispelled 'lunatics'. And no, I won't go into your grammar.

    Katz is questioning the inconsistancy that somehow a very violent Christian game is hailed as morally pure, while games like Quake are blamed for violence.

    I agree with that point. I only take exception with the way it was made. Katz was either deliberately making intolerant sounding remarks or he was expressing a personal opinion that had no place here. Either way, I feel correct in referring to the article as 'flamebait'.

    Jack

  • On the one hand Jon Katz pushes tolerance for those who are different and freedom of speech for all. On the other, as in this article, he seems to be doing the opposite. Why all the venom against Christians Jon? Would you make the same nasty, baseless, comments about a game representing Jewish or Muslim mythology? How about Hindu? Paganism?

    Not that I really care about the game in question myself. I doubt I will ever play it, much less pay money for the privilege. Nor am I in the target audience. And the idea of a violent game intended for christians does seem a bit hypocritical. Although perhaps not, if you read the old testement.

    But it doesn't reach the same heighth of hypocrisy as Jon here! He speaks in a harsh tone about one segment of the populace, yet writes so many impassioned articles questioning why the general populace and traditional media do the same with geeks. Perhaps Jon thinks Christians are safe targets right now...

    And notice that at no point is the game reviewed on its own merits as a game. Only on the content. I wish I could moderate articles down -- I would count this one as 'flamebait'.

    Jack

  • How many games out there have basis in hell - Diablo is just one of many. Why make an issue of it when a game has a basis in heaven as well ? Many games are posed as a battle between good and evil, but because the the forces in this case are heaven vs. hell, it gets extra attention ? How the game plays will determine whether it's successful or not.

    As far as religion and freedom not getting along, it should be stated that organized/institutionalized religion and the humans that run them have had problems with freedom, not the faith itself.

    'Men go crazy in congregations, they only get better one by one.' -- Sting

  • Religion has no evidence either way, and therefore currently falls outside the scientific method. Deeply religious people like this are prejudiced against science.

    Unfortunately, many modern religious groups feel that they must justify their faith with science because so many people believe so deeply that science will be humanity's 'savior'. However, religion is a poor foundation for science. Likewise, science is a poor foundation for religion.

    I have always understood science and religion/philosophy to be mutually exclusive endeavors. Science is data collection and subsequent application of that knowledge to the physical world. When scientists take their observations and attempt to make philosophical or religious arguments from them, they have left the world of science. The problem lies on both sides of the rail (religion and science.)

    The truth of the matter is that religion cannot tell us why the sky is blue, where babies come from (physicly speaking), or what will happen when we mix chemicals x,y, and z in certain proportions. It is not supposed to. Likewise, science cannot tell us why flowers are beautiful, why we shouldn't kill every person that annoys us, or why (or if) life has meaning. It is not supposed to.

    Of course religious people are prejudiced against science; they see science as trying to define religion when it has no right to! Of course scientific people are prejudiced against religion; they see religion as trying to define science when it has no right to!

    Where I have problems is in "scientific" endeavors such as SETI. Basicly, people who say that there is no scientific evidence for a God who will use vast resources to listen for Extra Terrestrial intelligence, when there is no scientific evidence for it. To me, that takes a great amount of (scientificly) non-rational faith. Just like belief in any diety. (Of course, most religions' gods could be described as extra-terrestrial ultra-intelligence...)

    Anyway, that's my 2 worth.

  • The web site is at www.externalwarriors.com [eternalwarriors.com]

    It actually looks half-decent, sorta choppy looking ... I'd play it tho'.
  • THANK YOU for posting that response. As an active Christian, AND a person who has vented some frustration by playing games like DOOM; I find both the concept of "The War in Heaven" and Jon Katz's commentary on it to be distasteful. The Christians who condemn technology for all of society's ills are a vocal (and I think obnoxiously ignorant) MINORITY among Christians. I agree: violent movies, TV shows, and games do not somehow mysteriously brainwash people into becoming mindless homicidal psychos. Most people I know can distinguish between the imaginary, harmless "violence" of "shooting" something in a game, and the pretty-much-agreed-upon-as-unacceptable genuine violence of taking a gun to your school/place of work/post office and actually firing on human beings. However, the juxtaposition with the invented violence of games and some kind of "morality" disturbs me. Why would I want to play a game that imposes on my personal vision of spirituality and how it works? I don't know what to be more offended about: that "good" angels are BLONDE (hello, racist!), or that people like Katz assume I'm going to think this is an awesome game because I pray and read the Bible and go to church.
  • ...to make money or to save souls. All in all though, I must say this sounds very hypocritical. I can say that, because I spent 5 years as an evangelical, bible-thumping Christian. Now, this may be labeled as flamebait, but oh well. Here's how it is: it's bad to show a computer game with *simulated* violence, death, and gore. This kind of deplorable killing spree might lead to more Columbine-esque killings. *BUT* It's OK to nail down some of the devil's nasties. Hey, they're only dark lords of the netherworld. Go ahead, shoot them. I wonder if this will lead to a whole new generation of school shootings, where Christians go in and shoot their "less-than holy" classmates for their perversion and not choosing Jesus as their "way, truth, and life". This is, to me anyway, just one more example of the rotten-to-the-core, two-faced, hypocritical Christianity I was once a part of.

    Two more points:
    1. I kill demons in Magic: The Gathering so I guess that makes the game OK in the eyes of the fundies.
    2. The people making this game are the same ones that bug you by knocking on your door during dinner.

    Peace Out,

    Charlie.


    --
    Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
    Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
    I've never been the same since.

  • and our Great Depression is our Lives. So says the protagonist of "Fight Club," IMHO one of the most provocative films in recent memory. And IMHO, he is dead on. What follows is my (take on) religion for today. Triangulated somewhere between between sober dissertation and bong-load revalation, psychic meditation and mental masturbation: I encourage all to read Dr. Boyd's "spiritual warfare" article on the eternalwarriors page. (preferably before reading the rest of this. Although we come from vastly different theological viewpoints, it's a pretty damn well written paper. Just tell the boss you're researching a new market.) In the beginning he reveals the seemingly paradoxical nature of spiritual free agency in the bible - there is only "One God" with a capital 'G,' yet there are many references, in both testaments, to a large number of spiritual free agents - angels, demons, etc. Interpreted literally, THESE AGENTS HAVE FREE WILL and are therefore prone to the same error and moral ambiguity as the rest of us (he describes one biblical passage as God "reaming out" less-than-competent subordinates.) Dr. Boyd goes on to cast Christianity in a decidedly non-platonic light - that is, while God has a Plan, free agents are perfectly able to screw up his Plan (and there isn't necessarily some perfect world where his Plan went right, either.) I found the description rather refreshing, because it is one of the few "Christian" theological viewpoints I've heard that addresses the polytheistic aspect of Christianity. It's really not that far from some traditions (e.g. parts of Eastern, Pagan, and Native American spirituality) which posit a whole sort of spiritual ecosystem. I guess it's actually closer to Catholic mysticism, since the context seems very bi-polar - you're either on "the side of" God or the Devil. Still, the picture painted by Dr. Boyd is of a big, dynamic, exciting spiritual world, in which, even if there is an absolute right and wrong, the participating free agents don't have all the data, and therefore can't always make the 'right' decision. I think Dr. Boyd's paper offers a glimmer of hope, an intellectual avenue between Christians and non-Christians. After all, WHY did God create this diverse array of creatures with Free Will, if not to enjoy the DIVERSITY of their forms? This diversity can best be enjoyed if these entities help each other to reach their full potential, rather than using their energies to destroy (negate) each other. "Evil" in this sense can be defined as this destructive impulse, this Thanatos Drive. In our multicultural society, we are exposed to countless ideas of what it is to be "good," "right," "just," "human," etc. Often these ideas contradict each other, so they "fight" for memonic supremacy. Our minds are a constant battleground of memes... and since memes can be transmitted from mind to mind, and can sometimes drastically alter our behavior (lead to epiphanies, crises, etc.) is it not perhaps fit to speak of them as "spiritual?" And it is obvious that some memes are destructive to the rest of the human personality (e.g. abuse, addiction, fascism - note that I don't necessarily include the more "primal" memes such as anger) Is it not fit to speak of them as "evil agents?" What practical difference does it make, whether the "daemon" that is prompting you to take a destructive action is external or internal (literally, memory-resident.) You still need to kill, or at least banish (re-nice?) it to take a more positive action. I believe that our spirituality is, first and foremost, how we make the material world seem "real" to us, how we make ordinary events seem "meaniful" by referring to them from the point of view of something greater and more permanent. Modern knowledge of the universe points to many things that are greater and more permanent than ourselves (although it can not yet ascribe any of them consciousness, it certainly gives plenty of room for more powerful beings, with a universe billions of light-years across, more than 4 dimensions in this universe, and any number of ways in which "our" universe isn't necessarily the only one. Any number of cosmologies which permit true infinity are now at least viable. Obviously, the notion of Spiritual Warfare can be interpreted in very destructive ways by narrowminded people. But isn't narrowmindedness one of the very memes / demons we must struggle against? "By their fruits you shall judge them," and I believe that it is blazoned across some part of our humanity, our soul, that narrowmindedness leads to destruction, death, evil, bad karma, whatever you wanna call it. Evil is the misery, the despair, the stifled dreams of THIS world. Good is our attempts to "slip the surly bonds of earth, and touch the face of God." Modern technology is giving us the means to do just that - as well as the means to make the earth a living hell. Each of us must fight for control of our own lives and minds. There are many obstacles in the way, and many entities that don't necessarily want us to succeed. Whether they inhabit the dark recesses of our minds, the dark side of the moon, or some other "plane" of existence, THEY ARE REAL. Whether they were created by some supreme being and "fell from grace," or merely arose from the frustration of fallible people dealing with a harsh physical world, THEY ARE REAL. If we sit back and do nothing, they will eventually destroy us. But if we wake up and smell the napalm, we might see that we can do a lot, individually as well as collectively. You all know what to do: stop complaining about your own problems and start doing something about them. Forget your machines: upgrade yourself. Strive to increase your bandwidth, spiritually, intellectually, socially, politically, physically, sexually (note that "financially" isn't in the list - once you start seeing money as an end rather than a mean you've pretty much given up.) Help others, love others, teach others, learn from others. Do all the other corny, warm-fuzzy things you know are right. Create islands of sanity in the midst of all this chaos. Create theories which simplify our complex lives, without sacrificing coherence with observed reality. Get in touch with your body, your mind, your neighbors, your neighborhood, YOUR universe. The more you do this, the more you will be in touch with the reality of the conflicts which surround us, and the more you will be able to take actions which are effective in shaping the future. That's what spiritual warfare means. Be a soldier, even if you're a pacifist. Be a man, even if you're a woman. Be a woman, even if you're a man. Be all you can be, which is a lot more than most of us think. Have the foresight to realize that YOUR best path is not necessarily the one which gets the most immediate rewards. Follow many paths, listen to the voices of history. I realize how corny all this shit sounds. But that's the whole POINT: statements of POWER and TRUTH are as old as the mountains, hence not copyrightable. Thus they get lost in the ones and zeroes of daily life. Their signal must be amplified if we are to remain WHOLE, COMPLETE, AUTONOMOUS free agents rather than merely being interchangeable hyper-efficient binary decision makers. Spirituality has traditionally served the purpose of reminding us who we are and what we're here for. This is the last thing that science seeks to do (quite literally - maybe if we "figure out" everything else we'll see the meaning of meaning too... but I wouldn't hold my breath) Corporate capitalism won't help - after all, if we're whole, complete people we have less needs to be filled by product. Government long ago abandoned any pretensions of spiritual leadership, and the political wing of the Religious Right is appealing to the lowest common denominator - fear rather than spirituality. Some would argue that a majority of mainstream religions have also followed this road. So we NEED spirituality, but can we TRUST religion? Perhaps - if that religion has returned to its original purpose of supporting our struggles against the evils of this world. As Dr. Boyd said in his paper, all too often religious leaders have served to keep us passive. What we really need is a system of dialogue between those of various traditions, FOCUSED on the application of spirituality to the problems of THIS world. There are a large number of AFFIRMATIVE ideals (e.g. respect for human life, belief in human dignity, respect and stewardship of the earth) which almost all traditions, from Anglicans to Zorastarians, pretty much hold in common. If there was a coalition that really embraced those ideals, it could be a strong force, politically as well as spiritual, providing a real alternative to the PROHIVITIVE, restrictions policies of the CC. It could defend reasonable people whom the CC has defined as "godless" because of their lack of adherence to some specific dogma. It could field candidates of its own, taking the REAL moral high ground and thereby revitalizing REAL spiritual dialogue in this country. It could encourage more compassionate, understanding foreign policy, restoring America's moral legitimacy in the eyes of the rest of the world. It might even lead to a government that Americans would be willing to trust again, finally making possible solutions to social problems we have all but given up on. Phew! That's a rather long tirade. Congratulations to anyone who made it through (moderators, you DID read the whole thing before giving it an offtopic rating, didn't you?) Just so you know I wasn't totally wasting my time, part of this will probably make it into a term paper someday soon. So let me know how you felt (email roos@stanford.edu) I'm serious about all of this. There is a huge spiritual potential within us all that is ignored by most organized religions and totally negated by much of our capitalist media-orcracy. I only hope that that power is harnessed by responsible leaders, not cultish demagogues. Please e-mail any interesting links along these lines you might have... I might turn it into more than a term paper. Oh, and as for the game: looks kinda low-budget, but I'd give it a shot if there's a demo. And yeah, that angel *does* kinda look like it's smokin' a big spliff...
  • Sorry, the preview button didn't work so I forgot it was all getting munged together.

    IMHO one of the most provocative films in recent memory. And, IMHO, he is dead on.

    What follows is my (take on) religion for today. Triangulated somewhere between between sober dissertation and bong-load revalation, psychic meditation and mental masturbation:

    I encourage all to read Dr. Boyd's "spiritual warfare" article on the eternalwarriors page. (preferably before reading the rest of this. Although we come from vastly different theological viewpoints, it's a pretty damn well written paper. Just tell the boss you're researching a new market.) In the beginning he reveals the seemingly paradoxical nature of spiritual free agency in the bible - there is only "One God" with a capital 'G,' yet there are many references, in both testaments, to a large number of spiritual free agents - angels, demons, etc. Interpreted literally, THESE AGENTS HAVE FREE WILL and are therefore prone to the same error and moral ambiguity as the rest of us (he describes one biblical passage as God "reaming out" less-than-competent subordinates.) Dr. Boyd goes on to cast Christianity in a decidedly non-platonic light - that is, while God has a Plan, free agents are perfectly able to screw up his Plan (and there isn't necessarily some perfect world where his Plan went right, either.)

    I found the description rather refreshing, because it is one of the few "Christian" theological viewpoints I've heard that addresses the polytheistic aspect of Christianity. It's really not that far from some traditions (e.g. parts of Eastern, Pagan, and Native American spirituality) which posit a whole sort of spiritual ecosystem. I guess it's actually closer to Catholic mysticism, since the context seems very bi-polar - you're either on "the side of" God or the Devil. Still, the picture painted by Dr. Boyd is of a big, dynamic, exciting spiritual world, in which, even if there is an absolute right and wrong, the participating free agents don't have all the data, and therefore can't always make the 'right' decision.

    I think Dr. Boyd's paper offers a glimmer of hope, an intellectual avenue between Christians and non-Christians. After all, WHY did God create this diverse array of creatures with Free Will, if not to enjoy the DIVERSITY of their forms? This diversity can best be enjoyed if these entities help each other to reach their full potential, rather than using their energies to destroy (negate) each other. "Evil" in this sense can be defined as this destructive impulse, this Thanatos Drive.

    In our multicultural society, we are exposed to countless ideas of what it is to be "good," "right," "just," "human," etc. Often these ideas contradict each other, so they "fight" for memonic supremacy. Our minds are a constant battleground of memes... and since memes can be transmitted from mind to mind, and can sometimes drastically alter our behavior (lead to epiphanies, crises, etc.) is it not perhaps fit to speak of them as "spiritual?" And it is obvious that some memes are destructive to the rest of the human personality (e.g. abuse, addiction, fascism - note that I don't necessarily include the more "primal" memes such as anger) Is it not fit to speak of them as "evil agents?" What practical difference does it make, whether the "daemon" that is prompting you to take a destructive action is external or internal (literally, memory-resident.) You still need to kill, or at least banish (re-nice?) it to take a more positive action.

    I believe that our spirituality is, first and foremost, how we make the material world seem "real" to us, how we make ordinary events seem "meaniful" by referring to them from the point of view of something greater and more permanent. Modern knowledge of the universe points to many things that are greater and more permanent than ourselves (although it can not yet ascribe any of them consciousness, it certainly gives plenty of room for more powerful beings, with a universe billions of light-years across, more than 4 dimensions in this universe, and any number of ways in which "our" universe isn't necessarily the only one. Any number of cosmologies which permit true infinity are now at least viable.

    Obviously, the notion of Spiritual Warfare can be interpreted in very destructive ways by narrowminded people. But isn't narrowmindedness one of the very memes / demons we must struggle against? "By their fruits you shall judge them," and I believe that it is blazoned across some part of our humanity, our soul, that narrowmindedness leads to destruction, death, evil, bad karma, whatever you wanna call it. Evil is the misery, the despair, the stifled dreams of THIS world. Good is our attempts to "slip the surly bonds of earth, and touch the face of God."

    Modern technology is giving us the means to do just that - as well as the means to make the earth a living hell. Each of us must fight for control of our own lives and minds. There are many obstacles in the way, and many entities that don't necessarily want us to succeed. Whether they inhabit the dark recesses of our minds, the dark side of the moon, or some other "plane" of existence, THEY ARE REAL. Whether they were created by some supreme being and "fell from grace," or merely arose from the frustration of fallible people dealing with a harsh physical world, THEY ARE REAL. If we sit back and do nothing, they will eventually destroy us.

    But if we wake up and smell the napalm, we might see that we can do a lot, individually as well as collectively. You all know what to do: stop complaining about your own problems and start doing something about them. Forget your machines: upgrade yourself. Strive to increase your bandwidth, spiritually, intellectually, socially, politically, physically, sexually (note that "financially" isn't in the list - once you start seeing money as an end rather than a mean you've pretty much given up.) Help others, love others, teach others, learn from others. Do all the other corny, warm-fuzzy things you know are right. Create islands of sanity in the midst of all this chaos. Create theories which simplify our complex lives, without sacrificing coherence with observed reality. Get in touch with your body, your mind, your neighbors, your neighborhood, YOUR universe. The more you do this, the more you will be in touch with the reality of the conflicts which surround us, and the more you will be able to take actions which are effective in shaping the future.

    That's what spiritual warfare means. Be a soldier, even if you're a pacifist. Be a man, even if you're a woman. Be a woman, even if you're a man. Be all you can be, which is a lot more than most of us think. Have the foresight to realize that YOUR best path is not necessarily the one which gets the most immediate rewards. Follow many paths, listen to the voices of history.

    I realize how corny all this shit sounds. But that's the whole POINT: statements of POWER and TRUTH are as old as the mountains, hence not copyrightable. Thus they get lost in the ones and zeroes of daily life. Their signal must be amplified if we are to remain WHOLE, COMPLETE, AUTONOMOUS free agents rather than merely being interchangeable hyper-efficient binary decision makers. Spirituality has traditionally served the purpose of reminding us who we are and what we're here for. This is the last thing that science seeks to do (quite literally - maybe if we "figure out" everything else we'll see the meaning of meaning too... but I wouldn't hold my breath) Corporate capitalism won't help - after all, if we're whole, complete people we have less needs to be filled by product. Government long ago abandoned any pretensions of spiritual leadership, and the political wing of the Religious Right is appealing to the lowest common denominator - fear rather than spirituality. Some would argue that a majority of mainstream religions have also followed this road.

    So we NEED spirituality, but can we TRUST religion? Perhaps - if that religion has returned to its original purpose of supporting our struggles against the evils of this world. As Dr. Boyd said in his paper, all too often religious leaders have served to keep us passive.

    What we really need is a system of dialogue between those of various traditions, FOCUSED on the application of spirituality to the problems of THIS world. There are a large number of AFFIRMATIVE ideals (e.g. respect for human life, belief in human dignity, respect and stewardship of the earth) which almost all traditions, from Anglicans to Zorastarians, pretty much hold in common. If there was a coalition that really embraced those ideals, it could be a strong force, politically as well as spiritual, providing a real alternative to the PROHIVITIVE, restrictions policies of the CC. It could defend reasonable people whom the CC has defined as "godless" because of their lack of adherence to some specific dogma. It could field candidates of its own, taking the REAL moral high ground and thereby revitalizing REAL spiritual dialogue in this country. It could encourage more compassionate, understanding foreign policy, restoring America's moral legitimacy in the eyes of the rest of the world. It might even lead to a government that Americans would be willing to trust again, finally making possible solutions to social problems we have all but given up on.

    Phew! That's a rather long tirade. Congratulations to anyone who made it through (moderators, you DID read the whole thing before giving it an offtopic rating, didn't you?) Just so you know I wasn't totally wasting my time, part of this will probably make it into a term paper someday soon. So let me know how you felt (email roos@stanford.edu) I'm serious about all of this. There is a huge spiritual potential within us all that is ignored by most organized religions and totally negated by much of our capitalist media-orcracy. I only hope that that power is harnessed by responsible leaders, not cultish demagogues. Please e-mail any interesting links along these lines you might have... I might turn it into more than a term paper.

    Oh, and as for the game: looks kinda low-budget, but I'd give it a shot if there's a demo. And yeah, that angel *does* kinda look like it's smokin' a big spliff...

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak

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