I don’t get Christian themed entertainment. Every Christian rock group I’ve ever heard sucks, up to and including a fair amount of U2. Every Jesus centered movie or book I’ve ever read or seen is just an insulting bit of jingoism wrapped up with a light glaze of five-year-old pop culture to make it go down with the hip kids (you know the ones with the drool stains on their shirts who wear a helmet when they go the bathroom). How anyone can find this crap entertaining is beyond me and even more baffling is how the creators of such pabulum actually delude themselves into thinking someone is going to read Left Behind or listen to Creed and say,” Oh right, now I get Jesus! Count me among the saved!”
Having said that, I know it’s not just my blind spot to Jesus-flavored pop culture that makes this Evangelical Kill-em-all-and-let-God-sort-them-out video game just creepy as Hell. It’s like it comes from some alternate reality where Jesus was a shotgun wielding bad ass who didn’t take lip from no Roman (Just like Shaft but with a really pimped out yarmulke).
Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission – both a religious mission and a military mission — to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state – especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is “to conduct physical and spiritual warfare”; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.
That’s rightâ€” it’s a video game based on the premis that you go around shooting non-Christians (and though it’s not stated outright its strongly implied that you also shoot non-whites and homosexuals too). Which is just what Jesus would have done, had he been able to get his hands on a few automatic weapons.
I’ve never bought into the idea that violent video games (or TV shows or movies) inspire violent actions on the part of impressionable youngens but there’s definitely a moral dimension at work here and not one that in any way jives with anything I’ve ever read about Jesus or his teachings.
Pam Spaulding over at Pandagon is as baffled, sickened and wigged as I am about this. (several other bloggers have written at length about it as well). Jonathan Hutson, at Talk To Action, a liberal Christian blog tries to untie some of the knots:
[…] According to Mr. Warren [He of The Purpose Driven Life and the game’s developer], the worst of American culture is reflected in examples of violence, terrorism, shootings, and the coarsening of our society, that turn people away in disgust. And in addition, “some people are more materialistic than ever.”
If violence, coarseness, and materialism are serious social problems, then what purpose is served by exploiting a global pastoral network to mass market a game about mass killing, whether in the name of Christ or the AntiChrist?
On the one hand, this video game is anti-American, because it endorses roving death squads engaged in faith-based violence without any regard for Constitutional law. On the other hand, the video game is anti-Christian, because it argues that the Kingdom of God can be advanced by using the methods and tools of the kingdoms of this world, namely guns and bombs.
If I wrote a story in which the main characters went around murdering Evangelicals (while pontificating on the moral and spiritual goodness to be had by doing it) I’d be called a bigot and a nut and deservedly so. Someone please explain to me how this makes him a better person than little old Godless me, what with my pacifism and multicultural tendencies.