Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Kill Us, Kill Them

So, let me get this straight...

...Islamic Jihadists who use guns, planes, bombs, knives and other forms of violence to kill unbelievers are bad.

But are we attempting to train a generation of Christian kids to use the same tactics?

Check out this video game.
"Wage a war of apocalyptic proportions in LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces - a real-time strategy game based upon the best-selling LEFT BEHIND book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Join the ultimate fight of Good against Evil, commanding Tribulation Forces or the Global Community Peacekeepers, and uncover the truth about the worldwide disappearances!

  • Lead the Tribulation Force from the book series , including Rayford, Chloe, Buck and Bruce against Nicolae Carpathia – the AntiChrist.
  • Conduct physical & spiritual warfare : using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world.
  • Recover ancient scriptures and witness spectacular Angelic and Demonic activity as a direct consequence of your choices.
  • Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City .
  • Control more than 30 units types - from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!
  • Enjoy a robust single player experience across dozens of New York City maps in Story Mode – fighting in China Town , SoHo , Uptown and more!
  • Play multiplayer games as Tribulation Force or the AntiChrist's Global Community Peacekeepers with up to eight players via LAN or over the internet!
Talk to Action describes the game:
This game immerses children in present-day New York City -- 500 square blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the United Nations headquarters, and Harlem. The game rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian. The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the AntiChrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian).

Is this paramilitary mission simulator for children anything other than prejudice and bigotry using religion as an organizing tool to get people in a violent frame of mind? The dialogue includes people saying, "Praise the Lord," as they blow infidels away.

The designers intend this game to become the first dominionist warrior game to break through in the popular culture due to its violent scenarios and realistic graphics, lighting, and sound effects. Its creators expect it to earn a rating of T for Teen. How violent is that? That's the rating shared by Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory, a top selling game in which high-tech gadgets and high-powered weapons - frag grenades, shotguns, assault rifles, and submachine guns -- are used to terminate enemies with extreme prejudice.
The publishing empire created by Tim LaHaye and Jeff Jenkins, authors of the inexplicably popular and theologically suspect Left Behind series, are at the heart of the creation and distribution of this game.

I really believe there is a large sect of Christianity out there in America that wants this kind of scenario to happen. It's the same sect that, while they may hate the Islamic Jihadists for blowing up the World Trade Center and lopping off heads of innocent bystanders in Iraq, secretly long to take the same action against their own "infidels". All in the name of God, praise the Lord and pass the ammunication.

Still more disturbing is the realization that a member of the Board of Directors of Rick Warrens' Purpose Driven (mega-)Church is also on the Board of Directors for this Left Behind Games company:

The international director of Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church, Mark Carver, is a former investment banker who serves on the Advisory Board of the corporation created in October 2001 to develop and market this game. The creators plan to market their game using the same network marketing techniques that Mr. Warren used to turn The Purpose Driven Life into a commercial success. For example, they plan to distribute their merchandise through pastoral networks, especially mega-churches.

I don't want to get into a discussion about how The Purpose Driven Life relates to the Left Behind empire and vice-versa - the site linked above is looking at that story. I do mention it because my church is struggling with whether to offer a church-wide Sunday School discussion on The Purpose Driven Life. My wife has read it and enjoyed it, and got a good message from it. I have not read it but have planned to and kept putting it off.

Thank goodness Slacktivist reads (and brutally critiques) Left Behind so the rest of us don't have to.

It's a very dangerous business that these mega-churches/mega-corporations have opened themselves up to. They and their congregations run the risk of being taken over by charismatic leaders and pastors that promote their own suspect theological agendas that stray in several different directions from the core Christian message. We have to stay vigilant.

And try to make sure Left Behind: The Game isn't promoted in my church...

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