Playing Games with God 2

The various authors of Halos and Avatars: playing Video Games with God want to get beyond reactive dismissals of video games as innately ‘bad’, reflecting the obsessions of loner teenage boys, representing a second-class form of entertainment and fostering violence, social withdrawal, and time-wasting.

They cite research to show that the gaming generation has excellent multitasking and problem solving skills, are civic-minded and use games as a social outlet. In this light, the overall tone of this book is written by enthusiasts and is critically positive about the constructive social, educational, personal and even spiritual benefits of gaming.

But here’s a thing I found especially interesting. The best games create space for mystery, possibility, openness and pose ethical and strategic demands on the gamer. Numerous games raise ethical, theological, competitive, philosophical and artistic questions – demanding much of the players and raising questions of free will and determinism.

Explicitly Christian games with heavy-handed agendas (like Left Behind – yes, you’ll be glad to know that there is a game for the book series!) – are not that much fun, placing less faith in their audience, controlling the outcomes and marking boundaries.

What lessons for church life, discipleship,teaching and Christian education in general here? What implications for evangelism and apologetics?

Life is complex, wisdom is needed. ‘Faith as neat formula’ with easy answers may satisfy in the short term but does not cut much ice over the long haul. Often the sheer busyness of local church life leaves little room for discussing and thinking about the sorts of ethical, theological, artistic and philosophical questions that daily life throws up.

One thing we’ve found really helpful in our local church is giving space for questions and having open forums. Or for having that sort of space in smaller home groups.

I’ve been reading a bit more on stuff related to this post and plan to write a bit more on one fascinating article in particular which suggests that evangelical churches are good at relating to people in the early stages of faith, but tend to be poor at helping people through a faith journey that covers different stages of belief.

And this has been linked in research to the fact of long-established Christians becoming ‘leavers’ from churches that preclude exploration, questioning and doubt since growth and maturity in faith can’t actually happen without such things.

What’s your experience of being encouraged and given ‘space’ to question, doubt, explore and rethink what it means to be a Christian? And how has this process impacted your ‘faith journey’?

Comments, as ever, welcome. 

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2 thoughts on “Playing Games with God 2

  1. I think in many evangelicals circles we have made the mistake of thinking of church as final destination in a spiritual journey. One somebody is in, seated and “getting involved” we think that that is the end of the journey. We need to go back a little bit to the idea that Eugene H. Peterson expresses in his book A Long obedience in the same direction. The christian is both apprentice and pilgrim, we are apprentices to Jesus, and we are walking towards a final destination. An apprentice, needs to ask from the master, needs to have thinks repeated and show time an time again how something is done, he needs to be listened to and challenge, all of that is part of learning. If we want to have good apprentices we need to create environments or forums where to ask, to question, is the norm, where the learner does not feel condemned for not thinking like everybody else, where the art of listening is exercised and we don’t become defensive of those who might “mess up our theology” , we need to put patience into practice, and above all we need to rest on God’s grace to help us.

  2. Thanks Ana, very helpful. And perhaps I wonder within some branches of evangelicalism has a theology of ‘being saved’ also led to the impression that ‘once in’ the big stuff is sorted, and what follows is secondary …?

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