Tag Archives: pop culture

Christians and Gaming Pt 1: Games of Lies and Deception

Today, I want to start a series of posts on how Christians should approach gaming. In this series, I will look at both tabletop and video games.

Growing up in the church, I was taught at an early age that lying and bearing a false witness was a sin.

You must not steal nor deceive nor lie to each other. (Leviticus 19:11)

 

Do not testify falsely against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16)

But what is a lie? A lie is defined as “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.”

With that in mind, what implications does this have for Christians who play games where deception and lying is not only encouraged, but required to win the game? And I’m thinking beyond poker here. I’m also thinking of games like Geek Out!, The Resistance, Battlestar Galactica.


Games are designed to be fun. Fun is usually maximized when everyone play by the rules. Now, in some games, behaviors like lying, deception and false accusations are written into the rules. In Geek Out!, bluffing is encouraged to get other players to bid higher than they want to try to prevent them from correctly providing the proper responses in the category. Games like Battlestar Galactica and The Resistance encourage lying, deception, and false accusations to make people second guess your true intentions. If you’re a traitor in Resistance, you want to make people think you are part of the resistance and cast doubt on the other players so you get picked to go on the missions. (Battlestar Galactica has a similar aspect in that 1-2 players are Cylons trying to sabotage the fleet.) Part of the fun of games like The Resistance and Battlestar Galactica are trying to figure out who the traitor or Cylon is. There would be no game if I answer truthfully when another player questions me about being a Cylon!

Are we breaking God’s commands against lying and bearing false witness by playing these games? If we answer in the affirmative, then we as Christians must doe a lot of soul searching. Let’s face it, we all know good Christians who tell those little white lies to their kids about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and/or the Tooth Fairy. If we were consistent in our application of Scripture, we’d have to start demanding repentance every time a kid was told Santa was real. If we answer in the negative, then how do we reconcile our actions with Scripture? Are we hypocrites for saying don’t lie except when you’re playing a game that demands deception or to keep your kids on their best behavior near Christmas by telling them that Santa is checking his list?

The way I see it, there are a few options that Christians have when it comes to these kind of games.

  1. Don’t play them.  Politely excuse yourself from the table and leave while the game is being played. You might get some strange looks from your friends but you won’t be placed in the awkward position that is option #2.
  2. Be honest. If you’re playing The Resistance and someone asks you if you are the traitor, tell them the truth. Of course, you will ruin the game for everyone else and probably won’t get an invite to the next game night, but your conscience will be clear.
  3. Realize that this is just a game, that your eternal soul will not burn in hell for all eternity because you didn’t tell the truth while playing a game, and enjoy the time with your friends.

From my perspective, there is no sin in playing these kind of games. The argument could be made that lying and false accusations are a part of the rules of the game. And if you don’t play by the rules, then what’s the point in playing that specific game? Believe me, no one’s feeling will be hurt if lie or throw around false accusations while playing these games because it is expected. And also, it’s a gameThis isn’t real live we’re talking about where real actions have real consequences.

Why We Need A Cultural Theology

I follow a number of blogs and people on Twitter that discuss Christianity and pop culture. After having watched for a while now, (most of) the blog posts and tweets show that a good theology of culture is needed today more than ever. Basically, people tend to fall into one of two extremes.

On one extreme, the case is argued for a complete withdraw from pop culture. Proponents of this extreme often cite Romans 12:2,

Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

Other passages cited include 1 John 5:19, 1 John 2:15, John 17:11-16 and James 4:4.

On the other extreme, there is complete immersion into the culture with little to no regard for how one might be perceived as both a Christian and a consumer of culture.

Both of these extremes are problematic for a variety of reasons. The list of cultural warriors in both conservative and liberal Christianity is quite lengthy and one doesn’t need to look very hard or long to find bad examples of cultural theology.

But it’s not all bad news for cultural theology as there are some out there who do not fall into either extreme and attempt to faithfully navigate the intersection of faith and pop culture. One of the best blogs, in my opinion, is Christ and Pop CultureTheir perspective is center to right-of-center, but, I can appreciate their approach

One thing I hope to accomplish in my blogging, is to further develop how Christians should navigate the intersection of faith and pop culture from from a left of center perspective while being faithful to the Christian tradition and avoiding both of the extremes.

Over my next few posts, I will be looking at the passages noted above as well as looking at one specific example of cultural theology run amok.

Forthcoming Essay: The CW's #Arrow, #DCComics, & Race

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A few months ago, on Twitter (that blessed place) I had just happened to come across a friends’ timeline announcing a Call For Papers to submit proposals for a forthcoming book by McFarland on the CW’s ARROW. I don’t think I have made it any secret my love affair for this show, the diversity of the characters, the progressive message, the realism that is now turning into a more fantastic storyline. The Call For Papers was post on the Facebook Page for the Horror Area of the Pop Culture Association/ American Culture Association. My proposal was accepted and is due the first week of next year. Here’s the premise:

Tenative Title: Robin Hood Wears A Hoodie: a comparison of representations of People of Color in CW’s Arrow, “Green Arrow: Year One,” and “Green Arrow: Hunter’s Moon”

From its very inception, the comic book genre and its mythology have had to deal with the issues of race and ethnicity. After World War II with the return of African American veterans wanting to fight for freedom here in the U.S., as well as Japanese-American families being released from internment camps, the Ku Klux Klan attempted to regain its once formidable power in local and national politics. The producers of The Adventures of Superman radio show were contacted by activist Stetson Kennedy who had investigated the KKK’s activities. The producers subsequently wrote a series of episodes where Superman fough the Clan of the Fiery Cross in 1946. Concerning the other half of DC Comics’ Worlds’ Finest duo, Batman, scholar Chris Gavaler argues that Batman’s probable origin can be found in shadow novels that inspired works like the film “Birth Of A Nation.” Comic book historians point to the Comics Code of the 1950’s which began the comic book industry’s withdrawal from politics. DC Comics once again began to address the issue of racial injustice by teaming up its out-of-this-world galactic guardian, Green Lantern with the grounded, fellow Justice Leaguer Green Arrow.

Given the rise in popularity of comic book movies and television shows, it is my intention to examine the ways that people of color are represented in the CW’s Arrow in comparison to two very important Green Arrow story arcs: Andy Diggle’s “Green Arrow: Year One” and Mike Grell’s “Green Arrow: Hunter Moon.” I am particularly interested in scrutinizing the narrative tropes of CW’s Arrow’s take on DC Comic villains Shado and China White, as well as the introduction of the character John Diggle, the first member Oliver Queen’s crusade for justice. With Fanonian lens, I will point out how the character arc of John Diggle both fits and makes significant departures from what Frantz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks, called “the-brave-fellow-who-knows-how-to-obey.” I shall contend that while Diggle was originally introduced as a Magical Negro/the Black Friend, the arrivals of Floyd Lawton/Deadshot and Lyla Michaels/Harbinger have managed to alter Diggle’s character into someone more complex. These changes to Diggle’s character has been well received by DC Comics fans, so much so that he has been officially canonized during Jeff Lemire’s current run of the New 52 Green Arrow comic.

Next, I plan to look at the differences of people of color in two crucial Green Arrow stories, “Year One” and “Hunter’s Moon.” At issue in “Year One” besides China White who I have already mentioned, is Oliver’s relationship with Taiana and how his encounters with her transformed him from being an apathetic billionaire playboy into a social justice warrior. Lastly, I will give close attention to depictions of blackness in the final two books of “Hunters’ Moon,” looking closely at Dinah and Oliver’s friendship with Colin, as well as Green Arrow’s battle versus the WarHogs. My conclusion will involve practical implications for how Green Arrow stories can be used to facilitate race conversations.