Friday, December 15, 2006

"Left Behind" Game Leaves A Lot Behind

(from Faithful America) No doubt you have heard about the "Left Behind" book series... Well, FaithfulAmericans, hang on... Just in time for Christmas comes a new video game: Left Behind: Eternal Forces - an end-time video game inviting your kids to engage in what makers call "spiritual warfare."

Despite a vigorous PR effort to downplay the violent, warring aspects of the game (blow away a non-Christian, lose a point...) the fact remains, the game is about blowing away non-Christians. That would mean Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and everyone else, including the healthy percentage of Christians who know better than to buy the idea that God would ever be part of such a nightmare.

The game's creator Troy Lyndon has stated, "There's no killing in the name of God." Yet the facts are, this is a game about a Christian fundamentalist-drenched end-time scenario in which the "enemy" is a dark army of non-believers pitted against converted Christians... containing as much violence as any we have seen in Grand Theft Auto. Despite poor gamer reviews its very premise remains troublesome.

What "Left Behind" leaves behind is Christ's central teaching. In fact, every major faith tradition offers the world a deep and simple well of goodness, tolerance, forgiveness, and above all, love. I would hate to think of a world in which those rich and nourishing expressions of God are extinguished, either in life or on a video screen. If there is a need for anything at all as we end this year scarred by hatred and war, it is a place where everyone's voice is heard, and where nobody's beliefs are assigned a point value.

Please allow a personal thought here. Those who believe in the end-time scenario have reasons that I may not understand. However, in Luke's gospel Jesus said that the kingdom of God is "within you." Over and over again I have seen that "kingdom" within so many - from the young mother I watched yesterday on a busy New York bus talking gently to her toddler, to my dear Muslim friend who sits daily beside his Christian wife while her body succumbs to Lou Gehrig's disease. If I have learned anything from these and so many other "angels" in this world it is that if the kingdom of God comes, it will not arrive by God overriding the worst that people can do to one another. The kingdom will come through God using the best of who we are and what we do for each other.

A well-meaning friend once asked me if I was ready for the rapture. "What if Jesus comes tomorrow? What are you going to do?"

I replied, "The more important question for me is What if Jesus DOESN'T come tomorrow? What will I do then?" So many need our expressions of care.

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