Sunday, April 3, 2016

Foolish Fighting Followed by Fallout

Cover art. Cover art never significantly changes.
“War. War never changes.”

These are the words that greet us each time a new entry in the Fallout series hits consoles and
computers, and this leads us into our theofictionology post for today.

Fallout 4 is the latest in the series. It was hotly anticipated and shipped $750 million worth of the game in the first 24 hours after its Nov. 10, 2015 release. The plot this time around features a parent (you can be a man or woman) who survives a nuclear war by being frozen underground for 200 years or so, witnesses their spouse being murdered in front of their eyes, and is helpless to stop their infant son Shaun from being kidnapped by the killers. The Sole Survivor (ie you) is finally released from their icy slumber and sets out to rescue their son from the shadowy, robot-makin’ Institute…all the while getting distracted by private eye cases to solve, settlements to protect, towns to build, beer-producing robots to deliver, superheroes to impersonate and so, so, so much more. See, this is a Fallout game. I’ve recently seen people critical of this installment saying they only dropped 40 hours or so into it before taking a break. 40 hours. That’s not too shabby for a single-player game, and you definitely won’t experience all there is to experience in this game if you walk away then…but, in this series, people are used to investing hundreds of hours.

But that critical element has seemed especially noisy when it comes to this game. Patricia Hernandez, of popular video game blogging site Kotaku, concluded that, while she’s enjoying herself, it doesn’t feel like a Fallout game. The modern games look a whole lot different than the early ones, sure, but even earlier modern installments Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas (the latter of which has already been the focus of a blog post by yours truly) still let you focus a great deal on dialogue and playing the game in a variety of ways, but Fallout 4, while still maintaining a strong focus on exploration, doesn’t offer a lot of variety, unless by variety you mean “what weapon to kill other characters and creatures with.”

This is a series in which one of the installments let you confront the big bad guy and convince him to give up his evil plot. That’s right. A video game that let you talk your way out of a boss fight—heck, out of the boss fight.

But Fallout 4? In the Kotaku article I linked to above, the author describes stumbling across a track dedicated to racing robots. She got excited as she realized what was going on, as she heard the
Ladies and gentlemen, let me present Haley, my Sole Survivor.
The one in front. My armor is behind me and Piper is off to the right.
I don't want to talk about why Piper is dressed like that. It's decent armor.
announcer and began to wonder whether she could bet on the races and couldn’t wait to hobknob with the gamblers. But nope. The area was populated by bad guys and, like most of the game, the only option was to kill or be killed. I actually found my way to the racetrack earlier today, after I had already started writing this post, and I can attest to Patricia’s experience. I didn’t even know what I had found before people were shooting at me.

I’m still enjoying the game, understand, but it’s so much less than I was hoping for. The vast majority of the game boils down to “go there, shoot this,” and my favorite parts are without doubt the missions that deviate from that template. Doesn’t really matter what I want, though. The Commonwealth is a dangerous place, and I can be minding my own business, but if I don’t watch out, I might get my head blown off.

Sort of like being on social media in an election year.

Let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about the rage. First of all, I don’t like to bring much in the way of politics into the blog, but I’ll let you know where I’m coming from. I’m a political misanthrope. I pretty much can’t stand anybody. I don’t want to align myself with either party, and hate the two party system. I wish we could abolish political parties, and simply support men and women, finding out where they stand on the issues without a party line to worry about toeing. This would have the added benefit of not dividing us into colors, as people or as states, which I would hope would lead to more critical thought. I hate how much influence people like the Kochs have, as well as the influence
Be honest. Would you really miss them?
that Big Oil and other major lobbyists have in Washington. I think things are broken. Most of the candidates we see are too beholden to this broken system to have much hope of fixing anything. But, then, I don’t much put my hope in man anyway, and certainly not in politicians.

So that’s where I’m at. But it doesn’t matter what I wish for. What matters is reality, so let us face the fact that division is valued in our nation—especially every four years, but most of the rest of the time as well, except perhaps Christmas. We have decided from the deepest, darkest corners of our twisted, bitter little hearts that we’re right and everyone else is an idiot who really shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Fine. But that doesn’t mean we need to shoot first and ask genuine, thoughtful questions never. And especially not as followers of Christ.

There are some behaviors, friends, that we simply need to cut out. Not only do they accomplish nothing and change no minds, they are unbecoming to a believer. We are designed to stand out as salt and light, not degrade ourselves to the same level of enraged uncouthness as the rest of the world. Let’s aim to be a little more Christlike when it comes to:

1.                   Purposefully misunderstanding/misrepresenting the positions of those who disagree with us.

I'm just going to go ahead and assume that this meme
is the result of extensive research.
Memes are great for this. And by great I mean terrible. And I see it all the time. People who support Bernie Sanders are all unemployed and think that they’ll get free stuff without anyone paying for it. I actually saw a Facebook argument that contended that supporters of Ted Cruz believe he’s Jesus Christ Himself. And, yes, the “logic” was so convoluted that I had to put the word logic in quotation marks so it doesn’t sue me for defamation of character for its usage in this paragraph. #1) Can we be
honest that this is pretty childish? #2) When I see someone argue against a blatant misrepresentation of a position, I have to conclude that, at best, the attacker is incapable of grasping the original position. How in the world is that a good strategy?

Now, I’m sure some people genuinely don’t comprehend the ideologies that they oppose so forcefully. In fact, I’m positive about it. Most of these people probably just aren’t interested in actually educating themselves, content to rely on attack ads, soundbites, memes, and the angry ranting of other uninformed individuals. But…well, I hope that doesn’t describe you. And I have seen plenty of people who appear to be deliberately setting up strawman positions only to punch holes through them so they can…what? Feel smart? Attack the candidates they don’t agree with? Mislead the joyfully uninformed? Check the box of the one that should describe the Body of Christ.

(Okay—and are there Cruz supporters who believe him to be the Messiah? Sure. People can believe anything they want. But we all know that this does not represent them as a whole or even a majority, so a smug takedown based on a small percentage of supporters is not fair, nor helpful.)

What sort of complex is it where you considering yourself
smarter than everyone who disagrees with you ever?
2.                   Insulting others based on their political beliefs.

Calling names? Really? What good does that do? I’ve said this before, but I think that the devil is a master of distraction. So many of the activities and tasks that wrap up so much of our time aren’t
good or bad; they simply distract us from where our focus should be. I will submit to you that attacking others on Facebook or Twitter because we disagree with their politics is a clear indication that our focus is not where it ought to be. After all, who are you calling an idiot? There are only two options: a brother or sister in Christ, or the lost who are currently facing an eternity separated from God in hell. We have been commissioned as ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20)!

3.                   Treating our current leaders with disrespect.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1). Peter takes a similar stance in his first epistle. Honestly, it turns my stomach when I see believers publicly, proudly speaking about President Obama with such disrespect. Treating him with open hatred. I saw a missionary recently refer to him as “scumbag in chief” (or something along those lines)! And I am absolutely astounded. Seven years ago, I remember seeing self-professed Christians speaking hopefully about the President of the United States being assassinated. Never mind the frankly idiotic notion of actually wanting to live in
I saw this on Facebook a few days ago, posted by
someone who professes to be a Christian,
and I don't think I could exaggerate how disgusting I find it.
a nation where the elected leader can be murdered while in office, such hatred pouring forth from followers of Jesus Christ is both disgusting and entirely at odds with the work of the Spirit within us.

Do you disagree with President Obama’s policies (or your senator or governor or whomever)? Fine. Disagree with them. But consider how Jesus would disagree before you update your status or post that meme. And, yes, I realize that What Would Jesus Do? has become a cliché, but the concept has not and will not ever be anything other than prudent, and indeed the only choice for the Christ follower.

Perhaps you’re thinking this is all unfair. “I’m just venting,” you might say. Fair enough. I understand the impulse, I do. We live in a fallen world and it’s frustrating—infuriating, even.

But let me ask you: this sort of venting—this venting that materializes as attacks against politicians and supporters who believe differently than we do—does it arise not so much from the reality of our fallen world, but rather from a belief that our candidate or political party is the solution to fix it? Otherwise, I struggle to track the source of the anger. And that belief is woefully misguided. There is only One solution, and He is not running for office.

Regardless of the root cause, however, this partisan backbiting and mudslinging has no place within the Body of Christ. As many of us struggle to find a candidate we would want to invite over for dinner, much less have represent the United States as president, need we look any further than our own newsfeeds to see that our angry, duplicitous politicians can at least be said to represent the nation of voters we’ve become? Hold up a mirror to our social media and you will see reflections of the major candidates, as if born from the vitriolic rants and sarcastic memes that assume anyone who has different political views than us is a moron of astounding proportions.

Listen. Do you want to change the direction of the United States? Share the Gospel. Make disciples of all nations. Vote however you want, but they’ll know we’re Christians by our love for one other (John 13:35), and being a jerk about politics actively gets in the way. Our world may behave like this; we should not.

Real change will come to our nation and our world not through politics or government but through followers of Jesus Christ faithfully making disciples. Go Make Disciples: How Jesus Did It, How We Can Do It explores the methods Jesus used to transform His followers into disciple makers and offers suggestions for how we can do the same today. Available now through Kindle, Nook, iBooks, as well as most ebook retailers, and in paperback.

1 comment:

  1. People take these attitudes and express these feelings exactly because of what you said. They are not interested in being the Body of Christ (Humble, meek, advancing the Kingdom and not themselves), they are interested in "being right" and feeling superior. Good post.