Monthly Archives: July 2008

Video Games and Morality…

Christian.  Female.  Gamer.  I have to be in the vast minority (anybody else out there?).  I’ve been interested in, and played video games before the wonderful old atari system came out; on old (Apple) computers of course.  So obviously I don’t think playing video games is wrong.  What I would like to discuss, just because I find it interesting, is what about morality within the context of the world of a game?

For example, in one of my favorite games of all time; Knights of the Old Republic, which is based in the Star Wars universe, you can choose what kind of Jedi you become.  Do you stay a good Jedi, or start embracing the teachings and/or action of the Sith (“evil” Jedi).  Of course if you choose the Sith side of things, you aren’t a very nice person in the least.  So (some of you must be wondering) why would you ever choose to play the villain of the piece?

Well, you see, that is interesting too.  To get the fully story in a game, you play both sides, as each decision often adds to the storyline, and fills in gaps.  So, it’s the programmers who are really the immoral ones! ;)  To get all the details that you buy and play the game for, you must play both storylines; good and bad.  Some people cannot do it.  They can’t force themselves to even be verbally mean to a group of bratty kids (in game)… let alone turn traitor and kill a member of your own party.  Others of us don’t really have much of a problem with it, although there are things I absolutely will not do even in video games.

It’s just a fascinating concept to me.  No one mistakes a video game’s world with the real world, but we do know that even “fantasy violence” can disturb people, leave an impression, and give people ideas.  Now, there are games that are built solely around violence, such as the Grand Theft Auto games; and I definitely stear clear of those; however, many people gloss over the fact that even if you play the good side, the good storyline, you still wind up (usually) killing people, or at least other living creatures.

So what does anyone out there think?  Does your morality impact how you play a video game, the choices you make within the game?  Or, can you shut off your real life morality in order to complete the game?  and if you can, should you? For me, it is changing.  With youtube so accessible, everyone puts the “bad” storylines up where you can see the ending without having to actually play as a bad character.  If I have a chance to fill in the details without actually playing through the game as a “bad” character, I’ll take that choice.

One of the latest games with a clear good/bad choice that I’ve played was BioShock.  Without spoiling anything, there is no possible way I could have played the character as evil/bad…so I did indeed go to youtube and watch the ending.  Cheating?  I don’t consider it so, since I did beat the game as a “good guy.”  Now, if you would like to comment, would you kindly refrain from game spoilers?

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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Stepping Aside…

It’s just been anounced and reported that Olmert will resign when another PM is selected.  The article on the Jerusalem Post can be found here: Olmert says he will resign after Kadima elects new leader.  This is an interesting development to those of us who keep an eye on the Mideast, and all developments that may effect Israel, and that is especially true now that everyone’s eyes are on Iran.  I believe the primaries in Israel will be on September 17th.

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Angels (pt. 2); Satan…

In part 1 I focused mainly on the holy Angels; those that serve God, and did not follow Satan.  According to scripture 1/3 of all angels sided with Satan.  Revelation 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth…

As with angels in general, one in particular is misconstrued in popular media, and that is Satan himself.  A red mustachioed figure lugging around a pitchfork.  The king or ruler of Hell.  An omniscient being with direct power over the saints.  These are just a few of the skewed ideas about Satan.

First, his real appearance would not be a disgusting visage, or a cartoonish fire-engine red.  He was chief of the angels and there is an interesting set of verses in Ezekiel Chapter 20, overtly about the king of Tyre, though most scholars agree that the message is about the king of Tyre through a comparison between the king and how Satan fell as well, and it is also probable that Satan was the true power behind the king:

Ezekiel 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

There seems to be a part of us that desires evil to seem overtly evil…to look evil to the naked eye.  But, part of his power is that he can indeed appear as an angel of light, something beautiful to behold.  If evil appeared evil, we wouldn’t have been instructed to test the spirits, we’d just be able to tell by looking.  1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

We can actually turn to another major religion to see, perhaps, were this fits in.  Within Islam, it is believed that an angel calling himself/claiming to be Gabriel appeared to Mohammed and dictated the Koran to him.  Islam denies two key aspects of the fact that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; they deny He is the very Word/Wisdom/Logos of God made flesh, and they deny that He was resurrected bodily (they deny the crucifixion of Christ too).  I don’t think it was Gabriel appearing to Mohammed, but perhaps it was the father of lies himself; Satan.  Of course he would look like an angel; he is one.  Another interesting aspect that possibly ties this in with Satan is that, if you read the description of Satan in Ezekiel, you see that tabrets and pipes are part of his being; music is a part of who or what he is.  The Koran is claimed to have rhyme and rhythm just as music does…

As for an example in recent literature; I love Frank Peretti’s angel novels (This Present Darkness, and Piercing the Darkness), and think he portrayed the holy Angels really well…but, I have to point out that those beings on the other side, the evil beings in the novel are portrayed as evil, ugly, hideous creatures, which does set the mood and give us the creeps, but we have to realize that they won’t always appear that way.

Anywho, onto Hell.  Hell, and/or the lake of fire is a prison, not a party with Satan in charge; he isn’t ruling Hell.  At the time of Job, we see that he still had access to the Throne.  Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. Hell isn’t his “playground,” this earth is.  Adam was given dominion over the earth, and gave up that dominion when he fell.

Notice, when Satan is tempting Christ, one of the thing he offers is: Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. The Devil offers Christ the world; Jesus doesn’t say that it isn’t Satan’s to give.

Nowhere does scripture indicate that Satan is omniscient, omnipresent, and it definitely does not say he is omnipotent.  And, while we should not be flippant about the Devil and the rest of the fallen angels (Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.)  we have not been given the spirit of fear, and Christ has indeed taken the keys to Hell, death, and the grave (Rev. 1:18).

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Again, always turn to scripture for facts, not to popular media and fanciful ideas…

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Cuil news…

A new search engine has made its debut on the ‘net: Cuil (yes, that’s pronounced “cool”).  An article about it over on Breitbart.com says, “Finally, Cuil is hoping to attract traffic by promising not to retain information about its users’ search histories or surfing patterns—something that Google does, much to the consternation of privacy watchdogs.”  This is one reason why I thought people might be interested in reading about it, and giving it a test drive.  I know that some of Google’s antics with privacy have raised privacy  concerns.

The format of the results page is quite different than Google’s.  Even if you don’t plan to switch, it’s always good to keep up on the changing “face” of the ‘net.  One of the things that I do like about Google is that even if you get a lot of results from a search, it usually does a good job at putting the most popular results at the top of the heap.  I haven’t played around with Cuil enough yet to see how it compares…

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X-Files; Movie Review

I Want to Believe is the subtitle of the new X-files movie, and has several meanings within the story.  The first part of my review will be spoiler free, the second half will contain some spoilers, but I’ll let everyone know where the transition happens.

If you’ve never seen the X-files, I think you’ll be lost.  The movie was billed as a stand-alone story, but it doesn’t really work out that way.  I have a feeling that you won’t be as connected to the characters, and as emotionally invested if you haven’t followed the series.  I have read several reviews from non-fans who did like the movie, however.

If you are an X-files fan, I’ll tell you exactly what the movie is like; an extra long TV episode.  Admittedly it is a good storyline, it fits right in with the X-files universe as far as sub-plot episodes go.  And, unlike some recent movies, this one managed to really keep my interest, and made me want to stay with the movie to find out what happens next (unlike, say, Hellboy II).

This is a movie you can wait for until the DVD comes out if you wish, but I think fans of the show will enjoy it, as long as you don’t go in with really high expectations (again, it isn’t an X-Files main plot storyline).   If you’ve got the gas money, and money for tickets, and the time, it is a good mystery/suspense movie to go see.  For my Christian readers, and those that care about such things, the movie is rated PG-13; it had violence, “distrubing images,” sexual innuendo, and mild language.  I will say that some of the themes and plot devices may offend some Roman catholic believers.  The acting was well done, esp. by Billy Connolly.

Now, onto the part of the review that contains some SPOILERS.  The relationship between Mulder and Scully takes center stage in this movie; it shows us the depth of their relationship, and lets us see a turning point for both of them.  The themes covered in this movie are perfect for The Christian Scribbler; Can someone that has done something truly heinous make up for it in any way?  Can they be forgiven?  Does God hear their prayers?  What role should our faith play in our pursuits and relationships with others?  Are modern medical advancements morally acceptable, if so, where do we draw the line in testing and implimentation?  And it manages to contain just about every sin known to man; pedophilia, murder, fornication, pride, etc…

The movie quickly shows us what has become of Scully; she’s a doctor at a Catholic hospital, and yes, she still sports her ever present cross necklace.  As the story draws in our leads, Mulder and Scully, we find out that a kidnapping has occurred and someone has gotten visions of the brutal act; a former priest by the name of Father Joe…did I mention he is a pedophile?  Admittedly, he is a convicted pedophile, meaning he was caught and charged, and apparently released.  He knows it was wrong, and is seeking forgiveness, as well as joining a community of sex offenders who monitor each other; in the plot we are lead to believe this is so they will not slip since they hate each other as much as they hate themselves.  I have to say that some of the humor in the movie would make me mad, and ill, if I were a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest…

Anywho, “I want to believe” is a mantra taken up by several characters either directly or indirectly: Mulder wants “mystery” and intrigue back in his life, Scully wants to know if she can rely on God and stay connected with Mulder, as well as believe in the visions Father Joe is having; and Father Joe himself hopes and prays he can be forgiven, and that God still hears his prayers.  These themes are all connected by the main plot: it is an FBI agent that has gone missing, and no one can find her.  Due to some of the odd aspects of the case, mainly the fact that the former priest is helping to find clues through psychic visions, the FBI sends an agent to cajole Scully into cajoling Mulder to come back as a consultant on the case.

I have to say that I was surprised at some of the questions Chris Carter (the director) raises in the movie, and leaves the audience to ponder over.  As I said, for me, the one that really jumped out is God’s power of forgiveness and if everyone has access to that forgiveness through Christ.  I do believe everyone can be forgiven through Christ, and I think the movie, while not answering the question directly, hints at this while still showing that we still suffer the effects of our sins here on Earth.  Our sins will also change how others perceive us, which is completely understandable.

“Big” SPOILER: My favorite moment in the film is when Agent Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) makes an appearance, and sums up my feelings in the film by pulling a gun and taking names…at that point, it is a relief to see that someone has enough brains to go into creepy places with a loaded weapon (why exactly did Scully and Mulder not have their guns as I believe West Virginia is a Conceal and Carry state?).

I believe I’ve managed to give a review without revealing the biggest plot line of “who did it.”  If you would like to leave a comment or ask a question, would you kindly indicate if it contains spoilers.

If I was to grade the movie…I think a B+ fits pretty well.  It was a solid Mulder/Scully story well acted.  If you don’t go into the movie with high expectations you should enjoy it well enough, but as I said earlier, you can easily wait until the DVD comes out.

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Angels (pt. 1)…

God’s messengers, harbingers, and sometimes mode of destruction.  One thing is for sure, humankind hasn’t done them any favors in the accurate representation department.

I do realize that the naked baby with wings depiction stemmed from an art form, a style…but really.  they see us, and hear us if they are around…what must they think?  In scripture, they often announce themselves with, “fear not,” having to physically pick people up off the ground as the humans hit the dirt in shock and/or misplaced worship, they slew thousands of men, and were responsible for warding certain people and places, and for bringing news and callings to mankind…one being elected to bring a bit of important information to Mary herself.

2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. (To those keeping score, that’s 185,000 humans killed in one evening.) 2 Chronicles 32:21 And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria… etc…

The Cherubim are first introduced as set guardians to the entrance of Eden.  Seraphim are introduced in Isaiah: Isaiah 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. We know there are archangels as well, and we see them sent to battle; for example, Michael watches over Israel (Daniel 12:1).

We humans have a tendency to either elevate them to “gods” or make them infants.  Often they are portrayed as actual females with long flowing hair and dresses, despite the fact that we don’t have a reference in scripture to actual female angels.  It is important for us as believers to search scripture for accurate understanding on many issues, Angels included.

They are creations of God, as we are…they are also split into factions.  Out of all the angels created, 1/3 fell with Satan, 2/3 stayed loyal to God.  When we die, we don’t become angels as is sometimes portrayed; we are human, they are not, though we become like them in the absence of marriage in Heaven.  It isn’t clear from scripture if we each have a guardian angel of our own, or if it is limited to the peoples of God in a general way.  We do know that they are watching, and there is a certain level of threat hinted at in this: Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

They can also be sent to ward us, and are joyful when we humans turn to God…when each one of us submitted to Him: Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. They are God’s to command, and if we desire their protection, as always, we should go before the Father in prayer to make the request, we are to pray to Him and Him alone.  All of this can seem a trifling matter since we are surrounded by these placid images of Angels…but they do exist and there is a spiritual realm around us that we cannot see.

2 Kings 6:15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

There have been some representations of Angels in modern media that have shown angels as warriors; I enjoyed the first installment of the movie series: The Prophecy very much.  (Just so my readers know, they are very violent, and aren’t based off of scripture.)  They portray them as powerful players in a war amongst themselves…of course a lot of it isn’t accurate (including the smear on Gabriel’s good name, and adding to scripture), but it is a refreshing switch from naked babies floating on clouds.  In my next post about Angels I’ll take a look at Satan, and misconceptions about him as well.  I’ll mention Frank Peretti’s Angel novels more in depth then too.

Just keep in mind that Angels are powerful servants of God Most High, they are warriors and messengers answering to the Throne itself…not chubby little kids with harps.

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Doctor Who; The Stolen Earth (pt. 1) Review

This episode was written by Russell T. Davies (RTD), and is the first of a two-part season finale.  Season finales are always exciting…and the first part is usually a setup of the second, The Stolen Earth, part 1 is no exception.  First, as this was only the first part, it’s hard to say how the whole show will play out, but it worked really well as a hook, and to get the storyline underway.

Guess what — the Earth is in danger again; and, this time, the whole Scooby gang is on the case.  When the Earth is snatched out of orbit, literally jerked out from under the TARDIS (how exactly did this not effect our solar system?…I know, I know, that’s for part 2 probably…) the gang is on it: Donna, The Doctor, the TARDIS, Martha, Captain Jack, Ianto, Gwen, Sarah Jane, Luke, Mr. Smith, Wilf, Sylvia (Donna’s mum), and of course…Rose.

The first commercial break of the night, here in the states, comes on and in wonderful irony it was an advert for Preparation H…yes, The Doctor might have need of it before the story plays out.  So, back to the show; we see the world in the midst of panic, while the news services suggest to everyone, “Don’t Panic.”  Perhaps the human populace would have heeded the order if they had a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide on hand.

In the midst of the panic, Ianto is channel surfing, and in a great setup for my blog, who should appear on the TV to offer their wise opinion on the situation but Dick Dawkins, Ph.D., the proselytizing atheist himself (I had the passing thought that maybe the Preparation H was actually for the audience at this point…)  Now who in their right mind would choose Dawkins to publicly broadcast during a universal crisis?  Apparently RTD would….but wait, of course! Dawkins is smarter than everyone…he has a science degree; however, he shouldn’t quit his day job to pursue an acting career…

Ianto apparently agrees with me, and quickly changes the channel.  Anywho, we now get a “clue” who’s behind the Earth snatching as “EXTERMINATE!” blares through every speaker on the globe.  And that can mean only one thing; the Daleks. Now, the actors do a great and wonderful job communicating their characters’ fear, helplessness, and terror, esp. John Barrowman as Captain Jack…but I have to ask; is anyone in the audience actually fearful?  I mean, when I used to hear, “Resistance is futile,” whilst watching Star Trek, my blood would run cold while Captain Jean Luc Picard’s face became more stern than normal as we knew the Borg was on the scene…with the Daleks…not so much.  I mean, every time they show they get pwned by the Doctor and/or his Scooby gang.

The Doctor, meanwhile is having trouble locating Earth, it is gone without a trace to track, so he whisks himself and Donna to the Shadow Proclamation, the cops of the ‘verse, to track down the missing globe (and the other 26 planets that have gone missing as well).  With the help of Donna, he succeeds, and is off again in the TARDIS to the Medusa Cascade…where he can’t find the Earth…again.

Of course “The Children of Time” as Davros (the big bad returned from the old days) calls the Doctor’s Scooby gang, manage to link together online thanks to Harriet Jones (former Prime Minister).  They come up with a plan to call on The Doctor…seeming very much like an energy-form of prayer, and Rose manages to add in a “real” prayer as well, beseeching the heavens, I mean the Doctor, to find her.

On the TARDIS, Donna is having to give the Doctor a pep talk whilst he leans James-Dean like against a bulkhead, sulking in his Converse sneakers.  The prayer…I mean the call finally comes through, is answered, and The Doctor, after a conversation with Davros, finds his way to land on Earth…right in front of a cathedral.

Coming to the end of the hour, we know everyone is going to be stuck in a dangerous situation, but wait just a minute!  The Doctor and Donna stand yammering outside the TARDIS, and who should appear on the horizon but a certain blonde ex-companion, and love of The Doctor’s: Rose.  He’s happy, Rose fans are happy, The Ten/Rose shippers are happy…but blast it, we know that the cliffhanger is coming, and sure enough as Ten and Rose sprint toward one another in glee, the Doctor gets shot by a Dalek.  Cap’n Jack with his “great” timing pops in and destroys the Dalek only after it zaps the Doctor, and then he helps a crying Rose get the Doctor back into the TARDIS.

What’s the cliffhanger?  The Doctor is apparently regenerating; glowing golden energy and all, while Rose, Jack, and Donna watch.  TO BE CONTINUED…

This was a “fun” episode, lots of excitement, and I loved the graphics of the 27 stolen planets floating around.  I have to say that I do know that this is meant to be a season ender, and so big villains and big plots are expected, but isn’t that a bit of a problem?  We, as the audience, know that these things are going to occur, does that not take away some of the suspense?  The acting in this eppy was as good as always, and I enjoyed seeing all the major players on the screen helping each other out.  It will be interesting to see the last installment, and to see more interaction between the cast.

I’ve already touched upon most of the “spiritual” aspects that jumped out at me in this episode, the only other ones being a lot of references to pride and arrogance, as well as the focus on humanity and humans on the show.  As I said I look forward to the second part, to see if these themes persist.  I do feel the Messiah-like concept is still full force in the Who ‘verse, but we again see the limits of a limited being like the Doctor, even if being forced into a Messiah-like position; for example, not being able to be at all places at once, in all times at once.

Good episode overall, and one you need to watch to get set for part 2…

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