Does DA: Inquisition’s Imshael having anything to do with Ishmael and Islam?

Imshael at Suledin Keep, with goat head-like statue and Red Lyrium   (unknown online source image).
Imshael at Suledin Keep, with goat head-like statue and Red Lyrium (unknown online source image).

The role playing game Dragon Age: Inquisition won Game of the Year for 2014, which no doubt increased the Dragon Age franchise’s already large fan base. At its base is a typical good vs evil theme, and good morals as well as faith are included, but it is also incredibly relativistic at its core. This is very typical fare for games these days. After all, it’s more about having the largest customer base and making the most money possible. The game even has romance in it (of all sorts)—a major draw for a segment of the fan base.

Should Christians Play Dragon Age: Inquisition? is my review of the game, but there seems to be something in the game that is not relativistic, something that finds Bioware (the game’s developer) out on a little limb, that I’d like to explore here. And this something is what the demon Imshael can be seen to represent: Islam.

Who is Imshael?

But who is Imshael in the game? He’s a powerful demon who fools many into thinking he’s just a human, and seduces them into taking the deadly and corrupt “Red Lyrium;” one dying Templar says Imshael is the gardener of Red Lyrium. In-game, plain Lyrium is a dangerous “living” mineral which is refined and used as a drug by Chantry Templars in order to resist and dispel magic. Red Lyrium is far more dangerous, containing the demonic “blight” (per the character Bianca), or “darkspawn taint.” Suffice it to say that it’s demonic. It conveys greater powers than regular Lyrium, so one can imagine why many regular Templars were easily swayed into trying it; those who did so make up the corrupt Red Templar order.

Following the quest “Call me Imshael,” you meet Imshael at Suledin Keep, a fortress in the midst of many Red Lyrium mines. According to the dragonage.wikia page, the quest name refers to a famous line in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” where the character says, “Call me Ishmael.” Since Imshael has no apparent resemblance to the Moby Dick character, why did the game writers use this reference? I’m guessing it’s a roundabout way to link Imshael to the scriptural Ishmael. In the Old Testament, Ishmael is the first son of Abram, born of his wife’s slave. Abram, later renamed Abraham by God, in his old age has the son God promised him, Isaac, through his wife; Muslims have turned the story on its head, claiming Ishmael is the heir of promise (and the land of Israel), instead of Isaac.

Imshael is referred to as a “desire demon,” though he spins that, calling himself a “choice spirit” (turns out he is one of the four ancient demons, The Forbidden Ones, who revealed blood magic to the world). In good Satanic fashion, he spins all that he says in order to create doubt and lubricate sin’s entry.  When you first encounter him he’s in human form and greets you by implying you’re a murderer, not a hero; he tells you your friends worry him because of how violent they are.  Again implying that you’re the one causing bloodshed and he’s the more moral and level-headed one, he says: “True to my name, I will show you that you have a choice. It doesn’t always have to end in blood.” In reality, the choice he offers is to either take a bribe or be stupid and try to defeat him (a true murderer who is killing all kinds of miners as well as Templars). But the choice of bribes he offers is telling: power, riches (wealth), or virgins (that is, sex).  If you accept power or riches, you get some things—nothing great—from Imshael and he leaves. If you want to be “showered with virgins,” Imshael reneges on his offer, saying everyone chooses that but that he can never find any. He gives you a Superb Corrupting Rune instead, which is the whole point of the affair. There are references throughout the game to Red Lyrium being corrupting. The taking of any bribe will result in the death of the virtuous knight Michel by Imshael.

Either way, afterwards you encounter a dying Templar who tells you more of Imshael. He tells you that Imshael was the gardener of those who chose—chose him or denied him after taking Red Lyrium. Knowing its affects, the person who had taken Red Lyrium could choose what Imshael had to offer and have him reverse the affects, or you could reject Imshael and be left to die. The soldier said that what Imshael asked you to accept was worse than death, but did not specify what that was before he died.

The Ishmael of the Old Testament and Islam

Ishmael is the son born to Abram and his wife’s slave, Hagar.[1] Abram’s wife, Sarai, had never conceived and so finally gave Hagar to Abram in order to have a child. It was customary in those days to do this, with any resulting children of such a slave considered to be the owning family’s offspring. But as you can see from the names—Abram instead of Abraham and Sarai instead of Sarah—God hadn’t made the covenant with Abram yet. God told Abram earlier that he’d have a child, that through him he’d have innumerable descendants, and that these descendants would inherit a huge swath of land subsequent to a 400 year period of slavery (Genesis 15).

Abram and Sarai had gotten very old and no such child ever came, however, so they took God’s promise into their own hands. The result was Ishmael, born to an 86 year old Abram. Of Ishmael, God told Hagar: “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12 NIV).

Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99, God visited Abram and made the everlasting covenant with him. God promised to make kings and nations of Abram’s descendants. He changed Abram’s and Sarai’s names at this time, and He told them that their part in the covenant was to circumcise all males. Sarai, now named Sarah, was to have a son, and that son was to be called Isaac. Of Isaac, God said “I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” God continued, “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.  But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year” (Genesis 17:19b-22; see also Genesis 18:1-15).

Isaac was born just as God said he would be, bringing delight to Sarah, as told in Genesis 21:1-6. At this time Ishmael would’ve been about 14, and when Isaac was weaned, about 16. Ishmael acted mockingly toward Isaac during the weaning celebration, so Sarah asked that Ishmael and his mother be sent away. Abraham apparently loved his first son, as this was a very distressful idea to him. However, God approved of the separation, since Isaac was the son of promise whom Abraham’s descendants would be reckoned, and not the first-born Ishmael. God reiterated that Ishmael would still be blessed, but God’s prescribed work in the world was to be clear; Ishmael (through Abram and Sarai’s actions) represents man’s impatience, unbelief, and attempts to do God’s work on one’s own.

So Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael from them. While walking the desert, Hagar ran out of water and thought she and her son would die. God intervened, reminded Hagar of His words, and showed them water. They lived in the Desert of Paran, an area in the Sinai Peninsula. The text implies that they stayed and lived there after Hagar obtained a wife for Ishmael from Egypt, her home country.

Many Arabs, who are of course Muslim, claim that they are descended from Ishmael. This is in no way proven, and seems to be even doubtful.[2] Even so, that view is widely held and has its own related Muslim holiday (Eid al-Adha).   I had heard pastors say the same—that Arabs were Ishmael’s descendants—so I always thought it was true until I researched it more for this article; Muhammad, however, didn’t even claim to be descended from Ishmael.[3] That it is widely believed, however, is why Ishmael can be used to represent Islam.   Contemporary Islam claims that Jewish scripture is wrong (rewritten, altered, etc., which is not in the least substantiated)[4] in claiming that Isaac was God’s heir of promise, and that instead Ishmael was the son of God’s covenant, giving his descendants the divine right to the land God promised Israel.

Imshael/Ishmael as representative of Islam

It’s a very strong thing to claim that the deceptive (corrupting) and powerful demon Imshael is a reflection of Islam. Using Ishmael, however, Muslims claim that God’s word as given to His nation, Israel, is false. This in itself is a very serious claim which will have very serious consequences. Through Islam, many have come to believe that the ancient words of God are false. What bigger deception and corruption can there be? And in a game that alludes to Catholicism through the Chantry, its Templars, and more, have such an allusion to Islam wouldn’t seem out of place.

The in-game Imshael asks your character to make a choice between seductive gifts that he claims he can give you. The first two are old and obvious temptations that lead people away from God: power and wealth (the New Testament, especially, is filled admonitions to not covet or abuse power and wealth, to not seek them but seek God in faith, and to be humble and serve, but you’d think that homosexuality and abortion are the only sins against God in our society today). Jesus Himself, just prior to beginning his ministry, was tempted by Satan to accept his gift of all the world’s nations (power) and their splendor (wealth). Satan is, after all, the Prince of the World (John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11). But Jesus told Satan to leave and that “You must worship the Lord your God, and you must serve Him only” (Matthew 4:8-10).

The most obvious allusion to Islam through Imshael is the offer to shower your character with virgins. Of course, any person desiring holiness would not consider desiring or obtaining a bunch of virgins for sex as anything from a sinless God. Yet Islam promises virgins to those men who happen to make it into Allah’s paradise (Sura 50:70, 72, 74); instead of viewing earthly desires as unnecessary and unwanted in a holy heaven, Islam promotes them. The number of virgins is not given in the Koran, but further details regarding the Suras instead come from a commentary (Tafsir) by Ibn Kathir (died 1373 CE): “The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: ‘The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby . . . ‘. “[5] Sounds like a lot of power, sex, and wealth, huh? But there’s more. That same commentator tells us that Mohammad is going to be married to Mary, Jesus’ mother (amongst some other choice women, the whole of which evokes a conqueror taking the women of the conquered), in paradise.

What else can be said?

After that last bit . . . well, after all of that, it’s hard to think of something to conclude with. However, it seems likely that the writers “meant something” by using the name “Imshael” and alluding to the name “Ishmael” in a game that also alludes to Catholicism. In one online game-related forum, someone opined that the name was “just a joke,” but left the meaning or point of the joke unanswered. Jokes have meaning, of course, so what of Imshael’s? That he can’t keep his promise of virgins? Then the joke is on anyone who believed him.

Did you know that “Suledin,” where you meet Imshael, rearranged is “sin led u”?

Notes

[1] A later “Ishmael” in the Old Testament plots against Gedaliah, a wise, peaceful, and well-liked Jewish ruler who united the area people after Babylon became ruler of the land. Ishmael, though a Jew of nobility, sides with the nation’s enemies, the Ammonites. He kills Gedaliah and others, dumps their bodies, and then flees to Ammon (Jeremiah 40:13-16; 40:41:1-18; 2 Kings 25:25).

[2] Are the Arabs the Descendants of Ishmael? and Ishmael and His Descendants.

[3] Is Mohammad a Descendant of Ishmael?

[4] For a concise presentation on the veracity of the Jewish scriptures, see Is it Rational to be a Christian (1 of 2)?

[5] http://www.answering-islam.org/Index/index.html entry for “houris,” which is “virgin.” For more detail, including bizarre claims of eternal erections, see also http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/mary.htm.

DA Inquisition (+ DLC): Crafting Materials Tables, Organized by Map

Weapons crafting sample.  From INCgamers.com.
Weapons crafting sample. From INCgamers.com.

Dragon Age: Inquisition Crafting Materials Locations by Map (nonvendor)

When known, cloth types are included.  Rare and Unique Items are Highlighted; Fade Touched Items are in Same Locations but rare. If a common item comes up rarely on a map, it is not listed for that map as it would much easier to find it on a map where it is common.

About Dragons:  Most of the main maps have one dragon, except Emprise du Lion, which has three, and the Fallow Mire, which has none.  All dragons drop the following on every map:  dragon scales, dragon webbing, dragon bone.  Therefore, the tables below list which maps yield dragon teeth and the different blood types only.

Note!  Some tables are completed (though minor changes may occur), others are not–labeled “Draft.”  This is under construction.  If you have suggestions, please make a comment.

Map: Haven
Item Region on Map Notes
Elfroot Temporary town
Iron
Nugskin From piggish rabbits
Ram Leather  
Druffalo Hide Open area outside town Buffalo-like creatures

Continue reading DA Inquisition (+ DLC): Crafting Materials Tables, Organized by Map

Destiny’s Story: the Nature of Evil and Its Corrupting Influence

A Hive wizard in Destiny
A Hive wizard in Destiny

“I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.”
The Exo Stranger, unwittingly (or jestingly) explaining Destiny’s lack of in-game story

Destiny (2014), the wildly successful multi-player shooter video game made by Bungie, hints at having a story behind it, but so far it’s pretty much a mystery. Sure, as you go through the short-lived “story” missions in order to open all the game maps, you hear some people speak,[1] but you are forced to come to the sad conclusion that you’re being kept in the dark as to the meaning behind all the fighting you’re doing. I think it’s safe to say that most people, even professional game reviewers, were shocked and disappointed by the real absence of a story in Destiny.

Based on the Beta, which I played, I thought there’d be more of a story and perhaps it would even have more of a recognizably Christian basis. My hopes were deflated after playing the released game, however. Bungie’s own activities jaded me more to the idea of any Christian basis to Destiny, like: insulting XBOX users online and going out of their way to give Playstation users more product for the same cost, and celebrating Halloween but ignoring Christmas (EA’s Garden Warfare, in contrast, was a virtual Advent Calendar that freely gave players fun stuff every day before Christmas during December).[2] My point is, I was biased toward an anti-Christian story before researching Destiny’s lore more, so I found myself surprised at some of what I found.

Most story information, or lore, is found in virtual Grimoire cards that are unlocked, but not readable, as the game progresses. If you want to know what’s on the card, you must read it online. Most, if not all, of these cards’ texts are online so you don’t have to unlock them in-game to read them (but as many fans reasonably complain, who wants to take all the time to go somewhere else and read them?).

These Grimoire cards, in-game dialogue, and other sources were used to construct the story information here, but a note on “lore” language and quality–not much of it is written in a straight-forward kind-of way. Instead, there is poetic and mystery religion sort of texts, official reports, cryptic messages, and broken up conversations. The wide variety of information styles, considered alongside the absence of dates and characterizations, make deciphering the story difficult and very time consuming. The excuse for the dearth of relevant information is that humanity lost it between the Collapse and the present time.   However, humans are flying around in little space ships at warp drive, tiny flying robots called Ghosts in-game can reflesh humans and materialize and dematerialize things, Ghosts can access centuries old data, etc. . . . never mind, Bungie, never mind.

A bit about the game itself before getting to the story. Destiny is a shooter, not an RPG or adventure game, so shooting enemies as well as other players is what this game is about. And showing off rare gear—especially, it’s about showing off. But, why does everything in the game attack you? Why does no one ever try to dialogue with you? Why is it that everyone on “your side” is so mum about the history and meaning of it all? It doesn’t much matter, apparently, as long as you’re a good soldier who is willing to get his or her own gear. When it comes down to it, the in-game story seems to be nothing more than a loose construct to name enemies; but, considering the religio-philosophical web content and that at least one more sequel is coming out, maybe it’s worth trying to figure out the Destiny universe. “The Story of Things: The Basic Story” is followed by “The Story of Ideas: The Philosophical and Religious Underpinnings of Destiny’s Lore.”

Continue reading Destiny’s Story: the Nature of Evil and Its Corrupting Influence

New Testament Views of Women: 1Timothy 2:11-15 (Part 2)

Happy In Church

This is the second part of New Testament Views of Women: 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Due to the length of this study, I decided to divide it up. Please see Part 1 here [forthcoming] as they relate to each other.

1 Timothy 2:13-15

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.  But women [or she] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

There is so much seemingly wrong with this passage in relation to basic Christian doctrine and belief that it seems hard to take it seriously. If the epistle is authentic—which not all early church leaders believed was the case–Paul surely wrote it for a specific local situation and/or a particular false teaching. Verses 13 and 14 read: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” There are at least two implications here, so let’s go through them in detail.

Eve was Deceived: Why?

The first implication is that since Adam was formed before Eve, he was less easily deceived and that Eve is the only one who sinned in The Fall. The seeming meaning that Eve is the only one who sinned in The Fall flagrantly goes against New Testament teachings, even many of Paul’s other writings. Adam also sinned, and, in fact all humans sin and have sinned; Paul himself wrote of Jesus being the new Adam who came to redeem all from the sin that came through the first Adam (Romans 5:11-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45). Was Paul saying here that because Eve was created after Adam she was somehow less of a person? That sounds simply wrong (grossly wrong, actually), but some basically interpret it that way, holding to an “order of creation” concept (see MacDonald 1995 for an example).

However, when looking at God’s order of creation, the lesser came first and progressed, one could say, until the creation of Man. All of Mankind is the highest earthly creation of God: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). So, there is no other order: all of mankind (male and female) was created last. If one wants to invoke the order of creation to establish a hierarchy between man and woman, then one can’t back peddle; woman would come out on top since Eve was made after Adam (Genesis 2:20b-22), the last being hand made by God in the ever progressive chain of creation.

The words used to translate “helper” and “suitable for” constitute another strike against the order of creation concept. The NIV renders Genesis 2: 18: The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” In English, “helper” is like “assistant” and is therefore a very inadequate translation of the word actually used. The same word for “helper” here is used 16 other times in the Old Testament and it always refers to God; is God your assistant? The word is used by God for Himself in contexts meaning “one who saves, upholds and sustains” (Kaiser et al. p 667). “Suitable for” sounds generic, a sad and almost insulting expression (“she’s better than one of the cows walking around, at least”) that should be more like a “perfect match for,” I would think. As Kaiser et al. puts it (p 667): “The word translated ‘suitable for’ literally means ‘in front of,’ signifying one who stands ‘face to face’ with another, qualitatively the same, his essential equal, and therefore his ‘correspondent’.”

As is discussed in the 1Timothy 2:11-12 section as well, Paul meant that Eve was deceived because she was less aware than Adam was of God’s command, not because she was less bright than Adam. Adam had been instructed by God, but Eve was instructed by Adam. What Paul said in verse 11 is that women must be educated–a radical notion for that time; they need direct instruction so as not to be deceived.

The wording as translated is still misleading, though, since it appears to convey that only Eve transgressed. But everyone understood that Adam sinned purposefully and not through deception, so it “went without saying.” This implied understanding is important to our own understanding of the next verse. There was a Gnostic teaching that claimed that Eve was created first, and not Adam. This, coupled with other pagan beliefs about female spiritual superiority, no doubt was creating a slew of problems at the Ephesian church. So Paul reiterates Genesis, that Adam was created first, to counter the false Gnostic and pagan teachings (Cowles 1993). Keep this in mind as we analyze the last verse.

Saved through Childbearing?! Whose Childbearing?

Verse 15 reads, “But women [or she] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” How does one explain this seemingly heretical verse? People, both men and women, are saved by their faith in Jesus Christ as their savior, not through any work (especially childbirth, which is a natural female function). In answering the NT question “what works does God require?” Jesus proclaimed, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29). Belief and faith save a woman, just as they do a man, not a procreative work. There are at least two explanations for the first part of this odd verse, and both may be applicable.

One is that “childbearing” is not a verb here, an action of women for salvation, but a noun as in “the childbearing” of a single woman. In this case, the singular “she” would be used instead of the plural “women.”   This “childbearing” refers to Mary accepting God’s will in bringing Christ into the world. She was obedient—a counter and remedy to Eve’s actions. This parallels the Adam and Christ as second Adam concept. Adam’s sin was greater, since it came from willful disobedience (not from deception), and it required no lesser remedy than self-sacrifice from God. But Mary’s obedience in bringing God’s remedy into the world countered Eve’s disobedience (Cowles 1993; Cunningham and Hamilton 2000).

Another explanation falls in line with the general subject matter of the epistle, relating to the false teachings wracking the Ephesian church. Among other things, false teachers were claiming that marriage was to be avoided (1 Timothy 4:3) for salvation and holiness. Paul may have been countering this false teaching by saying that no, getting married and having children leads to salvation, too (Kaiser et al. 1996).

Scriptural, Historical, and Cultural Contexts, along with Humility, Make all the Difference

Without these explanations that take into account the historical, cultural, and even scriptural contexts, Paul’s writing here could easily imply false and demeaning things about women. Many people have taken Paul’s words, as translated and without 2,000 year old contexts, at isolated face value and have demeaned half of God’s acmic creation in the process. In a radical departure from the times, Paul desired that women should be educated so that they would not be deceived. He also countered false teachings that claimed that women, being made before Adam, were superior, and that remaining single was spiritually better than becoming married. Paul’s writing does not teach that childless women would not be saved—a very absurd, unchristian notion. Women, just as men, are to learn and live in humility, and marry if they are not called to a celibate life.

[For other articles in this series, seeNew Testament Views of Women: Overview, New Testament Views of Women: Paul’s Female Co-workers, and New Testament Views of Women: 1 Corinthians 14:34-36   Thank you!]

Bibliography

Cowles, C.S. A Woman’s Place? Leadership in the Church. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1993.

Cunningham, Loren, and David J. Hamilton. Why Not Women? A Biblical Study of Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership. Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 2000.

Dunn, James, and Rogerson, John. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub Co, 2003.

Hamilton, Loren Cunningham and David J. Why Not Women? A Biblical Study of Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership. Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 2000.

Kaiser, Jr., Walter C., et al. Hard Sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub.s, 1995.

Schmidt, Alvin John. Veiled and Silenced: How Culture Shaped Sexist Theology. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1989.

Torjesen, Karen Jo. When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church & the Scandal of their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

 

Broadchurch (Season 1): Christianity, Male Affections, and What the Slug Said

And so did Christianity fall.   Detective Alec Hardy

I passed the word. Maybe the word was good.   Vicar Paul Coates

Christianity is a dirty word. Trying to find the Christian history of things, or the Christian basis of science, or information on Christian scientists, philosophers, etc., seems to be getting harder by the day. Christianity is being erased from history, and you’d be hard-pressed to find entertainment industry professionals who discuss their faith openly. There are some who do, like Denzel Washington, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, and John Rhys-Davies, and it was easier to find out Broadchurch AusDVDabout their faith than any direct information about the religious aspects of the BBC TV show Broadchurch. Considering that Broadchurch is chock full of things Christian, this lack of discussion still seems surprising.

Despite the (seeming) decline of Christianity in the United Kingdom,[1] or perhaps because of it, the 8-part murder mystery contains more on the Christian faith than many people no doubt experience in a year. Hearing actors quote bible passages was happily shocking. These days, when show business types are generally afraid to mention their faith, how did this show even get made? In an interview (Ng 2013) with one of the main actors, Arthur Darvill, he responded to a question with what may be a partial explanation:

It was written because [Chris] wanted to write it and he wrote it the way that he wanted to write it. It’s a real testament to people having ideas and people not interfering with those ideas. You can see it hasn’t been meddled with by people who are pulling purse strings, if that makes sense. I think a lot of TV you see is made in a way that’s quite cynical because it’s made to make money or made to be a hit, and this wasn’t.

There’s absolutely no reason to think Darvill was referring to the murder mystery part of the story, since that is a very ordinary, accepted, and desirable show genre. But besides Christianity, there are other meaningful issues, or themes, in Broadchurch that aren’t obviously discussed in mainstream media either. You’d think that the murder mystery was the only aspect of the 8-week long story, but my impression is that the story (which was interesting but not great)[2] was written solely to express these themes: Christianity; the supernatural; male affection vs. male perversion; grief; and, the question of how or why people closest to criminals don’t know about the criminal activity. Below is commentary on themes and subthemes, excepting that on grieving (the family slug shows up near the bottom, in “How could you now know?”).

Continue reading Broadchurch (Season 1): Christianity, Male Affections, and What the Slug Said

“Which Libtard said That?” (hint: the Bible is involved)

Detroit. Perfect example of greed gone amok.  Unsourced photo of abandoned Detroit packing house; quote added.
Detroit. Perfect example of greed gone amok. Unsourced photo of abandoned Detroit packing house; quote added.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  James 3:9

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  James 1:22

Why this Post

Far more often than is good for me, I see people cursing other people on the internet. I see this most often on Twitter, but it happens everywhere (I just happen to be on Twitter . . . too much). Most disturbing, of course, are the instances of this that come from those who claim to be Christian. Now, I’m not referring to heat-of-the-moment squabbling. I’m referring to the pre-meditated and consistent cursing of people “other” than themselves, like conservatives calling liberals “libtards,” liberals calling conservatives “homophobes,” and liberals (mostly, from what I have seen so far) saying moderates are stupid and/or smug (apparently for rejecting them).

People have always had a problem with the “us vs them” mentality, so I don’t know if it’s worse now in the U.S. than before (it seems so), but, followers of Christ ought not to be in this worldly way. We are to reach people for Christ’s kingdom, not push them away. With these thoughts in mind, I have read conservatives curse people who have a concern for others, concerns and desires that God Himself commands us to share.   There are liberals who also curse conservatives for being pro-life and anti-gay, and no doubt this is why some conservatives can’t see anything good coming from the liberals. Part of it, though, is that some conservatives either don’t know the biblical teachings regarding the poor and wealth, or they choose to ignore them. This only serves to add fuel to the anti-Christian fire.

In fairness, however, “What homophobe said that?” will be posted as a separate article (due to length). Many liberals either ignore God’s teaching on physical love and marriage, or else try to explain it away (even some liberal Christians do this). However, God’s attitude toward homosexuality from the old to the new testaments didn’t change, and passages about its sinfulness are not taken out of context, despite what critics say. That article will include passages supporting the “pro-life” stance as well.

Here are “140 characters or less” quotes, but more often paraphrases (those entries with no quotation marks), of biblical passages along with the actual passage reference and who uttered them. Feel free to use them on Twitter or elsewhere, but it would be nice if you shared my article url.

Continue reading “Which Libtard said That?” (hint: the Bible is involved)

Tales from the Borderlands at Christian Entertainment Reviews

Not all of my video game articles will be at Christian Entertainment Reviews, but when they are, I still want you to know about them here.  Over Christmas break my son and I decided to get the new episodic video game series from Telltale Games, Tales from the Borderlands.  Here’s my review of it – thanks for reading!

Beautiful, and therefore raider-free, town image from Tales from the Borderlands.
Beautiful, and therefore raider-free, town image from Tales from the Borderlands.

Tales from the Borderlands: A New Episodic Graphic Adventure Series

“Please stop shooting me.” Loader Bot

“If you have a pulse and aren’t easily offended, you’ll love it.”  VB|Gamesbeat (96/100 gamescore)

Most Christians may not be all that familiar with the Borderlands series of games, considering that they’re quite violent and gory. I’m not here to review or warn you away from the regular Borderlands video games, but I can tell you about the first episode of the new interactive story series, Tales from the Borderlands. This first installment of the five-part series came out on November 25, 2014, with the next episode (“Atlas Mugged”) planned for release during the last week of January 2015.

. . .  Episodic games are sort-of like a cross between reading a book or watching a show and playing a role playing game (RPG). The player is given choices in dialogue as the story moves along, and these choices define which branch of the storyline tree the player continues to move along. The storyline tree makes for built-in replayabliity.

To read more, please go to Tales from the Borderlands: A New Episodic Graphic Adventure Series.

Garden Warfare Review at Christian Entertainment Reviews

I was recently asked to contribute at Christian Entertainment Reviews, and I gratefully accepted.  Below is the beginning of my first post there with a link to continue reading.  Thanks for checking it out!  You might find other reviews to tickle your fancy there too.

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What’s the Best Shooter Ever? Garden Warfare (PvZ)

Ok, so saying that the childish-looking Plants vs Zombies game, Garden Warfare, is the “best shooter ever” might be a bit subjective, but I’m not the only one adult with that line of thinking.  Sprinkled all over the internet are almost apologetic expressions of this same sentiment from experienced gamers–that is, by older teens or adults.  But Game reviewers are less shy in praising Garden Warfare:

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare’s bright colors, cartoon graphics and humorous approach are the antithesis of most . . . shooters.  But don’t be fooled.  It’s as good as any out there – and very likely an awful lot more fun.  (Jaz Rignall at USGamer.net)

William Schwartz at AttackoftheFanboy.com also approves:

Garden Warfare is more deliberate, and involves more strategy than you would think, considering its cartoon exterior.  Digging into the different characters and the different special abilities for each, there’s a surprising amount of depth to the gameplay.

What exactly is Garden Warfare (PvZ)? 

Alien Flower, available from Legends of the Lawn downloadable content (free).
Alien Flower, available from Legends of the Lawn downloadable content (free).

Garden Warfare, rated “E” (everyone), is a third-person shooter—meaning that you see the back of your character as you blast away (a possible down-side being that the right-of-center site makes aiming less intuitive).  It’s populated by cute, weird, and . . .  [continue reading]

The Old is New Again: We Recommend Playing Morrowind

By Nathaniel Hawk, Guest Blogger

Most people nowadays are satisfied with the games that come out each year. They look pretty, aren’t too difficult (most of them anyways), and normally don’t take up too much of your time to play and beat. However, most modern games lack a certain depth and personality that some of the older games have. While many people would be quick to point out that older games are outdated, time consuming, and not user friendly, there are some old games that still have a strong (and growing!) following.  One such role playing game would be The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.  For those looking for a game without sex, gore, and with very little swearing, Morrowind might be for you.

Morrowind was the third installment in The Elder Scrolls series of games (by Bethesda), a predecessor to the much-loved Skyrim (2011), as well as Oblivion (2006/2007), games. It came out for PC in 2002; the Game of the year edition, which included all the expansions, came out the next year. It’s been more than ten years since its launch and in game years, that’s a long time—sort-of like “dog years” to today’s generation. However, Morrowind is a game that is still played widely today, and in my opinion it deserves all the attention it’s been getting.

Continue reading The Old is New Again: We Recommend Playing Morrowind

The Christmas Spirit: “What Men Live By” by Leo Tolstoy

The 1885 short story, What Men Live By by Leo Tolstoy (Russian, 1828-1910), in times past was much more well-known and even acted out as Christmas-time plays.  I have a wonderfully illustrated little hard cover copy from 1954, published by the Peter Pauper Press (PPP), but the entire text can be read online at The Literature Network (What Men Live By).  Below, I provide a synopsis of the story with some Christian and biblical commentary, although Tolstoy himself prefaced it himself with passages from 1 John (here are two of the six):

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love
the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death.” 3:14

“Whoso hath the world’s goods, and beholdeth his brother in need,
and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God
abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither
with the tongue; but in deed and truth.” 3:17-18

Continue reading The Christmas Spirit: “What Men Live By” by Leo Tolstoy

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