Far Cry 5 and Faith Distorted


A man comes to town and befriends a preacher. He mixes truth-spoken with drug-fueled visions. He kills in the night and then moves on to capture the hearts of men. The town is soon flooded with one man’s lies. What is this perverted faith being presented in Far Cry 5?

The use of religious imagery and language are often intertwined in video games. Faith presented as a misunderstood mystery.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

Two Examples:
  1. 1998’s Xenogears delved into crucifixion, a Roman form of the death penalty. The game then took things a step further by having the crucifixion take place on a hill called Golgotha. Sound familiar? Japanese RPG’s have a tendency of pulling parts and pieces from all different cultures and shoving them into their narratives.

2. Ken Levine’s BioShock Infinite plays around with the concept of baptism being a key turning point in a man’s life. The beginning of the game going so far as to use baptism as a point of entry into the City of Columbia. Press X to Accept Baptism.

What should the Christian response be to distortions of faith in media?

  1. We should not be surprised at non-believers not understanding spiritual things.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

2. We should recognize / be aware of certain genres of media having a predisposition to use religious imagery and language just because they can.

3. We should call out / shed light on depictions of faith that are not accurate and veer into cult territory. Far Cry 5‘s baptism trailer clearly depicts an unhealthy faith and devotion to a man, who will fail them. In watching the trailer, I’m reminded that God is not oppressive; God is not about control. No, oppression and control are tools of the devil.

Unlike the tagline at the end of the Far Cry 5 trailer, God does not call Christians to trust Him blindly nor to pray and obey Him out of fear:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

In the end, Far Cry 5‘s fictional Hope County, Montana is in need of a spiritual cleansing. These people need to experience the freedom that Jesus Christ offers and be freed from the cult-ish slavery they are mired in. Being a Far Cry game, violence and rivers of blood will be the only way to purity.

Will you make the trip to Big Sky Country when the game is released?

Will you embrace the violence, the distorted faith presented?


Why Do We Play?


A few weeks ago, I asked the Theology Gaming Community:

The TG Community answered:

  • Entertainment
  • Bridge gaps of distance
  • Stories
  • To slow down and enjoy friends
  • To learn new systems/rules
  • To be invited into a piece of art, by the artist, as a collaborator
  • To forget about problems
  • Video games are fun
  • Enjoyment
  • Escapism
  • Fantasy of having increased power/capability
  • Gaming brings people together

Sam went on to say:

Mainly it’s my time to ‘turn off’ from any sort of stresses in real life and just sit back and enjoy something. But there are other huge things I’d miss if I wasn’t gaming. Mainly the excellent communities you become a part of, and I have found, since starting college, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends who went elsewhere.

Joe emailed me his reply:

Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies. It’s a classic tale of man versus adversity. Human ingenuity wins out over a catastrophe that almost certainly should have spelled certain death for the three brave crewmen. It’s a great story to watch, but as a viewer I can only be a passive observer of this story. Kerbal Space Program, however, allows me to be the solution as well as the cause of all my Kerbonaut’s problems. What should be a routine trip around the moon turns into an epic series of rescue mission because of my inability to effectively design spacecraft. Running out of fuel, botched engine burns, missing solar panels, and the inability to dock two spacecraft turn Kerbal Space Program into an interactive rescue simulation. The best part of all this? My experience will never be exactly the same as anyone else’s. 
That’s the appeal of gaming to me: personalized entertainment. While most games will offer a similar overall experience to its players, little details and interactions are unique to each person. Nobody has the same struggles as I do in Kerbal Space Program. My approach to clearing Liberty Island in Deus Ex will be different than anyone else I know. Dark Souls fosters camaraderie with fellow players who follow the same story beats, even though not everyone will struggle with the same sections. Though I play the same game as thousands and millions of other people, my own experiences with that game are unique to me. This is what sets gaming apart from every other form of media. It’s fun, it’s dynamic, and it’s accessible. Why wouldn’t I play games?  

For me, gaming is about:

Relationships  The conversations that happen while trying to outscore my wife in King Domino.

Nostalgia – Playing Chess with my son reminds me of all the times I played Chess with my Grandpa. I miss him and those times we had together playing Chess, flying remote control airplanes, and telling stories.

Imagination – As with good books, video games allow me to visit other worlds and step into the shoes of someone else.

Discovery – Digital worlds come with their own individual sets of rules. I love seeing what a game world will allow me to do/not do.

Connection – Nothing like discussing games with fellow enthusiasts, taps into my nerdier side.

Sampling All The Flavors – I love constantly trying new games which allows me to experience the different gaming mechanics they each bring to the screen.

Why do you play?

A Reminder That We Are Called To More


My church has been hosting a time of renewal with Life Action Ministries. One of our speakers last night encouraged us to write down 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Every time the verses mention the word love, we were instructed to write our names there instead:

Bryan is patient and kind. Bryan is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Bryan does not demand his own way. Bryan is not irritable, and he keeps no record of being wronged. Bryan does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Bryan never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

In our relationships, as Christians, people should see Christ in us.

Putting my name into those verses is a great reminder of how I should be living. Our speaker further encouraged us to write down the verses on a card and place them where we can see them everyday. Reading them to remind us that we are to be “little Christs”.

Be Silent, Don’t Talk


Sometimes I want to feel like I can talk out loud. I want to talk about what it’s like not being able to have more children. How years upon years can go by and nothing happens… and how bad that hurts. I want to talk about the lies that constantly swirl around about not being whole… the lie of being a failure for not being able to produce. Whenever my wife and I open up about where we are, people say the most insane/insensitive things:

“You should be quiet, you already have one.”

“You should focus more on others.”

“You should come up with a plan to adopt and be ready to start next week.”

Why can’t others just listen? Why can’t we mourn together? Why is it so hard to just pray and be?

Eric Schumacher wrote a post yesterday titled “Dads Hurt Too: A Father’s Memoir of Miscarriage“. Made me cry. Even though my wife and I haven’t experienced a miscarriage (that we know of… there are different types of miscarriages), I get where he is coming from. I’ve heard the same lies:

Comparison pointed a paw at our living children—three of them, then four, then five—and demanded, “What right have you to mourn a child you never knew, when you have all these?” Comparison thrust the faces of friends before my own—friends who could not conceive, friends without a living child, friends whose children died in the crib or in college—and mocked, “You mourn, but not as those who have no kids. Others are worse off; stifle your sorrow.”

There comes a point where you feel like you should just be silent. The hurt experienced from opening up and talking in community not worth the price.

  • Why do we, as Christians, go silent when others who are hurting pour their hearts out?
  • Why do we act like we have no power when we claim Jesus lives in us?

I feel like I should be able to talk, especially around fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet I can’t.

Don’t Be A Looky-Loo


I do not drive much anymore. Living in a small town, my workplace is about 10-15 minutes from the house; church is about the same distance on a good day. Compare that to the time I spent in the car when I lived in California and its nothing. I remember, especially in junior college, hitting the weekend and being happy to be nowhere near the inside of a car.

Southern California and freeway traffic go hand-in-hand. Carpool lanes, express lanes, all have done little to alleviate the problem of too many cars in a small space. Driving the 91 Freeway, I have vivid memories of cruising along at 70mph only to crest a hill and have traffic come to a dead stop. Often these traffic jam would be caused by serious accidents. Other times traffic would come to a dead stop because everyone was slowing down to look at a car that had broken down on the side of the road. Drove me nuts! We even had a term for such people, looky-loos.

Have you ever noticed that when we see or hear about a situation, say a ministry a falling apart, that we want to know more about it? Even if we have no connection to the community (Facebook group, website, podcast, etc.) we want to know the gory details. Curiosity, in this case, can quickly lead to gossip. Gossip that can then further fuel anger and hurt that is already present.

A rather large ministry, one that I’ve followed from the sidelines, has been hurt this past week. Accusations are flying, staff being let go, a complete restructuring of the ministry is taking place. While I am sad to hear of such things, as the ministry is closely patterned off of something I once wanted to do myself, I want to urge caution to my friends.

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts. – Proverbs 18:8 (boldness added for emphasis)

You may want to know more about what has happened with this particular ministry; you may want to hear the “choice morsels”. A certain level of curiosity is understood. But at some point, the things you are looking at (tax/salary information, etc.) is not for you to look at. It is easy to judge from the sidelines. To say, “If I had been running that ministry, I would have structured it this way.” The thing is, you and I were not running that particular ministry. A group of people who felt they were doing the work of the Lord are.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

My wife reminded me today that a ministry blowing up is the work of Satan getting in among Christians. Causing hurt and ultimately division for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Such division is not meant to be.

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. – Romans 16:17-18

It’s okay to pause and mourn a ministry that is going through upheaval. But don’t slam on your own personal brakes for too long or you’ll end up causing a pile-up. Keep your eyes open, take note, and drive the path the Lord has you on. I write this just as much for myself as I do for others.

Grace and peace to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thankful for Small Things


Driving by the school, which is down the street from my house, I scanned the playground. I realized that I was looking for a little boy who is no longer there.

When Wyatt was in kindergarten, I’d look for him on the playground while driving home for lunch. Hoping to catch a glimpse of him running and playing. Since making the decision to homeschool, I no longer have to look for my son elsewhere.

Last Friday, I found myself staring at the playground as I drove by. Got thinking about how God has provided for my family. Sure, we might not always have the newest clothes or are able to eat out all the time, but God has provided for the things that matter most to us. He has allowed us to:

  • Keep Tabitha at home, to allow her to be a full time wife and mom
  • Homeschool Wyatt

Regardless if either of those situations change, God is still good. I’m thankful that He has allowed us to pursue the small things that matter most to us.

What are you thankful for?

Time Well Spent: What I Loved About January


Taking a cue from The Nerd Theist, who asked in his blog post today:

What did you LOVE about January?

I loved spending some alone time, last weekend, with my wife. We sent the boy to grandma’s house and booked a hotel room/celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. Had a great time:

  • Watching The Greatest Showman
  • Playing King Domino (I won!) and Carcassone ( I lost…)
  • Trying to figure out which Fast and the Furious movie was on TV (seriously, these movies blend at some point, but Tabitha and I love watching them together)
  • Doing absolutely nothing but simply being together

Our time away reminded me of our need, as a couple, for time just for the two of us. Time where we can celebrate being a couple.

Started playing Final Fantasy VI on the SNES Classic with Wyatt this past month. I have loved finding a new game that both of us can enjoy together–the game supports two players, who knew!–. His hot take on Final Fantasy VI:

This is just like Pokémon!

Lesson Learned: If you want to eventually play classic Japanese role playing games with your kids, start them out on Pokémon. 

What did you LOVE about January?