When Security Masks a Spirit of Fear

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in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:11 (ESV)

Another week goes by, we hear another story of a gunman invading a space and taking innocent lives. Calls for gun control quickly ring out in the media. Feelings of justice, fueled by anger and pain, trigger that deep down knowing that the world should not be this way. That we were not meant to deal with nor experience death, separation, brought on by a single choice made back in the beginning.

The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 56:11 that we should put our trust in God. There is no reason to fear when we put our trust in the Creator. Right? And yet fear percolates and permeates the atmosphere we breathe. Even in our churches, where Safety Teams equal Security Squads, fear rages. Played out with armed church members, unofficially, watching over the flock while services take place. A new defensive cultural norm.

NOTE: Please, do not misconstrue my words here, I’m all for keeping the Church safe. But I’m not okay when the spirit of fear drives a weekly version of security theater.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Keeping silent. Toeing the party line. Those seem like the obvious responses. But I believe God calls us, as Christians, to more: Power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

What do you do when a spirit of fear infects a church?

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FROM ACROSS THE NET – “Dark Souls Journal #02 – Losing Battles but Controlling Myself”

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Joe, over at the Raving Luhn, is chronicling his adventures through Dark Souls. I like when consequences have permanence to them in a game.

That poor shopkeeper thought the best thing he could to do a well-armed traveler that bursts through the door is start talking. I had to respond somehow. I pressed a button that I thought was supposed to initiate interaction, but I pressed the wrong one and whipped a throwing knife at his face. He doesn’t want to sell me things anymore. In one enraged motion, he came crashing through his table and lunged towards me. I’m forced to defend myself against who I assume is the only one able to sell me supplies in this location. This shop is now closed permanently. No friends do I have in Undead Burg. All because I pressed the wrong button.

Read more here

 

From Across the Net – “Christian Games Done Right: That Dragon, Cancer”

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Nelson knocks it out of the park with his piece titled “Christian Games Done Right: That Dragon, Cancer“.

…I want to tackle how I feel this title has been tragically misrepresented by the games media. And as a result, those who might have benefited most from playing it were turned away.

That Dragon, Cancer is not the story of Joel’s tragic death. It’s the story of his life. The difference may seem small, but it is extremely important, because it defines the very way you approach the game.

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Bloodborne: Death As A Teacher

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I am not a fan of the horror genre. Life has enough real horrors already.

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Ah, beauty of a different sort.

The City of Yharnam has become my new prison. My attempt to break out of my gaming comfort zone and explore the Souls genre. Bloodborne demands mechanical mastery. The ability to read individual animation frames, seeking vulnerability. Discovering that sweet spot at which to sidestep evade and attack. One cannot get too cocky. Spamming attacks with Diablo-like gusto. Some attacks take a moment or two longer. Leaving your character open to damage. Death brings about a refinement of skill. Death the great teaching tool.

I think I died at least 20 times trying to take on the first monster in Bloodborne. No, no, make that 30. No weapon in hand, no help, I struggled through Death Education 101. And yet, I felt compelled to continue.

“Tab, I think this is the meanest game I’ve ever played.”

In a moment of triumph, I beat the first shadow monster and made my way outside. Only to face a man with an axe. He died. Rounding the corner, I ran into two more guys with axes. I let my guard down, just for a moment. The game tells me in a simple manner, “You Died”. Yes, yes, I did.

Bloodborne is definitely not one of those games that I will be playing in front of Wyatt. The Gothic atmosphere, showers of blood, and creepy monsters all have the makings of a fantastic nightmare.

For me, the Gothic aesthetic is just there. I had thought it would bug me with my aversion to the horror genre. Like Neo from The Matrix, I don’t really see the in-game world. All I see are moments to evade, attack, and not get killed. Bloodborne appeals to that mechanical side of me that loves pure gameplay. Gameplay that demands your absolute best.

Yharnam is my home now. A digital mosquito bite that I want to itch.

Thoughts on The Last of Us

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Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us is the antithesis of the Uncharted series. One game is built on stealth, scavenging, and nonviolent solutions; the other game on blood, ammo drops, and guns, lots of guns.

I happened to take a sick day this week. To relax, I fired up The Last of Us. Now I should note that this is a game I have tried quite a few times to get into. Somehow, someway, The Last of Us has failed to capture me, until now. The fact that it was daylight outside could have helped my bravery. Scary games and I do not get along.

The last time I played The Last of Us, I had left Joel, Tessa, and Ellie out in the rain. They were trying to make their way down a slick street, avoiding the military along the way. Years of Uncharted training told me to unload my gun on these goons, up the body count, and get along. Yet, The Last of Us teaches one that guns are bad. If you are going to shoot a gun in this game, you better prepare to deal with the consequences. You see, guns are loud. In a game all about stealth, enemies swarm towards gunfire like flies to fresh poo.

We soon came across two new enemy types: 1) Clickers: Infected that are blind yet have amazing hearing; 2) Runners: Infected that can see and rush one at will. I realized that each enemy encounter is like a puzzle. If you can distract an enemy with a glass bottle thrown into another room, you are golden. The Last of Us is all about misdirection. And bricks. Bricks are fantastic melee weapons. They also provide something to throw to stun or create a diversion. I cannot stress enough that the moment your gun clears its holster, you will be stringy flesh on toast.

Expect to die many times. Each encounter is different. Sometimes it is best to observe first, die, and then try a solution. Death isn’t the end, death is your friend.

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Further along in the game, we made it to the state capital building. The military arrived and surrounded the building. I tried at least 5-7 times to sneak around and out of the building. No good. So I then decided to move as fast as I could from one barrier to the next. Avoiding military patrols like the stealth professional I am not, I walked out of the building without a single shot fired. This game is good.

The Last of Us pushes for non-violence and yet is the most violent game I’ve played in a long time. I like how the non-infected humans are scarier than the infected. I love how the game is kicking me out of my comfort zone of running and gunning.

I ended my sick day entering the darkened corridors of a high school. My wife and son where out shopping for the evening. I was home, alone. Coming across a group of Clickers, I decided that enough was enough for the day. Could have been that my bravery left me when the sun went down or that I was just tired. But I’ll be back, brick in hand, to continue the journey. Not forgetting the quiet moments in the game, moments of utter wonder.

Beauty. Light. Darkness. Oh the world we live in, reflected in a video game.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5

We Are The Halls

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My wife and I hear it all the time:

“You only have one kid, you have it easy.”

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“Just wait until you have more, then you’ll know.”

There is an insinuation that our experience is somehow lesser due to the amount of children we have. That as parents, we are clueless because we have only one child. People are stupid with their words. Including fellow Christians.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.- James 3:9-10

I want to implore my brothers and sisters in Christ to watch what they say in passing. To those who do not believe, to be wary of your words. Words have the power to cut like a knife. To rip open wounds that are healing.

Do not dilute my family’s experience based on a trivial number. We are the Hall Family. We are who God has designed us to be.