Sunday, July 17, 2011

On virtual religion - lessons from the world of gaming

This morning I read an article from that made me think.

I don't want to reproduce the entire article, so here is a link to the original, and it's well worth the few minutes to read all three pages.

Basically, an atheist game programmer was challenged to compete in an event during which the theme was religion (actually, Bigger Than Jesus).

What he came up with is part performance art and part psychology experiment.

But as i mused on his choices and the resultant chaos, it came to me that maybe the flaw was something that modern churches are doing as well, in a completely unconcious way.

See, Jason Rohrer's nine commandments for using his game began with him handing the thumb drive to a complete stranger, chuckling onstage that he couldn't give it to a friend.

But laying aside the aspect of the divinity of Christ, every major religion has had it's foundation laid precisely on , in the beginning, "giving it to friends". Maybe they were called followers, students, or disciples, but in the final analysis, the sacred truth was entrusted to those who had lived, walked, eaten with and conversed with at length, their master.

If Rohrer hadn't been an atheist, that part may have come to him more intuitively, that the game should spread from friend to friend...

And this is the point at which our churches seem to have become adrift.

As a teen and young adult, i felt a deep sense of belonging everytime i walked into a church, no matter what town or denomination. I knew that these were my people, my brothers and sisters. I knew i belonged.

But i think we are seeing the rise of a completely different system, one in which pastors and leaders are not identified and mentored, but one where whoever wants to can pay their money and come out with a piece of paper and get a job preaching.

I understand the concerns re: purity of doctrine, but like all discipline, retaining and owning information, skills, and beliefs come most readily from an environment of intimate friendship.

It's why we have one on one piano lessons, thesis advisors, parents, why apprentices have one overseer, tutoring and counsellors or psychiatrists who work in intimate one on one or small groups where trust and accountability flow both ways.

Ji, the stranger to whom the game was entrusted, proved to be someone who instead took months to pass it on, attempted to sell access to the game, and released videos in which he pretended to destroy the game. Would Rohrer's best friend have done the same? Or would the outcome have degenerated to the same level by the time it had changed hands a few more times?

Christianity is not a game, and God's Word assures us that it will "not return void" but i think this story emphasizes the importance that true relationships can have in maintaining a healthy, true community of believers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trust me

It's midnight and i have a Big Day tomorrow. But my body has chosen now to be the time to pour out all my cares and polish them, examine them, make them precious. The upcoming move, my children's future marriages (will they really ever grow up to be loving, honorable , true, adults?), how on earth will i ever homeschool highschool? And a hundred things i can do nothing about.

I have had very little time to write music lately but i did write this song. Wanna hear the lyrics?

Trust in me.

That's it. That's all i've got. It 's got verse, chorus, bridge - but only three words.

And i'm talking to You, here in the dark, at midnight, grinning in that "I've got a secret" way - i hear You, singing it back to me, smoothing my forehead and pouring sleep over my tired eyes.

And I will.

Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."