Thursday, October 2, 2008
"Left Behind" Sanity
This is old news. Of course it is. I would have to quit my job in order to write about everything I want to write about. Because never in my memory has there been so much appalling behavior on which to comment, and never in my memory has the American citizenry appeared so ovine. One of the most questionable bellwethers in the herd is the “Left Behind” franchise: 16 “novels,” 5 graphic novels, a music CD, 3 movies (and a fourth on the way), 40 kids’ books, a video game, and there’s more. The official website is as commerce-driven as any dot-com, and the founders of the franchise are rolling in Christian capital. The faithful have pocketbooks, and they are going to use them.
I know that, for me, the books have just been noise in the background. They are wildly popular and have sold millions of copies (65 million, by leftbehind.com’s count) and are eagerly devoured by a certain segment of the population, but I really had no idea of their nefarious nature. I have never read one, and no, I never will. There are too many good books out there that I have yet to read, and I am not about to toss Harry Potter aside in favor of a book that starts out like this:
“Rayford Steele had to admit that the first time he saw a bear and then a leopard moving about in public, something niggled at him to keep his distance, to not show fear, to make no sudden movements. But when he saw the bear and the cat cooperate to climb a tree and make a meal of leaves and branches, he was emboldened to trust God for the whole promise. It wasn't just he who had become a vegetarian. It was true of all former carnivores.”
The series, in case you have not guessed, comes out of the Book of Revelation and the concept of the “end times.” This is also old news. There has always been a sector of every population throughout human history that believed it was living in the end times. At some point, one of them may be right, I suppose, though I myself think it will be the end of humanity, not the end of the world itself, and it will be more of a whimper than a bang. There has also always been a sector of the population actually hoping for the end times and the second coming; even trying to bring them about. This behavior seems to fly in the face of prophecies that are destined—fixed by future events, but it’s easy enough to explain away inconsistencies when you are basing all your ideas upon improvable beliefs and will, in any case, always fall back upon the Bible as the revealed word of god and the ultimate “so there.”
It would be easy for me to wander off on a tangent. The whole hot mess is ripe with things to bemoan, criticize, debunk, and mock. The fact that many of our policymakers believe in this stuff or are listening to people who believe in this stuff (the people who wrote it, in fact) is downright terrifying, especially when you start to pick it apart and translate it into actual policy decisions. But what started me out here was the Left Behind videogame. That’s right: “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” is available for you to purchase for only $19.99. In it, you can lead the Tribulation Force against the Global Community Peacekeepers. In case you are wondering, the “Tribulation Force” is the good guys and the “Global Community Peacekeepers” are the bad guys—the anti-christ’s army, as a matter of fact. See, this is after the rapture, and the anti-christ has reorganized the United Nations into the Global Community. The Global Community is a one-world government that seeks “peace for all mankind.”
Apparently, in this game, resorting to violence that is not in self-defense lowers your “Spirit Level.” You raise your spirit level by converting civilians (who are actually not called converts but “Friends”), who you then train to spread the truth. Your spirit level will also be lowered if you are exposed to any of the Global Community’s rock music or secularist propaganda. If your unit’s spirit level gets low enough, it will switch sides unless you pray. It’s a scary world; after all, you are up against rock stars, activists, cult leaders, gang bosses, and soldiers who are being trained in “College.”
Clearly, I would not succeed at this game because I already went to college, my husband is a rock star, I am an activist, and, oh yeah, I don’t believe in god, so praying is pretty much out.
If you want more information, there were a couple of FAQ’s on the website: one for the mainstream media and one for the Christian media. Although now, there is just the “Mainstream Media FAQ.” This question was on the Christian Media FAQ, but now it is listed with the others on the “Mainstream Media FAQ:”
“Are guns used by Christians against non-Christians? Why or why not?
The storyline in the game begins just after the Rapture has occurred – when all adult Christians, all infants, and many children were instantly swept home to Heaven and off the Earth by God. The remaining population – those who were left behind – are then poised to make a decision at some point. They cannot remain neutral. Their choice is to either join the AntiChrist – which is an imposturous one world government seeking peace for all of mankind, or they may join the Tribulation Force – which seeks to expose the truth and defend themselves against the forces of the AntiChrist.”
So… yes? I think that perhaps what they meant to write was “Yes, guns are used by Christians against Nonchristians because the Christians are right and the Nonchristians are wrong.” One of the forces of the antichrist is the unit type called the “Secularist,” which is a unit that specializes in deception.
A review by ArsTechnica.com addresses the guns a bit more clearly, stating: “Many groups have made inaccurate statements about this game that need to be corrected. For one thing, it is not particularly violent. While there are violent aspects of the game, the game makes it clear that shooting is the last resort. Second, it is not hateful to other religions. It does have an agenda, and I think you need to know that going in, but there's no bashing of other faiths.”
This review says that it is not hateful to other religions, but what it clearly means is what it says in the second sentence: there is no overt bashing of other faiths. Dividing the world into Christian/Nonchristian and Christ/Antichrist is the same black and white “us vs. them” that is inherently hateful. It turns people into opposites and pits them against each other. Characters in the video game don’t need to be running around screaming that “Muslims are evil” in order to create an atmosphere of hate.
In the end, I doubt that I will be running out to purchase this video game, as I have no game console and think that video games in and of themselves are rather pestilential regardless of whether or not they are spewing such simple and morally destructive messages. I’d rather pick up a book.
And it won’t be “Left Behind: Kingdom Come.”