Push the Prayer Button
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 11:21:04 AM EST
What's wrong with a video game that depicts a "defensive" religious war set in a real, contemporary US city that's been recreated in loving detail - at least in terms of the physical features of the city - and which features game characters that look nothing like the real city residents they are supposed to depict and who do not bleed when they are killed, at close range, by assault weapons and whose corpses simply fade away from where they lie on the city streets ? What's the big deal if the game is based on a bloodthirsty pop-culture series that's been read by upwards of sixty million people ? So what if the game suggests that "secularism" is satanic and depicts a total war in which there can be no noncombatants ?

So what if this game sidesteps the moral and religious injunctions against killing by enabling players to do rote penance, when the game characters they command kill, by repetitively pressing a "prayer button" on their gaming joysticks ? ( note: this piece has been excerpted from a longer piece of writing entitled Religious Warfare Stocking Stuffer.

Well, the game will condition an already pre-indoctrinated group to go through the motions of religious warfare. Game players will learn that religious wars can be "fun", and that  such wars can be reduced, irrespective of the humans caught up in and killed in them, to a series of complex strategic, tactical and logistical challenges.

A Controversial Video Game

Religious groups and individuals from both the left and right have protested the sale of "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" and a growing coalition has called for a consumer boycott of the game, but those are moral objections and, rightly so, have no legal force. So, this video game - that depicts religious warfare in New York City and in which players can command fundamentalist Christian paramilitary forces with the mission of converting to fundamentalist Christianity or else killing the residents of the Big Apple - is on store shelves, waiting to take its place under festive Christmas trees.

Teenagers who play "Left Behind:" Eternal Forces" will learn that the act of playing out and imagining religious war has the sanction of their parents and the enthusiastic endorsement of powerful religious advocacy groups such as Focus On The Family. Teens who play the game will understand it to be a wholesome, moral enterprise that has the endorsement of authority figures they love and trust.

They will learn that the immorality of killing can be cleansed by going through the motions of ritualized prayer as if saying a few "Hail Mary's" or mumbling some religious incantation. Imagine the outcry if the Harry Potter series described a magical incantation murderers could intone to make the moral and legal onus of their crimes vanish ?
Lots of killing to do ? No problem. Press the "prayer button" as necessary.

"The people who have come into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation." - Pat Robertson, to New Yorker Magazine, 1986

Finally, it is important - crucial even - to recognize that there is a wider societal context to the phenomenon of "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" ;

The game is no cultural anomaly but part of a general pattern in which many parents on the Christian right are socializing children with the vocabulary of violence and the expectation that they will wage religious warfare, against specified societal groups, within their lifetimes. That was the context for the recent documentary Jesus Camp and "Jesus Camp" is part of a much wider societal phenomenon ( see: Kids In Combat )

Further, such efforts to socialize children towards religious warfare mesh with a pattern, in American public discourse, of prominent religious, political, and media figures employing demonizing and eliminationalist rhetoric against targeted societal groups and even calling for the use of nuclear weapons against civilian populations ( see: Enough hate speech to stun an ox and Dave Neiwert's writing on hate speech at Orcinus, and Hatecrime.org as well as the  work of the Southern Poverty Law Center in monitoring hate and extremist activity in the US  

Conditioning people to commit acts of mass violence, research has shown, doesn't happen overnight - it tends to be a gradual process. People can be habituated to commit mass violence quite easily, especially of the conditioning is incremental. So, why not start with kids ? It's easier.

( for more on the socialization of violence, see:

How Average Humans Can Be Conditioned To Carry Out Acts Of Mass Violence
for further analysis on how the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" game may condition and socialize game players towards violence, see Virtual religious, ethnic, and cultural cleansing in "Left Behind: Eternal Forces"
for more on the ideology behind the "Left Behind" book series that the vieo game is based on, see Chip Berlet's eight part series at Talk To Action.

"The conversion of socialized people into dedicated fighters is achieved not by altering their personality structures, aggressive drives or moral standards. Rather, it is accomplished by cognitively redefining the morality of killing so that it can be done free from self-censure. Through moral justification of violent means, people see themselves as fighting ruthless oppressors" - Albert Banduras




Display:
I would be interesting to see what outcry would occur if the shoe was on the other foot and a Christmas video game came out called
"Eternal Forces II" and the prey would be the extreme fundamentalists. The the excuses could be the same, not to mention the fact that they are just plain pushy, ignorant of facts and happy to remain so, intolerant and annoying.

I would also like to see a movie made, to be aimed at the general public that would take them back into the middle ages, to let them see what conditions actually were like -  conditions that the fundamentalists would like to see enforced today.  Maybe we could start with the the execution of the mentally challenged 13-year old who was raped in a group home, became pregnant, and was aborted.  We could add a few gays, feminists and Wiccans - Would that not warm the hearts of the most steadfast of the extreme right?

by Concerned on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:44:38 PM EST

To understand a narrative, people need to be pulled into it.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 01:38:20 AM EST
Parent


This is one of the features that I find most disgusting about LBEF. As a Vietnam Veteran, I know what it is like to be caught up in the violent maelstrom that is war. If I have learned anything at all from my experiences is this: Whenever you take another human life, no matter how justified and necessary it is, a part of you dies with the other person. A bit of your soul goes away and you spend the rest of your life trying to get it back. The whole concept of the "Prayer Button" makes a mockery of the healing process.

by Frank Frey on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 09:32:17 AM EST
Frank, that's all I can say. I'm not a veteran, but I had a visceral reaction to your description. That's why I've focosed so much on the "prayer button" : it seems blasphemous to me. It seems to suggest that pushing a button can make the magnitude of what killing really is go away.

Troy Lyndon's son fought in Aghanistan and Lyndon says discussions with his son informed the game, and that the mechanism by which killing is penalized in his game ( penalties that can be lifted by "pushing the prayer button" ) was added to emphasize the moral and spiritual dimensions of kiling.

Personally, I think the explanation is hogwash

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 12:33:45 PM EST
Parent

Bruce,  

First of all, I rejoice that Troy Lyndon was able to have that conversation with his son because that meant that the young man returned safely from Afghanistan. God bless him and may he find his path.
The problem, IMO, is that while that prayer button mechanism may have actually been well meaning it is in truth worse than useless. It sanitizes what is a profoundly life changing experience. It is an attempt to make the unpalatable well...palatable.
General Robert E. Lee once remarked "It is a good thing war is so terrible lest we grow too fond of it." LBEF and other games like take the terribleness out of it and I fear that we may be growing too fond of it.

by Frank Frey on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 03:23:20 PM EST
Parent





WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (4 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (6 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (7 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (21 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (5 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (8 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (3 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (5 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (3 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (2 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (13 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (7 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (2 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (3 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.