The Guardian and the Rapture Ready Moms
jhutson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 05:24:40 PM EST
[This diary is a sidebar to Who's Watching the Boys? (Part 6 of Talk to Action's series of essays on the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces) -- JH]

Hundreds of web sites and blogs have linked to Talk to Action's series of essays on Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Bloggers worldwide are reading and responding. Here are just two significant examples:

First, The Guardian newspaper in London ran a "Big Blogger" contest. One of the top two finalists was Christina Morgan, who sometimes goes by SacredRain, and who is "putting the final touches to her Doctoral thesis on the civil liberties implications of terrorism laws. " Ms. Morgan writes, in "Ungodly Games":

Although the game literature declines to address the issue of exactly who is "left behind", logic decrees that if only good Christians get the call, those "left behind" are sinners and unbelievers. Those who come to this game following the books, however, will be in no doubt whatsoever that this means Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Unitarians, gays ... you get the point.

That this game is set in New York, one of the most racially and culturally diverse places on earth, is hardly coincidental. Instead, it can only be seen as a blatant, insensitive and cynical attempt to evoke the memory of September 11, 2001 -- screenshots from the game show ambulances with "911" emblazoned on their roofs; the majority of real NYC ambulances have either the Red Cross or the six pointed paramedic star - and promote fear and the Dominionist world view.

Again, its message is simple: we are living through the End of Days, and sinners and unbelievers are those you should fear and be prepared to kill if they refuse to come round to your point of view. A point of view delivered at gunpoint.

Ms. Morgan drew her source material from, and linked to, Talk to Action.

Second, there is a web site for evangelical Christians who hold the belief that we are living in the End Times. Readers of are preparing for "The Rapture" -- a moment, they believe, when God will call the chosen (namely, conservative Evangelical Christians) to heaven, and all others will be "left behind." So the Rapture Ready are taking precautions. For example, they show their concern for those who do not share their particular beliefs by writing Left Behind Letters to those Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, and gays whom they expect to be "left behind." Several letters warn against taking the Mark of the Beast -- supposedly, a sign that the AntiChrist will put on people, in order to identify and track them, and which allows people who take the Mark to buy and sell. Some writers specify their belief that the "Mark" will be placed after the AntiChrist concludes a treaty with Israel. Such letter writing is done today as a way to evangelize readers in the future, after the Rapture. The letter writers believe that they are on the one right track to heaven, but they nevertheless express concern about anyone who will be "left behind." Some advise that in the event of the Rapture, the web site will likely be spiked by the AntiChrist -- so readers who aren't conservative Evangelicals but want to hedge their bets should back up the Left Behind Letters on CD-ROM, just in case.

The tone of the Left Behind Letters is not one of condemnation, but compassion and even sweetness. And that is one reason why this trove of letters is deeply moving, as well as perplexing, and worth someone devoting a doctoral thesis to examine as a significant cultural movement. More to the point, whether one believes it is needful to get "Rapture Ready" or not, these bloggers represent families who contain the core target audience of Left Behind Games. So it is significant that the Rapture Ready readers are -- What's the term? -- outraged about the theological meaning and cultural context of this video game. They believe that unlike any other video game, this video game turns their compassionate beliefs into hateful caricatures; some see it as a product of the AntiChrist. In the view of these conservative Evangelical bloggers, this video game is not about witnessing compassion, and therefore it points people away from Christ.

The fact that Left Behind Games is alienating its core demographic audience -- conservative, Evangelical Christians like the Rapture Ready readers -- is certainly newsworthy. Nevertheless, this is not information that you will find in any mainstream media or in any video game industry publication either, because, as Chuck Klosternan states, there are no video game critics who look at these games in their cultural contexts and tell us what they really mean. Therefore, here's a quick overview of what this game, slated for release on October 17, 2006, means to its core demographic audience.

Here is what some RaptureReady commenters have to say about this video game. SapphireGrl: "This is vile and offensive. I just cannot believe what I am reading. I just can't believe it. I don't know what to say." Selah: "They are shaming the name of Christ." Werner: "It's terrible." Diamond: "Hey, I got on the game's website and e-mailed them...I asked them if they were nuts and if they had ever heard of 'Thou shalt not kill'..." SapphireGrl again: "Where in the Word does it say to 'kill the infidels'? Where are we told to kill anyone that won't convert? Jesus said to shake the dust from your feet, not to mow them down with automatic weapons!" HSMomto4 quotes this passage from the first essay: "The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the Antichrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian)." Then this Rapture Ready Mom to four Christian children asks: "Why would a group of Christians like Warren and LaHaye want this in the game? It just makes me think of all the people who say they are Christians but will turn for the Antichrist later on." And then from rosanna's key: "Christians playing games that include violence and killing is one issue for debate - but a game DEPICTING Christians killing IN THE NAME OF CHRIST -- that is inexcusable!  Now . . . why would Jenkin$ and LaHaye be a part of thi$ $ham of a game anyway? I just can't $ee what they might be in it for. Can you? $eems like it would be at odd$ with their me$$age -- hmmm . . . maybe we'll figure it out $omeday."

[Return to Who's Watching the Boys? (Part 6)]

is embarrassing its backers and alienating its core audience. In the textbook Your Arms Are Too Short To Game with God, the Left Behind Games debacle should be Chapter 1.

by jhutson on Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 05:31:46 PM EST

e-mails from my sister in law who is a millenialist from Ohio.  Must say, I was a little taken back since this was about 3 years ago, long before I started doing any serious reading about the religious right.  She never referred to it in any way....I just had this odd ball e-mail about demons and marks of the devil in my computer.  Now I get it....sigh

by tikkun on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 02:35:31 PM EST

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