Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To play or not to play

Star Wars Saga edition Roleplaying Game

Over the last few months, with debates going on between my friends about "Harry Potter" and "The Shack", I've been doing some soul searching about my involvement with Star Wars roleplaying. SW is fantasy based, and has an element that could be presented like witchcraft, so I sought some clarification. Though elements in Christianity are also shared by other religions, that doesn't make Christianity less Christian. Other religions and cults also may share moral values, redemptive sacrifice, a belief in one creator, miracles, healing, prayer and meditation.
Unlike Potter though Star Wars does have a more definitive good vs evil, good always wins, redemptive theme, and a closer alignment to a Christian Worldview. Roy M. Anker in his book "Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies" equates Star Wars to a modern sci-fi version of "Lord of the Rings". Ref. LOtR is fantasy based in a place of Middle Earth that uses those elements to tell a story that aligns with a Christian Worldview. Other fantasy worlds such as Dungeons and Dragons borrow established fantasy creatures and elements, but then redefine the nature of God or create multiple deities and promote occultic themes (magic, witchcraft, evil , nature worship). I've done away with D&D a few years ago. Though I wasn't one to focus on the occultic aspect I realized that by playing there is no escaping it's influence.

As for matters of the heart, Onken and Miller offer this insightful analysis:

"[N]either fantasy nor fantasy role playing is wrong in and of itself. When carried out within the context of the Christian world view, it can serve as a useful and creative activity. We are creatures made in the image of an imaginative God, and we should consider it a privilege to possess and exercise this precious gift of imagination. But we must also realize our obligation before God to use this gift in a wholesome way, and to guard against any misuse.

"Discerning the difference between a wholesome use and misuse begins with the question, 'To what end or for what purpose (is the imagination) being exercised in a particular direction?' This certainly appears to be the question Jesus had in mind in His Sermon on the Mount when He stated, 'Every one who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart' (Matthew 5:28). "If Jesus taught that lust is tantamount to adultery (which God condemns see Deuteronomy 5:18, 22:13-27), would He approve of the deliberate cultivation and enjoyment of fantasy regarding other things that God condemns? Obviously not. To fantasize about those things that God has forbidden in His Word (immorality, the occult, the pursuit of other deities all elements of Dungeons and Dragons) is tantamount to doing them. This cannot be understood in any other way than a misuse of our God-given imagination.

"With the Bible as our guide, this is what we as Christians must guard against 'so that [we] may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects' (Colossians 1:10)."

Along the way I've been seeing this scripture show up, and it's guidance for Christian Thinking.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things." Phil 4:8
Following these principles I have set some guidelines for my games. They have been in place for years, but now I am defining them, and now realizing why I've done it for years.

In my SWRPG:
1) We play good characters as defined by a Christian Worldview of God.
2) We play moral, and immoral is dark side. If their character pursues the dark side it can be lost (turned over the the GM).
3) The Force is a fantastical mechanism in the fantasy universe of Star Wars, call it a midichlorian if you want. A person has superhuman abilities because of something in the blood, a parasite like creature perhaps. Or maybe it's genetic as it seems to pass within a family line. It is not witchcraft, there is no summoning, demonic forces, or magics.
4) Good Jedi are the peace keepers, and bad sith are greedy power abusers.
5) Good will eventually win over Evil.
6) Jedi are not so powerful as to be immortal. They are still human, and can be killed. Though four Jedi Masters seem to have preserved themselves into the force, perhaps for eternity. A spirit like existence.

Outside of SWRPG:
1) I should read my Bible more than I read Star Wars
2) let my morals determine my game, not my game determine my morals.

Interesting thought.
"At its core is a complex and fetching portrait of what Lucas in his fantasy world labels the Force, by which he means, as he has said directly in interviews, God. With studied restraint, he does not go so far as to specify which God he is depicting; but his prime purpose, he says, is to show his audiences what it is like to believe in God (Time, April 26, 1999)."
Christianity Today: Star Wars Spirituality About 20pages from his book, a very interesting read. Broken into 4 parts.

So yes, within the bounds of Biblical instruction I will continue to play a game, that promotes positive creativity when played with positive moral values already in place, and does not detract from the glory of God.

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