205: Pastor Blaster

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Pastor Blaster

When Dale Culp learned his church's pastor was a fan of Doom, he was shocked. But as more and more people identify themselves as "gamers," why shouldn't a man of God enjoy shooting virtual Nazis in the face?

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I was already well aware of the fact that most Christians are entirely capable of being mature and reasonable; gaming being no exception. It does, however, strike me as somewhat hypocritical that this pastor should defend his like of videogames by claiming any conflict of his own morality is made moot by the fact that it is unreal while decrying the presence of swearing that, by his own admission, is also not real.

It is one of my earnest hopes that the demonisation of Christianity, and indeed all religion, may eventually subside through the humanisation of church leaders. Gaming priests may be a positive, albeit minor, step in that direction.

Great Article.
I know a few pastors like this myself, and it's always encouraging to me. I also know a few pastors who don't play, but don't condemn either. In fact they'll use games on a 'youth night' at the church, playing Halo or Call of Duty on the big screen projector in the sanctuary!

I just have to wonder why people are surprised by this, though. The dogmatic of the church used to stand against Rock and Roll and Hip-Hop music, and now we've got Christian rock bands and Christian Hip-Hop artists!
As the youth of the church grow to become it's leaders, they grow with an understanding of what is and is not important to stand for or against. The leaders of today know that Rock and Roll is just music, and any music can be used for bad, or for good. Likewise, the Church leaders of tomorrow will say the same about video games, and it'll happen sooner then later.

Again, great article.

Pi_Fighter:
It does, however, strike me as somewhat hypocritical that this pastor should defend his like of videogames by claiming any conflict of his own morality is made moot by the fact that it is unreal while decrying the presence of, by his own admission, swearing that is also not real.

Well I'd put to you that the swearing is always real. It's an audible thing, not a physical act. You aren't actually shooting anyone, but they are obviously swearing. The way swearing wouldn't be real is if they made up the swear word, like 'Oh finklebun!', or 'You S'wit! (To steal from Morrowind). Those are not real swear words, and I don't doubt the pastor would have no problem with them, like the not-real violence taking place. The using of real swear words used today is real, regardless of the medium in which they are presented.

EDIT: Pardon the double post!

Baby Tea:

Pi_Fighter:
It does, however, strike me as somewhat hypocritical that this pastor should defend his like of videogames by claiming any conflict of his own morality is made moot by the fact that it is unreal while decrying the presence of, by his own admission, swearing that is also not real.

Well I'd put to you that the swearing is always real. It's an audible thing, not a physical act. You aren't actually shooting anyone, but they are obviously swearing. The way swearing wouldn't be real is if they made up the swear word, like 'Oh finklebun!', or 'You S'wit! (To steal from Morrowind). Those are not real swear words, and I don't doubt the pastor would have no problem with them, like the not-real violence taking place. The using of real swear words used today is real, regardless of the medium in which they are presented.

That raises the obvious question of why a priest would actually be bothered by swearing at all.

Do priests believe that a fifteen year old does not know any and all of the swearing presented in a game marketed, and indeed restricted, to a "Mature Audience"?

Is a virtual character virtually swearing after having their virtual legs blown off inappropriate?

Desensitisation is not the correct answer because if the presence of "foul" language in a game desensitises one to swearing, then violent content would also desensitise the audience to violence. As this is clearly not the view presented by the pastor in the article, it can be deduced that he has some other reasoning to justify this seemingly non sequitur of an attitude.

Just for the record, "Pastor Blaster" may be one of the best titles I think we've ever run with.

Pi_Fighter:

Baby Tea:

Well I'd put to you that the swearing is always real. It's an audible thing, not a physical act. You aren't actually shooting anyone, but they are obviously swearing. The way swearing wouldn't be real is if they made up the swear word, like 'Oh finklebun!', or 'You S'wit! (To steal from Morrowind). Those are not real swear words, and I don't doubt the pastor would have no problem with them, like the not-real violence taking place. The using of real swear words used today is real, regardless of the medium in which they are presented.

That raises the obvious question of why a priest would actually be bothered by swearing at all.

Do priests believe that a fifteen year old does not know any and all of the swearing presented in a game marketed, and indeed restricted, to a "Mature Audience"?

Is a virtual character virtually swearing after having their virtual legs blown off inappropriate?

Desensitisation is not the correct answer because if the presence of "foul" language in a game desensitises one to swearing, then violent content would also desensitise the audience to violence. As this is clearly not the view presented by the pastor in the article, it can be deduced that he has some other reasoning to justify this seemingly non sequitur of an attitude.

I would say that this pastor is just annoyed by the swearing. He doesn't swear himself, and doesn't like it when others do around him, even in games. Obviously I can't speak for him, but I could see this as a reason. I know other people like that.

Personally, as a Christian, don't like it when people swear around me, but I'm not bothered by it in most movies or games (If it fits the characters and/or situation). I don't swear myself, unless really really angry, but that doesn't happen often and I don't like it when it does.

And there are other Christians who don't tolerate any swearing at all in any form. It's all in people's sensibilities. Swearing seems to be a minor problem with this Pastor. I say minor because he obviously still plays despite the swearing, he just wishes there were less of it. I know people who don't play games with magic in them. I know people who don't play games with violence in them. I know people who would never play a violent game, but watch violent movies. It's all sensibilities, and it's all perception.

I think the fact that he plays anyways, despite his 'problem' with the swearing, is a wonderful image of how something that bugs you isn't always a soteriologically binary choice of 'yes or no', or in this case: 'play or not play'. You notice the pastor never condemned people for played games with swearing, or condemned those games himself. He merely stated that it would be his preference if the swearing was reduced, or gone.

It wasn't a 'hellfire or heavens gates' statement or choice, just a musing while fixing a roof.

Baby Tea:
*snip*

In hindsight, I probably payed too much attention to a minor detail.

It also just occured to me that I have been using the titles pastor and priest interchangably...

Pi_Fighter:
In hindsight, I probably payed too much attention to a minor detail.

Good talk, though!

It also just occured to me that I have been using the titles pastor and priest interchangably...

Ahh, you'll only bother the die-hards on both the Protestant and Catholic sides.
Technically there is a difference, but who cares. I knew what you meant!

Yeah, just to throw my two cents in, the pastor was speaking more of his own personal preference when he said he didn't like all the swearing, than making a grand sweeping statement. I don't use profanity often, but I don't have a big problem with it, but, especially when there's only about 10 samples that are recycled and 4 of them contain profanity, it just gets annoying. Also, he probably doesn't like it when the Lord's name is taken in vain, which to me personally is more insulting than referencing the act of sex, or pooping.

I think this needs to be seen by more people, if only to remind them that a majority of religious people, even those actually in the inner workings of a religion, can be completely normal and enjoy a video game, without condemning anything.

As another random data point, I'll say that one of the reasons I decided not to buy Gears of War was because I watched some of the gameplay videos and heard what was, to me, an undesirable amount of swearing from the virtual characters (and this was just in the between-action conversation, not while they were getting their virtual limbs blown off). I decided I didn't want it.

Halo and Call of Duty are much more reserved in their language use.

Now, the question has been asked, why does the swearing bother you but the violence doesn't? It's a fair question, and I admit I don't have an answer. (Although I will say that I also thought Gears of War's violence was "over the top" as well, and that also influenced my "no buy" decision.) Call of Duty does push the violence for my personal comfort level, and I don't play that one nearly as much as Halo, for instance.

Then again, Shadowrun shows huge blood splatters resulting from headshots and geysers of blood erupting from falling players, but I still play that from time to time and don't even think twice about it. Go figure.

I'm really glad to see The Escapist painting Religion in a light that isn't necessarily biased towards either side. Gaming and Religion go together quite well, namely when it comes to creating that eternal conflict in video games, Good Versus Evil.

Whether you're killing a God (Shin Megami Tensei/Silent Hill 3), are a God (Black and White/Okami), or are just a (Not so)humble servant (God of War), Religion, Mythology, and supernaturalism in general play an important role in gaming.

YAY!!! My pastor isn't the odd man out!!

I cant count the number of nights a bunch of us from the church have gone to the pastor's house for lan parties.

CantFaketheFunk:
Just for the record, "Pastor Blaster" may be one of the best titles I think we've ever run with.

Agreed! This pastor is awesome...I never would've known that men of God would be interested or participate in the worlds of gaming we live in.

Hey, its a normal, well-adjusted human. You don't see many of them today.
I so glad someone has seen and made this, this is how the world is supposed to operate.
Even religious leaders shouldn't care if a few polygonal models are triggering animation on each other every time someone shoots the particle effect button.

Cosplay Horatio:

CantFaketheFunk:
Just for the record, "Pastor Blaster" may be one of the best titles I think we've ever run with.

Agreed! This pastor is awesome...I never would've known that men of God would be interested or participate in the worlds of gaming we live in.

Oh, I just meant in terms of the actual title of the article. It makes me snicker every time.

CantFaketheFunk:

Cosplay Horatio:

CantFaketheFunk:
Just for the record, "Pastor Blaster" may be one of the best titles I think we've ever run with.

Agreed! This pastor is awesome...I never would've known that men of God would be interested or participate in the worlds of gaming we live in.

Oh, I just meant in terms of the actual title of the article. It makes me snicker every time.

I understood the intentions of your post...I was adding to it with my own thoughts on this article. This would make a great video game title and theme. A Pastor who takes up arms and kicks ass in the name of the lord! He is...Pastor Blaster...the deliverer of justice to the demons who trespass on God's Green Earth. Coming soon this X-mas.

A Pastor playing video games? Oh well, just as long as it keeps him away from little boys (for the love of God, I'm KIDDING!)

To be honest, I don't think it's all too strange. More and more middle aged people, regardless of occupation, have been taking up video games. There hardly isn't anyone who doesn't love video games these days. I think comedian Christian Finnegan put it best when he said that we're going to be a generation of gamers. These days, the only people who despise video games are people who are old and bitter, who prefer to stand behind outdated traditions, and people who just haven't bothered to give them a chance.

This was a great article, but unfortunately, I kinda felt it was lacking. All it summed up to was an expression of disbelief, a well written expression of disbelief, but nothing much at the same time. There were many ways you could have taken this article, but I guess this issues theme kinda restricted it. But I digress, it was still really entertaining to read. Keep up the great work.

CantFaketheFunk:
Just for the record, "Pastor Blaster" may be one of the best titles I think we've ever run with.

This is also true, so very true :)

I liked this article.

An excellent article.

Isn't it a wonderful thing when we don't see others by their labels
and instead focus on what we have in common.

Best example I could give was my last tabletop gaming group. There were five of us:
An atheist, A Non-Denominational Christian, A Muslim, A Wiccan, and a Roman Catholic seminarian (our GM) , gathered in a library playing CoC. That was the best group I ever played with, and I am still in contact with all of them.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but gaming in general reveals a common truth: we may disagree on certain things, but if we take the time to understand each other as people (as opposed to the caricatures created by Hollywood and society), we might find ourselves calling each other "brother" and "sister" in spite of it all.

My pastor probably would be a lot like that guy if he had the time or money to expend on video games as his past time, instead of his current hobbies which may or may not include potato guns and a large tractor.

Interesting article, although for some reason I'm mildly disturbed by the idea of a pastor directly participating in a murder simulator (despite the conflict with a percieved, or in the case of Doom, obvious evil, violence is the main point of the game). Perhaps, as a lapsed Catholic, I have entirely unrealistic expectations of the clergy that doesn't even translate appropriately to the topic of the article. But would the simulation of violence be analogous to sexual fantasies on the part of a Catholic priest? Sinful in regards to the fact that they stimulate feelings that go against their respective doctrines? An unbidden fantasy may be regarded as a spiritual attack, certainly something the priest attempts to overcome, but in the case of violent video-games, the person in question has actively sought out the sensation and could be analogous to a Catholic priest browsing through a copy of a gentleman's magazine.

By no means do I support the view I just explained, as I dislike the repression in more puritan religions. I'm just curious as to how playing violent video-games can be justified on faith grounds, as it has some effect on the purity of thought or something. Probably. I could easily be confusing doctrinal issues between different religions, or imagining a problem that does not exist, but if anyone better informed has an answer (or more wild speculation to add to my own) then it would be very welcome.

I can see a pastor of a Christian church having no problem with video games or the gratuitous violence many video games portray. I mean the Bible is chalk full of stories that, if made into a video game, would probably get an "A" rating by the ESRB.

You probably wouldn't see a Buddhist monk playing video games because video games in essence are an illusion inside an illusion and further traps man in the world of sensation.

Neat article.

Great article, this actually made me smile although I was nervous at first with the title.

Great article! I think you hit the nail on the whole subject of how society is gradually changing the way it views and accepts videogames. The only thing I felt was missing was a more direct quote from the pastor himself as how he perceives the issue of violence in a game, although the simple fact he plays the games shows us quite clearly that he has no qualms with the subject. Also, the fact he finds swearing to be a problem is an eye opener.

I'll bet his Gamertag is "Kill_The_Christians_666" or similar. The minister thing is just a front. He is a death machine and out for blood.

Daily bases of videogames is to help make something that can't be normally achived in real life possible only in the gamer's standards. I'm religious (christian) myself, and I play games most of the time when i'm not overpacked with work. I have to say, I give editors credit for all the work they put in games to make it worth playing, very fun. My point is just cause someone is important or is entitled as "pastor/rightiousness" it shouldn't mean their whole lives are fixed on that task nonstop

Golfing, Bowling, Games, Movies, Football, School...So forth is very important to entertainment, it's what makes us human to acess better ways to amuse ourselves, lol sounds odd but yeah it's how it rly is. Beer doesn't count btw <-- jk

A pastor playing Doom? That's pretty funny.

I expect this kind of thing to become completely commonplace as the years go on. We've come a long way from when "Nintendo" was interchangeable with "video game".

I've no doubt we'll see an increase in games catering exclusively to the religious, as well.

MorkFromOrk:
I can see a pastor of a Christian church having no problem with video games or the gratuitous violence many video games portray. I mean the Bible is chalk full of stories that, if made into a video game, would probably get an "A" rating by the ESRB.

You probably wouldn't see a Buddhist monk playing video games because video games in essence are an illusion inside an illusion and further traps man in the world of sensation.

Yes, thats quite true. I don't know where people got the idea that christianity is fluffy pillows and rabbits.

My Pastor and I are Christian. We play games... so what? He watches sports and LOTR and Star Wars!!!

people forget that men of god are just normal everyday people they don't have any special powers or super human abilities being a pastor or priest is a job like any other job there humans too and it would be kind of cool playing a deathmatch knowing you just blew a pastor away

There is a miss-conception that Pastors by definition are not people but rather a walking pulpit. This conception would be built upon many factors:

Experience of person,
Experience of influential people around said person,
Culture of person,
Conceptions of religion, God and religious leaders.

I would put the idea forward that our experiences shape our beliefs and such that we define all experiences by beliefs. It's a cycle.

That is how one would come to that idea.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To have an understanding that God is some idea 'X' it would be logical to define all elements of God as containing or utilising 'X'.

Example if God is perceived as being a 'hater of evil', then it would be expected that those who preach God's message would display this element of God and 'hate evil'.

So bringing this point to the video game world, we see that there are some who would perceive that God is love. Love does not hurt or kill, therefore any killing is wrong, therefore a pastor should not kill even vicariously.

What the limitation of this way of thinking doesn't understand is that video games by design are a contextualised situation. A story. And that is what matters. If you saw two people fighting in the street it's a blank context and a person might say that is outright wrong. But if it was know that one man was trying to rob a lady and the other man was stopping him, then the situation has a morality and even heroic cause to it. Where rather omission to the situation would be the more evil of deeds.

Working the idea of context back to Christianity and it's message.

Christianity is about Jesus Christ and His message. Salvation is by Christ alone, believing in Him and His grace, that brings one to God. It is not earned but rather a gift freely given.

Christ brings humanity who cannot earn salvation, but rather in grace by sacrificial atonement brings all humanity and creation to the place of restoration, when one chooses Him. Therefore salvation is about restoration of God into the believer's life. To make right what the enemy has made wrong.

The last point to add is the desire at the heart of man. This is the call to adventure, the desire to be a hero, to rescue a beauty to do great things, to make a difference, to be a man.

Taking the idea of contextualised situation, the Christian message of redemption, and man's desire for adventure we can arrive at video games. (within reason)

Video games like Doom are about restoring order and justice, about removing the evil horde of minions. Games like Call of Duty, medal of Honour, are about restoring freedom to the oppression of the the evil Nazis. Games like Mass Effect area about restoring and saving.

Video games set a situation where something is wrong and a battle needs to be fought, an adventure taken or a Princess needs to be rescued. This speaks to man's heart and even to the idea of redemption. Video games have a way of speaking to a man's desires and that is most likely why males game. The sense of adventure and the ability to achieve.

To conclude I would reason that all conceptions come from belief, belief comes from experience. That would see how this conception of pastors as non-gamers would arise. But I would debate that the Christian message is about restoration (and relationship) and as such video games offer a world to be restored. And as such the need creates a battle to be fought and that is at the heart's desire of man.

While there are a few non-desirable elements in games, like swearing, it's up to Pastors and Christians to really read the Bible and ask God, whether these elements make it a no player. I would rather put forward that too many young men play video games and waste their time on the internet, then actually live life. It's all about balance.

Yes I am a Christian and a Theology student.

Cheers

Funny, the pastor at my church plays video games, too. He doesn't play anything like Doom or Call of Duty, but he does play quite a few sports games. He's not bad at them, either.
Even as a Catholic, I understand that some other Catholics would protest a game that features your character fighting demons in hell, but I think it's fine. In fact, it's probably one of the more Catholic games I've played. Sure, you shoot things in the face, sure there's pentagrams everywhere, but you're playing as a marine, who is most likely Catholic, triumphing over the evils of hell. That seems pretty fine to me. Not exactly Catholic, but it's closer than most games.

Pretty good article. I know a Pastor who plays video games with his kids, heck he's even willing to play Uncharted 2 with them.

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