Sunday, 3 August 2014

It Sneaks Up On You

So, since I have Parliament House to myself this afternoon and am still having fun with this gaming thing, I've gone ahead and recorded another session of Imperial Era Battle for Wesnoth. This one follows on from yesterday's post, so if you've seen that and are interested in seeing what comes next, fell free to check it out.

Since in theory I planned for my weekend posts to have something of a religious nature, I'll now take a leaf out of the book of many preachers I've known over the years and draw some very long bows in order to connect scripture and gaming, then run with that theme for a little while. The video is a straight let's play, but the text from this point is likely to get all Christiany,  so this is your final chance to go talk about the mechanics of grapplers in fighter games if you're going to find the idea of me preaching at you too offensive.

I had a couple of ideas for what I wanted to talk about today, but settled on the obvious one given that instead of posting what I was vaguely planning to do today I've been playing video games. Let's say it together...Idolatry. A fancy pants way of saying 'getting your priorities all stuffed up'. Biblically, the most obvious examples are back in Exodus (Ex. 32 for those of your playing along at home) after the Israelites have been delivered from slavery, they set up camp at Mount Sinai, Moses heads up the hill to meet with the big guy, and immediately by the time he's come back down, despite everything that they've just seen and experienced, they've set up a complicated gold-smithing rig, melted their remaining possessions to make a golden idol, and are worshipping that instead. Talk about fickle. I mean, dude.

They do this over and over again, substituting foreign religions or their own made up ones dozens, hundreds of times, and I know what that's like. The Israelites knew acutely what their God had done for them, knew that he demanded their loyalty, but still went running to the shinies whenever things got difficult. I know the habits that I should be propagating if I'm going to be the kind of person that I want to be. And maybe it should be easier for me that for my non-religious friends because I have a set of guidelines handed down on how I'm supposed to do it. But I don't do those things because that would cut down on my crucial sleeping, gaming and reading times.

It's easy to stuff up your priorities, but as a practicing Christian I'm very fortunate that I go along to church most weeks and along with some tasty bread and wine, and the fellowship of good people, I get regular reminders and time to think about where I should be, where I am, and what's gone wrong. Even if I completely neglect my own personal discipline in favour of playing Wesnoth, which has been known to happen on occasion, I have a fall-back. Still, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you have a fall back you don't need to spend time trying to get it right the first time, a trap I fall into with my spiritual life just as much as I do when I'm attempting to organise a video-games convention.

I know some of my non-Christian friends would be jumping up and down right now, saying, "But Ted, you're still a good guy, you just believe in this crackpot god that has unrealistic standards and is trying to guilt you into being a boring copy of your great-father. Why bother?" But the fact of the matter is no matter how real you might believe my version of the Christian God to be, I can't escape the apparent fact that when I'm practising my religion that I'm more attuned to the saviour that changed my life. I'm more understanding, less selfish, I feel stronger, and happier, and more capable, and I think every now and then I even take a good shot at wisdom. And I'd happily trade the person that I am most days for a person with those attributes. It's not about being a 'good Christian', it's about being a better version of myself, and I think that's a goal that everyone can aspire to.

I could go on, but those who get it don't need it, and those who don't get it are undoubtedly waiting for me to get to the point, so here it is. If I can find time to blog every day, if I can find time to read every day, I can can find time to play, record, and upload Wesnoth videos, even at the horrendous speeds of Australian internet connections, then I have the time, and I should use the time to take the tools I've been given, be they spiritual, or philosophical, or anything else, to try to become the better version of myself that I know that I can be.

My Christian teaching tells me that there's a better, more prefect version of everyone out there waiting to be found, and that there always will be no matter how hard we strive, since we were made as copies of a perfect creator. It's not pessimistic at all, it's honest. I know myself well enough to know that I'm not perfect and to have my doubts about other people too. I guess the argument falls down if you believe that you're already the best possible version of yourself, but if you don't, then work out what direction 'best' is for you, and try attaining it every once in a while.

For me, my best is found in my religion, in immersing myself in the bible, in prayer, and in conversations with godly people. In striving to meet the example of my saviour. And I see it often and acutely at the oddest moments, and live for those moments when I know I'm on the right path. For you? I don't presume to know, but I'd like to take this time to encourage you to find out if you don't know, and if you do, the practice your 'religion', whatever it is, for a bit too, and leave the idols alone for a little bit.

Which reminds me, I've got something I need to do now. Tune in tomorrow for something a little more light-hearted.


Michael5000 said...

That's a pretty good sermon. How obnoxious would it be to push the preacher? Because I think I see a problem with the money line:

"practice your 'religion', whatever it is, for a bit too, and leave the idols alone for a little bit."

...because idolatry, in the old fashioned dance-around-the-Asherah-pole-by-the-altar-of-Baal sense, is precisely the practice of religion, innit?

I guess dealing with questions like this from the pews is why preachers get the big bucks.

UnwiseOwl said...

I guess you could put it like that.

I was using 'idols' as a synonym for 'things what aren't your religion', I suppose. What a very Christian thing to do, but I'm sure the general principle would apply to some pagans, "Dance around your Asherah pole for a while, and leave the Skybeards alone for a bit".