Should A Christian Play Dungeons & Dragons?
That's the question William Schnoebelen put forth in his web article found at:
http://www.chick.com/articles/frpg.asp (At least it was when last I checked, but if it's gone, please let me know).
Curious about what he had to say, I read the 30-page treatment and felt I had something to say in return. But the problem arises that many Christians may think my response is anti-Christian, even though I feel it is anti-Zealot and not anti-Christian at all. I do not feel most Christians are like this man, and no doubt, he'll tell you, 'Then they are not "True" Christians.' In fact, he spends considerable time telling you that such people are going to hell if they don't believe what he apparently believes.
My point is some decent Christians may be offended by my remarks, though I hope not. In fact, I hope they can find comfort and strength in my words as moral individuals, fully capable of thinking for themselves, making their own choices, and taking responsibility for their own lives or actions. They could even find Christian affirmations in much of what I have to say.
Whether you believe in God or not doesn't really matter as far as playing Monopoly is concerned - or D&D, for that matter. D&D doesn't force any particular religious belief on YOU, the player, even if, for a time, you play a character that happens to have other beliefs.
Even playing morally upright individuals - i.e. Lawful Good, almost defined as the very morality of the Christian faith or certain other faiths - isn't good enough for William Schnoebelen. And playing D&D in a historical setting under monotheism and the Christian faith still won't do since the game contains magic, which Schnoebelen somehow equates with evil.
Now I won't reproduce William Schnoebelen's entire article here, but have tried, instead, to take it part by part and to answer his charges as I walked through his article. To that end, please find most of his pertinent comments within [[[Brackets]]] and my comments in Bold type. Any passages missing from his text are probably omitted simply because I didn't feel they were worthy of comment. I may have agreed with them, or disagreed with them, but just didn't feel the need to make further comment on them.
If you ever wish to see more clearly Schnoebelen's entire article, or the full text, the link above 'should' take you there. I say should since I do not control his web page, and he might remove the article or alter it at any moment. If anyone feels I have seriously misquoted him or misrepresented what he truly said, please write to me and I shall endeavor to correct any mistakes. And if the link should ever fail to work, then his site has probably been taken down or moved. I'd appreciate notification of this fact should you discover it. Thank you.
Email Jim Your Comments (Send Praise, Critiques, Complaints, Suggestions, Ideas, Corrections, Or Submissions.)
So, once again, if you are a Christian, please do not take offense, or come away with the idea I must hate Christians or think they are all like this man. I do not think that at all, and find most Christians to be honest, loving people, and I have absolutely no problem with their faith.
Without further ado, here is the partial [[[Article]]] along with my Commentary.
[[[I am amazed at how many so-proclaimed Christians who defend the game, do so with foul and abusive language. This, I think, speaks volumes about the spiritual impact of the game.]]]
Goodness, are you kidding? I hope so. 'Foul' language is a rather relative term to begin with, but whatever one may consider foul, it is usually picked up in so many ways as to make it virtually impossible to accredit it to any one source. However, I think you are deliberately trying to be disingenuous here, or out right attempting to bear false witness - and you a self-proclaimed Christian, I assume. Go figure.
I never once, by the way, have ever seen 'foul' language printed in D&D published game books, and never have I witnessed anyone adopt foul language as a result of gaming. They either came to the game with it already, or simply don't use it at all. And anything picked up isn't a result of D&D, but rather in keeping the company of others with such habits. Attributing it to the game is an attempt to deceive others.
D&D is not a source of foul language, and unless you are deliberately trying to bear false witness, I suggest you either amend such a statement, or prove it by showing where such language even occurs in the actual game books.
[[[Today shelves in major bookstores literally groan under the weight of several of (sic) books on Wicca, for example.]]]
Surely, this pales in comparison to the weight of published religious 'propaganda' or dogma. You can't seriously be suggesting a large amount of anything is therefore what makes it bad, are you?
[[[Most counselors and psychologists (including this writer) have used role-playing as a powerful way to transform human behavior and thought.]]]
Personally, I think music does a better job at that. Religious songs, in particular, can really move the spirit to transform their beliefs.
[[[The Monk. . . does not appear to be any sort of "Catholic monk," but rather a monk from more Eastern religions, with high levels of martial arts and occult expertise.]]]
Actually, while there are shades of more Eastern traditions within it, the monk class is not bared from embracing any religion, even more Western ones. In fact, on a simulation of historic Earth, they might indeed be Catholic or Christian, if that's what the game setting is made into. However, mostly the D&D monk is a martial artist, and such disciplines could have arisen in any number of ways under a myriad of beliefs, philosophies, or religions. Unarmed combat would usually develop as a result of a prohibition on the masses carrying other weapons - thus farming implements might be used, or hands, feet, and body, etc. in their stead. This might come about even under monotheism and Christianity - if one so wished their world's history to unfold that way.
[[[The astute reader will have noted that already, some genuine magical terms from real witchcraft and occultism have been introduced.]]]
Ah, well, not ever having seen any genuine magic or real magical power, I can only laugh at such a claim. Do you think the aforementioned Wiccans possess 'real' magical powers, or do you feel they are deluded? I think it must be the latter unless you've both seen and acknowledge their true power. The same would be true of other occult beliefs, albeit older ones that Christianity might have supplanted throughout history. My point is they didn't work then, don't now, and never will represent 'real' demonstrable power.
Now, while many may believe or have faith in such things, it is more the power of their belief than anything else that may suggest power, and none of it is demonstrable as an overt or manifest ability to manipulate the world around them, lest everyone could see it and know it is not a matter of faith, but a matter of fact.
Honest Christians, or honest men and women of any faith, for that matter, admit the difference between their beliefs and/or their faith, and facts and/or knowing things. They say they 'believe' in God, for example, rather than I 'know' God exists. To couch one's religious beliefs in terms of facts is often one of the surest ways to cause conflict with anyone and everyone who doesn't share one's beliefs, and who may, in fact, also erroneously 'know' better. Not surprisingly, they 'know' different and contrary things to be 'true,' and this can hardly help but lead to heated conflict when two opposing sides - neither of which have proof - are both willing to die - or kill - for their beliefs - a.k.a. what they erroneously 'know' to be true.
[[[Druids and Bards are both part of the priesthood of ancient pre-Christian Britain.]]]
Actually, the D&D druids are not at all like those from ancient Britain and have a vastly different basis for their belief system.
[[[However, you need to realize that quite often, players will pick an alignment that is more evil or chaotic because it is more "intriguing." This is much the same as why many talented actors would rather play villains.]]]
Yes, however the game usually emphasizes picking good over evil, and 'most' players would rather play heroic characters and champions of good and law. I think you should make that clear. The game books themselves actually give good more power than they give evil in a variety of minor ways, and suggest rather strongly that more fun is to be had playing non-evil characters.
Why? However interesting playing an evil 'individual' may be at times - particularly short periods of time, such as for one play or for one movie - D&D players work in groups for extended periods of time - perhaps years. They are rarely acting alone. And if one of their characters is evil, they tend not to fit into the group dynamic - assuming they play the alignment properly - i.e. back stabbing, lying, cheating, betrayal, and in general a sort of selfish and short sighted point of view, and hardly anyone wants to associate with such a person - even other evil people, lest they have to watch their backs constantly. D&D groups rely too heavily on friendship and trust, and maybe even strong feelings of love and loyalty - that evil sentiments naturally erode - so as far as the game itself is concerned, playing evil characters is not recommended and is even actively discouraged.
[[[The morality expressed in D&D is fuzzy at best, and is certainly NOT the morality of the Bible.]]]
Ha hah hahah. The morality of the Bible is even fuzzier, with over a thousand pages of text that can be interpreted in thousands of different ways - even assuming one has an accurate translation, which many do not. Anyone claiming to have 'THE' correct interpretation of the Bible is probably deluding themselves. Many attest to the truth that you can make the Bible say almost anything you want or need it to say. Now while I don't wish to debate the Bible with you, surely you must know this is true. Aren't there over 500 different sects of Christianity alone in the world today? You'd probably consider 499 of them to be false, sure, but my point is well made - the 'morality' of the Bible is fuzzy, at best, if one might consider many of the acts portrayed therein moral at all. Murdering every man, woman, child, and even every beast of an entire city - not because they did anything wrong or were evil, but because they worshiped a different god, or just because they happened to live in the promised land that you wanted for yourself, or one simply wanted to send a warning message to its other inhabitants to get out now while the getting is good - is hardly a moral thing to do, by today's standards, for example.
NOTE: Please be aware that I am not saying contemporary Christian morals are fuzzy, or Christians are lacking morals, or anything of the kind, when I say the morality of the Bible is fuzzy. Modern Christian morals are, after all, what most people, including myself, more or less ascribe to and consider moral behavior, or, in fact, some other codes or faiths that similarly hold many truths in common, though they may not agree on various details. For example, most major religions prohibit murder, stealing, and lying, to name a few, and they are remarkably identical when boiled down to moral and acceptable social behavior, even if they can't agree on certain intangible elements. But when I say the Bible is fuzzy, I only mean that, when taken literally, many passages of the Bible seem quite contrary to modern Christian (or other) moral behavior, particularly when taken out of context, or attempts are made to apply certain antiquated notions to modern situations. Frequently, this is a fuzzy area where even many experts disagree on the subject, and thus, this is almost the very definition of fuzzy. Unfortunately, all too often, radical factions or zealots of any religion try to go too far, even when their actions are condemned by the majority of their faith, and this often gives rise to terrorists and the like. That's just one example of what can happen in any religion, given their general fuzzy nature. But I digress.
[[[Talk about a mishmash of moral ambiguity. Our young people are having enough trouble getting their values straight without being immersed in this sort of material!]]]
I simply cannot concur with you. If anything, even if it is confusing, it provokes thought and forces the very questions we wish our children to deal with. Now I'm fairly confident you're the sort who'd rather have the absolute authority to tell others what is right and what is wrong, and I'm pretty confident you think or feel you are smarter than most of those around you, but I think you're confused. Moral ambiguity is the world we live in, and by thinking about it and making choices for ourselves, we learn and decide how we wish to live our lives. If anything, the D&D alignment system is just another way to suggest to youngsters such questions are to be thought about, need to be thought about, and should be thought about, because they are important matters. That's a far cry better than just expecting them to ask questions without any impetus along those lines, or forcing them into the 'correct' way of thinking by a variety of questionable methods, if you ask me.
After all, my personal belief is that in order to be moral, you not only have to do the right things, but you have to do them for the right reasons. Intimidation and fear of punishment is not the right reason in my book, but the right reason may only come from love and understanding and empathy of others. If young folk do not explore these issues, they have a much lesser chance of achieving 'understanding.' The fact D&D addresses some of these issues is a good thing, and far from a quagmire of moral ambiguity.
[[[This is excellent advice for budding necromancers.]]]
You really shouldn't equate magic users or wizards in general with 'necromancers' since that 'specialty' of magic carries - for some - more negative connotations in the real world - though in the game itself, it does not necessarily equate to dark magic that holds power over the dead, but instead often simply means magic that holds power over life and/or death, healing and/or harming others by virtue of the manipulation of life's essential forces - whatever those may be. Then again, this method of bearing false witness may be exactly what you were attempting to do, taking every opportunity you can to suggest evil content by association with things not necessarily even true in the D&D world.
[[[The overall morality of the D&D universe is pragmatism at best and amoral at worst.]]]
What a complete and utter lie! Of course, what one gets out of most experiences is directly proportional to what one brings to them, and I suspect you brought a closed minded, prejudgmental, holier than thou attitude to D&D in the first place, and couldn't see past any possibility other than pragmatism and amoral activities, real or imagined.
So when characters selflessly risk their lives, or even outright lay down their lives for strangers, what is that? Are such things pragmatic or amoral according to Christianity and your interpretation of the Bible?
Such false claims really make me want to drag questionable passage after questionable passage out of the Old Testament to run those past your moral compass, but I bet it would do little good. The truth of the matter is, literature reflects the morality of the day, and when the Old Testament was written, they had some pretty different ideas back then compared to what modern Christians would consider ethical, moral, or even 'Christian' behavior.
[[["Might makes right" seems to be the rule.]]]
I have no idea where you get that from in D&D. A mighty paladin, for example, is not right simply because he is more powerful than most. Nor is a rogue right, morally speaking, simply because he may hold the upper hand in a given situation. No one is 'right' simply by virtue of being more powerful than those around him, and nowhere in D&D do they suggest otherwise. This belief that might makes right certainly doesn't come from D&D.
However, food for thought, isn't God the mightiest of beings, and what makes him right anyway? Yeah, yeah, blasphemous questions, sure. You just tick me off when you so blatantly say things that are simply not true about D&D.
[[[You are to take treasure or magic away from other players using whatever means are available, including force, magic, intimidation, coercion or negotiation).]]]
Goodness, you are clueless. First off, you don't normally compete with other players at all, but would compete against NPCs (Non Player Characters). And if you take things by any means necessary, well, then you'd be playing an evil person, and probably a chaotic evil one at that. MOST player characters, I repeat, are non-evil, and they simply will not do anything or everything, no matter what, just to gain power.
[[[Now isn't that a wonderful "law of the jungle" kind of morality to instill in a young Christian?]]]
Such a passage was not speaking of the morality of the action, but the tactics of it. But is the misrepresenting what D&D passages mean or actually say the way you wish to instill values in young Christians? By teaching them to bear false witness?
[[[Whatever happened to the Beatitudes or gentleness or forgiveness or turning the other cheek?]]]
Such things are well represented in lawful good characters, neutral good characters, and even chaotic good characters. I'm sorry your experiences have not shown you this, but then again, maybe it was just natural for you to use your character's powers and abilities to do less than good things since that's YOUR true nature.
[[[These things seem entirely absent from D&D.]]]
What a liar you are. Is this the extent of your ethics, your morals, your faith, or your 'Christianity?' You are a crass liar of the first water. You give honest Christians a bad name, but then again, you'd probably consider them 'false' Christians if they didn't agree with you.
[[[Additionally, the games are very violent.]]]
Some sessions are violent on the character level, but some are totally absent of physical conflict or violence. Have you ever played the game? You sound like you haven't even watched a game. Why? Did you feel your immortal soul would be forfeit if you first learned about what you were talking about?
[[[However, he remarks that "The level of violence in this make believe world runs high.]]]
It most frequently pales in comparison to the level of violence found in the Bible, you sap. Does the term 'Biblical Destruction' hold no meaning for you, or destruction on a Biblical scale? If you are suggesting violent content should be the indicator of avoiding something, then I can only think you must be suggesting most youngsters should avoid reading the Bible. If so, I wouldn't agree with your premise there, either.
But what's obviously happening is you just wish to take pot shots at anything and everything about D&D that you can, not to discover the truth or fairly examine the issue, but to convince others to believe as you do and take your word for what is good and what is evil, what is worthy or what is unworthy, or what is safe or what is dangerous. You, sir, are disingenuous at best, and a liar at worst.
[[[There is hardly a game in which the players do not indulge in murder, arson, torture, rape or highway robbery.]]]
Most PCs (Player Characters) do not have such indulgences, and when battle befalls them, it is most likely for a 'good' cause or for simple self-defense. True, those playing neutral or evil characters might engage in some of those activities mentioned above, but your statement is demonstrably false since this is a game where many, in fact, 'MOST,' players DO NOT indulge in murder, arson, torture, rape, or highway robbery.
I'm reminded of another so-called Christian who asked me, "If God doesn't exist, what prevents people from murdering and raping and pillaging, and all sorts of 'other fun stuff?'
I was thoroughly taken aback to discover this so-called Christian apparently thought murder was fun, rape was fun, and pillage and destruction was fun. What a sicko! And I was even more shocked at the suggestion if it weren't for his belief in God and the idea he'd burn in hell forever if he did those 'fun' things, he'd probably be doing those very things himself since he felt they would be fun.
This is a prime example of what I mean by doing the right thing for the right reasons. The above so-called Christian, it may be inferred, only acted civilly out of fear from divine punishment. His entire so-called 'morality' seemed to be built on the premise that if God wasn't prepared to swat wrong doers, then there couldn't possibly be any 'reason' not to kill, murder, rape, pillage, or whatever his twisted mind thought would be really 'fun.'
As you may guess, even if this so-called Christian walked the straight and narrow, I think he did it for all the wrong reasons, and one might suspect, come judgment day, God would not look favorably upon such a person who thought it would be fun to rape or kill others but only didn't do so out of fear of retribution.
In my honest opinion, such things are not fun - and are quite horrible and tragic to anyone with an ounce of empathy for others. Furthermore, it shouldn't require the presence of God to force one to be good. Without God, what prevents us from doing evil? You might as well ask what prevents us from doing good, as well. It's a personal choice, and moral people make moral choices all the time without threat of punishment. Why? It's the right thing to do, and they know it, feel it, and live it.
To suggest otherwise indicated to me you feel the basic true nature of Man is inherently evil. OK, I obviously don't agree with that premise, and feel the true nature of Man is inherently neutral, and the environment and upbringing will have the majority say in determining an individual's moral character. Parents should teach their child right from wrong - a waste of time if you believe your children are evil and hopeless to begin with. If that's what you believe, so be it, but I won't buy into your argument.
[[[Some of the subtypes (Paladins and Rangers) can acquire the ability to cast spells. Keep that in mind.]]]
True, but Paladins are Lawful good, and though for game purposes this isn't the Christian God, the ethics of the alignment are so similar that one would guess they defined what was Lawful Good by looking directly at the morality of modern Christianity. Rangers, too, have to be of good alignment in the first editions, though now they are just usually of good alignment. And what makes someone moral is the 'good' aspects of the alignment far more than the law/chaos aspects of it.
[[[The handbook tells us that a wizard's "quest for knowledge and power often leads him into realms where mortals were never meant to go."]]]
Meant to go? Meant by whom? This is the same tired argument many use against science and/or technology, having Man do things God never intended, as if these poor thinkers could even prove they knew better than anyone else what God meant. How arrogant. In fact, the only thing more arrogant than actually thinking you know for certain what God wants, when you haven't a lick of proof, is being so cocksure of a mere belief that you are willing to foist your beliefs on others, and often think little or nothing of passing such beliefs off as facts. Enlightened people can only conclude you are either deliberately lying to further your cause, whatever it may be, or you are so incredibly stupid that you can't discern the fundamental difference between matters of faith and matters of fact. In either event, it's a clear sign one can safely stop paying attention to anything else you are saying since, in all likelihood, most anything else you might say would similarly be so fundamentally flawed.
[[[It would go without saying that an impressionable young person who chooses this kind of character and really engages in it would probably develop an interest in such subjects.]]]
That would only go without saying to one who has already made up their mind and condemned the game before they really understood it, sure. I guess that's you. So while there will always be a few aberrant examples, most D&D players understand magic is not real and do not quest for real magical power in the real world. In much the same way, most Monopoly players understand that Monopoly money is not real and wouldn't try to accumulate Monopoly money outside the game for any particular reason. Any such quests for 'real' magic, the vast majority understand, would soon prove futile. If this were not so, I think we'd see more real life magic users running around, and I sure haven't seen any. In this day and age of mass media with video cameras everywhere you look, and growing knowledge, if such things were real, we'd constantly be bombarded with their images on the six o'clock news. But we aren't. You will never see actual magic working in overt ways. Not even once!
[[[The Cleric or Priest: This is the character that often gets mentioned in defense of D&D.]]]
I guess if the attacker is a self-proclaimed cleric, that only makes sense.
[[[Anyone who would attempt to equate this character with a Christian clergyman is obviously woefully ignorant of both the Bible and Christianity.]]]
Oh, I wouldn't say that. I would, however, say the comparison could only go so far and probably was never meant to be a perfect analogy. In a fictional D&D world, the existence of God (or the gods) and the afterlife is usually not a matter of faith, but one of fact. It is demonstrably true there. In the real world, just the opposite is true inasmuch as there are no facts that prove - or disprove - the existence of any god, or even the afterlife. It is a matter of faith. Those claiming to 'know' better are simply deluding themselves, while those claiming to 'believe' are at least within their honest rights and could even be right. It's just here, on Earth, we have no scientific proof, and there is a good reason why it is a matter of 'faith.'
[[[Yet, amazingly, Christian D&D players write me and claim that this makes the game all right.]]]
Alas, I agree with you that such a thing does not make the game all right, but then nor does it make it bad. Furthermore, nothing you have said so far suggests to me D&D is bad, evil, or dangerous to a greater degree than the Bible or other religious texts, that even you must admit, some few can pervert into great evil.
[[[Obviously, no true Christian would use spells as their main tool.]]]
Clerical spells come from god, not from a personal understanding of the universal law that makes them. Arcane spells come from that quarter, and not necessarily from evil entities, in case you ever had that erroneous idea in your head.
BTW - By The Way - I love it when some zealot claims they know what a "True" Christian would or would not do. It shows off their "True" colors. In fact, I can think of no greater indicator that shows off one's sheer arrogance than an individual telling others THEY know for a fact the TRUE word of god.
[[[In other words, religions are myths. Christianity is a myth; Judaism is a myth, etc.]]]
The primary distinction between myth and religion is just how current it is. Today's myth WAS yesterday's religion. And if you have any fair grasp of the enormity of history and time, hundreds, perhaps thousands of years from now, Christianity may become a myth. But for right now, it is an active religion, and tends to the moral needs of many believers and makes their lives better.
Even if Christianity survives for millennia to come, conventional wisdom suggests it will look radically different than it does today, believe different things, and might hold little or no resemblance to what Christians believe to be true today. Come to think of it, Christianity today holds true many things that are remarkably different than what early Christians believed. Religions evolve over time. As our understanding of the world around us grows, religion must keep up and adapt, or it, too, will fall into disuse and be consigned to the realm of mere mythology. Anyone who thinks the way their religion is now was the way it was in the beginning and the way it shall always be, world without end, is a poor student of history.
[[[This generic quality of the cleric is further exemplified by the titles he or she could assume. A Christian would assume virtually NONE of them.]]]
Oddly enough, this mostly comes about because fools like you would be even more offended if Christian doctrine or Christian titles actually WERE incorporated into the game. No doubt, you'd take exception when and if it didn't exactly reflect your particular brand of Christianity or your personal beliefs, and might even condemn the game more severely or label it heretical or blasphemous and raise an even greater stink if anyone tried to make it more Christian. Chances are, it wouldn't be YOUR kind of Christianity, and thus, it would be evil in your eyes.
But since it is a game, and not a religion, it is best to leave such things out and draw loose parallels that will likely be less offensive. By doing so, the game may be enjoyed by Christians of any sect, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, etc., etc., etc. Anyone may play since the game doesn't insist on only one point of view.
[[[Any Christian who thinks that the cleric is an example of a Christian man of God is deluding themselves.]]]
You tell 'em, Joe. 'Bout time you stood up and told the world what "True" Christians believe, and point out anyone who doesn't agree with you is obviously not a "True" Christian. Way past time, in fact, that you did that. And we all know what happens to those who aren't "True" Christians like you, don't we? Oh yes, we do. Unlike you, those fools won't be seated at the right hand of the father like you will be. No no, they will be cast into oblivion, or the eternal pit of hell to writhe and suffer in agony for the rest of time. That'll show 'em. No one's going to be able to say that God isn't a loving being, after all - and get away with it.
[[[The Rogue. . . isn't that a wonderful character for your adolescent to emulate?]]]
The rouge may also rob from the unethically rich and give to the poor, who are more deserving. Some would say Democrats do it all the time as they push for greater and greater degrees of socialism in our society by forcibly taxing the rich at a much higher rate than they tax the poor. Republicans, on the other hand, are also likened to rogues inasmuch as the claim is they steal from the poor to get rich in the first place. I don't agree with either view. Now while I can't claim Robin Hood never did anything wrong, I don't think the rogue character class is as cut and dried as you'd like to pretend.
BTW, I do not mean to suggest anyone rich must be unethically rich, but only some rich people do questionable things to get rich. Similarly, just being poor doesn't make one deserving in and of itself. The point is, a rogue who only targeted unethical people might be considered doing God's work in some quarters.
Nevertheless, the rogue is usually a rascal, and most of them are not the most morally upright of society. Playing one, however, does not mean the player also must believe and act as that character does anymore than reading about a thief makes you a thief, acting the part of a villain in a play makes you a villain, watching a murderer on T.V. or in a movie makes you a murderer, or anything similar to that. The player and the character are NOT the same thing.
[[[What parent would love to have their child come home from school and tell them that they are playing D&D and have taken on the character of a thief or rogue?]]]
A parent that is grateful their child is getting out and socializing rather than staying at home, brooding, or sitting in front of a computer game that tends to be even more violent and have fewer moral choices, perhaps? A parent glad their child is exercising their imagination, maybe? A parent pleased their child might write about such a character in a novel, after getting a better grasp of it? A parent thrilled their child is learning to work well with others - for D&D rogues rarely travel alone. A parent who realizes playing such a character might well instruct their child in the awful consequences of being such a character in real life. A parent eternally thankful their child belongs to a social group, rather than constantly feeling left out, put upon, or denigrated by all their peers such that opening up on them with a gun in class is the only solution they feel is left to them? Well, that's just to name a few possibilities.
Of course, I must admit, D&D isn't a cure all anymore than it is a curse. You ascribe too much to it, in my honest opinion. It is a game, pure and simple, and at best one of the many things in a person's life. How well it is played will merely be a contributing factor to the end result - good or bad. The same is true of most anything in life.
[[[Successful, silent movement improves the thief's chance to surprise a victim, avoid discovery, or move into position to stab an enemy in the back.]]]
Are you suggesting that isn't true about silent movement? Of course not. Now, like it or not, once an enemy is clearly defined and the situation necessitates conflict and the death of an enemy, you really shouldn't get all bent out of shape if the means of death is a silent one. That's even assuming they kill the opponent rather than merely knock them out or incapacitate them. In the game system, a back stab doesn't assume a killing blow, but may merely wound them such that their life could be spared, for example. But I digress, and won't go into detailed explanations of the combat mechanics here.
[[[Then, there is the ever-present lure of magic.]]]
Well, it's quite apparent in your mind you equate that which is magic to that which is evil or demonic or diabolic, somehow. This simply isn't true. Otherwise, what's your point?
[[[But does that mean this is a role a Christians should undertake?]]]
I suppose you'd be comfortable labeling Robin Hood or James Bond or CIA operatives as non-Christians, just based on a few rogue-like skills they have in common, huh? I wouldn't. Most tools or skills are not good or evil, but depending on how you use them, the individual character might be so labeled. A gun isn't evil, nor does it kill people. It is a tool. So is a hammer. One can do great good or great evil with either, however. So rather than attack the rogue's tools - such as stealth - why not concentrate on what they do? BTW, rogues are not required to back stab, rob, cheat, lie, or anything like that in the game. They may or may not, and if they do, they might have good reasons for doing so, or they might not.
[[[The values implicit in this character, whatever his or her alignment, are contrary to the Biblical commands against stealing.]]]
Perhaps. Perhaps not. Does stealing enemy plans during wartime count? How about stealing enemy gold that they will use to fund terrorist activity? How about stealing an enemy's weapons, gear, or what not, as an alternative to bloodshed? While stealing from most people for most reasons is not exactly good, there are countless exceptions where I'd be quite reluctant to say anyone so engaged couldn't possibly be a "True" Christian.
If feeding your children could only be accomplished through theft - after you've exhausted all other means to obtain work and an honest job - no doubt you would let your children starve to death? I wouldn't. If I had no other choice, I'd steal.
Didn't David steal from King Saul to prove he didn't wish his death? Is he a mere thief now for doing this, or was there a good reason to steal?
Didn't Moses essentially steal Pharaoh's slaves through extortion? And it's not like slavery is condemned in the Bible, for it's not. In fact, they go to lengths to outline the proper treatment of slaves - a.k.a. property - and don't really suggest slavery itself is wrong in the Bible. But I digress.
[[[Now, in review, and imagining you were a Christian parent or youth worker - which of these roles would you feel comfortable recommending to a young person?]]]
Any of them, though I would suggest they try to avoid playing evil characters since they tend to develop into antisocial games - if the alignment is played properly - and tends to detract from the fun and teamwork that can be enjoyed by playing neutral or good characters, or a fair mix of alignments, as long as none of them are evil. But that's just me.
[[[The two best choices would seem to be either warrior or thief, and even there magic and sorcery could figure in.]]]
I would have thought the two best choices to teach morality and ethics would have been the cleric - priests, monks, etc. - and warrior - fighters, rangers, paladins, etc. - but you, as I pointed out earlier, seem to automatically equate any magic with evil for some reason you don't care to explain, so far.
[[[Frankly, there is no good choice according to the Bible.]]]
What a blatant liar you are. The Bible does not make any such claim. At best, your interpretation of the Bible does not seem to support some choices, but you're interpretations are dubious, your reasoning questionable, and your premises fallacious, as far as I can see.
[[[You can choose between being an idolatrous religionist (cleric), a wizard who is condemned repeatedly in the Bible, a thief who violates the Eighth Commandment, or a warrior who may also develop the ability to cast spells.]]]
Spells again, huh? Clerics and wizards and rogues, oh my! BTW, few clerics are idolaters in D&D. I can't think of any right off hand, any more than a Christian is an idolater by worshipping the idol of a crucifix. Clerics believe in a living god, and never worship mere idols AS a god, any more than Christians worship the crucifix AS God, but know it just represents a living god. All D&D PC clerics that I've ever seen essentially do an identical thing inasmuch as their holy symbol represents their faith or god, but is not worshiped as their god. But I digress.
Whatever wizards are condemned in the Bible, I'm fairly confident they bear little resemblance to D&D wizards. And yes, rogues don't have to steal at all, even from enemies, if they don't want to or need to. Like Indiana Jones, they might just be good at avoiding tricks and traps in long forgotten temples. Though I suppose one might claim anything you 'find' is stealing it, but ownership is highly subjective in the first place.
Mostly, however, the Bible, I think, suggests one ought not do certain things in REAL LIFE, and doesn't necessarily speak at all to the matter of what a game character may do. They are NOT the same thing, after all, try as you may to suggest otherwise.
[[[They also ingrain within the player an entirely different way of looking at life.]]]
So does most fantasy fiction or science fiction, and many other fictional works, most movies, or many television shows. Anyone who dares to ask 'what if?' can be so accused. What's your point?
[[[The Magic World View teaches that there exists in the universe a neutral force, like gravity, which is magic. In this world-view, there is no sovereign God; but rather the universe is run like a gigantic piece of machinery.]]]
You are incorrect if you think magic users do not believe in the gods. They simply do not rely on them for their magical tools. That would be like saying a scientist can't be a Christian simply because they know about, and use, gravity, electromagnetic forces, or other natural forces in the universe. Hogwash.
It is true, however, that D&D games are mostly - though not always - set in polytheistic societies. Many monotheists may have a problem with this, but I fail to see why - for it is only a game. Besides, it occurs to me the Ten Commandments never says, "Do not have any other gods," but rather says "Do not have any other gods 'before' me." This suggests to me that even in a Christian society, a person may worship any number of gods, as long as none are more important than Jehovah, JC, or Him, as the case may be. This is, of course, a literal interpretation of that commandment that I suspect is not shared by most. Nevertheless. . .
D&D worlds don't often reflect the nature of historical polytheistic societies, anyway. Today they need this god for this thing, tomorrow, another god for a different thing, and for this ceremony, yet another god or goddess would be prayed to, worshipping an entire pantheon of gods and selecting the right one for each special occasion as it arose. But that's just the nature of a polytheistic belief system.
BTW, Christians often do the same thing, but offer their prayers to various patron saints who are, reportedly, good in some particular area. It's also par for most people to treat God like someone they need or pray to only when things get rough, though they often tend to ignore Him most of the other time. But that's not the point. D&D doesn't make people like that. The real world and its more apparent and immediate concerns makes most people like that.
[[[Magic's application is the understanding of how to manipulate the universe to get what you want. The analogy would be of putting a right coin in the slot of a vending machine and pushing the button. You automatically get your candy - assuming you used the right coin and pushed the right button.]]]
Also assuming the machine works properly, or nothing goes amiss in the dropping process, and the machine tender filled it properly, etc. My point here, however, is magic is not always automatically successful.
A better analogy to the magic user is the scientist or the doctor or the engineer, but then, many religious zealots often have problems with these guys, too. There are even some Christians who would condemn their children to death by withholding modern medical treatment. What's your point? That this modern form of child or human sacrifice is O.K.?
[[[The Bible teaches, on the contrary, that the universe is in control of a sovereign Person, God.]]]
Well, that's iffy, too. Does God cause earthquakes and tornadoes, floods and pestilence, lightning and fires, etc.? He must, then. It begs the questions, why does God let bad things happen to good people? In fact, it's worse. Why does God create bad things and then cause them to befall good people? And if not that, why do Christians thank God when such horrors miss them, such as, "Oh, thank you God for making that tornado miss my home." Don't they understand that God made the tornado in the first place? Are they confused about the fact God caused the famine, made the disease or plague, caused the earthquake or fire, or created all those terrible calamities to befall us in the first place? If God controls the universe to this degree, we do not even have free will. I'd explain why omniscience is logically contrary to free will, but that could get tricky and take awhile besides. My point, however, is that it's not like Christianity is perfectly clear in these matters. You realize this, don't you?
[[[To get "results," He must be asked.]]]
Well, that's how clerical magic works - for the most part. To get the spell, you must ask god to grant it to you. Once He or She or It does, you choose where to apply it - in His, Her, or Its name, or following His, Her, or Its teachings, philosophy, or guidelines your character has learned over years of study. This is unlike wizards who understand how magic works, because clerics just use it after they pray for it from their god.
[[[Additionally, God says that magic is deep and abominable sin (see Exodus 22:18, Leviticus. 19:31, Leviticus. 20:6, Deuteronomy. 18:10, 1 Samuel. 15:23, 2 Kings. 21:6, Is. 8:19, Galatians. 5:20, Revelations. 21:8, Revelations. 22:15).]]]
Ah, so that's it.
Exodus. 22:18. "A sorceress shall be put to death." This, I believe, was a poor translation - the original word meaning a 'poisoner' shall be put to death. A woman who poisons people is not using magic, though the superstitious may liken it to magic. And killing such a person is just sound advice.
Leviticus. 19:31 and 20:6 Do not defile yourself by consulting mediums and wizards, for I am Jehovah your god. Etc.
Deuteronomy. 18:10 Child sacrifices, etc.
Any fictitious magic user engaging in child sacrifices would be an evil magic user, as would any character of any class so engaged be evil, probably - though one wonders about Abraham and the Bible concerning child sacrifices, for apparently, it may be inferred, child sacrifices are O.K. if they are done to Jehovah, but only bad if they are offered to other gods, as Deuteronomy suggests. Oh well.
But I suppose, once again, one might 'play' an evil character who might do such a thing, but that's not the same as doing it for real. And the game honestly does discourage playing evil characters as PCs.
All of those passages fall into this one general category of encouraging worshipers of this God to avoid worshiping other gods or demonic powers. The belief there, obviously, is that all other such powers must come from the worship of these other beings, and THAT'S what they are trying to prohibit.
This, I think, would be more applicable to having a D&D cleric not worship more than one god. D&D wizards, on the other hand, do not make appeals to other gods for their powers. Like a scientist, they harness some of the natural powers of the universe - or multiverse. Thus, D&D wizards are not at all like the aforementioned Biblical ones who would appeal to other gods for that kind of power. If anything, the wizards mentioned in the Bible would be akin not to D&D wizards, but to D&D clerics of OTHER gods, and naturally most religions would prohibit the practice of OTHER religions.
D&D Wizards do not necessarily rely on demonic or supernatural entities, so I suspect this would be O.K. with God in much the same way being a scientist or engineer or doctor, etc., would be O.K. with God - though you might condemn scientists and doctors, too, for all I know.
However, I suspect God would condemn a scientist for worshiping Satan or other godlike entities, but only if they did this BEFORE Him. Scientists do not, however, worship such beings in order to acquire mastery over the elements of nature. His use of electricity is not offensive to God, nor would a D&D wizard's use of a Lightning Bolt spell be offensive to God, for example, since neither a wizard nor a scientist makes appeals to other gods or demonic or diabolic powers when practicing their craft.
NOTE: This doesn't speak at all to the morality of HOW the wizard uses the Lightning Bolt spell. If he used it to commit murder, God would likely frown upon this, but if he used it in self-defense, that's another matter. But I digress.
More importantly, all of them speak about doing such things in real life, and none of them really suggest avoiding them in literature, watching them in a movie or a show, acting their part in a play, or even playing them in a game. Clearly, there is a difference between doing something for real in the real world, and pretending to have a fictional character do it in a fictitious world. Your fears far too many people can't tell the difference, or are in danger of becoming confused, I think, are unfounded.
Are you prepared to claim playing D&D magic users inevitably, or even frequently, leads one down a sure and certain path to such a time when the player is actually accepting the game as real world truth? For example, you seem to be suggesting that a player of a cleric of Thor is likely to accept Thor as his true god in the real world and suddenly reject his former faith of Jehovah, the Christian god, or whatever. I don't buy it.
Besides - and I've never seen or heard of this happening - even if they did come to believe in Thor, or whoever - they'd only be breaking a commandant if they believed Thor came BEFORE Jehovah. Ironically, the Ten Commandants do not seem to insist upon monotheism, but only requires Jehovah be at the head of your pantheon of gods, with all others below him, and that you have no other gods BEFORE him. The Bible does, at least, acknowledge the existence of these other worldly beings when it insists one avoids contact with them, for if it didn't think they existed, there would be no trouble. One wonders if the Bible even preaches monotheism, after all, since it seems to think there are other gods, albeit different ones. But I digress.
On the other hand, commandments aside, the quoted passages you offered do seem to suggest greater curtailments in such practices, and do suggest consulting or believing in or making sacrifices to these other gods, even if held at lower station than Jehovah, would be an inexcusable thing - in some interpretations of this, anyway.
Still, others would say you harp a great deal on Old Testament stuff, which many feel is not what a Christian would primarily be concerned with since they believe the New Testament is the heart and soul of Christianity. Yet, you quote both. In either case, however, clearly what they are saying pertains to an active worship of other beings, such as demons, which magic users do not do to obtain their class's power and abilities, and all of them pertain to what you, the player, do, and not what fictitious characters in a game may do.
As an aside - though I'm not a Biblical scholar and might be wrong abut this - wouldn't this prohibition against other religions in the Old Testament that you quoted be prohibitions against non-Jewish faiths? Isn't that what THEY were writing about? If you wish to claim to be a Christian, I wonder if you should so freely - and so improperly - quote Old Testament passages in this manner since, I suspect, the authors of those passages would have include worshiping Jesus as a false religion. Isn't it funny how you quote their beliefs in an attempt to prove your point, though you clearly don't agree with them, or what they obviously meant? Of course, maybe it's not your fault since the Bible is kind of hypocritical there itself. Don't pay heed to astrologers, for example, but take important note of the three wise men (who were astrologers) paying homage to the newborn king. Go figure. But now I seriously and theologically digress.
Fortunately, however, no one I know or have personally seen, or even read about, actually believes in real magic or has come to believe in some D&D god simply by virtue of having played a cleric or a wizard in such a game. True, I've met people who actually believe in such things, but not because they played the game. Some hadn't even heard of D&D, so obviously one might come into those beliefs in a variety of ways as one might come into any religious belief.
And in all honestly, I couldn't condemn them for their beliefs since they had an equal amount of proof for them as most Christians have for their own beliefs - which is to say, none. Remember, religion is a matter of faith, and not a matter of fact.
If anything, some few I have read about come to have odd ideas of Satan, a Biblical concept, not a D&D concept. And even there, they were not encouraged to do that by the game, but got tangled up with other Satanists. The game did NOT lead them there. Their local library probably had more to do with that than anything. Shall we burn all such books? You might feel burning all books other than the Bible would be perfectly fine, but I, for one, would not relish the idea of the ensuing extra centuries of another Dark Age.
As for what the Bible suggests happens to everyone in the world who believes in another god, well, that's just another problem with some intolerant religions, and another reason why many organized religions have caused more and bloodier wars than any other concept in human history. You won't, for example, find terrorists slamming jet planes into skyscrapers because of something in D&D. In fact, if they played D&D, they'd probably have come to know there is often more than one way to look at things.
And lest some smug Christian feel only non-Christians could be terrorists, I direct them to learn more about the Crusades. This just proves the point that most religions, on the whole, are fine, while most zealots in ANY given religion are the ones that are potentially dangerous and who should be watched closely.
Moreover, mediums and wizards in the Bible are clearly not D&D wizards, but the Biblical references are for those who probably are more akin to charlatans and con artists, or those who worship other gods - i.e. clerics of other gods - or they simply meant any other person of a 'different' religion. It was just their way to discourage an active faith in any but their own religion, that's all. D&D wizards, as a class, do NOT engage in a religion, but a science of sorts.
NOTE: Even many players may feel wizards do not worship gods, or even fighters, rogues, or other non-clerics do not worship a god. This, I think, is wrong. Most all of them would likely worship a god of some sort in addition to practicing their class's powers or skills, most of which have nothing to do with religion - i.e. a wizard might still go to services on Sunday - or whenever - but that has nothing to do with being a wizard any more than a scientist who goes to church on Sunday does so, lest they forget how the scientific method is applied as a tool of discovery. But I digress.
Besides, there has to be a great distinction, even for you, from actually doing that yourself in real life, and reading about such a character in a novel, watching them in a movie or on T.V., acting the part on stage, or playing one in a game. 99.99% or more of all D&D players of clerics or wizards do not actually believe in 'real' magic or seek such powers in real life. There is no prohibition against reading about such things, for if there is, then the Bible is guilty as well since it has written about them - and one has to read about them there, doesn't one?
[[[Now obviously, these two world views cannot exist in the same moral universe. They cannot both be true.]]]
Spoken like a true zealot. In fact, I've yet to discover any religious world view that wasn't contrary in at least some small way to every other religious world view - and usually contrary in major ways. Even 500 different kinds of Christianity are all different from one another, in some small way. Otherwise they'd be the same, wouldn't they? So why the need for over 500 different kinds, then?
[[[Thus, one cannot be a Christian and believe in the Magical World View without being some sort of hypocrite or deceived person.]]]
So then, you are not against anyone playing the game, but only against those who truly believe the game is not fiction, but real? That's hardly anyone, you realize this, don't you?
[[[This magical morality pervades D&D, and it is utterly in opposition to the Word of God.]]]
That's simply not true. By definition - your own definition, in fact - magic is neutral. It is not for, nor against God, or for or against any particular god.
Similarly, anyone who says science, for example, assumes God does not exist, is confused. Science makes no such assumptions of the existence or nonexistence of God. So anyone saying Science is contrary to God is obviously not thinking very clearly. However, science may, on occasion, contradict a 'literal' interpretation of the Bible or some other religious work. If one's faith depends on a literal interpretation of such things, then it may seem like the two things must be at odds with one another.
For example, in Kings I, a cauldron's circumference is described in the Bible as being 30 units - (cubits, in fact, but as long as one uses the same unit in both measurements, it doesn't matter what units are used). The circumference given, the diameter is then given as 10 units. According to the Bible, this implies the value of pi - the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of any circle - is exactly 3. It's not the fault of science if this is demonstrably false. It only means whoever wrote that, however inspired by God, didn't know about this ratio and didn't realize when you give circumference or diameter of any circle, the other is implied and need not be given explicitly, as the relationship between a circle's circumference and diameter is fixed, and 2 x (Pi) x R = C. While it is not surprising some ancient man didn't know this, it would be surprising if God didn't know it, and this does suggest such things are probably not the word of God so much as the flawed word of Man. Thus, many literal interpretations of Biblical passages are often demonstrably wrong, and while this disproves some interpretations, it does not disprove the existence of God. But I digress.
NOTE: Ad Hoc arguments they "meant" an inner measurement for one dimension, but the outer measurement for the other, while this can produce a closer approximation of pi, seem silly insofar as it would be ludicrous to give descriptions that can so easily be confused, particularly when it's not necessary, and this is still just an approximation. Besides, if one really wished to impress us with "divine" knowledge, they would have simply given one measurement or the other since the second measurement logically follows - assuming one knows about this natural ratio, which God would have. If anything, giving both measurements demonstrates to me that there is a lack of understanding about this circumference to diameter ratio of a circle in the author's mind. But I digress. The point is, however you slice it, nothing like that can be taken as 100% accurate or as always literally true, no matter how much one may wish to believe each inspired word from God must be 100% accurate. Attempts to make it so will only lead one to problems.
If the Earth orbits the sun, rather than the other way around - but the Bible says the sun was commanded to stand still and not the Earth's rotation - it's not science's fault. But I don't wish to bore you or point out why people like you generally make it take two to three hundred years longer to accept scientific truth than should be necessary. I mean, is the world flat since the Bible suggests everyone will be able to see Christ simultaneously when he comes again? No. Is the sun revolving around the Earth since the Bible 'suggests' the sun was commanded to stand still? No. Is pi really 3? No. Is evolution false since God both created Man from nothing, and couldn't have used evolution as the process? No. Is the Earth really only 7,000 years old or so, and not billions? No.
If your religion - or more likely, your interpretation of your religion - suggests there is no such thing as the color blue, then you must forever bow your head and stare at the ground lest you catch a glimpse of the sky. Thankfully, most Christians - though I'm fairly confident you'd condemn them all as not "True" Christians - don't require such literal interpretations of everything found in the Bible. Besides, they probably enjoy looking up at the sky, while you seem to take greater delight in looking down on others.
[[[This further confuses the issues raised above and makes prayer sound like magic; and makes magic sound like it can come from a "divine source." Obviously, the God of the Bible is not the source of magic, in any form.]]]
Obviously? Hardly. By definition, one can easily claim any miracle is magic, probably of divine origins. Magic is probably anything that is multi planer, and rather than create something from nothing, one might get something from elsewhere - just not in this universe - and bring it here. At any rate, much of what God or Jesus or Moses allegedly did can easily be considered magic, though modern theories suggest many such things may have been natural, though rare phenomenon, and might have been erroneously attributed to God, or exaggerated to the point it could have seemed more magical than it actually was. Oh well, what do you expect from ignorant, superstitious, uneducated people, or those who blindly accept hearsay evidence as proof positive?
[[[Believe it or not, some spells can even revive the dead, mimicking the power of the Messiah, Himself. Christians may take small comfort in the fact that divine spells are better than arcane spells for reviving the dead.]]]
Believe it or not, raising from the dead is something that has been told in many cultures and not just the Christian one. And yeah, divine magic is often better at healing wounds, curing diseases, and restoring life energies - this is how 'necromancy' is defined in the game, BTW. Why this is 'comforting' to you, I have no idea, but it is a built in difference, yes. It mostly comes about for reasons of game balance, but I won't bore you with such matters here.
[[[Now the question becomes, can a Christian play the game without subscribing to the world-view? It is possible, but considering the high level of emotional and intellectual commitment that the game requires, is that really realistic?]]]
Absolutely, it is very realistic. Time has proven it. I'd have to guess a higher percentage of Christians become worshipers of Satan than the percentage of D&D players who end up believing they can cast real spells with real effects, and the vast majority of those who do believe that are probably insane or psychologically imbalanced - and may have been well on their way there long before they ever played D&D. Therefore, D&D didn't make them that way.
For some, almost anything can push them over the acceptable norm, including rock and roll or other music, drugs, sex, friendship, nationalism, racism, and yes, even religion - probably far more often than fantasy roleplaying games ever have or ever will, if you wish to be honest about it. But I don't think honesty is your strong point.
[[[D&D is not like chess or Monopoly. It is a game that engages the whole person at deep levels, and it can last months if well played.]]]
Actually, it can last years, even decades, even most of one's whole life as a hobby. But I'd hardly call it engaging the whole person for most people, since most people are always cognizant of the fact they are playing a game, no matter how much realism they incorporate into their scenarios or characters.
[[[How can a person, Christian or not, immerse themselves in a reality view so deeply and not have it impact the rest of their lives?]]]
How can a person chew gum and not be affected? They can't. The question isn't if it affects them, but how much, and is it in adverse ways?
Now, I know of no hobby that has such a minor impact on one's life as to be negligible in the rest of it, but few hobbies - D&D or fantasy roleplaying games included - hardly screw up people and make them walk antisocial paths any more than most other hobbies or beliefs. There is absolutely no evidence that even suggests this.
On the other hand, you must admit, there is considerable evidence that religion far more often is the inspiration of horrible atrocities - though, thankfully, most of those come from splinter groups or rather narrow interpretations - like yours - rather than the mainstream body of the religion. Zealots are inordinately intolerant of other ideas, and often engage in homicidal behavior. I suspect they simply hate life and have nothing to lose by lashing out. And, of course, any claim they make about loving life or others is most often just so much lip-service and they appear to be deluded since their actions seem contrary to acts of love. Even the claim they are only intent on trying to save others falls short when they seem to take more delight in telling others they will burn in hell, or some such. But I digress.
[[[This is difficult to imagine, especially considering the highly demonic and magical content of much of the game. As the saying goes, if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.]]]
And if you associate with fools, you'll develop brain rot, or if you let others do your thinking for you, you'll soon lose your very right to think for yourself. And, by the way, the game is not highly demonic, despite your false claims, you liar. In fact, you can play forever and never have to run across a fictional demon if you don't wish to have that in your game. Fictional magic, on the other hand, is somewhat harder to avoid, but not impossible. Low magic or no magic games exist and can be played even in the D&D system, but I won't bore you with those details either.
[[[The arguments I get from those defending D&D (Christians or otherwise) are similar to those from people defending their favorite cult (Mormons, Masons, etc.).]]]
Yeah, yeah, religion, cult, myth, they are all on the same line. It's just a question of degrees. I'm sure you'd make the very SAME arguments if you had to defend Christianity. Funny, by the way, you no longer seem to mind denigrating an active religion to mere cult status, like it is based on mere 'mythology' or something.
[[[The author (me) is an idiot who knows nothing about the occult or D&D. This is the most common defense and the laziest. It is the old ad hominem argument.]]]
Well, the idiot part is obviously true to a certain degree, but not all of it, and the rest may not be ad hominem at all. You certainly don't seem to know D&D very well, or if you do, you are deliberately misquoting it or misrepresenting it on many quarters. Bearing false witness is said to be quite a bad thing for a reason, you know. The truth shall set one free, but hiding the truth shall cause great injustice.
I'm truly sorry if you will not accept my critique of your article as anything other than an argument ad hominem, or that you are so quick to call some lazy and attack their own character by doing so with your own ad hominem arguments. As a counter to an argument, what do you imagine calling someone lazy is, if not an attack against the man who made it rather than an attack against the argument they made? In addition to other character flaws, you're a hypocrite, as well.
[[[D&D materials do not really say the things, which the older article says they say.]]]
Umm, sometimes true, but sometimes not. It's your interpretations of what the books say or mean that I find highly questionable. And by books, I mean both the Bible, as well as the D&D core rulebooks. You've clearly read at least portions of both, but I suspect you haven't understood either very well.
[[[It is only a game. It is not real.]]]
You make it sound like that's not an important distinction.
[[[There is no danger in playing D&D because its rituals are NOT based on real magic.]]]
Until anyone can reproduce quantifiable magical effects under controlled conditions, no magic is real to a sufficient degree that anyone should be allowed to make claims forcing others to avoid it. Can you cast spells? I don't think so. Do you know anyone who can? I don't think so - not any that will stand up to scientific scrutiny, at any rate.
BTW, rituals? I can only imagine what you mean since the game doesn't really have any spelled out, and any our PCs partake in are often glossed over and not actively played. Players wouldn't, for example, hold a real mass to Athena, recite actual spell incantations, or other similar things unless they were brought in from outside the game to add color. The game itself doesn't supply them or require them.
[[[The suicide/homicide/mental illness issues are grossly overplayed and part of a hysteria, which swept through evangelical Christianity in the 1980's. This last is based primarily on an article by a Jeff Freeman.]]]
[[[When we (the E-mailer and friends) play D&D, we do not do those nasty things.]]]
Ah, shucks. Would you prefer the majority actually did those things you claim they do? They don't, you know.
[[[The game offers positive skill development.]]]
Well, yeah. But then so does religion - when used properly. Sadly, anything used improperly can be harmful, most notably, the way you use the Bible to condemn others to hell if they, unlike you, aren't 'True" Christians - which is something solely reserved for the judgment of God and God alone - not you!!!
[[[The first is obviously a personal attack, which is baseless. My occult credentials are well established and my IQ is comfortably above idiocy.]]]
Oddly enough, establishing occult credentials is nigh meaningless since such accreditation would come from others who are well-versed in the occult, and this, in and of itself, does not prove you have a decent handle on reality at all, or know what you're talking about in any way, aside from some others who happen to agree with you - though they, too, have no proof of what they believe.
But your D&D expertise is certainly not beyond reproach, and I do question your assertions. And seriously, I'm telling you that you do not know the game very well, unless, of course, you are deliberately misleading people and writing lies or half truths, despite your vast, but hidden knowledge on the game material. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I'll think you are confused, misguided, and not particularly clever rather than an out right liar who actually knows D&D but chooses to lie about it.
[[[I have played D&D a few times and spent dozens of hours talking with players and Dungeon Masters (DMs).]]]
Talk to me, then ;-)
Email Jim Your Comments (Send Praise, Critiques, Complaints, Suggestions, Ideas, Corrections, Or Submissions.)
BTW, since many sessions all by their lonesome might run a dozen hours for each one, talking about it for dozens of hours seems grossly inadequate. Try playing it for years and talking about it for several thousand hours before you make any pretentious claim to know the game. I've played for over two decades and still I don't claim to know all there is to know about it.
[[[Admittedly, my first hand experienced with D&D is from the 1970's-80's, but I would think it still counts for something. Has the game changed that much?]]]
Well, no, but then, I'd say you got the wrong idea from the start and still wish to see what you want to see while disregarding the rest - a common trait of many religious fools - which is not to say any religious person is a fool, you understand, but clearly points out SOME religious types are fools, which I happen to believe is a classification into which you neatly and comfortably fall. And though this IS an attack against you, the man, it is NOT an argument ad hominem attack - a Latin term used to indicate when an argument relies upon trashing the man's character since it has no compelling reason or merit of its own. That is NOT the case here. I'm just pointing out your foolishness in ADDITION to the other sound and valid points of view that have independent merit and counter your unsubstantiated and false assertions. The fact you are a fool is just a bonus.
You simply lack any proof for your claims. That's why there are so many different religions, BTW. What is it these days? A dozen major world religions, only one of which is Christianity, and of that, itself divided into 500 or more separate types, sects, denominations, or what have you? If one doesn't require a shred of honest proof, you can get anything you want. Of course, if you want more than mere cult status, you'll have to be convincing enough to get a strong following.
You don't have to prove what you say, you offer no proof, you have no evidence, and whatever someone claims loudly enough is God's true desire is as good as anyone else's claim. It has, after all, just as much evidence supporting it. So your POV counts for 'something,' yes - but even next to nothing is something, so what's your point?
NOTE: I've often heard it said science, or some such other proposed methodology, fails to recognize God since it refuses to accept what many consider proof and it is therefore too limiting on what constitutes proof. However, if the scientific method were to relax what constituted acceptable evidence to the point that most Christians beliefs would count as proof, one would find, under the same relaxed criteria, that other gods, the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, the flying spaghetti monster, the Invisible Pink Unicorn, or other such entities also qualified as having proof of their existence. Clearly, by this absurd example, one can conclude we cannot relax the criteria for what constitutes proof just so it may include your cherished beliefs. That is not proof. The fact the scientific method weeds out hearsay evidence, wishful thinking, fanciful thought, unsubstantiated conjecture, appeals to consequences, or similar flimsy arguments, is not a failing on its part, but its strength.
[[[But most of the spiritual material in the article is as valid and relevant today as it was in 1989.]]]
Which is to say, hardly at all, as long as you keep misrepresenting D&D or likening Biblical magic to D&D magic, or insisting things that don't mention Christianity MUST be anti-Christian. None of that is true. And until you offer some proof for your assertions, let alone your particular faith or brand of Christianity, it will remain the case that your POV is invalid.
[[[I covet your prayers that the Lord would give me the time and funds to thoroughly research the contemporary FRPG scene, which if anything appears to be more appalling than it was 20 years ago.]]]
You covet? My funds? My goods? Oh my! Thou shall not covet, you dirty sinner.
[[[Contrary to the ramblings of D&D defenders like Michael Stackpole, the Necronomicon and the Cthulhu mythos are quite real.]]]
Well, it's real fiction, if that's what you mean. And it is based, no doubt, on some real historical things or beliefs, but the beliefs were probably false - or at least taken as false in today's modern world just as myths are taken as false, however devoutly they were observed in times past.
[[[Perhaps D&D has gotten more politically correct over the years. No more naked girls strapped to demonic altars, etc. Perhaps Hitler and rape are no longer praised.]]]
Ah yes, no more nudity, a sure sign of evil for those who believe the human body is evil. I never understood why a religious person would conclude God's allegedly greatest creation was so awful in its natural state. Oh well.
Umm, BTW, where was Hitler ever praised in D&D? Where was rape praised, for that matter? Sure, political correctness has hit the game, but this hasn't altered the number of people who go wacky on it - still negligible, of course, but no higher or no lower than before, thus proving the added political correctness did nothing to improve it or belay your unfounded fears.
[[[This problem is that the cosmology of D&D is fundamentally anti-Biblical.]]]
While it is not in agreement with the Bible, that is not anti-Biblical. To be that, it would have to say clearly the Bible, by name, or Jehovah, by name, is a false god or is filled with false teachings, and D&D doesn't say that or anything like that, anyway. Never has, doesn't now, and never will, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, roleplaying without end.
Your problem, I fear, is you are uncomfortable with anything that is contrary to your own faith. Even the idea, however exceedingly low the probability, that someone might 'possibly' take a game as real scares you enough to worry about it. There are far bigger concerns in the world today. You'll just have to trust me on this. But if you care little for this world and have your eye only on the next, then perhaps you make more sense, but only if you can prove D&D leads its players down a path and away from Christianity, or whatever. Alas, it does not do that, so it's not surprising you have no such proof or ever will or ever could since it's just a lie.
Do not mistake me, however, for I'm not a particularly religious person, even if I greatly admire JC and think he was right about a great many things. You'd probably claim D&D turned me away from being a religious man, but that's not true. My religious philosophy developed before I ever heard of D&D, let alone played it - though I admit I didn't start playing D&D until I was 18 years of age, so I was less impressionable than a 10 year old, I suspect.
[[[Many of the defenders of D&D make the common mistake of assuming that because there are roles in the game for "clerics," this makes the game all right. They make this mistake because they equate Roman Catholicism and its robed clerics for Christians. They do not understand that one can be a cleric (Muslim, Buddhist, etc.) and not be a Christian.]]]
Well, I'm not sure why anyone would feel the need to claim this or use it as a defense, unless they were being attacked by a Christian, or pressured by a Christian, or being made to feel, for example, if they played D&D they weren't "True" Christians, and thus were bound for hell and punishment everlasting, amen, amen. Golly. Who would do such a thing? Alas, however, I must agree with you on this point of technicality inasmuch as the existence of clerics in no way makes the game all right. However, since the game was never wrong, as a game, such an argument isn't needed in the first place.
[[[They even tell me that these clerics are supposed to have noble virtues and standards of conduct. I am also informed by irate DMs that in their games virtues such as self-sacrifice, heroism and persistence are rewarded and extolled. That is all well and good. But it will also take you to hell faster than a greased demon on roller skates.]]]
Well, only God may pass such judgment and decide who is worthy of hell. The fact you have apparently and repeatedly done so suggests to me you think you are on the same level as God. In fact, you probably think you are on a higher level than God since you cannot help but defer to your own judgment or your own interpretation of right and wrong. Thus, you have a god before God, namely you, and have so seriously and egregiously violated the first commandant that you have earned yourself a front row seat in the pit of hell. Theoretically, anyway. I would too, for saying this, but I don't subscribed to your beliefs, or think I know better who will go to hell, if at all, than anyone else. What's your excuse?
[[[How is D&D anti-Biblical? First, because it presents a universe without God in the Bible sense.]]]
Ah, so a poem talking about chess, for example, is anti-Biblical because it doesn't mention god or the Bible? No way. Unless D&D actually says the Bible is wrong, or there is no such things as the Christian God in the real world, it is not anti-Biblical at all. It's a game that takes pains, in fact, to avoid controversy and avoids putting in real world religions lest it offends someone. But a lack of being Christian does not make one anti-Christian. Monopoly, for example, also isn't anti-Christian since there is no God in the Biblical sense mentioned within its rules, or no square on the game board that says: "Go to Church, Go Directly To Church, Do Not pass Go," or "Pay a Tithe (10%) of all your money and property," or anything like that. Such an absence is NOT anti-Christian.
[[[Some DMs even create games, I am irately informed (often with fluent cursing) that are monotheistic, where there is only one god. This would be very exceptional.]]]
True, they would be exceptionally rare, but it does happen. Usually, I suspect, due to unwarranted pressure to conform to your way of thinking, lest they not be "True" Christians, amen, amen. Even then, they might shudder to learn since they don't agree with you 100%, they don't qualify to go to heaven anyway like you do. BTW, how is my cursing and language? Too much?
[[[This does not sound like a clergyman I would allow in any pulpit of any Christian church!]]]
Ah, so you wouldn't 'allow' a Jew or a Muslim, for example, as a guest speaker in your church? OK, I have noted your intolerance, and I hope, so has everyone else with any degree of intelligence. BTW, do you have such authority over some congregation somewhere where it is up to you to give a yeah or nay as to who may speak for any church? Or do you just feel you deserve such authority?
[[[To say that such a character is in anyway spiritually admirable or worthy of emulation is foolishness! ]]]
Not at all. All religions have philosophies, but not all philosophies are religious. I'd bet most anything you think an atheist is, of necessity, an immoral person. That's foolishness. Just because you only admire those who believe exactly like you do, and because you are insufferably intolerant of anyone else holding a different point of view doesn't make it foolishness. People like you are the reason why so many die in holy wars, Jihads, and fundamentalists' terrorist attacks. They just can't stand anyone who thinks differently than they do, and will do and say horrible things, convinced they and they alone speak for God. How sinfully full of pride they must be to think that they can take life, or condemn others to hell, in His name. It's abominable!
[[[Islam comes to mind. But these religions will take you to hell just as fast as any polytheistic religion.]]]
So will passing judgment on others, a right reserved only for the Most High. And you aren't it, buddy, so you'd do well to stop telling others they are going to hell just because you think you have a perfect interpretation of the Bible and couldn't possibly be subject to human frailty or mistakes. Are you for real?
[[[As has been thoroughly explained above, magic is different from prayer and from the way the Bible tells us things get done spiritually.]]]
Well, maybe, but maybe not. Jesus could be likened not to God himself, but to God's cleric - he'd be about 10th level or so to perform the miracles he did in the Bible. Sure, the very suggestion will make many zealots feel like killing me, but what can one do about such people?
[[[In magic, there is really no power higher than the magician - or if there is a higher power, it can be completely manipulated by using the right magical technology (spells, incantations, etc.).]]]
Huh? There are plenty of things more powerful than the magician, and clever wizards know full well there is always someone more clever or more powerful than themselves. And, of course, they haven't mastered magic to a sufficient degree to control higher powers. You won't see a lot of D&D wizards controlling D&D gods, for example. The gods are quite a bit more powerful and beyond the D&D wizard's ability to control them.
If the magic is divine - and not arcane - a god is its source, and He, She, or It may always negate the powers of the cleric should that cleric step outside His, Her, or Its teaching and incur His, Her, or Its ire. So a cleric cannot completely manipulate their god, and he may lose his magical powers anytime he sins, perhaps forever, or perhaps temporarily, until he atones for his sins against his god. Also, even arcane magic in the game doesn't always work, but I won't go into that here.
[[[The total absence of Jesus Christ the Lord as sovereign from D&D and almost all FRPGs is what makes them so spiritually dangerous]]]
What bogus words you sling. If JC were prominently displayed in the game, more Christians would bitterly complain something so sacred was being used so trivially in a game, or worse, in their 'humble but correct opinion,' wasn't being expressed properly, according to what they 'know' to be 'true.' It wouldn't matter their claims weren't provable, but only that it didn't match their faith. It wouldn't matter if it conformed to some particular Christian Sect's idea of right since it would, probably, not quite conform to 499 other POVs on what Christ is truly all about.
In fact, the separation of church and state makes this country work. Without it, no one would have true religious freedom, but most would likely be coerced and forced to conform to the majority rule - or die, or leave the country. In much the same way, and with the same wisdom, a game can't recognize or affirm any one particular active real world religion lest all other people of all other faiths not be able to play it. As a game, that would be disastrously unsuccessful.
And again, most games are similarly totally lacking in their mention of JC, but they are not anti-Christian, nor dangerous, because of this. If you wish to make an argument how Monopoly or Risk or Scrabble are spiritually dangerous, go ahead, but I suspect your premise has been shown here to be totally wrong, and that merely not mentioning or affirming one faith doesn't mean the game is against that faith.
[[[Cleaning up that part of the game and leaving Jesus, the true God, out of what is essentially a SPIRITUAL quest is like rearranging the lawn chairs in hell - especially when you consider there isn't very much grass in the inferno!]]]
Clearly, you are unhappy with anything that doesn't exactly correspond to what you already believe. Considering you were a Christian long before you ever got your mitts on D&D - in all likelihood - it's only natural for you to attack it and never approach it with an open mind, not even once! I feel sorry for you and people like you who are so intolerant of others, whether for reasons of creed, race, gender, age, or whatever.
I think, ironically, such intolerant sentiments eat away at the very core of Christianity to begin with. After all, JC wanted to include even members of non-Jewish people, and he didn't give a hang about such matters or want to include only "True" Jews, not asking for much from anyone beyond the simple adherence to the golden rule - the most Christian - and Lawful Good - of doctrines, in my honest opinion. Your intolerance suggests to me you have totally failed to grasp the message of Jesus Christ. But what do I know?
[[[Defenders of D&D often complain that it is only a game. Playing chicken with cars is "only a game" until someone gets killed. So is Russian roulette! I am frequently told to "get a life" or write about something more important than D&D, like social justice or world hunger. The devil would sure like that.]]]
Oh how nice. You speak for the Devil as well as for God. Well, isn't that special? And again, in His name, you make such poor analogies I can only feel you are deliberately lying in God's name, or you just aren't smart enough to be speaking in His name.
Lots of people get killed playing chicken with cars or in Russian roulette, but does this really compare to playing D&D, or can't you kick this bearing false witness tendency you have fallen into? I don't mind if you have no 'life' outside the church, but please, at least be honest.
[[[Down through the ages, no institution has done more to help the poor, the orphans and the starving than has the church of Jesus Christ.]]]
Are you first subtracting the millions killed in holy wars, inquisitions, crusades, and the like? I bet not. Furthermore, how do you so easily tally Christian charity from other charities? Most charities I know do not turn away non-Christian volunteers, nor do they offer aid only to Christians. Are you actually keeping separate books that denote where each dollar comes from, or from whom each hour is volunteered, and keeping those from Christian sources separate from those from non-Christians ones? No way. This, I must believe, is another unproved claim of yours - or just yet another lie.
[[[I would just ask them where are the rescue missions and orphanages started by D&D gamers?]]]
How odd. Where is the charity from Parker Brothers, Hasbro, Milton Bradley, or whatever? I bet these organizations, and their employees, often give to charity. Almost every dollar in the collection plate is a dollar earned elsewhere other than directly under the roof of the Christian Church - or are you now inviting the money changers back into the temple?
If you insist a game save lives on the order of the Red Cross, or whatever - lest it be dangerous and evil - then I'm just not following you at all unless you are saying nobody anywhere at anytime should play any game. If not that, then what's your point?
Then you ramble on here about finite mortality vs. infinite immortality in the body vs. soul argument, which is fine, up to a point. But you haven't proven your point by showing D&D indeed causes the loss of one's soul or condemns its players to hell everlasting. All you've appeared to do was let everyone know that if you were God, hell is where you'd toss D&D players, non-Christians, and 499/500ths of other Christians since they aren't "True" Christians in your so-called infinite wisdom.
[[[D&D is an extremely challenging game intellectually and emotionally.]]]
Well, exercising one's imagination is intellectually fulfilling, and it's emotionally fun, but I wouldn't call it emotionally challenging. Not even intellectually challenging inasmuch as you don't have to play beyond your mental capabilities or anything like that.
[[[It is very like the devil to engineer a pastime, which draws on the best of young people and then grinds their minds and souls under the millstone of his hate.]]]
So, is E. Gary the Devil, or just one of his many minions, in your opinion? Or were his words just inspired by Satan?
Best of young people? Best? Hmm, that's sort of nice of you to say that. Of course in the same breath you condemn them all to hell, but it is interesting.
[[[What is wrong is that it is built on a superstructure of anti-Biblical cosmology.]]]
Again, if that's the best you got, and then you have nothing. It is not anti-Biblical or anti-Christian anymore than Monopoly or Scrabble are these things. Neither supports your faith, but then neither attacks it. At best, D&D cosmology isn't to be taken as real world cosmology, and few ever do - none that I've known, personally.
Though, I admit, I have known a few zealots who have taken their own faith as the only acceptable path, and taken extreme and horrible actions against those who did not walk with them. The zealot often says, "You are either with me, or against me," and leaves out the obvious third and most likely possibility - i.e. they are for neither, and choose to take a more enlightened middle ground.
So while I admit D&D is not pro-Christian or pro-Bible, it is sure not anti-Christian or anti-Biblical, either.
[[[Now, admittedly, few people who play D&D actually intend to do magic when they play. But I knew some who did, and even today I have corresponded with people who were gamers and also active magicians on the "inner planes." If you are a gamer, you might be playing with such an individual. ]]]
Have you actually ever seen a magic spell work in any unambiguous way? I highly doubt it. Now I'm not sure, but you seem to be suggesting if my character cast a magic spell in the game, I might be actually casting a magic spell in real life, but not know it? Well, I've never seen any such results, or heard of anyone who could show real magical powers. But hey, if you're so well in tune with these guys, catch some of this magic on film or video. That'd show us.
[[[I was so immersed in (foul language), eight hours a day, that after awhile, despite my best efforts, I began to talk just like them. It took a couple years away from the place to get my vocabulary "rinsed out."]]]
And was this work, therefore, the source of foul language? Was this work - which you were doing - the cause of this spiritual impact? No. It was people who already used such language, not the work itself. Similarly, D&D isn't a source of foul language, though some people who play it do use foul language, and some do not. The point is, it is unfair to blame the work, or D&D, when the true source is neither. Yet, despite this first hand experience of yours, you still missed the lesson. How sad.
And you fear even without trying, playing D&D in a fantasy world view will make a player fall into a non-Christian way of thinking? I'd have to say such a thought falls below the level of an educated guess, doesn't rise to the level of a hypothesis, and sure is nowhere near a theory - scientifically speaking. But like any religious belief, no proof is necessary.
Players of D&D rarely forego their real world lives, and thus they remain in contact with their religious roots, if they were important enough to them before. If they weren't important enough before, D&D isn't the reason. So your desire to fit in with the coworkers and not be thought of as a milk-toast freak got the better of your best intentions to avoid harsh language. So what? To my way of thinking, you'd do far better to avoid intolerance and passing judgment on others and condemning them to hell or speaking in His name without direct contact with God - as a prophet or saint might have - long before the trivial concern of language should be an issue. But that's me.
BTW, besides taking the Lord's name in vain, from whence does the Bible define which words in a language are considered foul? I only ask since you seem to suggest such guidance only has merit if it comes from the Bible, and I was previously unaware of the Biblical list of prohibited words. Where is it again?
You, on the other hand, probably believe you ARE God's prophet, or ARE worthy of sainthood. You make me laugh, thankfully, for I think you have no real power. If you did, you'd make me cringe in fear of you instead of laughing. Is that your message to the youngsters, by the way? Fear? And here I thought "True" Christians were about "Love." But what do I know?
[[[Unless the gamer is a person of strong moral fiber, it is likely they will eventually be drawn by the seductive power of magic into thinking thoughts that are entirely contrary to the thoughts of God.]]]
What BS. I suppose unless the person is of strong intellectual fiber, going to church is likely to eventually make them become a zealot who no longer thinks for themselves or takes responsibility for their own actions. But I do not believe you have to be morally strong, but simply not morally bankrupt in the first place, just as you don't have to be a genius, but simply not a simpleton or desperately lonely to avoid brainwashing into a cult or religion.
Religions, unfortunately, insidiously indoctrinate youngsters from such a young age that long before they can think for themselves, they are set and forced into a religious mold or world view, as you call it. They are even told, though somewhat subtly, to even question the faith is a one-way ticket to hell.
D&D at least doesn't really do that, nor are there fools out there telling others they'll burn in hell if they don't play D&D. You sure can't claim as much about your brand of Christianity, can you?
[[[And when you consider how hard it is these days to find people (of any age) who have moral fiber, the situation becomes quite frightening.]]]
It's even more frightening when people like you, who claim to have moral fiber, really don't appear to have any, but simply think so highly of themselves and how much better or more enlightened they are that they feel they have the right to bestow judgment on others in His name. That's hardly someone of moral fiber, in my honest opinion.
[[[How can this be done with so many hours being spent in a game that never mentions Christ and pushes the very sorcery He forbids?]]]
Again, it isn't the VERY sorcerer he forbids, but another kind, a fictional kind. It is fictional in nature, and not real, and for the arcane magic of wizards, it is not a religion or worship of other gods, besides.
How can you even live in this society that exercises profound wisdom in the practice and importance of the separation of church and state? Public schools spend more time not mentioning Christ than most players spend playing D&D - or at least they shouldn't mention Christ, lest they force a religion down someone's throat and take away the very freedom they demand for themselves - i.e. the right to to worship, or not worship, as we choose. Wouldn't you be happier in some fundamentalist country, or at least some monastery where everyone thinks like you do and you can hide from the outside world, or hide from anyone with a thought not identical to your own?
[[[Please recall, our concern here is not what unsaved non-Christians do with D&D.]]]
Yeah, they are worthless human beings and quite beneath the likes of "True" Christians like you, after all.
[[[Our concern is that supposedly Christian people are playing this Christless game and devoting dozens if not hundreds of hours to an activity that can do nothing but foster a fascination with the occult.]]]
'Supposedly Christian'? Why? If what you said before is true, you shouldn't concern yourself with anyone who isn't a "True" Christian, and anyone who plays D&D is obviously not a "True" Christians - according to you - so why the effort? You seem more than a little inconsistent here.
Most games are Christless, this is true, since they make no mention of Him one way or the other, but they are not anti-Christian because of that fact. And I strenuously disagree D&D cannot help but foster a fascination with the occult. You are over reacting, closed mined, and fearful and intolerant of all that is not to your liking.
[[[Now this is not to say that every serious D&D gamer is going to become a Satanist or demonized. But the odds are good that they might.]]]
In fact, if you had any inkling of what the phrase "The odds are" truly meant, you'd know the odds are they will not become a Satanist, demonized, or lose their true faith - if they had it to begin with. You are lying when you say such things, and what's worse, deliberately bearing false witness against others when you do not correct these mistakes and take down such lies from your website. Only a freak minority - so small it can hardly be measured amid the millions of gamers - even begins to come close to what you are suggesting - and even then there is no direct cause and effect relationship one can prove. But you're a fear monger, and any authority you pretend to have only comes from your sanctimonious attitude when telling others they are going to hell unless they believe you. You must really want the company on your way there, yourself.
[[[Most demonized people could not be identified as such by someone without Biblical discernment.]]]
Someone like you, you mean, who art all good and worthy of all our love. But fear not, gentle readers, for he is perfectly willing to show you what is good and what is evil, who is good and who is evil, and point out to you, who is saved and who is dammed, because he is seated at the right hand of the father - or was that above God, in your case, since only God can make such judgments? At any rate, place your trust and faith in him, because he has a self-proclaimed Biblical discernment, unlike most others who have read the Bible. You're just that much better than the rest of us, I guess. Luckily your selfless love for others moves your spirit to champion the unfortunately dim who, unlike you, don't know what's what.
While I have no doubt you think, Bible in hand, you flawlessly interpret His word and are more than worthy to sit in judgment in His name, again with Bible in hand, your arguments are like 3 day old fish - I won't buy them. Of course, I suspect, you can tell in order for me to even suggest this that I must be fairly well demonized by now, and D&D must have done it, to boot. You are so full of it that words can barely or adequately describe just how far off base you are.
[[[No footnotes, no names of schools, no way to check out hardly any this information to see if it is accurate.]]]
Yeah, sort of like quoting the Bible, passage and verse. There is no way to check if the oral tradition was accurately recorded, assuming it was divinely inspired in the first place, or the proper books were included/excluded from the Bible, or the translations were perfect, and no way to make sure one is interpreting it correctly - taken out of context, and in today's society with today's values, two or more thousand years later, and none of it offers any proof. It absolutely floors me when a zealot like you suddenly needs proof when he seemed quite satisfied with no proof before. And the Bible, like it or not, is not proof. Why? The Bible must be true because it says so in the Bible? Get real. What's with you, anyway? You demand proof of others, but don't need to give any proof for your own beliefs? Why do you think that is?
NOTE: People who claim they get their morals directly from God are likely lying, as they perhaps, at best, get them from the Bible and only believe they are from God. Even then, it is questionable as to which Bible they use, and often a disingenuous claim insofar as they FIRST cherry pick which passages they like and wish to use to prove their preexisting point of view, and which ones to ignore or apologize for since they do not agree with their current moral point of view. In short, they have a developed moral code, probably from childhood, and apply it in actual practice, long before the probably even read the Bible. Thus, morals come from many sources, and such claims they come directly from God are dubious, at best.
[[[How are we to know or trust this information?]]]
Well, unless he had a vested interest to falsify information - like maybe he was a shareholder in a roleplaying game company - right away this lends credence to what he says. Furthermore, though you didn't have it handed to you, such studies probably exist and can be accessed. Also, the tendency to sensationalize or exaggerate things new probably could naturally contribute to such a story in the first place, thus making it almost likely it was unfavorably biased to begin with - probably by some closed minded person living in fear of a 'Christless' game or 'Christless' world. Finally, this weight has more going for it than the baseless assumption it must be false. That just happens to be your starting position. A more intermediate, middle of the road, balanced starting position would, I think in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, come down on the side of the trustworthiness of the information. But I haven't looked into it, I admit, and wrote it all off as an urban legend. But if you had proof to the contrary and could show these studies didn't exist, rather than just offer vague suspicions they don't exist, I'd think you document that in this article like you do most of the other things in this article. Obviously, you have no leg to stand on and only wish to refuse to see.
[[[These tracts and flyers typically made their point by quoting rules out of context and blurring the distinction between player and character with half-truths and outright lies.]]]
Sound familiar? It does to me.
[[[It does not change the truth of the dangers of D&D.]]]
Ah, again, the 'Truth' of D&D. You know, when attempting to prove A, you cannot assume the truth of A in your proof.
I wish you'd be honest and admit that isn't truth so much as your unproved, unsubstantiated opinion. Don't you realize how misleading it is to claim an opinion as truth? Or, sadly, is it that you do realize this, and willingly feel compelled to misrepresent things, perhaps done in His name since you are THAT misguided?
[[[It is a poor and futile argument to attack the character or personality of your opponent]]]
It depends. As long as you include more pertinent arguments that can stand on their own, it's not overly bad to include a personal slam or two, particularly when such slams are aimed at the very character or truthfulness or several other rather telling qualities of one's opponent, and not non sequitur items, such as your bad hair cut, your lousy clothes, your rusty car, or other items like that which have nothing to do with the argument at hand.
Also, one should feel free to respond in kind when the opponent is already slandering or libeling them. What do you think it is when you claim these others are not "True" Christians, or when you affirm their character is so lacking in its moral make up that they are bound for hell? That is an ad hominem attack, sir!
Calling you a liar, a fool, or a zealot, for example, is not really an argument ad hominem, but pertinent to the debate at hand, and highly worth considering as it lends or detracts credibility from what you say. It's just better if one has more than an insult to go with it. You should learn the difference between an argument ad hominem and an argument that insults you in addition to making its point (you idiot!)
[[[Where did he get his ideas about Hitler? Both are discussed in the D&D material.]]]
Honestly, in all my years I have never read about Hitler in D&D materials. Where exactly is this? It wouldn't surprise me if someone mentioned it in some obscure reference outside the core rules - like some throw away module or quick alignment assessment of the man as an example of evil - but you keep harping on it so much, shouldn't you explicitly state where it is to be found?
[[[Finally, the fact that the suit was tossed out is not surprising. US courts (in my experience) are increasingly reluctant to get involved on the side of people fighting the occult influences in our culture, in any way, shape or form.]]]
I think it's not surprising since there was no case, no evidence for the mother's claim, and almost a natural assumption people want, even need, someone else to blame for such a loss since the alternative is too horrible for them to deal with just then. Did I do it? Was I the cause for my son's death? It would be much harder to live with that than blaming the first thing handy.
And courts, in my experience, do not toss out things that have proof or evidence, but are legally required to look at them if they make an offer of this proof. The courts will look a fool if such evidence exists and reaches the public via the news media, but I'm not surprised the public disregarded her claims as the courts did. I'm not surprised her case didn't rise to that level at all. It's hard to prove something that isn't true, after all.
[[[Of course, one might be forgiven for suspecting an investigation paid for by the FRPG industry itself.]]]
Well, that's true. In fact, I wouldn't have bothered to commission such a study, if I were they, since such a study should be dismissed out of hand for bias. And if I did make such a study, it would only be for in-house use and not to be revealed to the public. However, before I'd publicly call it a fraud, I'd have to offer a study of my own that held contrary results, else my claims should also be dismissed out of hand for bias. In this case, I dismiss your claims out of hand for bias. You offer no proof, and make nothing but specious arguments and poorly drawn analogies on top of several erroneous assumptions, all cloaked in the warm embrace of your certainty you speak in God's name. You don't. Finally, this is all based on claims about what D&D says or does in actual practice that are contrary to the facts, and demonstrably so.
[[[It is certainly how the devil feels about the deaths of young people killed before their promise could be fulfilled.]]]
So, you are intimately familiar with how the Devil 'feels' too, are you? Interesting. What is it about you, anyway? Did you two spend a lot of time together at camp?
[[[Again, no documentation for any of these assertions is provided.]]]
That's quite a coincidence ;-)
[[[Finally, the comment about the D&D suicide rate being ten times below the national average is insulting. I would like to see how Mr. Freeman arrived at that figure.]]]
I'd trust the insurance companies to know. Unless they begin to put a question on their policy, "Do you play fantasy roleplaying games?" and raise your rates if you answer 'Yes,' I wouldn't worry about it.
[[[As has been observed, statistics can be manipulated to prove just about anything.]]]
Much the same has been said about quoting the Bible.
[[[But in addition, even ONE death or suicide attributable to D&D is one death too many. These young people are real, not just statistics!]]]
I'm sorry you are using this tact, as I find it tasteless and heartless. Death is a natural part of life, and one death is only insignificant when compared to the whole. The point of statistics is to yield meaningful and useful results, and one, two, or even dozens of deaths attributed to one thing isn't significant compared to the whole, or larger problems, measured in the millions.
We do not pull all cars off the road just because some few teenagers play chicken in them, or ban rock music just because one person claims he killed because of the lyrics, or ban Jodie Foster movies lest we feel compelled to assassination in order to impress her, or many other examples of this caliber. The death or actions are often tragic enough without having to use it to manipulate others, as you are doing.
Other examples include the use of natural gas - though hundreds die from its use in accidental explosions, or the use of coal - though thousands die mining it - or cars or planes or trains or boats - though thousands die using them. These deaths, while tragic, are statistically insignificant and are not TOO many, as hard as that may be for some to accept. We realize the risks, but we take them. It's called life. Check it out.
[[[Freeman claims he got his license suspended. As far as I can tell, this is true. However, that does not make Dr. Radecki's assertions on D&D and its psychological dangers false.]]]
Perhaps not that, but having his license yanked means his claims are only as credible as any other layman's - which is to say, not much, and depending on why they yanked his license - like perhaps he was an unethical man given to lying - would also be suggestive. So unless you were already eager to believe any anti-D&D tripe and take it as gospel out of hand, whatever he said is virtually meaningless and should be discounted. It certainly doesn't carry the weight of a prominent and well-respected psychologist.
[[[What would be better would be to measure the number of murders (or suicides) among gamers and compare it with the national sample of murders committed by well-educated, creative, sensitive and imaginative young males of a mostly white population. The statistics might show an entirely different result than that alleged by Mr. Freeman.]]]
Then again, it may not. You don't know, but one can sure tell what you'd like to see. (I hope it shows D&D makes killers and suicides more rampant, man I'd love proving that. You're sick, BTW). You're practically drooling over the possibility at more deaths to gleefully prove your point. Alas, it won't happen, since your point is not true.
[[[Well, excuse us, sir, for believing in the Bible.]]]
It isn't that you or others believe in the Bible that is problematic. It's that you and a few others don't tolerate most others who don't believe the Bible, or even do believe in it, though slightly differently than you do. Or worse, you really don't believe in it yourself, not exactly following the mainstream or commonly accepted interpretations of the Bible, but often insist that you and you alone have the only possible and correct interpretation. That's the problem - not just you believing what you want, but an almost fanatical obsession to make others believe it too, and an unfortunate tendency to suggest, or outright say - those who do not believe as you do are not "True" Christians and they are going to hell, sure and certain. It's more than annoying; it's antisocial, sick, and wrong - and, as I've mentioned, an argument ad hominem, you hypocrite! I'm betting there must be a good reason why only GOD himself may pass such judgments. What you're betting on, however, escapes me.
[[[Any movie, book or game containing spellcasting characters, wizards, witches, demons and the like, was an "occult" indoctrination tool that 'glorified evil' and lured kids to devil worship.]]]
Ah, so in your opinion, Harry Potter glorifies evil, does it? Harry Potter lures kids to Devil worship, does it? It does no such thing, and only your demented insistence that all magic must be anti-Christian, anti-Biblical, or out right evil fuels this silly fallacy of yours.
[[[Ultimately, exceptions were made. For example, the movie The Ten Commandments contains spell casting from Pharaoh's magicians, but is not satanic. ]]]
Why not? Does God help out Pharaoh's magicians? You're being inconsistent again, and not even trying to explain why. Of course, you can't explain why since you have no good reason.
[[[J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, featuring Gandalf the Wizard fighting a demonesque "Balrog", is not satanic.]]]
Again, why not? Gandalf is not a Christian. In fact, the whole world view behind Gandalf has a decidedly non-Christian basis of a polytheistic group of greater beings "across the waters." There is no mention of JC, and thus, if you are to be believed, it must be anti-Christian.
Or is it just that you feel these works are so loved and so well known, if you dared to suggest that anyone who loved them or even merely read them was condemned to hell, they'd so quickly dismiss you as a fool they wouldn't read anything you wrote past the first paragraph? Yeah, I bet that's it. It sure isn't because Tolkien's work doesn't hold a non-Christian world view in exactly the same way you claim D&D holds such a view. Middle Earth and D&D are on equal footing there, but yet you claim not. Why? Or maybe you are just comfortable knowing that J.R.R. was a Christian.
[[[C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, although fantasy, is not satanic.]]]
Why not? It clearly isn't Biblical, and therefore, according to your theory, must be anti-Biblical or anti-Christian. Or is there something wrong with your 'theory'?
[[[Freeman misses the point entirely about the difference between "fantasy" and fiction such as Peretti's novels or films like THE TEN COMMANDMENTS that glorify God vs. fantasy such as D&D games that promote an un-Biblical world view.]]]
OK, the Ten Commandants - more than one of which you break in your article, by the way - may be praising the Christian God more than this other mysterious magic of unknown origins, but what about J.R.R. Tolkien? Where does that swear allegiance to the one and only true God, Jesus Christ, maker of heaven and Earth? Nowhere, that's where. You are being more than a little inconsistent here, you realize?
[[[(Magic) Is it shown as a viable tool or as something ineffective or evil? Obviously, in D&D it is presented as an important tool. In the movies and novels cited, sorcery is shown in its true colors, as something evil and ultimately useless against the power of the true and living God.]]]
Again, how is this shown in J.R.R. Tolkien's work? Where do they mention Jesus again? I must have missed that part. Perhaps I didn't recognize His name when it was written in Elvish? Where did magic fail to be useful? I seem to recall how without magic, the story would have failed before it began. Seems pretty useful and not useless to me.
[[[There are witch covens in every major city and in many minor ones! This was not the case 30 years ago.]]]
How do they know? Maybe they were just less than comfortable openly displaying themselves in a less tolerant, closed minded society of Christians who were not that far above burning witches 30 years ago. Maybe the number is the same, or even less, but now they are more comfortable coming out, now that D&D, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the popular media have shown they are not truly evil, and enlightened and educated people are more tolerant of differences now. They know more, and fear less, for people such as you often seem to have nothing to offer but fear itself.
[[[Gamers have a below-average suicide rate while police officers have the highest of any profession.]]]
I thought it was dentists, as a profession, and Sweden as a country, which all makes being a Swedish dentist pretty dangerous, but they still have them. Oh well. I suspect you wouldn't give a plug nickel for the life of a Swedish dentist who played D&D.
[[[He then goes off on a tirade against fundamentalists and tries to characterize Christian churches as being potential Jonestowns or Wacos.]]]
Some are exactly that, but most aren't. So potential, yeah, but I wouldn't say this was likely. So you see how it feels when the aberrant are held up as 'typical' examples, but you continue to do it yourself for D&D. I think you both deserve each other, both fears falling outside the 99.99%+ of the norm.
[[[Therefore, here are just a handful of the tragic deaths reported (as of this writing) to be related to D&D:]]]
First, I'd like to say simply playing D&D in no way proves D&D caused their deaths. You'll note, for example, that each one of those people drank water during their lives. Obviously, therefore, drinking water leads to suicide. While the analogy example is over stated to make a point, I hope it is not lost on anyone. Each of us is a combination of a myriad of events, and no proof does or will exist that can clearly show such causality as you are suggesting here. Far more suicides and deaths can easily be attributed to religions. Each suicide-bombing terrorist, for example. Does this mean religion is evil? No. Only an evil person would make such a claim, or, given the benefit of the doubt, a reactionary fool.
[[[In short, he does not get the underlying spiritual concerns.]]]
Oh, I suspect he gets them. He simply does not agree with them.
[[[. . .do nothing to disarm the central spiritual evil that is D&D.]]]
*Sigh,* you don't even claim D&D is just potentially spiritually hazardous most of the time, but couch it in terms of a certainty. That's as bad as lying.
Worse, for it to be truly evil, it must have been deliberate. I can only conclude you must believe D&D was inspired by the Devil in the same way you feel the Gospel was inspired by God. Alas, your claim is groundless, but like your particular brand of faith, you'll believe what you want to believe, no proof required. Why or how you came to this faith, I can only guess, but you did say you were raised in a devout Catholic family and did suggest you were extremely sheltered from the real world - not having really heard foul language until you got to college, wow, that IS sheltered - so I'm not overly surprised you don't seem to have a firm grasp of the real world.
[[[It was Satanism, not D&D that had a decisive role in my crimes.]]]
And where does Satanism come from? Religious Christian doctrine, that's where. If anything, this proves the true source of this man's crimes was the Christian religion. Are you so desperate to blame D&D just because you seriously need a scapegoat?
Yet one would be wrong to condemn the Christian religion because of this one man. Yet you foolishly latch onto the passing role of D&D, insist it had a much larger part than even he admits, and in fact, was not the very cause of it all, and still you suggest it was D&D that drove this man to murder? But no, it couldn't have been Satanism and Christianity - these go hand in had, like two sides of one coin - that truly was to blame. Could it?
[[[Sean - because of his involvement in D&D - began researching occultism at the library.]]]
He probably would have sought this material anyway.
[[[Sean acknowledged the usefulness of D&D materials in studying magic.]]]
I can scarcely see how, nor did he ever succeed at any real magic, but I know you'd dispute this claim, though you have no proof he succeeded.
[[[Sean says he used his position as DM to introduce people to "satanic behavior concepts" and then recruit them into the occult. ]]]
Just as many have used their position in the church to rape and sodomize children, or lead them into the belief they were the second coming or something like that, having them all willingly commit suicide and follow them to the next life. Still, it would be folly to condemn the whole church for this, just as it is folly to condemn D&D for however small a part it played in this single man's actions, if any significant part at all was played. Why you can't see this, I suspect, is simply because you do not wish to see it, or you know it not only won't make your point, but dispute it.
[[[This is precisely the scenario that concerns Christians who are upset about D&D.]]]
Actually, what mostly concerns Christians are people like you who stir things up and spread lies and make others cringe in fear if they actually believe you when you say they can't be "True" Christians and saved if they play D&D. The dull and slow of mind may actually take your word as Gospel truth. This is precisely what concerns most Christians about D&D - and not what the game actually says or does, but what zealots say, however untruthful they may be when saying it. And what's worse, what zealots like you might do to them if they don't acquiesce to your demands. You might kill them, for example, or declare Jihad against them. Or more likely, in this society, shun them, boycott them, or make their lives harder - just to 'prove' your point.
And, sadly, if not the potential D&D players themselves, your unethical tactics has a greater chance of scaring the dickens out of the parents, or teachers, or friends of these potential players, thus pressuring some to shun the would-be players based solely upon your lies. You have them so scared, they won't let their kids play the game, even though they know nothing about it - other than what you tell them, and nearly everything you've said about the game is DEMONSTRABLY false. It makes me sad.
But the wise, thankfully, take things one at a time and judge them each on their own merits, and try to avoid vague generalizations and unfounded or unsubstantiated allegations. You do not appear to be very wise, I'm sorry to say.
[[[Involvement with D&D clearly led Sean from a mild interest in witchcraft and Zen into Satanism and even recruiting others through the game into Satanism.]]]
No it didn't. Not clearly, and perhaps not at all. And without a preexisting belief in Satan, it may never have happened. But no doubt he had been indoctrinated into such beliefs since before he could walk, and this was the foundation upon which he built, and the foundation that eventually crumbled - not D&D, but Christianity. You'll have to look for a scapegoat elsewhere.
[[[It has never been our contention that D&D alone turns people into drooling demoniacs. However, it is evident that without knowing something of electronics (to use his example) the bomb could never have been built. The difference is (to differ with Sean somewhat) is that electronics is morally neutral. Occult or magical knowledge, according to the Bible, is emphatically not.]]]
You again insist the Bible's mention of these things easily equates to D&D game magic, and I say nothing could be further from the truth. And while it is not my contention Christianity alone turns people into drooling Satanists, it is evident without such a foundation, the impetus for his crime would never have occurred. At least, that is, in parallel to your example, with equal validity. Unlike you, however, I come clean and do not wish to leave the reader with the false impression Religion, therefore, is likely to lead to Satanism or spiritual danger, or one should be concerned there is a greater chance of it if you accept the Christian faith. It isn't true. But then, nor is D&D more likely to lead there.
[[[We agree, and do not mean to imply that every D&D gamer is going to end up on death row before they are 18. Sean Sellers is probably close to the "worst case scenario." Most of the D&D problems we have encountered are a bit milder - things like demonic obsession, suicide attempts, and involvement in witchcraft or Satanism. However, they are all pretty serious and indeed can be life-threatening.]]]
D&D is not the root cause of those problems, and as long as you look no further, I'm of the opinion you can never help in those cases, but only hurt. Far more likely poor family life and a poor or abusive upbringing started them off on such a path, or some physical aberration was the cause, but drugs, rock and roll, D&D, or whatever, was just one of the many stops along the way, and not what caused those horrors.
[[[Teamwork - the gamers are working together to kill, destroy, steal or take whatever they want.]]]
That's pretty one sided. They more likely need to work together to survive the elements, save the ship, save the city, save the princess, stop the enemy army, defend the town from monsters, etc. etc. etc. Your repeated and obvious attempts to look for and give nothing but a one sided depiction of gaming is dramatically telling indeed, and highly suggestive of not one seeking the truth, but one only interested in thinking for others.
[[[Listening - listening to magic and violence being repeatedly acted out in the game]]]
As is listening to each other's feelings, concerns, hopes, fears, and aspirations, and listening and learning to relate to one another, all during times without using magic or violence, are also repeatedly acted out in most games. But you wouldn't want to admit to that aspect of the game too, now would you?
In its purest form, roleplaying is just like life, and contains, to some degree, all the same problems that life may contain. There is nowhere that is totally safe from problems. But in a game, at least, there is often an off button, a do over, or the chance to make it right that is all too often simply lacking in real life. The game may be instructive without inflicting severe and permanent penalties on one the way life does, and by learning some lessons in the game, one might have learned valuable lessons for real life.
[[[For a Christian youth (or adult) to fill their minds with all this occult (and pseudo-occult) gibberish is an insult to the God Who made that mind.]]]
Actually, to not use one's mind that God gave them would be a greater insult, and to blindly follow or let others think for them - thus absolving oneself of any personal responsibility - is the highest insult to God. Man, created in His image, if anything, parallels God in this intellectual ability to think and reason and discern good from evil and make these choices on their own, unlike most other animals on Earth. Fail to use this mind, fail to use the echo of God, and you turn your back on Him and spit on His gift to you. Well, that's one theory.
[[[These individuals - claiming to be Christian Dungeon Masters (now there is an oxymoron for you) - say that they create games where the spiritual environment is monotheistic and almost Judeo-Christian in nature.]]]
LOL, you are such a piece of work, you know that? Ah well, if YOU say so, if you say any DM can't be a "True" Christian, then I guess you'd know, since you certainly are seated at the right hand of the father. After all, we have your word on that, don't we? We should take you as gospel, shouldn't we? You're a joke, you know that? How could we not take the word of a 'loving zealot'? - (Now there is an oxymoron for you).
[[[However, when asked if they talk about Jesus or the Bible in these "monotheistic" games, they acknowledge they do not.]]]
I've seen two games where one was openly monotheistic and Christian, in the name of Jesus, amen, amen, and another that was monotheistic and adhered to Christian or LG values, but did not mention JC by name but used a different name, lest it cause offense. BTW, FYI, I think that's exactly what C.S. Lewis did in Narnia. He just renamed the Christian god in form and name, but essentially it was JC in a different guise, only this was implied. I could be wrong, however, not being a literary expert on such matters.
Most D&D games, however, do not trivialize their real life faith by slapping it in a game, so they tend to dwell on fantasy mixed with real world philosophies, be they good, evil, or in between.
[[[Perhaps monotheism is an improvement over polytheism, but as was mentioned above, there are many good monotheistic religions that will lead a goodhearted person to hell.]]]
Honestly, I wouldn't even conclude you are a goodhearted person, given your intolerance and eager willingness to send people on their way to hell to their 'just' punishment, amen, amen. I wonder if you have a "True" Christian bone in your body. You seem completely lacking in mercy, understanding, empathy, or forgiveness, and the only love you seem to show is your love of condemning others and you only seem intent on vengeance, which is yours, sayeth, apparently, you.
[[[A spiritual world created without Jesus and His gospel is still a spiritual danger because it leads people away from the truth.]]]
I don't agree. It doesn't lead them away from anything. To do that, it would be necessary for the game to insist you give up or deny your Christian faith in order to play it. It doesn't, nor does it do anything remotely similar to that. It's a game.
[[[Make no mistake about it, magic and sorcery ARE spiritual.]]]
Who says so? D&D arcane magic is quite akin to real world science, but rather than technologies and the useful flow of energy confined to this plane of existence, it uses the power of the mind to establish the useful flow of energies unbounded by this one plane of existence. It need only have a spiritual component if you insist it does. Turning on a light switch doesn't have this, and arcane magic doesn't require it either. Divine magic, on the other hand, is spiritually based, or at least, only entrusted to the spiritually enlightened.
[[[It does not matter if they are "make believe" magic or not.]]]
Sure it does.
[[[It is the mind that is the battleground. I just recently had a D&D player who professed Christ tell me that everything he did had Christ in it, because Christ lived in him, even as he was playing D&D. While that may be true of a Christian, the question needs to be asked: is Christ pleased with what His servant is doing?]]]
Understandably, God is omnipresence, so He must be in D&D. As for whether or not it pleases him, we don't know, apart from using our God-given intellect and talent and imagination to its fullest. But for those who lack these qualities in abundance, luckily, you are here to tell them what really pleases God. How lucky they are that you know, or can interpret things we cannot see for ourselves. Praise Saint William!
[[[Magic, at its root, is about power and about rebellion. It is about not liking how God runs the universe and thinking you can do a better job yourself.]]]
Much like science, I guess. Not satisfied God did not give us wings, we go ahead and invent an airplane. Much like needing air, we go ahead and go into outer space anyway, an airless void, where Man was never 'meant' to be. Much like wanting to live as long as possible, we go ahead and develop medicines rather than let God-created viruses and bacteria sound our death knell. We transplant organs, or exchange blood, or, gasp, even use animal parts within ourselves. We even shelter ourselves from God's weather in things not necessarily made by God, like natural caves, but Mad-made structures, and we cover God's handiwork with clothing since it would be offensive to God to do otherwise, or something like that. The important point is, how dare Man advance beyond the Stone Age?
How dare Man fend off God's natural creation? Why, only by using his God-given talents to do so, and these include his imagination and intellect. And yes, it is about control, after a fashion, but not about rebellion. We like, or at least accept our lot, and strive on under the auspices of eating from the tree of knowledge - our gift, or our curse, who can say? But it is ours now, and this is the wisdom to see good and evil and make the appropriate choices. If we cannot see evil, how can we choose to avoid it?
I do not subscribe to the notion the Devil would, or needs to trick Man, but merely would offer Man a clear choice. That's assuming you like theological considerations.
For example, who would you be more severe with in your punishment - a child who was NOT tricked but made a clear choice to harm others, or the one who was lied to and mislead and ended up unintentionally harming others?
True evil isn't about being misled, but is rather about our choices we deliberately make, despite the harm it may do others. Evil is about not caring for the pain of others - not being ignorant of it. Evil is many things I won't go into here, but it is not merely about acting in good faith on bad information. I know I don't speak for the Devil - or God - the way you apparently do, but if I were Satan and wanted truly evil souls, they'd have to do the wrong thing of their own volition, knowing it was wrong, but doing it anyway. One would think a God of love could forgive nearly anything else. And if I were a loving God, I wouldn't condemn one for being mislead, but only for choosing evil over good, knowing full well the difference but making that choice for evil anyway. Not simply because Satan tricked them. But that's me, and I claim no divine insight.
[[[We are saying that being exposed to all these ideas of magic to the degree that the game requires cannot but help have a significant impact on the minds of the players, no matter if they are Christian or unbeliever, and no matter what the "template."]]]
[[[This is not just chess, football or bridge.]]]
Chess is a bloody game of battle and war. Football is just modern warriors on the battlefield. And cards, well, aren't all cards evil? Some Christians will tell you so, and might even say God personally told them.
Me? I think needlessly hurting others is evil, and playing cards or football or chess, or even D&D, is not evil, nor must it lead to evil. What's more, I've never seen any proof it leads to even a greater risk of evil.
What I see is a game of intellect and imagination, a game of creativity and cooperation, and a game of social, moral, ethical, and philosophical concerns that can only serve to present choices to people, particularly youngsters who are just beginning to think for themselves, and give them pause to think about such lofty matters they might not otherwise think about. I see a chance to learn under the protection of a game where the consequences are not so real, dire, or permanent. And I see, like EVERYTHING in this world, it works fine for 99.99%+ of the people who use it, and only hate filled fear mongers feel the need to attack it on the basis you do.
[[[It is a game with a distinct and seductive spiritual world view that is diametrically opposed to the Bible.]]]
No it's not. At worst, it's dramatically opposed to one narrow Biblical interpretation which suggests anything that isn't rabidly speaking of Christianity is therefore actively against it. With me, or against me. No other choice. The world is not like that, I'm happy to say, even if there are minor exceptions when fools force those decisions on you now and again.
We have many, many choices. Who and what we are and will become isn't dependent so much on our abilities, but upon our choices. But to become who we must become, we must first have these choices and experiences and choose for ourselves - not let others choose for us or tell us what the truth is, but to see for ourselves, as we must. This is what God has given us, if you are a believer, and to not use it would be the greatest insult.
[[[Yes, sorcery appears in the Bible. But it is NEVER in the context of a good thing to do.]]]
Oh, I don't know. I'd say most of what Moses did constitutes divine sorcery or magic, and the three wise men (astrologers) who came to worship Jesus (since there astrology suggested JC was a king of kings) were held up as quality examples or wisdom to be followed.
[[[Why would a Christian wish to involve themselves in such a game?]]]
Probably because the Bible doesn't say people can't have fun or shouldn't have fun, and D&D is fun. It only says to avoid certain things, probably with very good tried and true socially tested rules - like some of the Ten Commandants, and perhaps even a more all encompassing idea, like an adherence to the Golden Rule. Do unto others, as you would have others to unto you.
NOTE: Actually, the golden rule is a philosophy, and not a religion, since it makes no appeals to divine beings, though most modern Christians would say they ascribed to its tenants, even if in actual practice they didn't. For example, they may believe themselves to be good Christians by trying to get prayer into public schools, but in fact they are violating the golden rule since they likely wouldn't wish others to force them to pray as those others saw fit to other gods or other denominations, through force of arms or rule of law, and therefore they shouldn't be willing to try to force others to do the same. If they do, they break the golden rule and demonstrate their hypocrisy. The separation of church and state is, after all, just one simple application of the golden rule. But I digress.
And thus, since playing D&D in no way runs a greater danger than most other things in today's society, most people can handle it, and most people will make good choices.
Finally, contrary to your high holy and exalted opinion, you are not the arbiter of who is a "True" Christian, and in my opinion, many Christians play and enjoy this great game and partake of this great hobby and enjoy it to its fullest with their Christian and non-Christian friends - though I suspect you would claim if they freely associate with any non-Christian, then they aren't "True" Christians to begin with.
Your foolishness aside, the fact it's a fun game that doesn't hurt anyone is why a Christian would want to involve themselves in such a game. And lest you continue to claim D&D does hurt others, I say this is not the case, even if occasionally people hurt other people, and some of them might have played D&D first - after first drinking water, of course. The game, in and of itself, doesn't hurt others, or encourage players to hurt others at all, any more than drinking water does.
Sadly, not requiring any proof of your allegations, I'm sure you and a few like you will take great comfort in sitting back and labeling such people as demonized, not "True" Christians, or even saying I'm the Devil himself, luring youngsters into my diabolical traps, all while gleefully rubbing your hands together in joyous rapture and glorious anticipation as you envision D&D players all roasting in hell, as they so 'rightly' deserve since they didn't believe in YOU and YOUR word! That'll show 'em! It does seem to be the way people like you get your jollies. But who knows, maybe you're just that confused and you may yet achieve a more enlightened state.
May God be with you, bless you, and keep you, and above all, teach you that you do not speak in His name, nor rightfully sit in judgment of others. Judge not, lest you be judged, and all that jazz.
As for the rest of all Christians on the whole, I'm fairly confident most of them don't ascribe to William Schnoebelen's limited and narrow POV, and are, in fact, "True" and loving Christians, despite what William says, even if they do play D&D.
Ultimately, however, you should decide for yourself, and not rely on any one person's opinion. To do otherwise is to be less than a person, in my honest opinion.
Homo Ludus - The Gaming Man ;-)
© June of 2003
James L.R. Beach
Waterville, MN 56096