1 Cor. 9:22 “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.”
“I’m now a level 13 Night Elf Druid in World of Warcraft,” I announced proudly to the administrative assistant in the office. She looked at me. That look. That, “WHAT did you just say?” look. Of course there are any number of reasons for such a look. There’s the “Level 13 is not anything to be proud of, you dork” reason or the “It’s not exactly a new game, you cave troll” reason. But those didn’t seem to be it.
If I had to guess, I would say it was the “But you’re the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bible Society” reason. Never mind that 9 million people play the online game worldwide. Certain things don’t mix, and learning that her boss is both United Methodist clergy and a Night Elft Druid means that workman’s comp will probably have to pay her therapy bills.
Not that she’s alone. The prevailing wisdom in the church is that games like World of Warcraft are evil. On the Christian Right are those who oppose anything they perceive to promote witchcraft. Even the Wizard of Oz has fallen prey to the inexplicable logic which will allow Moses to raise a staff and bring down plagues on the Egyptians but would see Harry Potter and his wand burned at the stake.
But it’s not just the right wing. My friends and colleagues on the left prepare their silver stakes and garlic cloves because I’m doing something with the word “war” in the title. The right wing would allow me to battle demons as long as I didn’t use spells to do so. The left wing is not at all pleased with the way I wield my Gritroot staff to off the enemy. I should talk things out with Ursal the Mauler and not participate in the culture of violence that is ruining our nation and our world.
Which is precisely the reason that Night Elf Druids have such issues with church, I tell my colleagues. For a faith whose central symbol is a means of violent and barbaric execution and whose adherents claim to either actually or symbolically eat the body and blood of Christ, Christians can come across as a tad bit hypocritical on such matters. One person’s violence is another’s salvation it appears to them. Magic or miracle seems only so much semantics to the typical Night Elf Druid.
In 25 years or so of PC gaming, I have found that, rather than being corrupted by such games, I play what I am. My Sims characters are a disturbing reflection of my actual life, soaring through professional challenges but completely dysfunctional with the Hot Date expansion pack. My civilizations always either win the space race or a cultural or diplomatic victory, even when I start a new one saying, “Okay, this time I’m going to build up a military and conquer the world.” I just don’t. I want to build the library.
My Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic characters glow with ever more Jedi goodness and have a horrible time making an evil decision—even when you have to pretend to be evil to finish the quest. And I simply won’t join the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion. The demonic hordes do fall before my Diablo Paladin with his Thorns aura, but better them than those who criticize my sermons. Virtual release can be a good thing.
These days, my World of Warcraft adventure rouses my inner mother as I discover that the fearsome level 11 druid who keeps wanting to group with me and who trusts me to keep him alive and tell him when it’s okay to join a guild shows all the signs of being a 13-year-old kid smitten with my lithe but deadly Night Elf persona. I suspect his mother might be quite relieved to know that, although her son is in a virtual world that she secretly worries may turn him into a real-life gang-loving Satan worshipper, he daily seeks the protection of the 48-year-old Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bible Society who wants nothing more than to see him safely to level 70.
Lord, help me to bring your light to all places and all people. Amen.
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Be sure to check out my books: Blowing the Lid Off the God-Box and God’s Top 10: Blowing the Lid Off the Commandments. Order now on Amazon.com or check local bookstores.