An Exegesis of Eternal Sonata [Part 1 – Plot Summary]

[In the “exegesis” series of articles, I hope to look more in depth into one particular video game in an attempt to decipher the game’s worldview and the messages which the game sells to its audience.  These are not intended to be game reviews.  The first game which I would be looking at is the PS3 version of Eternal Sonata.]

Due to the significant confusion regarding the ending of Eternal Sonata, this first article serves only to explain the game’s main story.  Lord willing, we will get to discuss the following in subsequent articles:

Part 2 – Metaphysics of Eternal Sonata
Part 3 – Commentary on Man and Society
Part 4 – Themes of Sacrifice and Redemption.

Needless to say, WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERZ AHEAD!!!  Do not read on if you have not played Eternal Sonata but intend to.  [Single playthrough takes around 30-40 hours.  Two playthroughs are necessary to fully unlock all features of the game.]

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[Much of this article is based on the work of Kenimaru and wonderKNIGHT, who transcribed and translated Bandai Namco’s Official Guide unto the gamefaq forums.  Click here for link to primary source.  For a more chronological telling of the story, check out the Wikia site for Eternal Sonata.]

It is Paris in the evening of 16 Oct 1849, and Frederic Chopin lies asleep but dying of tuberculosis. Frederic dreams and enters his own dream, fully aware that he is dying and that he is in his own dream (think inception).  The official guide seems to suggest that Frederic has been having this same dream thousands of times before, but this is the only time in which he enters his own dream as a character within the dream.

Frederic lies asleep (and dying) in Paris

Frederic is introduced to the protagonists of his dream, and they embark on a good versus evil quest against Count Waltz, the main antagonist of the dream.  Polka, the main protagonist, is a 14 year-old girl, and she is a manifestation of Frederic’s memories of his sister Emilia, who died at age 14.  Similarly, Polka is destined to die before she turns 15.  It is also suggested that all the major characters are different manifestations of Chopin or his memories.

Frederic meets Polka for the first time.

Initially, Frederic was intrigued by this motley crew but remains fully aware that this is his own dream.  However as their adventure progressed, Frederic finds himself caring more and more about these characters within this dream, and soon he questions whether he is able to tell apart dream from reality.

The XB360 cast of playable characters. The PS3 version includes 2 additional characters.

At the end of the game, after Count Waltz has been defeated, Frederic gives an ultimatum to his companions – they are to fight him in battle.  If they are unable to defeat him, this proves that this world was indeed but a dream, Frederic wakes up in real life, and the world of Eternal Sonata disappears forever (this is one possible ending).  However, should his companions be able to defeat him in battle, Frederic dies in real life Paris.

Frederic challenges his companions to battle him

However, even after Frederic’s defeat, the world was still scorched and dead.  Polka, understanding the role she has to play, throws herself off a cliff.  This is when the game reveals that the world of Eternal Sonata is on a never-ending 10 year loop.  At the end of each loop, Polka, who is some kind of divinely appointed sacrificial saviour,  throws herself off a cliff and this act restores the world by resetting it back to what it was 10 years ago. Polka, now a 4 year-old child, falls from the sky into the arms of Solfege, her “mother”.  According to the guide, Solfege is aware of Polka’s fate due to divine prophecies which had been revealed to her.

Polka remembers her mother just before she throws herself off the cliff.

However, this time round, due to the presence of Frederic, this loop was broken.  The explanation for this discontinuation is complex.  Apparently, the reason Polka had to die was because Frederic’s memory of Emilia (whom Polka was ‘based upon”) only existed up to when she was 14 years old.  It was not possible for Polka to live beyond 14, as the reality of the dreamworld was determined by Frederic’s experienced reality (i.e. his memory of Emilia in real life).  However, after Frederic had walked through his dream as a character within his dream, Frederic’s “experienced reality” is no longer confined to just the “real world”, but also includes his dreamworld.  Interestingly, the guide writes that Frederic does not reject the “real world” but considers them both to be equally true realities.  As a result (quoting from the official guide), “life doesn’t have only one form” and Emilia can “continue to live on in Frederic”.  Polka’s condition that she has to die at 14 has been lifted, and the cycle has been broken.

The 4 year old Polka floats up into the sky, and emerges 14 year-old again to the companions whom she had just departed from.  Upon touching the ground, the earth restores its color and flourishes with life again.  The in-dream Frederic appears to have lived on despite dying in real life as he is clearly seen amongst the companions receiving Polka’s return.  In Paris, a “spirit” Frederic rise from his body plays the piano, while Delfina Potocka sings to the music.  The ending credits also depict Frederic playing the same piece on the piano “in-dream”.

Polka returns to her companions. Notice that the land has been restored and is flourishing with life.

There are at least 2 possibilities to the fate of “in-dream” Frederic: he could have continued living as a character within this dream, or he could have become some God-like entity (he appears to be the one responsible for restoring the 4-year old Polka to 14 years old and delivering her back to her companions.)  Whatever the case, it appears that Frederic (and the dreamworld) continues to exist despite his death in “real life”.  The metaphysical implications here are significant, and would be explored further in Part 2.

After his death, “spirit” Frederic plays the piano in Paris while Delfina Potocka sings to the music.  This is probably best understood as Frederic “living on” in Potocka’s heart.

Eternal Sonata is a game set on a unique premise, and attempts an extremely ambitious resolution to its story.  Many gamers believe that the game designers overboard and crafted a totally incoherent story.  I wouldn’t go that far, but I must admit that without the Official Guide, the ending is totally confusing and indecipherable  Perhaps that too was intentional – after all, the central theme of Eternal Sonata is that “reality is what you believe it to be”.

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Appendix – Obscure Musical References

All the names of people and places in Eternal Sonata are taken from musical terms or musical instruments.  The musical terms (Allegretto, Ritardando, etc.) should be familiar to folks with some background in classical music, but some of the musical instruments (particularly the percussion instruments) can be quite obscure.  Here’s an explanation of some of the more obscure references:

Agogo

Agogos / Agogo Forest / Agogo Village – An agogo is a bell-like percussion instrument of African origin.  It usually has two tones, and is hit using a drumstick.  Used often in samba music.

Cabasa

Cabasa Bridge – A traditional African Cabasa was made with beads strung around a dried gourd.  The modern cabasa is made using chains of steel balls wrapped around a wide metal cylinder.  It produces a rattling sound when shaken or twisted.

Celesta

Celesta Forest – A Celesta is a keyboard instrument which looks and plays just like a piano.  Unlike a piano, it does not produce sound from vibrating strings, but metallic bars instead.  It sounds like tiny bells, and is similar to another percussion instrument, the Glockenspiel.

Claves

Claves – A pair of claves is are two wooden dowels which are held by the hands (shown right).  Minimalist composer Steve Reich wrote a famous piece for only 5 pairs of claves – Music for Pieces of Wood. (youtube link)

Cowbells

Cowbell Heights – Apparently Americans are familiar with cowbells due to a meme from Saturday Night Live.  It’s named after the bells which used to be tied underneath cows’ necks for herdsman to keep track of their whereabouts.  They are usually played with a drumstick.

Double Reed of an Oboe

Double Reed Tower – A double reed is the main sound producing part of certain woodwind instruments such as the Oboe, Bassoon, and the Cor Anglais (English Horn). It is made from two pieces of cane, as opposed to the single reed (made from one piece) of clarinets and saxophones.

Mr Hanon

Hanon Hills – Charles-Louis Hanon wrote a very famous set of piano exercises, The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises, which has become the most widely used piano exercises in the world.

Mandolin

Mandolin Church – I once thought the Mandolin (a type of lute) was played only during the Renaissance, but apparently they are still quite popular today.  See this youtube clip for some famous anime music played by marimbas (my favourite instrument) and a mandolin orchestra.

Wah-wah Mute for Trumpet

Wah Lava Cave – “Wah” probably refers to the wah-wah mute of brass instruments.  It is stuffed into the bell of the brass instrument and the player can cover and open the hole at the end of the mute to produce a “wah wah” sound.  Electric guitars also have wah-wah pedals to produce a similar effect.

Woodblock

Woodblock Groves – A woodblock looks like a simple percussion instrument, but it is carefully engineered to provide the most resonance and volume.  A good woodblock produces a loud “thock” sound instead of a “thud” sound.  Woodblocks break easily when played too hard, and a broken woodblock produces a cracking sound.

What My Gaming Envy Says About Me

These may be the most difficult admissions I will ever make on this blog:

These are some of the games which I have played but never completed: Bioshock, Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, Oblivion, Braid, Half-Life, The Longest Journey, Secret of Monkey Island, Psychonauts.

These are some the games which I own, but never played (even once): Metal Gear Solid 2-4, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect (all), Portal 2, Planescape Torment, GTA 4, Half-life 2, Arkham Asylum/City, Crysis (both), ICO/Shadow of Colossus, Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls, Bastion, Chrono Trigger, FF6, Beyond Good & Evil, Star Wars: KOTR, Devil May Cry (all), Max Payne (all), Fallout (2 to New Vegas).

These are some the games which I neither own nor played: Persona (all of them), Minecraft, Zelda, Skyrim, Silent Hill (all), Resident Evil (all), Starcraft (all), FF Tactics, Suikoden (all), all Mario games after SMB3, MMORPGS, and pretty much all PS2, PSP, X-box or 360 exclusives.

Quite possibly I have reduced my gamer credibility to zilch, so what’s the point in my admitting these?

One reason why I didn’t play so many important games was that I missed out on the entire PS2/XBox console generation (college, but that’s not the only reason).  Even when I got my PS3, it was already 5 years into the current-gen.  The more I read from gaming websites and the more new games are released over time, the more my list of “games which I just have to play” grew and grew.  Soon it became apparent, being a working adult and all, that I’ll probably never have enough time to play this entire list of games.

And then I got sad.

At this rate, I may never get to play Bioshock Infinite =(

Hold up, let’s examine why exactly I’m upset, and what this reveals about myself and my motivations for playing video games:  I’m upset because I don’t want to miss out on videogame experiences which have been widely recognized by the gaming community as the best experiences videogames have to offer.  I want to go through and experience these experiences for myself too.  But what really is the value of these experiences?  Why are these experiences so desirable to me? Is it because:

  1. These experiences are so inherently valuable that my I cannot live my life without them?  If so, then gaming crosses the boundary into idolatry.  The only thing that I cannot live my life without is Christ.
  2. I just don’t want to miss out on experiences which other people have already enjoyed.  In other words, what other folks already have but I don’t, I must also have.  Is this not greed, covetousness and envy?
  3. I know that I cannot be seriously considered a gamer if I haven’t had these gaming experiences under my belt.  In other words, I don’t want to be looked down upon by the gaming community for my lack of key experiences.  Is this not vanity?

On further reflection, it should actually be a blessing to have missed out of some of these gaming experiences, just like it should actually be a blessing that as someone with a job, I have very limited hours in a week to game.  Theoretically, this means that my gaming choices ought need to be more critical and selective.  It’s like you’re given an large spread to choose from for a meal, you would want to skip out on the junk food and go only for the quality stuff.  Theoretically I should, on average, be having gaming experiences which are of greater quality, meaning and significance compared to other regular gamers.

Well, theoretically that is.  More often than not, I find myself playing the kind of game which I have an impulse to play at that point in time.  That’s revealing, because it shows that I’m not responsibly engaging video games, and I game primarily for self-indulgent purposes.  I hope this can change.  One reason why I started this blog is to explore the concept of how we, as Christian gamers, can pursue gaming in a way which is less about self-indulgence, and more about glorifying God.  Hopefully, we can discuss these things in greater detail soon.

For a start, I should learn to be content with what gaming experiences I have, and what I don’t.  Similarly, I need to be content with the limitations of my time which prevent me to have the kind of exhaustive gaming experience which I might desire, but is in no way truly necessary.  Only Christ is truly necessary.  And this lesson of contentment is in itself a blessing by the grace of God.  May God be magnified in all I do, be it in my moments of victory or in my shortcomings.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

(1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV)

[Addendum: This article from Rowan Kaiser discusses something similar from a game writer’s perspective.]

Spec Ops: The Line and the Depravity of Virtual Killing

I’ve almost had the experience of Spec Ops: The Line spoiled by reading too many reviews before I started playing the game, so before you go any further, I beseech you to stop reading this article if you haven’t played Spec Ops: The Line.  Not just because there will be spoilers up ahead (which there will be plenty), but rather this is the one game I really think all serious gamers should play through once (even if like myself, you don’t really play shooters). And to get the most out of this game, every gamer should walk into this game as free from expectations as possible (i.e. stop reading those reviews!!).  [Note: Campaign takes about 6-8 hours to complete]

[But just in case: WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERZ ALERT!!!!! The rest of the article also assumes the reader is familiar with all the story of the game, including its ending.]

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In the climatic ending of the story, I had to choose between shooting Konrad or shooting myself, and I had only 5 seconds to choose.  This choice reminded me of the ending of the movie Memento, and the choice the protagonist, Leonard (played by Guy Pearce), had to make.  As a Christian, I cannot do what Leonard did in Memento – I cannot continue to deceive myself after knowing the truth, even though self-deception was in my best interest.  All truth is God’s truth; and I deserve the consequences of my actions, even if self-denial presents itself as an attractive alternate path.  After 5 seconds, Konrad shot me.  Later I would find out that the ending I experienced was only 1 out of 4 possible endings, and I missed out on the epilogue (which included the other 3 endings).  But reading through the other 3 endings, I was convinced I chose the most dignified ending.  I had enough.  No more killing for me, not after what I now know.

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Is that me? Why do I look like I’m the bad guy?

As mentioned earlier, my experience with Spec Ops was almost spoiled by reading too many reviews.  You’ve probably heard much regarding what Spec Ops would be like before playing the game.  And like me, you’ve probably heard that Spec Ops is about making the player feel bad about killing people (and that’s not untrue).  So, being the artsy game buff that I am, I was eager to play through Spec Ops and experience all this moral anguish.  In fact, I even knew when those moments of anguish were going to come: a white phosphorous scene, having to choose between two individuals to execute, inadvertently destroying Dubai’s remaining water supply, etc.

The problem was, when I actually reached those story moments, I didn’t actually feel bad.  I didn’t feel morally torn.  If anything, I felt frustrated and indignant.  In the Riggs mission, I was intentionally seeking a way out of destroying the water, but the game didn’t let me.  It wasn’t my fault if the people of Dubai had to die of thirst; it was the game designers who forced me to do so!  I even felt indignant and unrepentant after the white phosphorous scene – like seriously, stop showing me a dead mother and child.  When war happens, death happens, and I didn’t have a choice.  (Little did I know that this was precisely the reaction the game designers wanted players to feel)

Casting Irony – Capt Walker is voiced by Nolan North, the same voice behind Nathan Drake, arguably the most nonchalant mass murderer in video game history.  Yager states that North was casted due to his ability and versatility as a voice actor, not for any other reasons.

What saved the game for me was the final 30 minutes: the deaths of Lugo and Adams, the two companions who walked with me through this living hell but whom I ultimately let down, and the great reveal at the end – when I realized that I had let my own self down.  However, it wasn’t until after it occurred to me that some of the dialogue was intended to speak through the fourth wall (particularly, the weird quip about “doing this before” in the helicopter chase) did I appreciate the genius of the game developers, and how some game reviewers came close but missed the point.  The ultimate commentary of Spec Ops was not regarding human depravity in war (although it had plenty to say about that), but rather it was about the self-absorbed hero complex of gamers who play shooters (that’s you and me!), and how our desire to kill for entertainment purposes, even if it’s just virtual killing, is no less sick and depraved.

But if we take that argument all the way, it’s not just shooters.  It’s any kind of video game when the protagonist kills, be it hack-&-slashers, platformers or RPGs.  (Maybe even space invaders may not be exempt – just joking.)  Aren’t we all a little sick and depraved by treating virtual murder so lightly and intentionally engaging in it for hours for entertainment’s sake?

Before folks start to think I’m trying to pursue some argument that video games result in violence – I’m not going there.  Nor am I going to argue for video game pacifism   That really isn’t my point.  My point is whether as gamers we have gone through critical self-reflection on why we enjoy killing in video games, and if there are detrimental effects to our soul for doing this, whether or not we should pursue it any further.

Walt Williams, the writer of Spec Ops, explains:

“we weren’t trying to make people feel bad about playing shooters, although that certainly is one reaction people are having. Our goal was simply to make people think—about the games the play and the reasons they play them.”

I do think we need to think and reflect more critically about why we play videogames.  If the only reason why we play is so that we can give ourselves a self-indulgent trip in faux-heroism, then how could that be a motivation glorifying to God? Playing videogames has to be like any other earthly activity – either we do it to the glory of God, or we don’t do it at all.  How then can we play videogames to the glory of God?  Is that even possible?  That’s a discussion for another time.  Until then, I’ll leave you with the words of Colonel Konrad:

“The truth is, you’re here to feel like something you’re not….a hero”

NBA Live and the Christian Life

I read about the cancellation of NBA Live 13 with much sadness, although I wasn’t planning on getting that game in the first place.  As a basketball junkie, NBA simulations have always been a big part of my gaming life, and for close to a decade (2000-2008), the NBA Live series (made by EA Sports) dominated my gaming hours (I owned the 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2006 iterations of NBA Live, all on PC).  I was in college when I got myself a copy of NBA Live 2004 and realized my laptop didn’t meet the minimum specs requirement  I asked my roommate if he would allow me to install the game on his PC and let me play on it when he wasn’t using it.  He foolishly agreed, and I ended up playing NBA Live 2004 late into the night. Despite my use of headphones, the furious tapping on the keyboard prevented my roommate from sleeping well.  After a few such evenings, he password-locked his PC.  Clearly, he loved me as much as I loved him.

My last NBA Live game (2006) was my first encounter with a simulated slam dunk competition.  After some experimentation, I found that the most ridiculous dunk that I could pull off started off like this: First the player palms the basketball in one hand and does a one-handed-cartwheel.  At the end of the cartwheel, the player gathers his feet and leaps.  While airborne and holding the ball in his right hand, he transfers the ball between his legs to left hand.  Then, in a scissor-like motion, he switches his legs – the right leg kicks back while the left leg kicks front.  Then, he transfers the ball a second time between the legs, this time from the left hand to the right hand.  All of this happens while the player was still in the air. Finally, he dunks.  This elaborate maneuver was certain to gain you the full 50 points for the dunk contest.  Also, this dunk was physically impossible to carry out in real life.

Not even Josh Smith could do this dunk in real life

And this perhaps was why I loved playing NBA Live so much.  It was a game with so much flair, so much style, and just so many dunks.  It was easy to play NBA Live games – you just needed to pass to a player with a high enough dunk rating, dribble near the hoop, press the dunk button, and you’ll do an awesome dunk (followed up by a replay).  It didn’t matter how many defenders there were.  It was also a pretty poor simulation of real life basketball, but I didn’t care. Dunking was so fun!

Not available for the PC 😦

In 2008, I was looking forward to getting NBA Live 2009 when I heard the dreadful news that there wasn’t going to be a PC version.  It turns out that the only PC basketball game on the market was NBA 2K9 (a competitor game produced by rival company 2K Sports), which was incidentally the first PC version of the NBA 2K series.  Devoid of a choice and feeling like a traitor, I bought, installed and tried out NBA 2K9.

The adjustment was difficult at first;  it was so difficult to dunk! If I attempted to dribble or pass into the painted area my ball would likely get stolen.  When I did manage to get the ball down low, my dunk attempt would get blocked more often than not.  And I kept losing games!  This was a totally new experience for me as a basketball gamer.  No more easy dunks.  No more winning games effortlessly.  For the first time in my basketball gaming life, I needed to think strategically about how to score or risk losing the game.

Dunking in NBA 2K9 – happens much less often than what the promotional screenshots would have you believe.

It took me around 3 weeks to climb the learning curve of NBA 2K9.  I realized I should only pass to a teammate if there wasn’t an opponent in between us.  I shouldn’t shoot the ball if there was an opponent in front of me, even if I’m close to the basket.  I needed to use the pick-and-roll to get a teammate free from his defender.  Then it occurred to me, this was exactly how real life basketball was meant to be played!  Despite the fact that I can’t dunk at will (and even when I did dunk it was less exciting than the exaggerated dunks of NBA Live), NBA 2K was a much more faithful basketball simulation than NBA Live.  And soon, I began to enjoy that.  I enjoyed engaging the use of my brain and utilizing real basketball tactics to score.  I enjoyed knowing that when I scored the basketball it was because I worked for it instead of it being gifted to me.  And most of all, I enjoyed NBA 2K because it felt in many ways like playing real basketball.  Thereafter, I was a fully converted NBA 2K fan, and I never looked back.  I have bought and put in significant gaming hours into NBA 2K9, 2K10, 2K11, 2K12 (on the Playstation 3) and I currently have the PS3 2K13 on pre-order.

Around the same time when I changed my basketball gaming preferences from the more arcade-y NBA Live series to the more realistic NBA 2K series, I was also changing my understanding of what the Christian life was supposed to be.  For the first couple of years as a Christian, God was someone who appeared in my life working awesome miracles such as the healing of the sick, or the way he divinely intervened by sending someone my way when I was at the lowest point of my fight with depression.  God’s presence was this awesome emotional sensation when you close your eyes, sing very loudly and raise your hands in church.  God was present when “two or more are gathered” to pray for each other, and we feel spiritual in the process.  God was in the clearly in spiritual and supernatural experiences in my life.  I was living the Christian life like playing NBA Live – it was about the thrills that take my breath away, the experience of emotional peaks, the punctuation marks which reveal the super-ordinary.

But apart from those moments of spiritual high, God wasn’t really present in my mundane everyday life.  God wasn’t there when I had to wash the dishes.  He wasn’t there when I was idling in front of my computer at work or when I was talking and interacting with people in my life, such as my family, colleagues and friends.  Back then, I was theologically savvy enough to articulate that there was no such a thing as a secular-sacred divide, but that was precisely how I was living my life.  God only appears in the “sacred” moments, and disappears in my “secular” moments.   I wasn’t really sure how else to live my life.  It’s not my fault that God doesn’t show up when I’m typing stuff on the computer, right?

God’s not in this image and that’s not my fault.

It was around that time when Singapore began to be influenced of the “young, restless and reformed” movement in the US.  A good Christian brother gave me two CDs of John Piper’s sermons to listen.  I was introduced to the Gospel Coalition and T4G.  D.A. Carson and Paul Tripp came to Singapore and I attended their talks.  We started studying “The Gospel Centered life” (by World Harvest Mission) in my small group.  Most significantly, my church decided to hire two young pastors who just graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (quite possibly the only SBTS graduates based in Singapore) who invested their lives into teaching and discipling me.

Just like my initial switch from NBA Live to NBA 2K, I was uneasy with all these changes in my Christian life.  As a leader of a small group of young adults, I wondered if our new pastor was being legalistic by making all of us doing a serious study of the Bible every small group session.  Some of my small group members were not pleased; they found it too academic, too boring, and “not meeting their needs”.  I had some members leave my small group.  It was sometimes a painful experience.

Yet at the same time, I had an increasing sense that I was moving towards something more genuine than what I previously practiced.  I stared to see how the gospel works and shapes more and more of my everyday life, even the mundane parts.  I work because God requires me to be submissive to my earthly authorities, demands me to be diligent and beyond reproach, and calls me to be a witness for him in the workplace .  I do the dishes because I love my family and want to serve them.  The people whom I have relationships with are opportunities to display God’s love and grace, just as God had first loved and shown grace to me.  I was starting to see how God can be glorified in each and every moment of our lives, and not just in the big, awesome supernatural moments.  Even though I stumble and fail so often, I was starting to see what I previously could not see – what a truly authentic Christian life looks like.  The Christian life was becoming less like NBA Live and more like NBA 2K – it requires harder and more consistent effort, the exclamation points don’t feel as thrilling anymore, but this is a more authentic, more genuine, more true, way.  And it is the better way.

As much as I love playing NBA 2K, it pales in comparison to the enjoyment and the satisfaction I get from playing basketball in real life in a real court with real people.  At the end of the day, NBA 2K, despite how close it comes to mimicking the real thing, is but a simulation and not the real thing.  In the same way, this life I lead now, despite the glimpses of God’s glory that by grace my eyes have been opened to see, is but a fore-shadow of the pure joy and satisfaction of the life I will lead when Christ comes again.  For in this life we are imperfect reflections of God – made in His image but corrupted by Adam’s sin.  But there will come a day when all trace of sin’s corruption will be purged, and we will become perfect reflections of God, living life in limitless pure joy, enjoying God forever in his infinite glory.

Also, I may get to meet this guy there.

[Note: It is not the intention of this article to assert that only Calvinists or those from the Young, Restless, Reformed movement can live an authentic Christian life.  I believe many who claim to be from this tradition have failed to live an authentic Christian life, just as I believe many from outside this tradition have succeeded in doing so.]