How Journey Showed Me Not Everyone Is A Jerk Online

JourneyAfter 15 minutes of playing Journey I met with my first ever journey companion. He/she didn’t seem to acknowledge my presence, and I didn’t want him/her to slow me down, so I went on ahead of him/her.  Shortly after, I got bored and stopped playing the game. It wasn’t until a few days ago, when the folks at Theology Gaming decided that we would discuss Journey in the upcoming podcast did I play Journey again, starting a new game.

It was a much different experience the second time round, when I finished the game in one setting. In an earlier level there was a scarf power-up which was difficult to reach. I managed to reach it before my companion did, and I encouraged my companion to get it by repeatedly showing him/her how I managed to jump high enough to reach the power-up. When my companion was finally successful, I let out several quick “chirps” to congratulate him/her, and he/she chirped several times in return.  This was a stranger, whom I have never played with before, and who I will likely never meet or play with again ever again.  Yet, for that brief moment, we shared a genuine moment of camaraderie – or at least I felt that we did.  I find it absolutely amazing that a videogame can accomplish this – get two strangers who have no incentive to help or encourage each other to willingly do so.

We are all familiar with how gamers can be jerks online. We’ve seen it in the comments section of gaming websites, in online forums, on twitter and facebook, and what we hear over our headphones in multiplayer games.  If you’re still not convinced, read Fat, Ugly or Slutty [warning: explicit language].  And this happens not just in the gaming circle, but in other websites and forums as well (e.g. sports, politics, etc).  There are just so many jerks online.  A good question to ask is: how did such behavior come about? In real life, we don’t have people hurling vulgarities and insults at strangers as we cross the street right?

Certainly, this is sin. In particular, I think, this is the sin of pride. We all have the tendency to put others down, because doing so makes as feel superior to those we have put down. We want to glorify ourselves by reducing the glory of others and by comparison, we look better. In typical human society, we emplace rules and norms to minimize such behavior – it’s uncivilized to behave in such a way, and transgressors will be shamed by collective society.  But in the online space, such rules and norms take no effect, and the anonymity of the internet grants the perpetrator safety.  There is also safety in numbers – when one sees a large number of jerk behaviors online, they are emboldened to be a jerk themselves.

jenova-chenSo I was more than a bit skeptical when I heard Jenova Chen’s interview with IGN, where he said that he designed Journey to be a game where multi-player is not about killing (competitively or cooperatively), but about players actually helping each other in non-violent ways. In another interview with Eurogamer (a highly recommended read), Chen expresses optimism that “gamers aren’t born ***holes, but games which make gamers into ***holes” – and Journey was the game which would prove that.

After playing through Journey, I must admit that Chen was right.  It did restore my faith in the humanity of gamers. When I was at the underground level, thinking I would face the giant flying monsters alone, a companion appeared who showed me how to hide from the monsters – when he/she had no incentive to do so.  When I was at the snowy mountain, a companion showed me how to hide behind stone tablets to shield myself from the wind, and even used his chirps to indicate to me when we should rush and when we should hide. He/she too had no incentive to do so. These companions were truly a comfort, and I could only imagine how much more I would have to struggle if I were to go through Journey alone, solo.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

(1 Thessalonians 5:11-15 ESV)

It did not escape me that Journey could be seen as a metaphor for the journey of the human life, or even the Christian life. But for me, it was most poignant as a metaphor for what it means to support one another in Christian fellowship. Like the companions I’ve met on my journey, a good brother or sister-in-Christ warns me when I head down the wrong path into danger, encourages me when I am weak, is patient with me when I fail, is invested in me and is eager to see me succeed, even though they have no incentive to do so. Indeed, is this not called love?

Because two is better than one.

Because two is better than one. (Eccl 4:9-11)

Journey has showed me that yes, gamers are indeed capable of being selfless humane individuals who would help another in need.  Gamers too are made in the image of God, and reflect some of God’s good nature, no matter how corrupted by sin and pride we can be.  But more importantly, Journey has reminded me of the importance of mutual encouragement among Christian brothers and sisters-in-Christ.  For the Christian life is not a race we run alone, but a race we run, locking arms with each other, pulling each other up when one is down, persevering together onward towards the goal.  Such is the nature of Christian fellowship.  Such is the nature of the Christian life.

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An Exegesis of To The Moon – Part 2: Love and Romance

[Part 1 here.]

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[Spoilers] A typical love story with a happy ending usually goes like this:boy meets girl.  They fall in love. They encounter obstacles. They overcome obstacles. They finally get together.  Happily ever after.  To The Moon tells a love story – but hardly a typical one.  Yes boy met girl. Yes they fell in love (at least the girl did). They encountered obstacles (like the boy forgetting the girl). They finally got together (and got married). But it wasn’t happily ever after. In fact, they never really overcame the initial obstacle, and the girl died with this obstacle unresolved.

Yet, To The Moon has a happy ending. An ending so moving that many have confessed to crying when they experienced it. What gives? What about the ending makes it so moving – and so romantic – when deep down inside we know that what we’re seeing is but an illusion, and the real River had already passed away never finding her fulfillment?

Certainly the science-fiction nature of the narrative has something to do with it.  I had come across similar science-fiction romantic stories where the science-fiction elements had messed with the usual romantic narrative, e.g. the Japanese films Love Letter and Be With You, the Korean film Il Mare (later re-made into The Lake House starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves), as well as the 1980 Christopher Reeve film, Somewhere in Time. [The Time Traveller’s Wife may qualify, but I haven’t seen the film or read the book].

I know I’m a little under-qualified to talk about romance, but I want to offer a counter-proposition: perhaps what makes a story romantic and moving is not necessarily the final outcome of the story, but rather how the beauty of a relationship between two individuals is revealed to the audience.  It is both the substance (i.e. the nature of the relationship) as well as the form (i.e. how masterfully it is revealed to the audience).  If this is true, then “happily ever after” is not what really makes for romance, but rather the realization of how beautiful a relationship is (or was) which makes for romance.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

(Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)

Momentary MarriageMy views of Christian romance, dating and marriage have been largely shaped by 4 books: I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Boy Meets Girl (both by Joshua Harris), What Did You Expect? (by Paul Tripp) and John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage (click here for free pdf).  From this tradition, we understand romance as part of (or working towards) marriage, and our earthly marriage as a symbol, a reminder, and a foretaste of the final and ultimate glorious marriage we would take part in – as the bride of Christ.

Perhaps this is the reason why our hearts are moved when we see a beautiful and intimate relationship revealed through a film, a book or a videogame.  At the end of To The Moon, when we see Johnny reach out and hold River’s hand as the moon comes into view, our hearts resonated with that scene, because when God created us, he designed us for romance.  We were all designed for the loving and intimate relationship – with Christ as our groom.

Previously, I have suggested that “happily ever after” isn’t what makes a narrative moving and romantic.  This has to be true in some sense, after all, surely all romantic couples know that eventually one day they must part – till death or divorce.  But yet, that is not true in another sense – our marriage to Christ is eternal. And that is truly happily ever after.

The Pragmatic Decisions of XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM Enemy UnknownOne of the most consistent themes through XCOM: Enemy Unknown – particularly through the game mechanics – is that decisions can be very costly.  The loadout of your squad members – should you bring a medikit, extra armour, or the arc thrower? How you level up your squad – should you choose the evasive ability or extra damage perk when your Assault soldier gets promoted to Sergeant?  Who you bring to missions – should you bring a veteren solider (who is more powerful but if killed sets you back severely) or a rookie solider (who is less powerful but would benefit from the experience)?  The missions you choose to take and thus, the missions you choose to forgo.  And even, how carefully you spend your money and your research and building options.  All these game decisions make a significant enough difference to determine mission success or failure; game victory or game over.  Decisions are costly.

Naturally, when decisions are costly, you end up calculating things down to each meticulous detail.  There is no room for naive ideology.  Each decision needs to be made by cold hard pragmatism.  I choose to mount a rescue mission in China instead of Canada because what China offered me was more helpful to me than what Canada offered.  I chose to help Brazil and not Australia because Brazil was closer to pulling out of the XCOM project, and I really needed their funding support.  It sounds cold, but it’s all for the greater cause.  I need every edge to help me succeed, because if I fail, Earth fails.

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Or so I thought. The point when I realized something had gone wrong with my pragmatic decision making was near the end game, where I had launched satellites to every country except France.  I had already constructed the last satellite and it is ready for launch – but I held back from launching. At this point of the game, I didn’t need the income and the funding from France. But I knew if later France became “hot” because I ignored a mission there, I can launch the satellite to make France favorable to me again. Perfectly pragmatic decision. Until I stopped to think – I am intentionally exposing the people of France to alien attacks because…of my own political gain? What had I become?

Dr Shen and Dr Vahlen

Dr Shen and Dr Vahlen – not the best of buddies.

Throughout the game Dr Shen and Dr Vahlen act as the angel and devil talking in your head about pragmatic decision making.  Dr Vahlen is excited whenever you uncover new technology which can gain you an edge over the Aliens.  Dr Shen is worried that we are losing are humanity, the more alien technology we adopt.  Even the grotesque alien autopsies and the interrogations (which all result in death of the alien) whisper the question: “do the ends justify the means?”  Yet, when faced with an alien threat, when your own survival seems to be at risk, was not the answer a resounding “yes?”

I’m a Singaporean.  We know something about pragmatism – it’s pretty much our country’s ideology.  Do whatever it takes to survive. If it works, then it’s right. It’s also what I think is a huge problem with churches in Singapore. The pragmatic church asks “How can I get more people to come to my church?” instead of “How can I build a faithful church community?” The pragmatic church says “If many people come to my church then we are doing something right” instead of asking “What does the Bible say about what church ought to be?” The pragmatic church is more concerned about making people feel comfortable than faithfully discipling believers to be more like Christ.  The pragmatic church values results more than faithful obedience.  

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:10 ESV)

[SPOILERS] At the end of XCOM, it was revealed that the aliens you were fighting were actually victims, who were abused by a more menacing alien race.  Did that make the player think twice about his previous interrogations (i.e. torture) of these poor abused aliens?  Probably not – he is probably thinking about the sequel, and how he will have to defend humanity against the more menacing alien presence.  The heart hardens and the justification never ends.

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The real victim – abused by other aliens, tortured and killed by humans.

That’s my real fear about the pragmatic church – where will they draw the line regarding pleasing God and not pleasing man?  Will the line keep shifting, will they keep justifying the means with the ends, until there is no line left at all? And if so, what would the consequence of that be?  Can a church justify itself out of heaven and into hell – until it can no longer be called a church?

What kind of church will we decide to be?  After all, decisions are costly.

An Exegesis of To The Moon [Part 1 – Memories and Forgetfulness]

To_the_Moon-launch-poster-medIf you have not yet played To The Moon – why haven’t you? It’s easily available on either Steam or GOG.com, it only takes about 4 hours to complete, runs pretty much on any computer, it’s inexpensive and worth every penny.  Trust me (and every critic who has reviewed the game) – go play it; it’s worth your time.  But in case you still don’t want to do so, be warned – MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.

My original intention was to do a single article on To The Moon, but despite its short length, the themes touched upon by the game were so deep and rich, I felt that it deserved a more detailed treatment.  Lord willing, we will discuss the following in Parts 2 to 4:

Part 2 – Love & Romance
Part 3 – Death & Mortality
Part 4 – Happiness & A Life Well Lived

***

I just got posted to a new high school this year and I’m still learning my new colleagues’ names. This morning I walked into class with a colleague as my co-teacher, and I said to the class: “Could you please greet Ms Melissa Goh and then greet me?”.  Ms Goh very gently turned to me and said, “erm…actually, my name is Michelle”.

It is embarrassing to forget things, particularly important things such as names.  Ever since I entered my 20s, my short term memory started to degenerate, and nowadays I can hardly remember any task which I do not ask my phone to remind me (Thank God for technology!).  I sometimes wondered if one day I would get married and consistently forget about my (hypothetical) wife’s birthday, our anniversary, or how we first met.  That would be more than just embarrassing – that would be heartbreaking.

[FINAL WARNING – MASSIVE SPOILERS ALERT]

In To The Moon, Johnny Wyles forgot a very precious memory.  It wasn’t his fault – his memory loss was induced upon him by drugs administered to him.  But the fact remains that Johnny Wyles forgot how he first met River, the woman he would later marry.  This tragedy was further compounded by River’s condition (some form of autism or Asperger’s), as she never realized that he had forgotten until they had been married for several years (maybe decades).  This must present the uncomfortable question to River – who was this man that she married, if the various things she held dear (such as the platypus and the lighthouse) never held the same significance to Johnny?  If she did not marry the man she thought she had married – does this not make the marriage void?  Later on (chronologically), River was dying, but she refused treatment in order that the house next to the lighthouse could be built – if her husband would not remember, she would rather not live (more about this in Part 4).

River asks Johnny if he remembers a rabbit with a yellow belly - he doesn't.

River asks Johnny if he remembers a rabbit with a yellow belly. He doesn’t.

Much in the same way, is our relationship with God.  Our relationship with God is built upon what God had done for us.  Most of us had experienced how God had delivered us from points of downfall in our lives – perhaps some of these experiences are precisely why we are Christian today.  Aside from our experiences, there is also knowledge of what God had done in order to secure our salvation and our blessings – the work of Christ on the cross.  Yet all too easily, we fail to remember.  We fail to remember when we get preoccupied with the daily grind.  We fail to remember when we get preoccupied with our current obstacles and conflicts.  We fail to remember when other people sin against us and we feel the need to vent.  We fail to remember how much God had done for us.  We fail to remember our infinite indebtedness  to God.  We fail to remember to be grateful.  We fail to remember that our purpose is to live for God.  We fail to remember the cross.  We fail to remember Christ.

“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed” – Samuel Johnson

It is not too far a stretch to say that forgetfulness is the primary reason why we as Christians continue to struggle with sin.  We have already tasted the goodness of Christ.  We have already obtained salvation by faith.  We already have the hope of future glory. Yet our flesh continues to tempt us with worldly desires and self-preoccupation.  So tempted are we, that we forget what we have tasted, what we have obtained, what we have to hope for.  How amazing then is the grace of God, that time and time again He would draw us back to Him when we forget Him, instead of just letting us get what we deserve for deserting Him.

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Memories and mementos are the central motif of To The Moon; this is emphasized even in the game mechanics – a memento needs to be “activated” each time before the game can advance to the next “level”.  In the same way, our remembrance of God, particularly what had been done for us at the cross, should be the central motif of our lives. But to push aside the self-centered clutter of our daily lives, we will need to daily “activate” our memory of what God had done.  We need to preach the gospel to ourselves each and everyday of our lives, so that Christ be kept the the center of our lives.

Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.

Free Will and the Irony of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

<<Warning: Minor Spoilers Alert>>

In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (henceforth, KoA:R), the player is immediately introduced to a universe which every individual is beholden to a predestined fate, and it was common knowledge to the people that this pre-destined fate cannot be escaped.  There exist a group of fortune tellers known as fate weavers who are able to reveal the destiny of those who seek to know their final fate, but fate weavers quickly become unpopular as few people are ever happy knowing the hour and the means by which they die.

Against this backdrop, the progtagonist wakes up among a pile of bodies, learning that he was once dead but have been mysteriously resurrected, and even more mysteriously, is the only character in the entire universe which does not have a fate.  Hence, he becomes known as “The Fateless One”.  Eventually, the protagonist discovers that not only is his fate his own to write, he can change the fate of other individuals as well, and truly, for the first time, people are free to “decide their own fate”.

I am a Calvinist, i.e. I believe that God has predestined everything to happen in this universe, including who becomes a Christian or not.  [It is worth noting that this is a controversial position among Christians (the predestination-free will debate has never ever been resolved by either Christian theologians or non-Christian philosophers).  For more information about the various positions, see here.]  As a Calvinist, I was intrigued by KoA:R‘s treatment of predestination, and there are interesting tidbits to explore (particularly  the House of Ballads faction quests) but ultimately the game was not very interested in exploring the intricacies of free will and the limitations thereof; there was just a simple dichotomy presented – free will good, anything else bad.

Which was unfortunate, because of all people, the game creators should know full well the limitations of free will, and in particular, “non-linearity” in games.  KoA:R, despite being an “open-world sandbox” RPG, is noted for its linearity – there are no real morality choices in the game of any consequence, and the narrative path is fixed. For a game whose narrative hinges upon the individual who is truly able to “write his own fate”, it is ironic that the player only follows the linear path which has already been written for him by the game designers.

Erm, nope. Not really.

Erm, nope. Not really.

The irony only grows when one considers KoA:R in a real world context.  Like many other gamers who like “high fantasy”, I was very excited about KoA:R when it was coming out.  It  was a game which had an all-star development team which included Ken Rolston (lead designer of Morrowind and Oblivion), Todd McFarlane (comic artist for Spiderman and creator of Spawn) and R.A. Salvatore (my childhood hero and author of the Icewind Dale & Dark Elf Trilogies).  When demos and previews started coming out, KoA:R was described as Elder Scrolls meets God of War, the game with the best combat mechanics ever seen in an open-world RPG (still true today).  How could this not be a huge success?  Surely, such an excellent game was destined to be successful?

And to be fair, the game was critically well received and did enjoy moderate financial success.  But it was also revealed that it didn’t sell enough to “break even”.  What happened?  And why was the studio laying off its staff shortly after they released its first game?  For a full treatment of the issue, read this interview, but the tl;dr version is this: the founder and owner of the company, retired baseball star Curt Schilling, doesn’t really know how to make video games or run a video game company.  But he thought if he had enough belief in himself, he would succeed – this was what sports had taught him.  So he actually round up friends and investors and went ahead.  Fast forward 6 years, the company failed without ever releasing a single game. (KoA:R doesn’t really count as it was actually developed by another studio which was subsequently bought into this company)  Dozens of employees were left jobless, and some were even saddled with debt.

Curt Schilling, Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore and Ken Rolston.  In happier times.

Curt Schilling, Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore and Ken Rolston. In happier times.

I am a teacher in my day job.  As a teacher I come across one sentiment very regularly, which, to me, is a heinous lie:

“You can achieve anything as long as you just put your mind to it”.

We like to simplify things to kids.  We want them to work hard.  We want them to have aspirations and not give up on them too easily.  All that is good.  But we shouldn’t lie to kids and shape their worldviews so erroneously   Life isn’t that simple.  Many factors affect your success in life, the majority of which are outside of your control.  God is not obliged to give you what you want as long as you “work hard enough” or “believe in yourself enough”.  In fact, God is not obliged to give you anything.  God is never obliged.

What is ironic about KoA:R the game, as well as the real life events which surround the game, is the failure of the principal characters to realize that human will alone is never quite enough.  We are at the mercy of many things outside of our control, things which can only be determined by God.  But our self-centered hearts insist otherwise.  We must control the destines of our own lives or else life is not worth living.  But that too, is a lie. 

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

(James 4:13-15 ESV)

An Exegesis of Eternal Sonata [Part 4 – Sacrifice and Redemption]

Part 1 – Plot Summary
Part 2 – Metaphysics
Part 3 – Man & Society

***

[Spoilers for Eternal Sonata‘s ending]

eternal sonata polka and frederic

As explored in Part 3, we’ve seen that Eternal Sonata portrays a society which is fallen, where men are overcome by their greed, vanity and lust for power.  Yet against this grim backdrop, stories of hope emerge, providing a glimpse that all is not lost.  That despite how fallen mankind has become, there is a hope that there is a source of goodness which is greater than the evil and failings of man, a hope that there will be a better ending.

These stories emerge through the tales of redemption of the various playable characters of Eternal Sonata.  The personal stories of characters like Jazz, Claves, Falsetto, Crescendo and Serenade all contain elements of loss, salvation and redemption.  However, the main thrust of Eternal Sonata’s narrative was always about the two main protagonists: Polka and Frederic.

Polka

The game starts with this narration from Frederic:

“Why? Why did it happen? Why was she destined to die? What crime could a girl like that have possibly committed to deserve such a grim fate?”

And thus we were introduced to Polka, the innocent girl who was destined to die.  Later in the game we were told that Polka was different from others in that she was the only person with a perfect Astra; this was like saying Polka was the only “flawless” person in the universe of Eternal Sonata.  At the end of the game, we would be told that Polka was the destined one, who’s role was to sacrifice herself (by jumping off a cliff) and this sacrifice would restore the scorched and damage land back to its original lush glory.  But her sacrifice accomplishes more than just this, the universe is “restored” in the most literal of senses – everything is reversed, including time, and Polka is “reborn” as she falls from the sky in this newly restored world.

The parallels to the redemptive work of Christ are striking; like Jesus, Polka was destined from the beginning to be saviour.  Like Jesus, Polka was blameless and “flawless”.  Like Jesus, Polka’s death was a willing submission for the greater good of others.  Like Jesus, Polka’s dealth brings restoration of the land, and of people.  Like Jesus, Polka is eventually “resurrected”, although “born again” might be a better description for Polka.  These parallels are so striking that one wonders whether the Japanese creators of Eternal Sonata are Christian (unlikely), or that the tale of redemption is so pervasive, so universal and so true, that it just keeps cropping up in works of narrative fiction across all media.

But there are differences between the sacrifice of Polka and the sacrifice of Christ.  Just by turning back time so that history can play itself out again could be considered “restoration”, but that was hardly salvation.  It could even be considered a cruel joke, a curse.  There was no real hope.  No many how many iterations we go through, there cannot really be hope if there was no better end in sight,  This is where Frederic comes in.

Frederic

Frederic François Chopin was a dying man.  What was hinted by his biography (and the narration of the story), was that he was not a happy man lying in his deathbed.  He was dying young, barely into his prime as a world-renown pianist and a composer.  He was dying lonely, with several failed relationships with women, never been married and with no children.  He was dying homesick, never been able to return to his native Poland due to the political strife of that era.  He was dying without hope.

Yet the irony of the story was that the one who was without hope would be the only one who could offer hope. It was Frederic who broke the never-ending cycle by affirming Polka as a “Heaven’s Mirror”.  It was Frederic who realized that despite his hopelessness (in real life), there was a rich beautiful world with people he loved on “the other side”, and this realization not only brought himself hope, but it created hope and life for everyone else as well.  It was Frederic who broke the rules – Polka, as well as the World can be saved, not just either/or.

When Christ was denied three times by one of his dearest disciples and laid hanging on the cross, the most shameful instrument of death in the Roman era, it appeared all but hopeless.  Could this truly be the messiah whose was prophesied to save Israel from its bondage?  Yet, the irony of the story was that the One who appeared hopeless was actually the true hope provider.  That only through His death on the cross, could there be hope for Israel and for the rest of humanity.  It was Christ who broke the rules – God’s justice as well as God’s love was displayed, not just either/or.

Conclusion

Polka was the destined sacrifice, the blameless lamb to be slain.  Frederic was the true hope-provider and the true life-giver.  As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ was both. For those of us who are Christians, let us not regard too lightly this coming Christmas the true significance of Jesus the Messiah being born into this world, and the great joy and privilege we have to live for His glory alone.

From heaven you came helpless babe
Entered our world, your glory veiled
Not to be served, but to serve
And give your life, that we might live

There in the garden of tears
My heavy load, He chose to bear
His heart with sorrow was torn
Yet not my will but Yours He said

This is our God, the Servant King
He calls us now to follow him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King

[Addendum: Read also Richard Clark on Christ and Pop Culture regarding the meaning of Christmas]

Update: December Hiatus

There won’t be any more articles here for the month of December since I’ll be real busy this whole month, including being the main guy planning for Christmas Service at my church.

I will however, be publishing a guest article (on FF XIII) soon over at Theology Gaming.  Much gratitude to Zachery Oliver for inviting me to write over there.

Enjoy your Christmas holidays everybody!

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[Addendum: The post on Theology Gaming is up! Click here to check it out!]