9/20/2006

Rock Music, Spec-Fic and Role-Playing Games

by Frank Creed

In my youth there existed a large demographic of Bible-believers who referred to Christian Rock & Roll as demonic. Their argument ran something like this: If you’d lived in the puritanical 50s like we had, and you saw Elvis-the-Pelvis move like that, you’d have crossed yourself with holy water.

Given the times, I probably would have.

But this is a different millenium. Every television two-minute-commercial-break, North America is spammed with sexually-explicit-cubed. Our animated-G-rated children’s movies are seeded with adult comments once-per-minute, yet we’re trying to raise a new generation of ambassadors from Heaven in this place?

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God (2nd Corinthians five, verse twenty, (NIV)).
Me-thinks that if there were a New-World to which we could all sail and start anew, most would be packin’ even as I type. But we’re fresh outta’ new worlds. We can no longer flee the Biblical command to be in the world but not of it. Since we’re stuck here, what do Christian children think when we allow Cinderella, Snow White, and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but curse Harry Potter? Why is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea okay, but The Matrix bad, and why on earth do Christians file Role-Playing-Games in the same mental box as Ouija boards? With these kind of confusing messages, how will our children be equipped to make proper distinctions when encountering the mysterious?

Now back to Elvis. In the late 70s and early 80s, when it finally occurred to Christian record-producers that they could imitate pop-music and reap healthy profits (yes, it took some twenty-five years—we are a slow bunch) they met with outcry from old-school Bible-believers. Rightly outraged grandparents argued that rock-music was of Satan, and could not glorify God.

I object.

Inanimate objects are neither morally Satanic nor Theistic. Art forms may be employed to either worship or blaspheme.

Yet in our new millenium, some Christians still bemoan that which threatens them, that which they don’t understand. Is rock-music inherently evil?
What if it’s Christian rock?
Have they ever read any Creed lyrics (my personal favorite)?
Are ideas of intelligent alien life-forms blasphemous?
Do you believe in angels?
Is magic the equivelant of Satanism?
What about Fairy Godmothers and the Good Witch of the North?

I am not saying that morality is shades of grey, it is indeed very black and white. I am saying that we who are quick to judge must not do so from instinctive and ignorant fear.

Our sub-culture is in full retreat from popular culture. We're falling into the Islamic mindset of idealizing an earlier golden-age that never existed. We're bubble-wrapping our children, and buying handguns.

With her children’s best interests enshrined, our mother secluded my sisters and I behind a trusty sub-cultural curtain. She ignored Second Corinthians: three through six: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weaopns we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we will take captive every thought to make it obiedient to Christ. (NIV). Rather, Mom tucked us safely away within the folds of her Christian subculture.

Her problem was, we grew up, moved out, and faced the world, with wide eyes. She’d not thought that far ahead. Rather than exposing us to limited doses of the world, and entering into rational discussion, Mom forceably stuck our heads in the sand. Without revealing personal demons, suffice-it to say that my siblings and I met the real-world naked as a monk on brown-robe-laundry-day.

But Mom got one thing right—the exception to our cultural isolationism. She allowed us to play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I know, the unforgivable sin; take a deep breath and read-on.
She had faith in her ability to teach us the difference between reality and fantasy. She allowed us to fantasize, and therefore encouraged our imagination (the result is that I’m a novelist and my sister, Lydia, a poet).

Now, gaming did sneak past Mom's sensibilities. Once she'd heard controversial reports on AD&D, she became quite attentive of our hobby, feigning interest, asking confusing questions that had nothing to do with AD&D but everything to do with weirdness. Our confusion at her weirdness convinced Mom that we were just having fun. In the end she came away convinced that we were safe.

My point is that Harry Potter and The Matrix are discussion-points for Christian families, not taboo materials. Fantasy and Sci-Fi explore human ideas, as will our children. These genres seek answers to important questions, questions to which the Bible contains thunderous answers.
Someone once said that speculative fiction is the handmaiden of world-views. It explores the possibilities of thought, and His creation.

Sooner or later, our children will face these boundaries. They’ll face them either with, or without us. Parents too busy to provide real guidance will be ignored.

Since we have the wisdom of experience, the logical arguments of theologians, and the loving trust of our children, let’s not cement those ill-mannered rascals behind thought-proof walls. One day soon, big boys and girls be living on the other side.

email Frank
FRANKCREED.COM

2 comments:

Daniel I Weaver said...

Very true on so many points, Frank. We can't hide our children from the world. And we certainly need to provide them with the ability to differentiate right from wrong in all aspects without inhibiting their creativity. How much better would it be for us to introduce our children to these sorts of things and ground their understanding through the Bible than to have them explore them on their own without any guidance. Anyone who thinks that completely hiding their children away from the world in this day and age is even possible is sadly mistaken. I, for one, intend to show my children how their imagination and creativity can be used without boundaries to glorify His kingdom.

Andrea Graham said...

Parents are always the best people to explain the way the world works, if they let the world do it, the child won't be well enough equipped to discern truth from evil, will they? It's up to the parents to decide when their child is old enough to handle it, though. I know I have some DVDs on my shelf I wouldn't let a child watch until they were old enough for us to have a reasonable discussion on worldviews.