Gosh I’m hesitant to write this and click the Publish button. But I’ve been gathering courage from other bloggers out there, and have a few small thoughts to add to the conversation.
It’s funny how we all seem to be a bit nervous to approach the topic, no matter if we’re practicing faith or not.
It might come down to that thought that my father instilled in me as a child. How did it go? Three things you don’t talk about in polite conversation:
Why is that, anyhow? Because even back then, the idea was to keep things quiet so you don’t offend someone else, I suppose (?)
Though I’ve never outright written it here, I don’t think it’s a secret that I am a Christian.
I’m just not what you’d consider a… uh… “model” Christian. I’m nearing 4 decades on this planet and I’m still confused and stumbling in finding my way through life, much less understanding faith.
It’s a long, complicated story. It goes back to a childhood where church and religion were displayed in lukewarm (mostly cold) contexts by parents who were both forced into their own churches as children, and abandoned organized religion as adults. In turn, I was never raised as part of any church (while living in the Bible Belt), with the idea that I would “choose my own beliefs, without brainwashing.”
For me, the result was to shy away from it all — I became restless and agnostic in my young adult years. But I was also curious. I took a number of religion courses in college to learn about faiths of many kinds. I had some awesome professors who opened a lot of doors to theological thought for me.
In the end, it was the example of a Christian friend and her family that led me to where I am now. What I saw was very different from the stereotype of Christians I’d formed through upbringing and the social pressure of the Bible Belt. I saw Christian faith and love practiced and lived in sincerity, and I was drawn to it.
I wanted to be like that. I’m still trying to hit that mark. I suppose you can say I’m still rather “young” and uncertain in my faith, so I’m the last person that’s going to be talking hardcore theology with anyone.
Bringing Faith Into Gaming
The posts I’ve been reading lately focus on Christian gamers struggling with time spent in gaming vs. time spent in growing in faith. Yeah, I absolutely sympathize with this because I could really use more balance in this area, myself.
I may be totally wrong on my approach, however, but I don’t see gaming, blogging, and faith as mutually exclusive things. This is especially true in any online community that involves connecting with someone else.
I’ve written about kindness in online gaming more than once. I’ve written about seeing and treating avatars as more than just MMO characters, but as the people they are behind the screen. I feel that ties in directly with my beliefs.
One of the things Christians are sent into the world to do is love and spiritually support other people. To me, an online MMO world is still part of “the world” we’re sent to reach out to, just in a different form.
Those people in my Free Company, those people I group with in duty finders… those are people that I indirectly minister to by caring about them and encouraging them. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m out there throwing Bible verses like shuriken, because I’m the last person that’s going to be getting all up in someone’s face about faith after dealing with my own uncertainty. But if they were to ask me about why I am the way I am, I would share my thoughts on faith (and I have in the past).
I’m also far from perfect — I have my un-Christian hermit/introverted nights. Just as often, dealing with folks in an online world is a lesson for me in patience… which is one of the virtues I certainly need to work on much more.
I feel that people come into your life online as well as offline for a reason. I’ve met a number of troubled folks online who felt they had nowhere else to turn for emotional support (being an introvert, I understand this). Many of my deepest connections to other (Christian) folks have been online (Including my Zombie Hunting Troop – we’re a bunch of Christians head-shotting zombies, and that’s okay!).
Yes, I believe there still needs to be a balanced “time for every purpose under heaven.” But I also feel that your beliefs can always be a part of your life, no matter your activity. You can bring your faith with you when you log into an MMO world, and you extend that into gaming through how you care for others around you.
I really admire this post, not because I’m Christian, I’m a confirmed atheist, but because it was hesitant, slightly stumbling compared to your usual style but, ultimately, written from the heart.
Thank you for reading! If it’s slightly stumbling, then I conveyed my emotions on the matter well. XD
Congrats, you made it! I’ve been thinking about an article like this for days- maybe it’ll get done. I’m sure if Ironweakness saw what he kicked off he’d be pretty happy.
For what it’s worth – i share your opinion here and tip my hat for tackling such a topic.
I think you should write your article! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. The more we talk and discuss, the stronger our connections.
I think Weakness would be happy, too.
Thanks for writing this! Honestly, I wish people weren’t so hesitant to talk about topics like this… but of course, that would require other people to not explode when topics like this came up. XD
Honestly, having been a missionary for two years, it’s rare that someone actually goes crazy on you for talking about religion… but it does happen.
I know. It’s usually pretty safe here on my own sites/blogs. But when you put your thoughts out there for the Internet, you can never tell.
Thank you Aywren for sharing your thoughts. I can see this was hard for you to share.
I have a very similar experience in my upbringing and parents not part of any organized religion as they became adults. I’ve grown up with little church going experiences.
Suffice to say, my views on religion are very complicated (to put it lightly) and I have a very unorthodox way of looking at it. It’s a very personal view that I haven’t shared with anyone besides my brother, that is on the lines of one foot on agnostic and another in an open view of religion. It’ll probably be one of those things I’ll never post about, but I feel like I understand where you are coming from.
I also appreciate and respect your approach to gaming, to see the person on the other side of the avatar and to treat them as said person.
(man I’m so far outside my comfort zone sharing all these personal experiences over the past few weeks >.> )
I’m right with you in this comfort zone thing. I’ve never talked about this with anyone beyond my closest friends.
I wish you luck in your journey in discovering faith for yourself, though. While it’s much more simple to have someone hand religion to you at a young age, I feel it’s probably actually a good and enlightening thing to search and eventually define it for yourself.
I’d argue that, even if it’s given to you young, you have to really figure it out yourself as you grow older to make your faith work. But I might be biased in that respect. 😉
I would like to say that I’m surprised at this revelation, but after joining your FC it was pretty obvious to me, hehe. Does it feel good to confirm your faith in public, or are you still nervous about it?
I think it is pretty cool that you came to your faith through the example of others, rather than being raised in it or talked into it by vested interests. To me, that is the most authentic kind of commitment, and it is how faith should be transmitted and expanded.
I loved this post, Aywren. Thank you.
Thank you for reading! 🙂
I’m still nervous about it. But less so because I feel I’ll get trolled for my views. More so because I am in no way an “authority” on my faith.
I feel like I have so much to learn before I can really comfortably speak and share my thoughts… and also because I’ve been on the other end where folks have Bible-versed me into the ground, and I hated it. Nothing turns people off faster than one of those folks – even if they mean well.
I had to see the faith lived in authenticity for me to bring it in my life. Especially after feeling like I saw a lot of folks who claimed to be one thing, but falsely living outside of their beliefs.
That person who was my example is still my best friend (and you have met her in the FC). I just didn’t want to name her name here and embarrass her by calling her out. XD
Ya I figured that was who you were talking about. 🙂
I might put up a post on this topic myself, just to share perspectives.
If you feel comfortable sharing, then you absolutely should! 🙂
Much like your parents, I was raised in a religion that was forced on me, except in my case it was like… predestination fire and brimstone Christianity. I really… get not feeling like you have a place and being a restless agnostic.
Honestly, even though I’m not what you’d consider a traditional Christian, I get what you’re saying. The faith I do practice encourages mindfulness and kindness for the sake of kindness. It encourages not allowing our emotions to control us and ministering to others as much as we can. It’s my sworn duty to help others.
I don’t see why gaming can’t be a way to practice one’s faith, though certainly that’s not all one should do to grow. Interacting with people, whether in person or online, is a way to learn more about ourselves and our weaknesses (and strengths) and grow in our faiths.
I was an extremely troubled person, and in many ways I still am, but the purpose of faith is to edify our own lives and others, to find a higher purpose. There’s nothing wrong with making these kinds of posts.
I also don’t believe there’s anything wrong with these kinds of posts. I’m just antsy to write them because I feel I have such a long way to go before I can talk about faith with knowledgeable mindfulness.
I’ve got a long way to go! But I think understanding and faith is something that grows along with us over time.
I would agree. I’m pretty young in the practice of my own faith myself, and by no means an expert, but I also tend to be of the mentality that you can’t grow on your own, and that you need people to commune with. It doesn’t make it any less nerve wracking to talk about something that you feel immature in or unknowledgable about, but it’s what helps me discuss my own faith with others.
I might make a post about it this Sunday, though honestly I still have to work up to telling people just exactly what my faith is.
First time commenting on your blog. I love this! I grew up in a fairly solid Christian home, and I absolutely agree that gaming and faith can work together. After all, we’re told to do everything in the name of God, in word or deed. If someone knows that we are Christians, everything we do becomes a representation of God (accurate or not), as sort of ambassadors, so of course we should continue that representation in gaming. Your post is well put.
Thank you for reading and commenting, Majette! It’s great to meet you! 🙂
This is exactly how I feel – we should do everything (including gaming) in the name of God, and act as an ambassador with other people, no matter where we meet them. Thank you for putting it so eloquently!