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 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.