Are all Christians Crazy? A look at Heavy Rain on the PS3
September 16, 2013
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September 30, 2013
Are all Christians Crazy? A look at Heavy Rain on the PS3
September 16, 2013
As gamers and Christians, Carl Kerby Jr and Drew Thorwall know that video games are a powerful media. As followers of Jesus Christ, they wanted to teach parents and gamers how they can apply God's Word to Video games. That is why they wrote the book, It's Not Just a Game, which is available at www.apolomedia.org. In this excerpt, they talk about the game Heavy Rain and answer the question, "Are all Christians Crazy?"
System: Playstation 3 Rating: M
Heavy Rain was developed by Quantic Dream and features a unique story that follows four characters and their search for a serial killer. It made waves in the gaming world for its depth of character and the uniqueness of giving the player control over every day actions like opening a closet or closing a window. This more deeply draws the player into the lives of the characters and the suspension of reality.
Norman Jayden is an FBI profiler who is sent to help investigate the Origami Killer. He partners with Blake, a police officer who will stop at nothing to find the killer. One of his clues leads him to a religious fanatic named Nathanial. They walk into his house to find crosses hanging all over the walls and ceiling. Blake describes Nathanial as a “God-fearing idiot waiting for the end of the world.” Nathanial walks in and gets questioned by Norman and Blake. Nathanial is severely mentally unstable, and the implication is that this condition is intensified, if not caused, by his religious zealotry. When Blake begins to rough him up, Nathanial pulls a gun on him. He begins to rant...
“You are the anti-Christ. I shall dispatch you to your father in hell. He is the son of Satan. He was sent to the earth to destroy us. Demon, you shall regret confronting the emissary of the Lord! You shall know divine power! Christ all-powerful, defend us in our battle with the forces of Evil. Protect us from the cunning and wiles of the Demon! May God Almighty manifest the power of His Empire and may Divine Power cast Satan and all the other spirits that prowl the world in search of souls into the darkest depths of hell.”
You are the player, now choose: shoot Nathanial in the head, or let him live. In the context of the game, neither choice is a wrong one. Neither has an impact on other events in the game.
Are all Christians crazy? Are Christians just waiting for the world to end?
Heavy Rain presents in this scene one of the most common insults atheists hurl at Christians: that you have to be stupid or just plain crazy to believe that an invisible God created the world or has anything to do with daily life. Certainly there are crazed fanatics in the world, but while these are a minority of Christians, they often get the most attention in media. Someone who walks into Planned Parenthood with a bomb is more interesting to the hardened heart than someone who reads their Bible at the local coffee shop and then volunteers at a food pantry. The exception becomes a caricature of Christians to the hardened heart. It becomes a joke to them.
A second challenge the game probably did not intend to raise but is worth considering is the concept that Christians are just waiting for the world to end! Is this true? How do we balance our lives here with our longing for eternity in the presence of God?
Are all Christians crazy?
The depiction of Christians as crazy is one of the most open attacks on our relationship with Jesus, despite the fact that developers may not do this intentionally. It demonstrates the permeation of this stereotype in society, as well as in the game designer’s own life that they have come to the point that the “average” Christian is crazy. The characters they design are often radical, insane, and lead to the destruction of others by their irrationality. Sometimes this reflects the author’s personal experience in a church background and their rejection of that tradition for various reasons. At times this plays out as a critique that real faith should not be legalistic or violent, but more often it belies a basic mistrust of faith itself.
Have you ever noticed a Christian in a game for being so tremendously sane? Much more often they only appear for the purpose of playing the “religious nut.” Perhaps you have even been called one or felt the sting of being an outcast for your beliefs. It shouldn’t surprise us that the world will continue to attack Christians as being crazy. The enemy wants people to write off faith in God as “stupid” and even insane. This attack is more akin to playground teasing and follows intentional disbelief. It represents a hardened heart that only God can soften.
Jesus spoke a great encouragement to the believer who finds themselves stereotyped this way for holding a genuine faith in His saving grace. Remember what He said,
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
– Matthew 5:11
The reality is that we can’t do anything to stop this, at least not completely. Truthfully, we should expect persecution! As Scripture says in John 15:18: the world will hate us. Don’t let the insults affect you. Focus on God and respond to persecution with love so that you might show God’s love to them!
Are Christians just waiting for the end of the world?
As Christians, we speak often of our hope for eternal life in a place where there are “no more tears.”31 In Philippians 1:21, Paul, a faithful follower of Christ, makes a surprising comment: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He follows this up by admitting that,
“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”
We see in Paul’s honesty that his greatest desire is for the day when he will again see Jesus knowing that this would mean purification from his own sinful struggle and joyous eternity in the presence of God! In this sense, he can’t wait for the end of the world (at least his own end). This could be extended to the anticipation all Christians have for the day of Jesus’ second coming.
“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” – Hebrews 9:28 However, Paul balances this with the fact that God still has work for him to do here on earth. In fact, the critical difference between the New Testament teaching through Paul and the actions of Nathanial in Heavy Rain is summarized in the letter to the Philippians;
“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”
– Philippians 1:25-26
As Christians, we find hope in knowing that one day Christ’s victory will be complete and we will be made perfect in His presence in heaven. So we wait patiently, but not passively! And certainly not hiding in our homes!
Followers of Jesus are called by Him to take up the mission and to share the gospel that He Himself proclaimed!
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”
– Matthew 28:18-20
A wise man once said, “If you wonder if your work on earth is done... if you’re still here, it isn’t.” We anxiously anticipate and pray for the return of Jesus Christ while obediently following Him. Know His word, live like He did, and share His story.