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D&D 3E
Is Fantasy Spiritually Harmful? 
12th-Oct-2004 11:35 am
phoenix
I'm a Catholic gamer girl who attends a Christian college in south Florida. This alone creates many problems, as you can probably guess. I posted here recently about wanting more D&D materials, and I thank everyone who gave me advice -- it is very appreciated! Just last night I found two people who want to get a D&D group together. They've both played before, so it seems my "need" for something more than the core rulebooks is more than okay.

However, over breakfast with a suitemate this morning, something disturbing came up. I'm an English major, and I'm an aspiring fantasy novelist (another good use for D&D/RPG materials). My suitemate asked how Games Club went last night, where I found my fellow D&D gamers, and I told her. The sound in her voice and the sudden action of looking down at her eggs was enough to tell me that I'm some kind of horrible sinner in her eyes. I tried to talk about it with her and mentioned C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling. The resulting conversation made my head hurt.

Why is it that people, even Christians, seem to be warm and accepting of the works by Lewis and Tolkien, but not Rowling? Narnia and Middle Earth are wonderful, but the REAL WORLD with a little TWIST is considered the work of the Devil? I don't get it. I'd love some feedback about this.

(Posted in: dms_corner, dnd3e, dnd_women, gamersanonymous, girl_gamers, ljdnd.)


~Hellcat~
Comments 
12th-Oct-2004 08:44 am (UTC)
This tends just to be American Christians too. There are many European Christian gamers. I believe there was a group who tried to have Harry Potter banned from schools in the US because it was too occulty.

The thing about roleplaying is - it's pretend. D&D has a very old testament view on the world as well; there are absolute good and evil. This isn't a concept the Devil, I imagine, would go for. The Devil, one might think, would encourage people to slip into shades of grey.
12th-Oct-2004 08:51 am (UTC)
C.S Lewis is a very famous, and respected Christian theologian. The chronicles of Narnia are, basically children's christianity storys. Aslin basically equals Jesus, something about returning as a Lion not a lamb. C.S lewis also has like twenty other scholarly books on christian theology.

I don't think most fundamentalist christians are that hot with J.r.r tolkien, though. I think it's just more culturally accepted lately, with the movies and all.

Rowling's books aren't based on Christianity at all. I don't think there is anything wrong with them - I have all of them, have the Dvd's, have my Gryffindor patch (and Ravenclaw!). I've even been trying to figure out a way to do a Harry Potter tabletop game, set back in Voldemort's rise to power - very 3rd reich, reign of terror type stuff.

But I don't think a lot of Christians like the magic.

12th-Oct-2004 08:59 am (UTC)
that table top potter game idea sounds awesome.
Harry Potter RPG - Anonymous - Expand
12th-Oct-2004 09:16 am (UTC)
Most people and groups of people have their little hang-ups. And rumors can circulate fast and get ugly. This isn't limited to gaming and Christians, either. Look at the current political debates in the USA, for example - if you'd believe all the rumors in one camp about the other, you might end up believing that the people on the other side were routinely eating babies for breakfast! You are just unfortunate in that there are some routine outbreaks of anti-gaming hysteria in the American Christian community...

That's why I consider a little training in scientific thought to be so useful - it helps one to separate fact from fiction with a little research. Unfortunately schools don't pay enough attention to this and tend to scare people away from science instead. Which is why there is so much nonsense floating around...

(Note that science is concerned with the facts, and not with the truth - truth falls into the domain of religion and philosophy instead... ;-) )
12th-Oct-2004 09:18 am (UTC)
At some churches around where i live, the pastors believe that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft and devil worship. Ask your classmates what they think about H. P. Lovecraft (Call of Cthulhu). I would love to see their faces on that one.
12th-Oct-2004 09:22 am (UTC)
Narnia and Middle Earth are complete fabrications and I think in part because of that, more acceptable to the Christian right-wingers. Nobody's likely to take anything in them as real. Harry Potter is set in a slightly alternate here and now and has a lot of magic and pseudo-occult type stuff in it. It also appeals a lot to kids. They have this irrational fear that kids will idolize Harry and want to be wizards and that will somehow draw them into some occult cult or such thing. I think kids are smart enough to know Harry isn't real and it's all fiction and fun. D&D gets a bad rap for many of the same sorts of reasons as it includes magic and occult-type references, monsters, and whatnot.
12th-Oct-2004 09:28 am (UTC)
I think Pokemon received similar attacks, though I'm unsure for similar reasons.
12th-Oct-2004 09:42 am (UTC)
A lot of the issues that Christians have now came up when LARP was introduced more than table top gaming. They hear D&D and I've noticed most of them imagine the news where people take a ton of hallucinate drugs and beat the crap out of each other with sticks and call it LARPing. It also is entirely an American issue. The way I look at it, a game that connects you with the Devil wouldn't have good and bad--there would just be demons running around and no fantasy creation of things like lammasu, couatls, and gold dragons.

You also have to understand, a lot of D&D is really based on world mythology and past history with a creative twist--if you flip through the monster manual, most of those creatures can be attributed to the mythology of a particular culture. It's just ancient history. It's not like the mythology/ancient history classes are being banned in colleges for being related to the Devil.

This has been an issue I've always had, though. *shrugs* My boyfriend's mom is very religious and has issues with him role-playing. I find it as a creative recreation, and that's all.
12th-Oct-2004 09:59 am (UTC)
The way I look at it, a game that connects you with the Devil wouldn't have good and bad--there would just be demons running around and no fantasy creation of things like lammasu, couatls, and gold dragons.

So, you mean, like, World of Darkness?
12th-Oct-2004 09:42 am (UTC)
I get the same attacks. People need to stop being so closed minded.
12th-Oct-2004 10:14 am (UTC) - Two reasons
Why is it that people, even Christians, seem to be warm and accepting of the works by Lewis and Tolkien, but not Rowling? Narnia and Middle Earth are wonderful, but the REAL WORLD with a little TWIST is considered the work of the Devil? I don't get it. I'd love some feedback about this.

There are two reasons for this.

The first, and biggest, is B.A.D.D. = Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons. A rather defunct group led by a single woman who, refusing to believe that her son's suicide had anything to do with drug use, homosexuality, or his poor relationship with her, blamed TSR's popular new product and spent the next several years spreading blatant lies and disinformation about it.

The second, which keeps B.A.D.D.'s slander sticking, is polytheism. Despite having biblical miracles as spells, despite being firmly rooted in Western culture, despite having not one but two core classes based on the tales of Catholic Saints and orders like the Knights Templar, the frigging game DEMANDS polytheism and makes zero allowance for monotheism, supremacy of One Being with lesser lower-case gods, or for goodly followers holding consorting with evil as a Capital Offense.

Harry Potter, and to a much lesser extent Tolkien and Narnia, are painted with the same false brush.

Changing gears, I'd suggest that you put "D&D" aside and play in a game where a fantasy version of Christianity exists. Even if you play a bunch of godless heathens to lust after gold and eventually die ignoble deaths, at least there's an avenue for religion and morality if you want to get into that. (If you want to switch systems, try White Wolf's storyteller games. They're very much evil folk in a Christian setting.)

(And on a final note: your suitemate did you a serious disservice if her way of saying "you're sinning" is to look at her eggs.)
(Deleted comment)
12th-Oct-2004 10:46 am (UTC)
I ran into this sort of problem in high school with gaming and fantasy. My best friend decided he wanted to be a warlock and practice Wicca. His dad didn't care, thought it was amusing how he cast a healing spell (with his permission) on him. His mom was freaking out, so I had the following conversation:

Me: "So, is this magic stuff real?"
Her: "Of course not! It's not real!"
Me: "So, unless he tries to cast a flying spell on himself and jumps off a cliff, how is it going to hurt anyone if he plays pretend?"
Her: "It's just . . . wrong!"

There is no reason to it. It is completely an emotional fear response to the unknown and misunderstood. What they don't recognize is that the stories of people getting hurt from D&D happen everywhere there is an activity people can become obsessed with -- fraternities, sports teams and religious cults. C.S. Lewis was very much a Christian as well, and the Narnia series is often seen as a fantasy-veiled allegory for the Christ story, which is why I think they like him.

I suggest you read The Truth About Dungeons and Dragons to get an idea of their objections to D&D. It's a terribly written piece of ****, but at least it can help prepare you for their arguments.

Is there a support group on LJ for this sort of thing? I might like to join it and see what others think.
12th-Oct-2004 10:59 am (UTC)
Fortunately, I live in a country where Christians tend to be sane! Admittedly, I haven't told everyone that I'm a roleplayer, but our university chaplain had been a roleplayer himself.

I think the key reasons why "Christians" (and I use the term in inverted commas because the I believe that one of the meanings of Christianity is tolerance) dislike roleplaying is the whole "god" thing. As someone else has commented, it's seen as akin to worshipping false gods. They don't see the different between *pretending* that certain gods exist in a pretend world, and believing.

Again, as others have said, the whole Harry Potter thing is because of it's basis on the real world. While I love the books, I personally don't like how Easter and Christmas are "celebrated" - I feel it cheapens these religious ceremonies, backing up the card sellers by showing that it's just an excuse for a holiday. And I can see why extremists would be "insulted" by this. They also feel threatened by the books. While books about fantasy worlds are obviously pure fantasy, something based in the real world might "turn the minds" of the congregation.

I remember an article in a roleplaying magazine once that was an "interview with the devil", it was terribly tongue-in-cheek, but explained the issues perfectly. This was back in the middle of the 90s. I had really hoped that attitudes might have changed by now.

But the fact of the matter is, as long as you know personally that you aren't committing a sin, and as long as you are enjoying yourself, then try to ignore the comments. I'd love to have a quick fix way of educating people, to tell them what roleplaying and fantasy novels is all about. But I don't, and some people probably wouldn't listen anyway.
12th-Oct-2004 11:21 am (UTC)
"and I use the term in inverted commas because the I believe that one of the meanings of Christianity is tolerance"

I think that this statement really sums up the saddest thing about *some* Christians. The biggest shame of all is that the most intolerant seem to be the loudest and the most often 'met'.

Like many Christians, I think it(the judging of others) best left to God (or if your case differs, your diety(s)) to be the judge. It seems incredibly arrogant to me to think that myriad of nuances between right and wrong could be ultimately and unmistakably decided by any mortal, much less myself.

Ultimately, though, I wouldn't let the thoughts or looks of a few ruin your idea of entertainment.
12th-Oct-2004 11:38 am (UTC)
From personal experience, I'd say that people tend to revile those things that they personally think are real.

In the past, D&D, due to the actions of both B.A.D.D. and a nutcase known as Jack Chick (creator of the Dark Dungeons comic, nwhich typecasts roleplayers as suicidal if their characters die, evil, malicious, and offer the idea that burning Evil Books like the D&D rulebooks is a Good Thing), along with multiple sensationalized media stories which exaggerated the role of RPGs in a few suicides/murders/etc (to wit, OMG TEHY WUZ ROLLPLAYERZ AND TEH DRUGZ 'N STUFF HAD NUTHIN TO DO WIHT IT!!!!!!1!1), has been cast as a dark, evil, mind-influencing thing written by the Devil Himself.

Never mind that roleplayers are often better-educated, that the games themselves promote literacy and mathematics, two major cornerstones of modern civilization (then again, with the people who advocate book burning, maybe literacy is a crime?), and that while a number of people who regularly preach about how everything they dislike is evil and against the Bible are off at a bar commiserating with their friends over the evils of the world, most gamers can be found with soda, some snacks, and some friends, laughing and having a good time.

...Yes, I know that most Christians do not fit this stereotype. For this, I am thankful. I would lose my mind if all Christians were of the Jack Chick variety. It's bad enough when people start trying to convert me while I'm working. (What the hell are these Bible Thumping Conservative Christians doing gambling in a casino, anyhow? Isn't that technically sinful?)

Anyhow, enough rambling, as I seem to be drifting off topic.

As a final note - I like your icon.
12th-Oct-2004 10:21 pm (UTC) - One point of view...
The only reasonable arguement I ever heard against D&D was more against subject matter rather than the game itself. This was at the Origins Game Fair about four or five years ago, at a Christian Gaming booth. Incidentally, this booth had board games, CCGs, and an RPG that were of a Christian (if slightly evangelical) bent.

Anyway, the guy at the booth said this. "It says in the bible you shouldn't be a sorcerer or an assassin [or people of that nature] in life, so why endorse it in a game?"

As for me, heck, I played a character who got ripped from this world into a fantasy one, called on the Lord for help, became first a Cleric, then a Paladin of Christ, fell from grace, and sought redemption. Probably one of the most intense campaigns I've ever been in...
13th-Oct-2004 07:37 am (UTC)
Fortunately, I live in a country where Christians tend to be sane!
You mean eating the body and drinking the blood of someone who died 2000 years ago is sane?!?! No offence intended, but I think if you look at things objectively, things that we always assumed were normal are actually pretty weird. But anyway...

Last Xmas, I got my son the D&D starter set (corrupting another generation, I know). He was reading the book at our family get-together, and his crazy aunt Cindy said something about how the game was demonic. My son's response: "Well duh!" Man, I love that kid!

My response to Xtians who criticize fantasy is that people who play roles in movies or plays don't actually do the things their characters any more or less than D&D players do. Actually, D&D players would do them less, since they mostly don't wear costumes and act out scenes. Do actors kill themselves because their characters die? No! Do actors in Greek tragedies start worshipping Greek gods? No! Has Anthony Hopkins (or Brian Cox) ever killed and eaten someone? No!

I think the tactic the Xtians are using is by getting people scared of the D&D boogeyman, they attract more followers. They like to break down whatever they perceive as popular, because anything that attracts a kid's attention draws his attention away from the church. I'd invite your suitemate to sit in on a game, so she can see for herself what really goes on. Tell her she could write an article about it for the school paper or something, telling "The Truth" about D&D.

Two more things, then I'll shut up: Why doesn't some make a real-world D&D campaign setting, where Xtians exist?
Tracy Hickman (DragonLance creator) is a practicing Mormon. Oh wait, they're not Christians, according to the fundies.
13th-Oct-2004 09:18 am (UTC)
I mentioned it above, but I could say it again. Testament is a Judeo-christian d20 roleplay setting. I forget who publishes it though.
13th-Oct-2004 09:12 am (UTC) - If you want ot learn more....
of this crazy bitch know as Mrs. Pulling, check this little site. It contradicts everything she says.

http://www.locksley.com/6696/rpgsatan.htm

18th-Oct-2004 08:42 am (UTC)
i suggest you go to the authority on the topic, located here:
http://www.flashplayer.com/animation/8bitdnd.html
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