POCKET WORLDS VIII: IMAGE & ART
I will create. And how I create will always be bound to how I was shaped and how I was filled as a child with the wonder of newly made realms. I am bound to the reality of this beauty, but I am also propelled by it.
The neanderthal conception of video games as just bleeps and bloops is a wilful rebellion from the complex truth, that video games have the potential for incredibly beautiful experiences. And also soul destruction.
Magic is the imagination at work; unable to grasp the complete and utterly perfect shape of God’s plan for creation, man invents magic. No magical world could possibly work; all the fun rules a fantasist invents would ultimately make a world crumble in on itself. Unsustainable. Illogical. Only God can create worlds, because only he has the perfect Word, the perfect system. And yet… here we are, creating unreal, imperfect worlds. And it’s a wonderful thing. Likewise, responding weirdly to natural revelation, men for a very long time have been confusing God for the sun, or for the lightning, or anything, or everything. And then making stories out of their folly.
God, I believe, uses our inability to grasp him and his intentions (his life, his word) as a way to create even more beauty. Beauty is the balance of order and chaos, of balance and imbalance. Magic, fantasy, myths represent the imbalance being redeemed, put into that transcendent order where it can be wed to the actual perfect truth. God’s logic gently fosters our illogic by putting it in the most appropriate place (our heads). Christians have the ability to experience and take part in both sides of this beauty; to preach the actual truth of God, and to invent more and more fictions. Why?
Because we aren’t going to worship them.
(At least, Protestants won’t.)
Veneration of the saints & angels, as I understand it, (not only in the veneration of physical icons but also conceptual veneration through hagiography) is a farce. They treat creations like they should treat God; and they insist that fictions be truth already. They need to admit that it is just paper and paint. It’s just stories. And those aren’t bad things at all.
Paper, paint, and stories are useful tools in the construction of new worlds and new beings.
Beauty is impossible without reverence, and we live in a culture without reverence. Our churches and liturgies need more reverence. Evangelicalism has grown disgustingly irreverent. The solution is to pursue forms that are more beautiful. However, we must not fall into the classic trap of folk liturgicalism: reverence for the reverence itself. This is a kind of ethereal masturbation, ever collapsing into itself. We don’t need to have reverence for church forms, just respect, because some of them might be worthwhile. Even better than worthwhile: they might please God! We need to express reverence for God in the utmost; therefore, we should use those forms which we respect, forms and channels best suited to convey our reverence (in feeling and in action) to God.
Well, veneration and reverence are loaded terms; so let us use honor for now. In any case, the market does not see honor as important enough to invest in. I hope the past fifty years of american history is a strong enough testament to that. With that in mind, Christians need to be making games that are honorable and beautiful in rejection of the industry’s pursuit of titillation. I will continue to the bang the drum, all about town: culture cannot be separated from the cult. If we are Christians, than our participation in game playing or game making should neither obsessive nor passive be.
I refuse to respect neon lights, slide shows, industrial decor, and khakis. There is nothing honorable about it. And until we acknowledge that reverence and honor have a place in the discussion, things are going to keep being gross. Why do you like being gross? Perhaps it is because you are rebellious and do not acknowledge that there is an objective beauty, and that even as our fallen reason cannot fully grasp this beauty, there are still many who are older and wiser than you. And they have better taste than you.
It’s okay. I’m gross too. I grew up with those slide shows and khakis, and maybe it undid all the good those Japanese games did to my heart. Years and years of training my brain to think with slide shows and khakis. Why not just drink sponsored grape soda at communion and get it over with?
These are aesthetic / ecclesiological thoughts from someone who has lived for .01% of the church’s existence. I say all of this because I am trying to advocate for beauty. It’s not a particularly new position; lots of people have been smashing the beauty gong these days. “Hey! Be more beautiful!” Whatever.
I say all of this because I want to talk about the creation of video games, and you can’t talk about creation without talking about art and beauty, and you can’t talk about art and beauty without talking about how you worship God. So forgive me for trampling on histories I hardly understand.
The point is that we can’t let statues take the place of us as icons, or let pocket worlds take the place of the one we already have. But I think God still appreciates artful sculpture. And maybe even microcosmic architecture.