Spiritual Deception in the Highest Part 6

Ready for more crazy adventures in KJV-Only land? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The book I am replying to can be read online here. We know the drill by now. Let’s begin.

Bible Question #11: After our new birth, how are we supposed to relate to God?

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Once we are born again we have a new standard for our lives; it is Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us how we are to relate to him. Please turn to Ephesians 5:1 . In a ‘new’ version it says:

“… be imitators of God …”

Compare this to the Authorized King James:

Be ye therefore FOLLOWERS of God …”

Even though we are born again; can we possibly imitate God? Can we be the judge of the Universe? Can we be at all places at the same time? No way. We have a new nature, sure; but we are still only men.

Think about it: only Satan tries to imitate God! Ever since the garden of Eden, Satan has tried to direct worship toward HIMSELF. We, as men, could NEVER imitate God. We are only men. We can only FOLLOW God!

Publishers of ‘new’, ‘more up to date’ versions are encouraging us to be like Satan! (i.e. to think of ourselves as God).

Sigh.

It’s amazing what you can learn just by a simple word search. I go to BlueLetterBible.com and what do I see when I go to the verse? Well, the Greek word is mimetes. Already, this is a problem since it sure looks like mimic. So what do I see listed under usage.

an imitatorNothing else is listed.Also, the KJV still has Matthew 5:48, be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect. Maybe its just me, but that sounds like imitation.

The whole idea of imitation often times is that you’re not going to hit the mark, but you have something to aim for and why not aim for the best? A young man wanting to be a basketball player could want to imitate Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Will he ever reach that level? Probably not, but he can still aim for the best.

Let’s turn to 1st John 4:3 . A ‘modern’ version says:

“and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.”

Again, in ‘modern’ versions, key pieces of scripture are left out. Compare this same verse with the FULL reading in the King James. In the KJV it says:

And every spirit that confesseth not that JESUS CHRIST IS COME IN THE FLESH is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

Remember, evil spirits did confess Jesus. In Luke 4:34 (and in Mark 1:24) a man having a “spirit of an unclean devil” said to Jesus:

“… Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, [thou] JESUS of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.”

Contrary to what ‘modern’ versions would tell you, the antichrist DOES KNOW who Jesus is. But, what the antichrist CAN NOT say, is that: “JESUS CHRIST IS COME IN THE FLESH“.

Modern versions not only need to get their gospel straight; they also need to correctly quote the true test for the antichrist.

Also, take a look at this: Compare 1st John 4:3 again between a ‘modern’ version and the King James Bible. Look one more time at what the ‘new’ version says:

“… which does not confess Jesus is …”

But, in the King James it says:

“… that confesseth not that Jesus CHRIST is …”

Besides the doctrinal error, these ‘modern’ versions continually assault the Lordship and Deity of Jesus Christ. If the King James says: “Jesus Christ”, many times the modern versions will only say: “Jesus”. If the King James says: “Lord Jesus Christ, “many times the ‘modern’ versions will only say: “Lord” or will only say: “Jesus”.

Again, this is an absurd argument. Is it as if a demon in the Gospels would not say Jesus has a body? We are talking about different situations. The spirits in the epistles would be referring to those teaching Gnostic and/or Docetic doctrines that denied that Jesus had a real physical body.

Why do modern translations translate 1 John 4:3 the way they do? Because of the manuscripts they are translating from.

By the way, let’s look at 2 John 7 in a modern translation.

I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

Yep. Major cover-up going on there.

Bible Question #13: In the wilderness, when Satan tempted Jesus to turn a stone into bread for food; what was Jesus’ response?

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Turn to Luke 4:4 . In a ‘modern’ version it reads: “… man shall not live by bread alone”.

Well, that’s true and that’s part of it. But, what about the rest of the verse? Notice: words have been LEFT OUT in these ‘modern versions’.

The Authorized (King James) Bible has the correct and full reading. In Luke 4:4 it says:

“… man shall not live by bread alone, BUT BY EVERY WORD OF GOD“.

The fact that we are nourished by bread is true, but that is only part of the story. Our lives are sustained by the Word of God. We need bread to sustain our bodies; but, these ‘modern’ versions leave out our need for the life sustaining Word of God.

Again, we have the same situation going on here. For a cover-up, it seems strange that the parallel passage in Matthew 4 does indeed have the passage that we are told modern passages eliminate. It makes sense for Luke to leave it out since he’s writing more to a Gentile audience and Matthew to leave it in his since his audience is thoroughly Jewish. It all depends on what the manuscripts say.

Enough ridiculousness for today. More coming next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: Playing With God: A Theoludological Framework For Dialogue With Video Games

What do I think of Matthew Millsap’s dissertation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

“And Matthew Millsap wrote his dissertation on video games and Christianity.”

My ears perk up as I’m in my systematic theology class last semester and hear these words. I immediately look up this man and find him on Facebook and send him a message. Before too long, he’s happy to send me his dissertation. In preparing to write this also, I contacted him and asked where others could go if they want this dissertation as well and he said you can contact him on Twitter.

So theoludological. I had never heard that word before and my spell check doesn’t even recognize it. It is a combination of ludology and theology. Great! That explains it! So what’s ludology? It’s the study of games. Amazing I never even knew that there was a name for what I have been doing through so much of my life.

Millsap and I are quite similar. We’re both gamers and we’re both at this time 42. We have both been playing games for pretty much all our lives.

Fact check true on the above meme.

When you go through the dissertation, it’s clear that he has a great knowledge of games. Something interesting also for me is that the games he plays seem to be more of a different genre for the most part than the ones that I play. He seems to enjoy first person shooter types and other similar games and I am much more into the RPG and JRPG genre.

Still, he has got me curious about the Bioshock series at least. (Available on the Nintendo Eshop if anyone is feeling generous)

This dissertation is divided into seven chapters. The first is about interaction with pop culture and the lack of interaction with video games. The second is about the origin and history of video games. The third is about narrative themes in video games. The fourth is about theology’s dialogue with other forms of narrative material. Chapter five is where the meat of this work is and shows how this interaction takes place and why video games are different from other forms of media. The sixth shows it in practice with a look at the game Journey. The final chapter discusses implications and further areas of research.

One possible researcher being the one writing this blog.

I was definitely pleased reading this to see how much Millsap definitely is familiar with video games. To some extent, probably a little bit jealous too picturing him getting to read so much about games and at the same time consider it theological research. I could easily picture him, seeing as he’s married, sitting on the couch playing a game like Bioshock and his wife saying “Honey! Can you take out the trash?!” “Not now, dear! Doing research for my dissertation!”

One of the rare times that excuse would work.

If you are unfamiliar with the history of video games, Millsap will give you a good crash course on it in this dissertation. He is also right in there is very little interaction with this medium. When I gave my talk at Defend this month, I was pleased to see how many people showed up. Why? Because this is a topic we need to talk about and there were people of all ages and of both sexes in there.

That being said, the narrative aspect is key. Yesterday, I watched a video on Final Fantasy IV and considered just how much a story difference there was. Final Fantasy IV when it was released over here was Final Fantasy II as Japan kept the next two games in the series to themselves. (And why did we just not declare them our political enemies at that point?!) Something I was surprised I hadn’t noticed was the marked difference in story between I and II. I was a bare bones basic account, but II was a dialoguing adventure with personal characters with real names and twists and turns.

Many games today do have stories. Many outsiders don’t realize that, but just as you watch a TV series or a movie or read a book because you want to know what happens next, so also you play a game because you want to know what happens next. Of course, there is the difference of player agency. It doesn’t really take skill to watch a TV show or movie or read a book to find out what happens next. With a game, unless you look it up on YouTube, you have to play the game successfully to know what happens. Some games even make it harder by having different endings and only those who do the game well will get the good ending.

When we look at the fifth chapter, I mainly noticed his interaction with Craig Detweiler. Consider this quote that he has from Detweiler.

Am I equating cinema with Holy Scripture? Heavens no! The Word of God is a special revelation unequaled in human history. I am not baptizing all art as sacred or all inspiration as divine. Yet God has revealed himself in ways beyond the written word. The Bible itself is a litany of unlikely communiques. Christ promised if his people did not praise God, the rocks would cry out (Luke 19:40). Perhaps those
rocks have recently taken on pop cultural forms. It does not denigrate a sacred text to study other texts; I am merely affirming what the Spirit is already doing. God does not discriminate. The Spirit can communicate via inspiring films like The Shawshank Redemption (IMDb #2) or cautionary tales like The Godfather (IMDb
#1). We need role models and warning signs. While the religious community questions prophets’ credentials, divinely inspired artists keep on singing songs, telling stories, making movies.

While I do think the phrasing can be bad here some, I think when Detweiler speaks of God revealing Himself in movies, I don’t think he’s saying the movie is like Scripture. However, I think what He is saying is that one can see in a movie sometimes an idea of who God is. I remember hearing about a Jehovah’s Witness who left the cult after watching the Passion of the Christ and realizing they didn’t have to go through everything the Watchtower said. One can get theological insights watching popular media like movies and certainly God can use a movie, a book, a video game, a TV show, to draw someone to Himself. I also don’t doubt that Millsap would disagree with this.

At the same time, Millsap did think there was a lowering going on when Christianity was explained in gaming terms.

Jesus dropped into the game of our world with both remarkable (even divine) skills and crippling limitations (of humanity). He explored many comers of his Middle Eastern “island.” Among his contemporaries, he made both friends and enemies. A tightly knit, dedicated community arose around him. Jesus and his clan experienced plenty of grief from aggressive and uncooperative rivals. He was eventually fragged during a deathmatch on an unexpected field of battle. He submitted to the rules of engagement, even while resisting them, proposing an alternative way to play. After three days, Jesus respawned, took his place as Administrator, and redefined the way the game is played

I understand Millsap’s concern here in that this can seem like crude language at times to describe Christianity. After all, respawning in a FPS is really normally not a big deal. Everyone does it. However, I also thought, “What if someone wasn’t a Christian and was a gamer and I was trying to explain Christianity to them?” I could use language that is similar to this. We could say that Jesus was the true respawner much like Lewis said Christianity is the true myth. What we can do in a game, Jesus can do and did do in reality.

Despite all of this, Millsap is definitely right in all of this in how we need theological interaction. The stories he gives from Bioshock I found particularly fascinating. I have listened more than once to the introduction from Andrew Ryan in the first game on YouTube. If you want to listen to it, you can do so as well.

Many of us would agree with some of what Ryan says in this. A man should be entitled to the sweat of his brow. Many of us could also say that while God doesn’t claim all of it and lets us have some of it, we should give some of what we receive to Him.

In the third game, he tells us the story is about a “prophet” who has a cultic form of a Christian type of religion and how someone has to go to his floating island to rescue someone. Despite what some people might think, games like this wrestle with moral decisions and questions. There are many games out there that are extremely philosophical. Consider even Final Fantasy X where the game is all about a quest to defeat a mindless, destructive beast known as Sin.

In the sixth chapter, we look at Journey. I had bought this game and I didn’t get much into it, but perhaps some weekend when I have a couple of hours, which is how long Millsap says it takes to finish it, I could do that. Millsap chose this game because it is an easy one to learn and there is no violence done by the character and it tells a story. Another one I would consider would be Stray, because after all, who wouldn’t enjoy getting to play as a cat?

I definitely agree with his conclusion. There are plenty of areas for extra study. Games are becoming one of the main features in our culture, especially with the rise of smartphones. We Christians have too often been behind the times on this interaction. We need to change that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Life Is A Game Walkthrough Part 6

Do we play by the rules? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Continuing our walkthrough of this book, we now come to a section about rules and why they matter. Many of us play games without rules every day. Nowadays, most video games don’t even come with instruction booklets. When I was growing up, those booklets were a treat. If I found my old instruction books today from the games i got, I would probably look through them just to reminisce.

A lot of games we play are simple enough that we don’t see a rule book. Most people have gone to a sporting event and understood what is going on in the field without sitting down and being told the rules of the game. When I was in DivorceCare and we had a get-together, we would sometimes go out in the yard and play Corn Hole. I never once read anything on the rules of corn hole, but they were simple enough to understand.

In our world, we also have rules for how to play the game. If you’re a Christian, you can find some rules in the Bible, but certainly not all. There can even be debate over which rules apply and when. A favorite of internet atheists is to ask “Well why are you allowed to eat shellfish” as if they have just given a devastating blow to any Christian. (And to too many, they sadly have.)

Also, we have to understand what it is that we’re playing the game for. What are the victory conditions. If you’re playing Mario or Zelda, it’s normally to rescue the princess. If an RPG, it’s to defeat the main villain and save the world. If it’s a puzzle game, it’s to get a high score or finish a certain number of levels. Of course, there can be overlap.

What are our victory conditions?

Like the rules of the game, these aren’t written out for us, aside from Scripture. C.S. Lewis once said that if a ship is at sea, it needs to know three things. Those are how to stay afloat, how to avoid hitting other ships, and why it’s out there in the first place. I still remember the first time I heard that.

I heard the first two and those made sense, and yet the last one was the most important one really and I hadn’t thought about that as something to think about. You have a lot of people today who are health enthusiasts and want to live a long and healthy life. There is plenty of information out there about how to do that, but where is the information on why to do that?

What about money issues? Plenty of people will teach you how to save money so that when you are in your senior years, you can have enough to live on. What is not taught is why you should want that in the first place. This is not to say that people don’t have reasons for wanting health and wealth, but how many people think about what those reasons are?

We who are Christians need to think about this also. Is our goal just getting to Heaven? Then you have the question of why not become a Christian and just kill yourself? Why not just do evangelism by converting people and then killing them immediately so they can get there? Internet atheists are rightly answering this kind of theology with questions like this.

After all, the going to Heaven goal gives us something to die for, but really not much to live for. If you think this world is just going to be destroyed, why bother trying to save it and take care of it? Someone like myself looks at the world and sees the darkness and does my best to say “Challenge accepted.” I was talking with someone within the past week about our city of New Orleans and told him that our city does have huge problems with realities like crime, but that just gives us a chance to shine all the brighter.

If we are playing a game and playing it to win, we need to think about these questions. How do we play it right and what are we playing it for? Without these, we will be less than valuable players. We might even lose the game.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Life Is A Game Walkthrough Part 5

What kind of game are we playing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m returning to my look at Edward Castronova’s book Life Is A Game, seeing as it was highly influential on my Defend Talk. At this point, he is asking what kind of game we are playing. We are going to be looking at three main categories, materialist, subjectivist, or objectivist.

For a materialist game, everything in this game is matter in motion. Suppose you see a drowning child and you jump in the water to pull them to safety. Did you do a good act? Not really. You are matter in motion jumping in to save matter in motion and goodness is not a material property inherent in the matter in motion. If there is any goodness, it doesn’t come from the situation itself.

Actually, Hume would agree with this. Good or evil are often ideas that we throw on the events that we see. We read them into the event instead of reading them out of the event. In a materialist universe, it is not real. I do understand that atheists and other materialists do have arguments for why they think moral truths are real and objective. I just find them all so far lacking.

What about a subjectivist game? In this, we make it up as we go along. There is no real game, but we act as if there is. The closest analogy that comes to mind is Calvinball. Calvinball in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip is supposed to be the game that has no rules.

To be fair, many of us can make up games for us to do on our own when we get bored. Many a family on a long car trip, including my own, did the game of trying to find cars from different states in the country and seeing how many you could find. Children with imaginations make up games quite easily. In essence, most every game we have here to some extent is made up. Chess is not built into the fabric of the universe.

That being said though, once the rules of a game are made, one cannot change them willy-nilly. You cannot sit down to play a game of chess and suddenly decide that your bishops can move horizontally in the middle of the game. Now if you and your opponent want to make up some artificial rules to change the game, you can, but they must be agreed upon.

However, subjectivism doesn’t work because we can’t just make everything up and if we make everything up, we can make up the outcomes to. There is no risk. There is no real way to lose. Besides that, there are aspects of the game we cannot change. No matter how much you protest, 2 + 2 will still equal 4 and no amount of complaining will change that.

This leaves us with an objectivist game. There is something real to what we are doing. There is also something that is real beyond us. This game is not just something material as there is real good and real evil out there.

How do we play this game then and what is the goal? That’s for another time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Life Is A Game Walkthrough Part 3

What is your quest? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In our continuing look at Edward Castronova’s Life Is A Game, it is time to talk about quests. Quests are something common to a gamer. When I boot up Final Fantasy XIV in the afternoon, I see a series of quests that I can undertake. Some are simple. Some could just involve talking to someone and reporting back. Some could involve exploring a dungeon. Some could involve defeating a powerful enemy.

Gamers know the rule about quests. We can have the ultimate goal of the game overall, but it’s easy to get caught up in sidequests. These are quests that you take that are not essential to the story, but have their own benefits. Often times, the sidequests can be more enjoyable than the ultimate quest.

Sometimes also, the sidequests you can do in light of the situation can get hysterical. I was playing FF XIV and had a scene once where a baby in a skirmish got tossed in a body of water. Normally, the player jumps in immediately and rescues the child, but I had a pop-up for a requested dungeon raid come up then so the child managed to survive for half an hour while I raided a dungeon. Tough kid. In Final Fantasy VII, the meteor heading towards the planet will wait while you’re busy doing chocobo races. Also, sure, Zelda is in trouble, but hey, Link wants to go fishing!

Quests give us meaning and purpose. We want to have something that we are aiming for. C.S. Lewis once said that a ship on the water needs to know three things. First off, how to stay afloat. Second, how to avoid hitting other ships. Third, why it is out there in the first place.

Quests give us a purpose to be out there in the first place. Some quests we have involve small goals. You might have a quest to do laundry today or to go to the grocery store and pick up some items. You might not think of these as quests, but they are. You have a goal that you need to accomplish and you set out to do what it takes to accomplish that goal.

Some quests are much more long-term. As a student at a seminary, I have a goal of getting my Master’s and eventually a Ph.D. I also have a goal right now of meeting a good Christian girl and getting married. On the way, there can be several other minor quests on the goal of these quests.

You won’t go on a date unless you ask the girl out. On my end, I am also currently speaking to a therapist here at the seminary who is helping me with social relationships for the goal so I can learn to be social and interact with people better. It’s super difficult if you are on the spectrum. That’s a quest to get me to this quest.

To get the degree, I must pass the class. To pass the class, I must do the assignments. That means going to the library and reading the books. (And if anyone is feeling generous….)

Ultimately, something that has to be asked is what is my overall ultimate quest. Link’s is normally to rescue Zelda and defeat Ganon, again. (Though technically, based on the timeline, it is a different Link every time. If you don’t understand, it’s okay. No one really understands the Zelda timeline.) In Final Fantasy VII, it’s to stop the meteor and defeat Sephiroth.

For us, part of the idea of the game of life is we have to figure out our ultimate quest. What are we here for? What do we want to accomplish? Everyone wants to accomplish something. What is our goal? Earn the most money? Have the most fun? Be a good person? Some combination? What drives us?

If we want to play the game well, we need to find out. Otherwise, we could be questing for nothing.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Life Is A Game Walkthrough Part 1

Are we playing a game? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Spoiler warning for the old game Final Fantasy Legend ahead. It’s an old Gameboy game, but if you are planning on playing on an emulator or something, skip this part.

Your party in Final Fantasy Legend has climbed a tower twice that is said to lead to paradise, defeating the fiends of Gen-Bu, Sei-Ryu, Byak-Ko, and Su-Zaku, as well as their leader Ashura. (Fans of mythology should recognize those names.) There was a trap the first time going up so the party had to do it again and fight the first four of those fiends again, until they got to the top again.

This time, they seem to enter a peaceful and serene area where there doesn’t seem to be much of anything, except for one man, standing in front of a door.  They talk to him to find out he is the Creator and they were the first to finish the game. It was a game he made because people didn’t know what courage and determination meant so he created Ashura to see what they would do. He wants to reward the party and grant them a wish.

The party is indignant upon hearing this insisting that he used them. Eventually, it’s clear they’re picking a fight with him and so the party fights the creator. In the end, they win, and rather than go through the door, they choose to return to their world. (How much I wish we could get a story that would show what was beyond that door.)

THOSE WANTING TO AVOID SPOILERS CAN RESUME HERE.

What if our world also was a game? Granted, there are differences, as contrary to Isaiah 45:7 as read by fundy atheists, God did not create evil. However, He did allow it. My thoughts on this come from reading Edward Castronova’s book, Life Is A Game, which I heard about on a podcast on God and Gaming with two hosts, one being a Catholic priest, who both love gaming and they have Catholics on there who are in the game industry and Castronova was one of them.

He looks at game design and says “What if God created the universe like we create a game?” It’s an interesting hypothesis and I am going through it and in that spirit, rather than call this a book plunge, I will call it a walkthrough. This is one of those books that I am highlighting every night something I read that I find relevant. I am not just learning a lot about the world around me, but I also think I’m learning about myself and so many times I read something and I think “I can relate to that! I didn’t know there was a name for that!” By the way, I’m not even 20% through the book.

So let’s start with RPGs. These are my favorite genre of games. In these, one assumes the role of a character and makes decisions as him (or her) and really seeing the world through their eyes. Castronova says that these have shown us that people want to be heroes and have their lives matter and go on quests. (Another area that shows this I think is the rise of the superhero genre) It’s common in the world of RPGs for a player to spend 20-40 hours a week on one game. Consider how many people made plans suddenly when The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild came out. In Japan, there are laws on when a Dragon Quest game can come out because everyone takes off to play it.

Now we can look at this and say “What is wrong with our society in that people are wanting to spend so many hours playing a game?” or we can say “People are spending so many hours playing a game? Why?” Obviously, it is meeting some desire in the lives of those people, but is it just a desire to have fun?

Probably not just that, because while gaming is fun, there is also the reality of what is known as rage quitting. People get super frustrated because they can’t seem to beat that one level. Many times it’s common to throw one’s controller and just march off in a huff, and yet so many times we come back. Why?

What if we saw this not as a problem, but rather as a clue? Could it be possible that game design could tell us about the human condition? What if we did see the world as a game? Could that give us any insights into the nature of reality? Is this also a novel idea to see it this way?

And what is the purpose of play? Something to consider is play is its own end. People do not play so they can work, but we do work so we can play.

And how does this relate to our everyday theology and life? Is this part of the reason sometimes men hate going to church? Could seeing life as a game make us want to go deeper into understanding God?

I plan on exploring these questions as I go through this book. I don’t know how long it will take, and I also do not plan on blogging next week as I have the Defend conference going on. I hope you’ll be there, but if you can’t, I hope you’ll join me as we explore answering if life could be a game.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge For Fun: Mollie McQueen Is Not Getting Botox

What do I think of book three of Lacey London’s series? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in an age where image is everything. As a single man, I am on dating apps and if I told you that how a lady looks to me doesn’t matter, that wouldn’t be accurate. On the other hand, it would be just as wrong to say that that’s all that matters. Also, it is common for people to be ashamed of their age and not want anyone to know how old they are. I have no problem now telling people that I am 42.

This also extends to social media where we often come and put our best side forward and all the pictures of us are the best-looking pictures we have. I don’t remember seeing a lady take a selfie of her having bed hair or thinking she doesn’t have her make-up on properly. Our lives are often portrayed as being the best that they could possibly me and how much that one “like” that we can get means to us.

In this third book in this series, these kinds of questions come to mind as Mollie’s parents and her in-laws are both obsessing about aging and trying to look young. This involves going through some of the most extreme measures like getting medical procedures done. Eventually, this leads to even more bizarre “natural” treatments that I don’t want to go into now in case someone wants to read them themselves.

All the while, she is interacting with her neighbor, a lady who is a senior citizen, and the other elderly man next door watching them go at one another in what seems to be a contest to irritate one another constantly. Something that is pleasant to see is that the elderly as treated as people who do have a lot of wisdom. Mollie goes to see her neighbor just to hang out, but also to seek some sage advice.

Also, she’s involved with a presentation at her firm where she works to put together a campaign idea for a social media company. She is someone who hates social media thinking it has done a lot of harm to us all. However, with the benefits that could come from this position, what will she do?

As I was going through the book, at the start, i was thinking I couldn’t relate much and that wasn’t such a draw, but then it came to seeing discussions of questions of image and where beauty comes from, which is something I am definitely interested in. We got to questions of social media and I was curious to see what would happen, seeing as I see it as a mixed bag. I do realize a lot of the problems, but I am incredibly thankful for the people and relationships that I have formed through social media that I never would have otherwise.

In the end, I thought the story had an excellent ending and a note on how the next one would go. Right now there are five books in this series and I do plan on going straight through them. The aspect I like is that the characters become relatable to the reader and after awhile, you come to know them personally and are invested in them. I still hope there will be a sequel to Odd Billy Todd for the same reason.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Back To Virtue

What do I think of Peter Kreeft’s book published by Ignatius Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We often talk about people being good today. We have debates about morality and the nature of it. Something we don’t often talk about is virtue. The word seems dated most often. My main introduction to the word virtue was back when I played Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. It’s an oddity in that the goal of that game in addition to being an RPG with fighting monsters, was to gain virtue. Sure. You could trick that blind shopkeeper and pay less for what you needed and get it, but you would lose virtue. Sure. You could run from that enemy you could defeat, but you would lose virtue. Show enough virtue and you can go to a shrine and get recognition for it to complete the game.

Maybe that’s why I saw it there. We think of virtue perhaps as a medieval concept. Our notion of character is that so much of morality that we need to abandon is restraining. How can you have any fun?

So ditch that Christian morality on sexuality and have at it! As long as you both consent, what’s the harm? Don’t worry about pride. Think highly of yourself. Know that you’re the best. Greed is good! About the only exception to this would be envy, because envy is the one deadly sin that has no pleasure to it.

Kreeft thinks we need some of this system back. If we do not have virtue, then our civilization will die. As a big fan of Lewis, Kreeft uses Lewis’s account of ships on the water. Ships on the water need to know three things, how to stay afloat, how to avoid hitting other ships, and why you are there in the first place. Our culture often works on the first two, but we don’t pay attention to the third.

Our approach is utilitarian. If it feels good, do it. Does it bring us what we call happiness? Then do it. Too often, we see what we call morality as a bad thing to an extent. Why do we use terms like goody two-shoes? A fuddy-duddy is someone who is spoiling our fun.

Kreeft tells us that the virtues are actually more enjoyable. The way of righteousness might cause us to abandon some short-term pleasures, but in the end, we will have more true joy than anyone else. Perhaps part of the problem in our culture is that we don’t know what happiness or joy are.

Kreeft takes us to the Sermon on the Mount for this and gives it as a real sermon that Christians today are to really follow. He also sees the beatitudes as being in contrast to the seven deadly sins. He walks us through each sin and then explains the counterpart to it in the beatitudes.

What he says, I leave to you, but Kreeft is always a stimulating writer. He speaks on an everyday level and at the same time, if you have heard him speak, it’s hard to read the book without hearing his tone and voice with it. While Kreeft is a Catholic, I have found his writings quite enjoyable as a Protestant and in some ways, he seems more Protestant than a lot of Protestants I know.

Kreeft in the end lays down what is at stake. We either go back to virtue or our civilization perishes. We cannot turn back the nuclear clock. Nuclear weapons are here to stay. We can do something about the people who have access to them.

Christ called us to be a virtuous people. It’s not an option for us. I recommend getting this book to learn more about how to do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge for Fun: Mollie McQueen Is Not Having A Baby

What do I think of Lacey London’s second novel in this series? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The first book in this series I found intriguing enough that I wanted to go on and see where the author would go from there. Not only was the story good, but the characters were written in such a way that there seemed to be a personal investment on my part in them. In the first book, I was sure it would end positively, but I wanted to make sure the main character of Mollie saw what a disaster a divorce would be and there were a lot of good lessons about marriage along the way.

Now with this second book, many of the same characters are brought back. The investments go deeper and many loose strings are tied together. I wonder how much of this so far the author had in mind from the start.

Not only that, but with the return of the therapist figure of Evangelina Hamilton, there was also the return of a course for one of Mollie’s single friends with the goal being to find the one. I am quite certain if this course existed here and it was ran the same way, I would try to do whatever I could to sign up. Just now thinking about it, I consider it interesting the first step in the course was to get a new wardrobe, just after I went to the free Swap Shop here on campus with some friends to update my wardrobe and yes, for the same reason, to meet women.

Of course, there was material about how to behave on a date and two very opposite men doing the dating. How that turns out is going to be left for interesting readers to discover. There are a number of twists and turns one would not expect, but that make the story interesting.

The main theme though throughout is that Mollie thinks she might be pregnant and this while her husband is away on a business trip and she doesn’t want to take a pregnancy test to confirm or disprove until he returns. At the same time, she has a DIY project to do on her house and she gets the help of her brother-in-law who is trying to win the heart of her sister. How these work out is again something else I won’t spoil.

What is confusing about the main theme is that it doesn’t really read like the main theme. It’s there in the background and it looks like the main focus is on the dating course as Mollie helps one of the guys in it as his friend and sponsor. I found this story much more interesting than the baby story.

From a Christian perspective, there is a lot of good advice in here for relationships again, but Mollie does have a belief throughout about the way the universe is working things out. I often find this way of thinking so many people have odd, as if the universe, a non-personal entity, is intervening personally in the lives of people. One can say theism is nonsense if they want, but one can at least understand how a theist can see a personal deity intervening in the lives of people in the universe.

At any rate, I have started the third of five books now. I look forward to seeing what is in this one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Saturday Morning Mind Control

What do I think of Phil Phillips’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been doing some studying lately in the concept of Christian paranoia over how most every new invention that comes along is something that is going to destroy our children for the next generation. The problem is this happens so many times. It is my desire to find common themes and what can be done when new mediums come up. After all, we don’t want to just follow culture everywhere and jump on every bandwagon, but at the same time we want to be wise and discerning, including with entertainment content.

Phil Phillips writes from a perspective of a therapist in dealing with the issue of TV which he often calls The Box. Certainly, Phillips’s desire is noble and can be applauded. Watch what your children are watching and be aware of it. Try to understand what is going on. He doesn’t say to throw out TV altogether, but he does encourage a vested interest in what your children are doing.

This is something I wholeheartedly agree with. While my Dad and I watch TV together often, including shows like Smallville and the Flash, and we as a family watched Monk and House and other shows like that, but when it came to games, I have often been the lone gamer in my house. Parents. If you have children who are gamers, they would like to see you take an interest in that just as much as you take an interest in your children who play sports.

On p. 54, he does say one main reason that some kids don’t become aggressive in light of what is seen on TV is because of parents. This is the most important insight in the book. It deserves to be recognized by all. If you are raising your children well and teaching them good and evil and giving them a biblical worldview especially, they are far better equipped. I have played games all my life and I am not at all an aggressive person.

However, Phillips does indeed engage in paranoia and many of the rules seem arbitrary. For instance, does a show have more than three weapons on it? If this was followed, you could not watch The LionThe Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I also wondered throughout at times how you could explain the Bible in this position. The Bible has a lot of violence in it and yes, a lot of sexual content. We don’t grant the Bible an exception just because it’s the Bible. If we do that, we are engaging in double-standards.

Phillips does have a bibliography in the back, but the problem is many times in the book, he does not cite sources and does not tell where something is specifically found. Sometimes he will say something like “A boy said X.’ What boy is this? How can I speak to him?

He also sometimes gets his material wrong. For example, he says about Ninja Turtles and this when discussing the cartoon that Splinter was a rat and then became a humanoid rat, but fans of the show know that in the cartoon, Splinter was a human first. In the movie, he was a rat first. (82) He also says Smurfette was a male smurf who became female, but in reality, Smurfette had been created by Gargamel in the show. This is the danger of that if you get something basic wrong, why should I trust you on the others?

He is also vague on what is meant by aggression. It is never defined and sometimes it looks like it is always to be avoided. Sometimes aggression is a good thing. We need to be aggressive, but for Phillips, it looks like there is never a good time for aggression.

The same problem occurs with violence. Phillips is the kind of person who will have a problem with something like Looney Tunes and is convinced that too often children will believe everything on the box is real. Of course, this is where parents need to monitor and discuss, but eventually, children do grow up and realize these things aren’t real and just enjoy them as fantasy.

In looking at the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, which I know very well, he speaks about a three-headed snake that says “Stomp ’em, Tromp ’em, Crush ’em” and of characters being spoken of as belch brains and these are not the kinds of values we want our children to emulate. Good thing that it’s the VILLAINS who do this on the show. Would Phillips really want a show where villains show the behaviors we want to be emulated in society? (p.81)

He gets more bizarre about this show when he starts talking about occultism in cartoons and says that even Mario has a dance, which he connects dancing with the occult. You can do the Mario. You can think the Mario show is the dumbest show ever but you can look at the dance at the end easily and tell that Lou Albano is not leading children into occult practices with a dance.

He uses She-Ra as an example of how She-Ra even cries for an enemy because he was given life and wasted it. When he dies, no one would care. Honestly, this reads as if Phillips is condemning this when I find this admirable. We as Christians should all be sad for those who are given the gift of life and waste it. (120)

Phillips lists several shows he says have problematic and occult themes in them, many of which are just incredibly odd to see. My Favorite Martian should be avoided since it involves UFOs. G.I. Joe should be avoided because it’s too violent.  Other shows to be avoided for various reasons are The MunstersStar Trek, Lost In Space, Dr. Who, Smurfs, Gummy Bears, My Little Pony, Scooby-Doo, and The Archie Comedy Hour. (125-127)

There is a little said on video games, and much of it convinces me that Phillips doesn’t understand video games well. Still, that is minor so I will save that for other works. The emphasis here is still on cartoons.

In conclusion, Phillips means well, but I think his approach will lead to only helicopter parenting instead of teaching children wise discernment skills so they can make decisions apart from their parents that will be for their true good. The goal of a parent is to work themselves out of a job. This doesn’t mean that they play no role in the lives of their children as I can still talk to my parents regularly and go to them for advice, but I certainly don’t need them to make decisions for me anymore, as it should be.

Christians. Avoid paranoia. The problem is not the medium. The problem is discernment.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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