Last month on the Honor Academy Director’s Blog, Ron Luce wrote a post called What’s the Real Cost of a Video Game? In it, Ron made a correlation between violent video games (aka worldly culture) and the Newtown Massacre:
If we know nothing else about this 20 year old gunman, fresh out of his teens, we know for sure that he’s been submerged in a culture of violence from a very young age. We know that, in addition to suspected social disorders, he played violent video games.
I am by no means surprised that TM would sponsor such a view. Fellow alumni from my year (2000-2001) likely recall the many rules and guidelines revolving our conduct and entertainment options. The first X-Men film was new at that time and consequently banned from being played in the student union. We were inspired to “live honorably” by watching an edited copy of Braveheart. Gladiator was mentioned as another honor-inspiring film, but Dave Hasz wouldn’t show it because he didn’t have an edited tape.
It’s all contradictory. On one hand, Teen Mania men are called to be MEN, not “pansies” or “wimps”. Interns are called to non-violence and peace, yet spurred to honor by watching war movies. Much of the marketing to teens revolves around being elite and chosen warriors who sound a battlecry against the destructive culture of our world. Interns are forced to endure name calling and military-style drills during Gauntlet. Pretty sure all of us know someone who was a bit traumatized or injured by being shot at with paintball guns on too high settings and no protective gear. Many of us can recall the fear and panic in our hearts during some of the retreats and being sent to “jails” with facilitators who enjoyed their roles a bit too severely.
What is that culture called? I cannot call that Love.
In reality, the culture of Teen Mania is anything but non-violent. It pushes and manipulates and essentially brutalizes beautiful souls into either becoming spiritual abusers, or remaining oppressed in spiritual abuse. You can’t complain. You can’t question what’s happening because you’re there to PROVE how much you want to be there. How WORTHY you are for the kingdom.
But such is not the kingdom of heaven. It’s a culture of killing.
Personally, for me, I find a narrowness and rigidity in a viewpoint that equates the world with Satan. Or violent entertainment with murder. It ignores the complexities of cause and effect. Of free will and mental illness. Even the possibility of evil in the world, and the responsibility of the church to Love rejected people within it.With this view, we quickly blame “the world” or “secular culture” for every bad thing.
From what I’ve seen in The Bible, Jesus never said that. He didn’t heal people caught up in bondage or destruction and say, “oh it’s the secular culture”. It’s not as if that culture was less violent than ours! Yet, Jesus admonished the religious culture—their hypocrisy, their evil, their failure to help those in need, their greed. Jesus accused the religious culture of essentially crushing spirits of people and stomping out their faith–and that’s exactly what Teen Mania has done to so many inside the RA community.
When religious culture turns the world into “the big bad”, the end result is an Us vs. Them mentality. This is seen constantly in TM and the HA, even though people constantly say it’s NOT what’s happening. Well, I suppose it’s a very subconscious thing, but it needs to be rooted out of any supposedly good ministry because it only breeds division.
If Teen Mania is serious about putting an end to violent culture, I urge them to stop the violence among themselves. They must let go of the idea that anyone is any more chosen or called than another. The real Gospel message is that God is Love, He expressed that Love as Jesus, and Jesus died for all. That’s all-inclusive with no walls or fences. There are no weaklings, no pansies who couldn’t cut it. God chooses all and there’s no less Love for those who play violent video games, who smoke or who swear.
RA community, what are your thoughts on this? Whether or not you are still in “the church”, do you agree with the hypocrisy and destruction I’ve mentioned here? Do you have anything to add about tying popular culture to tragedy? I eagerly await your thoughts.