I read a couple of articles this week, Lost in Xanadu by Carl Truman and America’s Lost Boys by Samuel James. They contain my favorite subjects, boys, video games, culture, and the church. What more could I ask for?
In case it isn’t obvious, what is happening to men and boys within our culture is something that is often on my heart. I’ve written about the Lost Boys myself, many times. I am thinking of Lost Boys more in terms of how we are promoting fatherlessness and redefining masculinity, and what toll that is taking on men, families, communities. So it was interesting that I felt such a disconnect from this article that basically laments video games and pornography. Don’t get me wrong, anything can become an addiction and I’m not touting the benefits of porn. There’s a valid argument to be made for the kind of disconnected society we are building, one created around virtual reality and interpersonal relationships with avatars. We’ve been having this discussion for decades, one that began when television was first introduced. Technology changes people.
It is just that in my world the biggest threat I see is people not knowing Jesus Christ, followed closely by the meth and heroin epidemic, and then the horrific increase in male suicides. Hopelessness, violence, moral chaos. We proceed from there on the anxiety scale to complete economic collapse and the uncertainty of terrorism. Video games, seriously? This doesn’t even make my list and I am left feeling as if the real world I see, the world of suffering and grief and misery all around me, is as invisible to many Christians as I am.
It does resonate with me however, that Jesus Christ is a relationship, that addiction can be a bit like a hole caused by a lack of relationship, that an economy is built on relationships. Porn of course becomes just another quick fix for a lack of relationship. We people are not learning how to build interpersonal relationships anymore, we’re watching TV, playing video games, and staring at our i-phones.
Just the same, I thought blaming the Lost Boys of the video game world for the decline of Western civilization was a bit off. They are but a symptom of a much greater problem and their choice to kind of withdraw from the world itself sure beats the Mad Maxian destruction wrought by those caught up in meth and heroin addictions.
In “Lost in Xanadu” Carl Truman mentions the article about the Lost Boys and does say, “These addictions are simply symptoms, albeit very obvious ones, of the moral and cultural bankruptcy of our present age.” He than proceeds to speak of the pleasure dome of entertainment that now dominates our world, how that is actually the root of all evil, the elephant in the living room causing all our problems. It is the next part where he speaks of how the church should address these things where I find my frustration reaching the breaking point, “Thus, to say that the church needs to break with entertainment and offer meaning is true. But how we do this is very far from obvious.”
It is not far from obvious at all, it is as plain and obvious as ever, it is right in front of us! You simply provide the meat and potatoes of faith, the gospel, the good news. The simple truth. You introduce people to Jesus Christ. He who has the Most High, has the best high. So many of our problems in the Western church stem from anxiety, we have to do something, we have to fix it, we have to get it right, “we” being the key word there, as if the Holy Spirit is not quite real to us, as if He can not move without us, as if it is all up to us. We forget, He is the meaning and the method and the means.
Meat! Oh how I have gone to churches and lamented, where’s the beef? Probably for as long as that commercial has been out. I find Him sometimes, often in small churches and tiny groups of believers, the Holy Spirit alive and well and welcomed, but it can be rare and surprisingly hard to find Him.
Something that struck me as interesting was reading these two articles lamenting the decline of Western civilization and they do not once speak the name of Jesus Christ or mention the power of the Holy Spirit. They speak of Christians and Christianity as if the churchian world were simply another room in Xanadu, an alternative holodeck in the pleasure dome of entertainment we all seem to be trapped in.
He concludes, “We clearly need a reformation as dramatic, if not more dramatic, than that of the sixteenth century.”
Or, we could just look up, speak His name, and go forth and make disciples like we were told to.