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Fantasy Role Playing Games

I wrote the following for another blog but thought it would be appropriate here.  It was inspired by the fact that I have a role playing game built around my book series, which you can find here.

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What is about fantasy role playing games that appeal to so many people? Never mind the games- what about the movies? The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Matrix… these and more appear to appeal to something deep inside of nearly every human being. Why?

There are some people that think that humans are just the result of a long chain of natural processes. Survival of the fittest, if you will. But why should survival of the fittest produce people who enjoy stories? Why do we not only enjoy stories, but enjoy telling them? Not even that! Why do we so badly wish that we were actually in the stories? There are some people who wish to reduce everything to natural selection, but isn’t fantasy, myth, and mystery something that flies right in the face of such an idea?

Are you nothing more than dirt? The question is not “Is it possible for dirt to find mystery in the world?” but rather “Why should dirt find mystery in the world?”

I submit to you that we are not dirt. I submit to you that everyone who reads this knows only by looking at their own hearts and minds as they respond to deeply moving mythical and fantastical movies and stories that they are much more than dirt. However, if you, my dear reader, are like me, the same moment that you can tell that you are more than dirt (no matter what anyone else says), you know that some how the world is not big enough for us. Reality is a let down. We long for something more, hope for something more… fantasy role playing games help to feed this hunger. Even then, we know it is nothing more than a mere appetizer.

Is there any world view or belief system out there that predicts and explains these facts? Christianity does. Imagine this: the world is oppressed, and some don’t even know it, but still they feel it. An evil enemy is trying to subdue the world. The Superhero arrives and does battle with the enemy! but alas, the superhero is dealt a deathblow… he falls…. he dies… the enemy laughs, and gloats, and cheers, and looks forward to finally finishing off anyone else who stands in his way… But beyond amazing and beyond hope! A great curse is broken, a mystery of the universe unknown to the enemy is revealed! The superhero is alive! And the enemy… must flee… but his time of judgment will come… it will come…

Now, this is obviously the story of Jesus. He is God the superhero coming to a broken and oppressed world. His enemies assault him, his Enemy strikes him down. The wounded weep and the wicked ones rejoice… but suddenly its all turned upside down. Jesus is raised from the dead! He descends into the depths and in victory ascends. The enemy flees… for a little while. That is the story of Christianity, but is this not also the story in two of the stories listed above? In both the Chronicles of Narnia and in the Matrix the superhero is struck down but is raised again. Evil remains, but only for a little while… Even in the Lord of the Rings, Saruman is defeated but still remains after the Return of the King.

So, is Christianity just the ultimate pre-quel to Aslan and Neo? Is Christianity just another timeless story? It may seem that way, but that is not what Christianity claims. Christianity rests its power on the fact that the Fantasy has actually become a Fact! And why does the story so appeal to us? Because the story was built into us by God, so that we’d receive it when the story became his-story.

What other ‘religion’ looks at our love of myth, mystery, and fantasy, but does not merely explain it away? Everyone the world over loves myth, mystery, and fantasy, but only Christianity says, “Yes, that is to be expected, because we are made in the image of God, and God is a storyteller, and that makes us storylovers, and there was always in mind one grand plot- the same grand plot that we so love- and the story is the real story of our world? Only Christianity even talks about it. Only Christianity embraces it as an important part of what it means to be human. Other religions, and even some science, flatly ignores it. They have to ignore it… they have no explanation for it.

So, enjoy playing in the fantasy role playing games and bathing yourself in myth and mystery! But if I’m right, and Christianity is right, then there is more meaning to events surrounding you this very minute. If Jesus is God stepping right into the human story, we must not forget that we ourselves are part of that human story! That means each of us are characters thoughtfully included by the Author, and each of us have a part to play. It is not for us to decide how big of a part we play, it is only our duty to play it well and to the best of our ability.

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