When I was a young man, I loved the radio drama Adventures in Odyssey. It informed a great deal of how I understood being a follower of Jesus and we used to listen to hours of the episodes from this while driving in the car. Driving across the country while moving involves many day of long car hours and radio drama like this was a welcome relief as a little kid.
It’s also no secret that I have passion for the gaming community and a desire that they would experience Christ in a way that just hasn’t yet been focused on within the church. The fact that I love games (both video and tabletop) certainly doesn’t hurt either. 🙂
I was surprised when I was referred to an episode of Odyssey by a friend of mine in the gamer community. It aired 22 years ago (I know, wow) but was recently heard in syndication and was specifically addressing the concerns that Focus on the Family wanted to point out in fantasy role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons (hence the barely veiled fake game in the episode).
The referral I got from a gamer was specifically asking just what lessons a person is supposed to pick up from this episode. Especially since it was one of the few times that Dr. James Dobson himself made a point of speaking directly to the audience beforehand. I listened to the episodes (which I don’t remember from my youth sadly, I wish I could remember them in their proper context), but the questions my friend brought up are warrarnted. One of the concerns that people had about the message that the episode conveys is that a Christian has a right to directly interere in someone elses life if their lifestyle doesn’t comply with Christian standards (example in episode is Whit, a character who is the Christian leader of most the town, takes and destroys the gaming supplies of someone else’s child). I bristled while listening, especially as they depicted gaming in a really unrealistic light, and it got me thinking.
The logic behind Whit’s decision is that the child was in danger due to his behavior taking part in a game that was opening him up to the influences of evil. Now in the radio drama, this was exactly what was happening. A disturbed child who had taken the game to a level of realism that is entirely inappropriate was in fact trying to commune with something and that is definitely not what D&D is actually about. But based on the logic of this child being in trouble, Whit acted in his best interest by removing the danger, like one would take a knife away from a small child.
I started wondering just to what extent this role is appropriate for me as a Christian to play? If I honestly see someone in some kind of danger, to what extent am I my brother’s (or sister’s) keeper? In this story, Whit had no leadership role over the child, he wasn’t his parent and had only met him once a few hours earlier. Was it wrong of him to step in and correct someone so vehemently (and violently) or was keeping a child from stepping incorrectly the best action?
I’ve been part of a dialogue about the level of accountability we expect within the church and just what role we play in each other’s behavior and growth.