>C.J. Mahaney from Sovereign Grace Ministries has an excellent blog post about how to train and instruct children about our tendency towards idolatry (in this case expressed as video games). His most compelling point is that we must parent and nurture our children from a perspective of humility, not self-righteousness. One of the ways that this self-righteousness flares is when we rely on our own past experience to relate to our kids. It’s an innocent enough tactic, but it can come across as very condescending. Instead of validating the struggle that a kid might be having, we rather subject to our own experience, and (usually) our own success regarding it.
For instance, Mahaney uses the example of the fear of man. Instead of saying, “here’s how fear played out when I was 16,” I must bring it to the present, “here’s how fear is playing it’s way out today.” This makes the issue a present one that even I am wrestling with. It brings me to the place of the person I am counseling. It doesn’t invalidate the struggle by suggesting it’s just like mine was in the past. Rather, it shows that if measures are not taken to mortify this sin TODAY, then it will continue to master me later on.
On another note, I find the increased obsession with video games to be indicative of something deeper than idolatry. My sister and I were chatting about this a few weeks ago as I was preparing a series of messages on “The True Myth”. I gave a four-part talk to the graduating seniors of Wheaton Academy about how every great story fits into recognizable phases. These phases are what make the journey of a hero, and these journeys are often labelled and retold as myths. I think every one of us longs to be a part of these kinds of myths, and the brilliance of it all is that the True Myth is found in the the Gospel story. (Thus, this blog is called Echoes of the Myth, and I posted the quote by C.S. Lewis on my home page.) We desperately long to pursue this myth and its reality in our lives. We want to be part of setting out on a quest, facing obstacles, training to do away with our own foolishness, finding a mentor, slaying a dragon, and returning home wise and tested.
These are all parts of myth. This is what makes certain movies/stories so compelling. The Shawshank Redemption, The Lord of the Rings, Toy Story, Remember the Titans, Avatar, Spider Man, Star Wars – they all contain mythology. Creation, Fall, Redemption, Resurrection, and Return – these aspects of the Gospel embody what resonates in our hearts as a good story, a true myth.
My sister made the astute observation that video games are fast becoming the next medium for living out this myth, and not just the fantasy-type video games. Even your run-of-the-mill sports games are about developing a character, putting him/her through tests of training, seasons, adding skill levels, beating different bosses – these all have to do with developing a hero, pursuing and living out this myth. Coupled with the fact that our hearts are natural idol-makers, could this be why video games are increasingly popular and addictive especially to our young (and not so young) men? Is it the desire to live out the myth + idolatry + frustration/fear in our lives?
Where does the True Myth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News that the kingdom of heaven has broken into our existence here and now through the cross, and is remaking the world that we live in, where does this myth expose our silly little adventures and diversions for the rabbit trails that they are? How does the coming reign of Jesus and our mission to help usher in that reign set us ablaze such that we don’t waste our lives in the basement of our parents’ house celebrating the next level we’ve achieved in Rock Band 3 or Call of Duty?