Zach, Don’t Give Them an Inch

Dear Mr. Whalen,

I see you’ve gotten a threatening letter from a supposedly “Christian” business (though how one can run a “Christian” business and be publicly traded is beyond me).  I am no lawyer; my advice is worth nothing legally.

But I’m going to offer it to you anyway.

Don’t back down.  Don’t change a thing.  You’ve done nothing wrong and you own no moment of moral uncertainty to a bunch of bullies passing themselves off as “Christian.”

We here in Nashville have some experience with “Christain” businesses deciding they can use the threat of lawsuits to silence their critics.

What we discovered from the incident is that folks who threaten to sue bloggers are notoriously internet unsavvy and have little to no idea of the bad publicity such actions can generate, especially once word gets out of their bullying tactics.

Ms. Coble was fortunate to find herself the help of a legal team devoted to protecting the rights of bloggers.  I would advise you to see if such help might be available to you.

In the meantime, here’s how I’ll help.

My Christiand Friends (and other purchasers of video games), I implore you to not purchase any of the Left Behind video games and to return any that you may have purchased.  Perhaps it’d be worthwhile to return the books as well.

People can have disagreements about a game, about what an “acceptable” level of violence is, and even whether a game is a good buy for a consumer.  Very rarely are said disagreements legally actionable.

Listen, my Christian Friends, here’s what I want you to consider.  The Left Behind games are selling a supposedly Christian-friendly message to Christians and the broader public.  Of course, it’s up to you to try out the game and to decide for yourself whether the message of the game is compatible with the message of Christ.

But, Left Behind Games itself is also benefiting from its association with Christianity.  And here’s what you have to ask yourself.  Is it particularly Christian to threaten to sue your critics?  Is it particularly Christian to use your money and your access to lawyers to take after poor grad students?  Is this behavior you want associated with you?

I wrote them a note expressing my displeasure.  It reads:

Shame on you!  Where exactly in the Bible does Jesus say it’s okay for powerful businesses to use their money and access to lawyers to scare poor grad students and bloggers into not giving their honest opinions of your products?

How, exactly, you get from “turn the other cheek” to “bully the weak”?

We’ll see how it goes.

I also took a look deeper into their website and came across this from their FAQ:

Does the violence depicted in the game run contrary to Jesus’ message on “love your enemy”?
Absolutely not. Christians are quite clearly taught to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies. It is equally true that no one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death. Forgiveness does not require absolute defenselessness. Apparent contradictions on behalf of Christians are often the result of them placing greater importance on the message, than in caring for others. LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is a game which provides great entertainment while encouraging fascinating discussions about matters of eternal importance.

Y’all, seriously, what does that mean?  Im asking this, all snark aside, is that what they’re teaching Christians today?

Back in my day, the words in red were THE TRUTH and nothing else in the Bible was as equally true.  If you read something in the Bible that seemed to contradict what the red words said, you went with what the red words said.

Well, folks, “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” are words in red.  How can it possibly be “equally true” that “non one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death”?  Is that from the little-read Book of Rambo (sorry, snark sneaking back in)?  How is that even Christian?

And I’ll have a dollar for the person who can explain what “Apparent contradictions on behalf of Christians are often the result of them placing greater importance on the message, than in caring for others.” means.

I find myself in a position where I can’t even disagree with them because I can’t understand what they’re saying.

I mean, I don’t think that there’s anything in the Bible that would preclude one from defending herself or her loved ones.  Yet, I assume (and maybe I’m wrong), that such action is supposed to be a drastic, last line of recourse, and that one is supposed to feel some emotion about having to take such a step.

Is there a moment in the video game when, after shooting your first person or encountering the body of a friend, you throw up or pass out or shake so bad you have to sit down?

I somehow doubt it.

Anyway, we’ve gotten way off track.  Let’s recap:

1.  Whalen, tell them to suck your butt.

2.  Folks who buy this video game, tell them to shape up or you want your money back.

3.  Left Behind Games folks, come on!  Accept criticisms, even respond to them (as you have here), but stop it with the bullying asshole behavior, especially because you’re not just passing yourself off as a regular business but as a business that abides by the teachings of a dude your behavior seems in direct contradiction of.

4.  Someone must promise that, when we finally invent time travel, someone will return to BC Judea and hand out baby books to folks.  I had started this post with a joke about Mary, James, and John, but had to delete it because even I, the daughter of a minister, could not keep the Jameses and Johns straight in my head.

Aunt B.

6 thoughts on “Zach, Don’t Give Them an Inch

  1. eh, i find it pathetic.

    point the first, the video gaming community — the sort of people who make up the customers of game companies — have always been an, ehem, outspoken lot. occasionally irrationally dedicated and loyal, but equally often irrationally harsh and judgmental. not a sunday school class by any stretch of the imagination, and people getting into that business had better know it.

    point the second, from everything i’ve heard of this particular game it wasn’t exactly aimed at gentle peaceful sunday school kids, either. you make a game that’s all about pointless wanton violence, your customers aren’t likely to treat you with kid gloves, it really should stand to reason. even over and above the video gaming community in general, FPS gamers are particularly used to rough and tumble, and that really should’ve been obvious to this company before they were done with playtesting their own product.

    (except from the reviews i’ve seen, they might not have done much of that… but that’s another matter.)

    plus, you certainly don’t see id software sending petty nastygrams like that, nor most of the other folks who write first-person shooters. if these guys wanna play in that sandbox, better learn how the other players behave.

  2. While I have my quibbles with “Red Letter Christianity”, we’ll save those for another day.

    The Bible is very clear–and in NON red-letter parts ;-p–that Christians are not to use the courts to resolve their differences. The Bible is also very clear about how Jesus felt regarding money-changers in the temple.

    I’ve never played the LB game and I doubt I ever will. I think the books the game is based on are donkey excrement.

    I read the letter, and it seems fishy to me. My Infamous Letter did outline the “number of [allegedly] false and or/defamatory statements” which were at issue. The fact that this letter doesn’t makes me wonder just how good a lawyer these folks have, anyway.

  3. i wasn’t going to ask, being a contented atheist and all, but curiosity is killing me. what’s this about certain words in the bible being printed in red? do such bibles actually exist, and who gets to choose the colors of the words?

    (religious folks are just so weird!)

  4. Many (most?) bibles of a certain sort have everything Jesus said directly printed in red. It’s a convention that’s been around for at least as long as I’ve been old enough to read, but that doesn’t say much. I don’t really know why it is, other than to highlight that those particular words are supposed to be direct from the source in a way that the others aren’t, exactly.

    This says:

    There are millions of people who read the Bible daily, yet few may know why some publishers print the words of Jesus Christ in red. Mr. William Emmett Shelton (author) of Magador, Ohio and Mr. Laurence S. Heely Jr., publisher of Christian Herald Magazine, say that the idea originated from a man by the name of Louis Klopsch, the first editor for the Christian Herald.

    Louis Klopsch was born March 7, 1852 in Germany. In 1853 his mother died. The next year his father, Osmar Klopsch MD, brought him to the United States. Louis studied journalism at what is now Columbia University. He graduated with high honors. With the Christian Herald he rose from stock boy to editor amidst the company of some very religious publishers. By about the year 1889 he was the owner-editor of the American edition of the Christian Herald Magazine.

    On June 19, 1899, the now Dr. Louis Klopsch was writing and editorial for the Christian Herald when his eyes fell upon Luke 22:20 and the words: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Dr. Klopsch realized that these were the words of our Saviour when he instituted the Lord’s Supper. reasoning that all blood was red, he asked himself, “Why not a red letter Bible with the red words to be those of our Lord?” Dr. T. Dewitt Talmadge, pastor of the Brooklyn Temple where Louis and his father worshipped, encouraged him greatly by saying, “It could do no harm, and it most certainly could do much good.”

    The editor besought Bible scholars in America and Europe to submit passages they regarded as spoken by Jesus Christ while on the earth (some publishers have since expanded this to include all words in red spoken by Christ). The November 1901 issue of the monthly magazine, ran a large advertisement offering a red letter Bible to the readers. The first printing of this red letter Bible numbered sixty thousand copies. They were printed on presses owned by Dr. Klopsch. The edition sold quickly. Presses were run day and night to supply the demand. The King of Sweden upon receiving a copy, sent a congratulatory cablegram to Dr. Klopsch. Nevertheles the one telegram that thrilled publisher Louis Klopsch the most was the one he received from President Theodore Roosevelt. There followed a letter on White House stationery inviting him to dine with the chief executive. He accepted.

    Dr. Louis Klopsch died March 28, 1910, and was buried at Mont Lawn near Tonawanda, New York, where he had established an orphanage. The New York Tribune said:

    “He will not be easily replaced. He lived and died by his own motto:
    Do All the Good You Can for All the People You Can
    This he truly did.”

  5. I have not doubt that that’s what’s got the Left Behind folks behaving like chickens with their heads cut off, but Zach never said that the game promotes killing non-believers.

Comments are closed.