This is Faith in Play #34: Guidance and The Machine, for September 2020.
Some people I know are terrified of the vision of the world in Person of Interest, the television series currently available on Netflix. In it, a man going by the name of Harold Finch has created a hardware/software combination that monitors and analyzes all the data everywhere—cameras, cell phones, online computers, everything. Using this data, it predicts terrorist attacks and gives limited information to a secret government agency so that these can be thwarted before they occur. Yet Harold took the system one step further: he designed it to inform him of the identities of anyone about to be involved, as victim or perpetrator, in a planned violent crime not related to terrorism. He wanted to save the lives of people involved in such crimes, and so the machine gives him social security numbers of such people.
Harold Finch is brilliant at computers, but slightly handicapped, walking with a limp, so he can’t do this himself. He recruits John Reese to do the legwork, and eventually Sameen Shaw joins them; two police detectives, Lionel Fusco and Joss Carter, also help them when called, knowing that their information is always good but not how they get it. Eventually someone who calls herself Root (Samantha Groves to Harold, but she doesn’t like that name) also joins them, apparently recruited by the machine itself.
It doesn’t frighten me. I see in it a wonderful metaphor of divine guidance, and the fact that God directs each of us in accordance with our own place in His plan. Read more
This is Faith in Play #33: Psionics, for August 2020.
About eighteen years ago, in July 2002, I published Faith and Gaming: Mind Powers, and thought I had said everything that needed to be said on the subject of psionic powers in fiction and games. It was republished fourteen years later on our refurbished reformatted website, August of 2016.
I could not have foreseen that seventeen years after it was originally written, November 2019, the republished copy would be discovered by someone who wanted to discuss it in enough detail that it has expanded to eighty comments, fewer than half of them contributed by our webmaster and me, filled with questions and links and references attempting to determine whether these “powers” were actually part of the “occult” practices condemned in Deuteronomy 18. Many Christians think so; for reasons covered in that article, I do not. However, the morass of commentary there obscures the critical points, and so I have returned to address the question again.
The issue we addressed was whether, within a fictional setting, it might be plausible to include characters who for one reason or another had developed “natural” mental abilities beyond those common to humans today—the mutant Jean Grey, for example. We demonstrated that in fact modern humans had mental abilities that were completely unknown less than two millennia ago, and that while it could not be said that we therefore would have greater powers in the future, it just as certainly could not be said that we would not. There was no harm in imagining such naturally developed mental abilities in fictional characters. Read more
In addition to our main discussion list, the Christian Gamers Guild also maintains a second list devoted to scriptural and devotional study under the direction of its chaplain, M. J. Young. In February 2006 this study began focusing daily on a college-level examination of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, with a lighter presentation on weekends. In October of 2007 the study transitioned to I Corinthians, and on to II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, and I Peter. Unless M. J. takes a radically unexpected turn, you can expect II Peter to begin next week. The weekend study is currently posting “Musing”: thoughts on various subjects.
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