This is Faith in Play #30: Conflict, for May 2020.
A few years back my band Collision left its equipment set up in a church in which we had been practicing. The drummer had gotten our logo made as a drum head cover, so there was this picture of the earth crashing into a giant cross and exploding. (I don’t know whether you can see that in the picture, but that’s what it is.) The youth pastor saw this and complained to the pastor about it; the pastor replied, “Are you kidding? That’s what it’s really all about.”
My Multiverser co-author E. R. Jones was at a church service somewhere and the pastor asked the congregation how they would define Christianity in one word. Several other people gave the kinds of responses one expects, and then he gave his: War. Our religion is, on one level, about a major spiritual battle between God and all that would oppose Him; we are soldiers in that battle.
When I first read about Dungeons & Dragons™ back in 1980, I was drawn to it because it sounded like this was finally a game that could actually reproduce the kinds of adventures we read about in Tolkien and Lewis and other fantasy authors. Once I started playing it, though, I realized that it went much deeper than that. Its use of magic and demons, of good and evil alignments, of spiritual forces, made it a wonderful metaphor for the real battle in which we are all immersed, whether or not we are aware of it. It reminds us that only spiritual weapons can be used against spiritual adversaries, and that our enemy often is not flesh and blood, even when it uses people as its weapons.
There is some reason to think, and some believers do think, that the ritual of bread and wine was never intended to be a special moment overseen by a priest, but was supposed to force us to take our everyday meals as a reminder of what Christ did, that every time we opened a meal with a bite of food and closed it with a final drink that this would remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice, of the body and blood given for us. Our faith is filled with images and objects whose purpose is to remind us, to cause us to think in terms of our faith. How wonderful would it be if we played a game that also reminded us, that we are in a spiritual battle fighting on God’s side against the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places.
That’s where we are, what we are called to do.
Fight the good fight.