Now for those of you not in the know, over in England there is a little tiff between the Church of England and Sony (the makers of the Play Station 3 and the game in question) about a violent video game with a shoot out in the middle of an English Cathedral. Originally when I first saw the article, I did not care much at all, in fact I had some similar thoughts to this guy – that this argument is blown out of proportion.
However, now I am thinking a number of new thoughts. First, this does not seem so blown out of proportion in an overall sense (perhaps this specific case study is with other unconsidered or unknown complications). The Church is asserting itself and calling against violence, particularly associating violence with the church in a positive light. In fact, for the Church of England to object, and we to think Christians are being uppity over there, shows how far we have come from the pre-modern days of the Church as vocal and ethically assertive.
Second, I began thinking about how this game narrates a violation of what the church seeks to create – a safe place, a sanctuary – and that the Church ought to vocalize a rejection of the game. The point of a Church space, historically speaking, is numerous, but one very important reason is creating a space for the basileia (kingdom) of God to break into this world – to meet the desperate needs of humanity with those who proclaim the crucified and risen Christ (whether it be structural evils like racism and sexism or the particular implications of evil, like the single mother working two low income jobs to care for three kids). The Church is supposed to create a safe space from evil as the Church manifests the basileia.
Third, I started thinking about conversations I have had recently on the modern nation-state: that pluralism (in the sense of all religions are an equal path to God) is the product of the modern nation-state subjecting everything to its coercive power under the guise of peacemaking. Perhaps pluralism is not, I am just beginning to explore this avenue about pluralism, however, I have seen other affects from the nation-state making itself the power and have already written about them.
The point is, the demise of the political act of sanctuary by the church, much less the idea of peace in the house of God, is one of the most visible indicators (in its invisibility) of the nation-state asserting power over the body of Christ and claiming the first allegiance of a Christian. Why is there no legal idea of sanctuary? Because the state has claimed we cannot do so and we have gotten used to what we are “allowed” to do, or have no idea of what we can assert as the body of Christ. In fact, if you the reader is thinking how absurd the idea of sanctuary is, you are just making my point; sanctuary is absurd to those under the heel of a government with a standing army and a privatizing, individualizing social contract.
So concluding these thoughts: violence associated positively with the safe place designated by the community of faith is a violation of that safe place, and therefore a violation of the community itself. Christians I think have a good reason to be pissed and object to being positively associated with violence.