Seven years ago, this was a blog for a minor in Journalism. I wasn’t a minor, I was 20, but my degree would have been one. Since watching the collapse of the news industry that year (not to mention the shades-of-gray war zone it’s become), it’s become more of a place for movie reviews and analyses.
But for the past two weeks, I’ve had something else on my mind…. Magic: the Gathering.
It’s the fantasy franchise that was born trying to be adult. Demigods pitting warriors and energy blasts at each other, leaving the battlefield strewn with each other’s pawns, in a cosmic battle to the death. It wanted to be gritty. Just look at any Black card. Human sacrifices, paying for things with your own lifeforce, and raising the dead is pretty standard fare for them.
I could only think of one thing as dark and steeped in the supernatural:
Somebody’s already left this page after they read that. They don’t want to be evangelized to. It was a trap! But they wouldn’t have run away if I’d said the Norse Gods. Granted, there aren’t too many arguments about Ragnarok and whether Grandpa will get into Valhalla at the dinner table. It’s okay to talk about because it’s not real (sorry to whoever I just offended).
In the Bible’s case, though, religion – not modern wellness-based philosophy, not global consciousness or ethics – but old time religion has a power that we can feel again all the way up to today. Right now, people halfway around the world can lead a coup and rob and enslave their own people, killing hundreds, leaving thousands of refugees – and no one reaches down to crush them. The closest thing we have to that is the American military, and when has that ever been a quick, simple or easy fix to a country? Look back to the early scripture, and you’ll see power you’ll find nowhere else on Earth.
So- I decided to put it in cards.
Why? One, because like I was saying, being in the presence of power feels nice. People play war games to feel strong, to feel close to something forceful and big.
Two, if you take any of the Old Testament as true, you’re playing with something real. These are all pictures and descriptors of what God did, and what people did. It’s extreme, it’s dynamic, it’s horrible, it’s incredible.
Three, you probably don’t know it all. Even the former Sunday school kids out there read either the censored version or the simple one. And some details have been passed down to us wrong. Did you notice how many times God meets people IN PERSON in Genesis and Exodus? He shows up – as a human – and wrestles Jacob, and walks with Moses. It has a few elements of what the other mythologies toyed with – brothers’ treachery, infidelity, contracts and wagers –
– and then something else. It has a far less cuddly side of God. Rewind to when pacifism and second chances were barely even concepts yet, anywhere in civilization. (Mind you I’ll stay right here and now where it’s safe.) But when someone enslaved tens of thousands of people and worked their entire race for generations, and no people on Earth was going to save them, the supernatural world collided with the Egyptian empire to pry the slaves free. Yes, thousands probably died, but in context, it feels less worrisome to hear about and more righteous.
So if you want something extreme, if you want clashes of good and evil, if you want power more real than any fantasy you’ve ever loved…
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