Pokémon Go, Safe Or Unsafe?

Snipshot from Wikipedia

We observed this evening around 15-20 people crowded in a place to catch a Pokémon. Seems like Pokémon Go, invented by Japanese company Nintendo, was successful in bringing the game lovers to this location. The game has already been lauded by some for contributing towards combining virtual game framework with physical activity in real locations. The term used is “augmented reality”–one has to find the pokémon, invisible in the real world but visible in the virtual world of the game, in real locations. Some think a game that augments by inviting physical activity is much better than video games that are sedentary in nature. But, there have been incidents when game players were so focused on the phone while walking to catch a Pokémon that they weren’t aware of speeding vehicles. The website provides some cautionary guidance:

* When you’re out and about playing Pokémon GO, stay aware of your surroundings at all times—especially when traveling alone…
* To make sure you and those around you are safe, do not play Pokémon GO while riding a bike…
* If a Pokémon appears in an inaccessible location, or in a place where it might not be safe to approach it (for example, on a construction site or on private property), do not try to catch it…
* When using the camera function in Pokémon GO, make sure everyone in the photo is OK with having their picture taken and that there isn’t anything personal in the photo that you wouldn’t want to share.

About a year ago, someone asked me if this game wasn’t demonic in nature. People were going to find “ghostlike” characters that could not be detected without the use of the game app. Of course, the pokémons are not demon spirits. However, there certainly are concerns with regard to both the concept and the content of the game. A year ago Michael Snyder in Charisma News addressed some of the concerns:

Nintendo is now worth billions of dollars more than it used to be. But is there a dark side to Pokemon Go? Is it potentially evil, dangerous or demonic?

Many people would dismiss such questions as complete nonsense. Unlike most video games, Pokemon Go actually requires people to leave their homes, get some exercise and visit real places. This type of game is being called “augmented reality,” and it is bringing people together in new and interesting ways. In fact, the Washington Post is reporting that a lot of people are actually ending up in church as they hunt Pokemon creatures….

However, he also hinted that the content of the game could encourage active interest in occultic themes and evolutionary ideas:

But much more alarming to many is the content of the game itself. As Mena Lee Grebin has pointed out, “Pokemon” actually comes from two Japanese words that mean “Pocket Monster”…

Even the Washington Post admits that there are creatures such as “a flaming demon” in Pokemon Go. As players progress through the game, they collect these monsters and demons, train them, and have them fight against Pokemon owned by others. Here is more from Ricky Scaparo…

The Pokemon are supposed to be “monsters” that have special powers and share the world with humans. The idea of the game is to have the children learn how to collect as many Pokemon as possible, train them, and use them against other people’s Pokemon by invoking the various abilities of each Pokemon creature. Pokemon can evolve and pass through various levels, 100 being the highest. Colored energy cards are sometimes used to aid the Pokemon….

According to occult expert Bill Schnoebelen, Pokemon players engage in all sorts of activities that would be considered deeply occult if they were done in real life…

Like many video games, Pokémon is riddled with occult concepts. Concepts like “magical stones,” teleportation, ghosts, all-seeing eye, psychic power and using spirits to achieve results in the real world are all givens in this game realm. All of this is contrary to scripture. The Pokémon games and comics, etc., teach what I have called a magic worldview that is completely opposed to the Bible…..

Of course, Michael concluded that though others may have reasons to play the game, it is not for him.

Adam Holz in Focus on the Family suggests a not-forbidden-but-watch approach:

Pokémon’s overarching worldview is a magical, vaguely Eastern-inspired one paired with nods to evolution (creatures can, essentially, become bigger, better versions of themselves throughout the game). That worldview is definitely one that parents of young fans should be aware of and talk about, especially if Pokémon Go spurs interest in diving deeper into the myriad other Pokémon video games, TV shows, movies and trading cards out there…..

Pokémon Go offers families an opportunity for exercise and relationship … but only if we pay attention together to wise boundaries and guard against becoming so engrossed in an imaginary world that we lose sight of the real one.

But, Matt Slick at CARM wonders if the game is even safe to be given entry into Christian homes:

I do not see how allowing children to play with games that encourage fighting, reading of minds, use of poison, mimicry, taunting, teleportation, hypnosis, and evolution can be a good thing.  This is not training a child to righteousness. It is accepting the occult and secular evolution.  Is this what we, as Christians, want our children to meditate on?  Of course not.

If children are conditioned to accept these things in youth, then they will be more likely to accept these ideas in adulthood.  This leads people away from God’s word and truth, not toward it.  This is dangerous to a person’s eternal destiny.

For those believers who wish to know for themselves if they should be playing this game or any other game, I recommend the following questions to ponder upon:

1. Why do I want to play this game?
2. What makes this game interesting to me?
3. How does it help me redeem my time for the days are evil?
4. Can I be filled with the Spirit and praise God making melody in my heart as I play this game?
5. Can I do whatever I do, I do to please Christ when I play this game?
6. Does this game help me to ponder on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? (Phil 4:8)
7. Can I be better without this game?

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The Abomination of Casteism

IN HIS ground-breaking book, Annihilation of Caste, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar diagnosed the caste-problem as being fundamentally religious in nature and proposed the only cure to be a rejection of the Shastras or Hindu scriptures; for, he observed, “the acts of the people are merely the results of their beliefs inculcated in their minds by the Shastras, and that people will not change their conduct until they cease to believe in the sanctity of the Shastras on which their conduct is founded.” He proposed inter-caste marriages and inter-caste dinners as a plan of action; but, in response to Gandhi’s response to have a rational approach to the Shastras and reject only interpolations rather than reject them altogether, he replied that the “masses do not make any distinction between texts which are genuine and texts which are interpolations. The masses do not know what the texts are. They are too illiterate to know the contents of the Shastras. They have believed what they have been told, and what they have been told is that the Shastras do enjoin as a religious duty the observance of Caste and Untouchability.” Towards the end of his indictment, Ambedkar begins to hint at a deeper problem than that of the Shastras:

For one honest Brahmin preaching against Caste and Shastras because his practical instinct and moral conscience cannot support a conviction in them, there are hundreds who break Caste [[e.g. when a Brahmin sells shoes instead of practicing priesthood]] and trample upon the Shastras every day, but who are the most fanatic upholders of the theory of Caste and the sanctity of the Shastras. Why this duplicity? Because they feel that if the masses are emancipated from the yoke of Caste, they would be a menace to the power and prestige of the Brahmins as a class. The dishonesty of this intellectual class, who would deny the masses the fruits of their [=the Brahmins’] thinking, is a most disgraceful phenomenon. [Text in double parenthesis, mine]

Ambedkar had noted that there are intellectual Brahmins who do not care for the Shastras but care much for caste. In other words, he had in a way acknowledged that the rejection of Shastras is the not real solution. Already in the discourse, he had noted that “Caste is no doubt primarily the breath of the Hindus. But the Hindus have fouled the air all over, and everybody is infected—Sikh, Muslim, and Christian.” Was he referring to the permeation of casteism into Sikhism, Islam, and Christianity in India? If so, as is also the fact, the very phenomenon invalidates the argument that rejection of Shastras is the cure for caste-communalism. The Sikhs, the Muslims, and the Christians do not accept the Shastras.* Then, how is it that casteism holds a grip on many of them?

Though Ambedkar had tried to show in the treatise that castes among Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians is different from that which is found among Hindus, modern facts show that, on the contrary, the caste-system, regardless of religion, has permeated even these faith-groups. In fact, for a long time there have been movements among Christians that sought emancipation through various expressions in what is studied in Seminaries as dalit theologies. The question is raised whether identification with caste is a class problem or a religious problem. It is notable that converts from the different castes of the Hindu-fold continued to carry forward their caste-identities. See the following entries:

Caste System Among South Asian Muslims
Caste System Among Indian Christians
Caste System Among Sikhs in Punjab

Though “untouchability” is not always very obvious, casteism plays a big role in issues of marriage and association. In fact, there are, sadly, some “Christian” denominations in South India that are heavily caste-oriented. The author has personally heard of cases where some “upper caste Christians” wouldn’t partake of the Lord’s Communion because it was being administered by a Pastor who they regarded as being a “low caste”. How repugnant?

Ambedkar had noted it well that it is easier for some “saints” to preach the equality of men in the eyes of God. There were examples of such preachers in the history of Hinduism. Ambedkar noted: “They did not preach that all men were equal. They preached that all men were equal in the eyes of God—a very different and a very innocuous proposition, which nobody can find difficult to preach or dangerous to believe in.”

Utilitarianism is the king. Mammon or worldliness bears the scepter over these men who make adulterous liaisons with the devil for the sake of earthly profit. They sell their faith for a pot of pottage and betray their Lord for 30 pieces of silver. They would secretly create false certificates and adopt false surnames of the lower caste in order to avail of jobs or privileges reserved for the latter. Then, they would proudly bear about their ancestral surnames and rejoice in their being a special species of men. How corrupt! How corrupt still that the abomination is placed in the Holy of Holies!

Is there a cure? Of course, there is: Repentance! Men are only slaves to what they submit to in their mind. Nothing can enslave them. Casteism is not just a social problem. It is SIN! It is the most irrational and superstitious concept to ever occur to human mind and the most self-dividing and self-destroying notion. Religion IS NOT THE ANSWER. If it was, why are there still castes among different religions. Why was there the division between nobility and the common man in the West? Why was there such persecution against the freedom of conscience?

God calls humans to repent of their sins against their fellow men. And, unless they are willing to treat their neighbors as themselves, they have no place in the Kingdom of God.

See Also:
The Origin of the Four Castes According to Manu


* Though it is an undeniable fact that casteism has its theoretical basis in the Vedas and the Hindu scriptures, including the Manusmriti, while converts to other faiths try to retain their caste-status in opposition to the doctrinal basis of their faith. For instance, when a Christian practices caste discrimination, his practice is not in conformity to the teachings of the Bible. However, for a Hindu to observe caste is not in any way a contradiction of the teachings of the Shashtras. [Sat 5 Aug 2017]

Anti-Conversion Bill Passed In Jharkhand

The draft of the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill 2017 has been approved by the Raghubar Das Cabinet.1. The Bill prohibits religious conversion by means of force or allurement. It states:

No person shall convert to attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion/ religious faith to another by the use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means, nor shall any person abet any such conversion.

The Bill further prescribes that any religious conversion must only follow prior permission from the District Magistrate:

(1) Whoever converts any person from one religion/religious faith to another, either by performing any ceremony by himself for such conversion as a religious priest or takes part directly or indirectly in such ceremony shall take prior permission for such proposed conversion from the District Magistrate concerned by applying in such form as may be prescribed by rules.
(2) The person who is converted shall send intimation to the District Magistrate of the District concerned in which the ceremony has taken place of the fact of such conversion within such period and in such form as may be prescribed by rules.
(3) Whoever fails without sufficient cause, to comply with the provisions of sub-section (1) and (2) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to rupees five thousand or with both.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India responded immediately:

We note that similar laws already exist in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. They were made in Rajasthan, and were made and withdrawn in Tamil Nadu.

Although such laws existed in some Hindu principalities in colonial India in early 20th Century, since Independence, the Union or state government have not been able to define the terms inducement, coercion, force or fraud in the context of religion. The Government and in fact the Supreme Court have not given a definitive definition of the term ‘religion’ specially when it relates to faiths other than Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, or Buddhism and also has not yet explained, after 70 years of being a Republic, indigenous faith and belief systems of hundreds, if not thousands of small communities across the country, and especially in what are called tribal areas, are not listed separately but are lumped together under the majority religion.

The government has also not been able to adduce any proof or evidence over half a century of aggressive implementation of such laws, of any forcible conversions by Christians against whom such laws are essentially targeted. There are hardly any convictions in courts to sustain police and political allegations of forcible and fraudulent conversions. As a matter of fact, the Himachal Pradesh High Court, a few years ago, struck down efforts by the government to force prior approval, after the Evangelical Fellowship of India moved a petition along with other parties.2

Religious conversion is a burning issue in India. During the Independence Movement, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, had concluded that there was no dignity for the depressed classes as long as they identified themselves with the Hindu caste religion. He converted to Buddhism. He strongly opposed Gandhi’s decry of religious conversions of the depressed classes. Gandhi regarded the “Harijan” (a term he coined) as not possessing the calibre for freedom of religious decision. Ambedkar opposed that. The concern of most leaders has been that the masses are incapable of decision making in matters of religion. However, these political leaders were elected by exercise of the freedom of decision by the same masses. Or was it that lure and force were used to conjure votes? Why not pass a Political Freedom Bill that requires any citizen voting for a political party to obtain prior permission from the Magistrate? Of course, this is unimaginable. The idea of prior permission is antithetical to the idea of freedom. Of course, these laws will not prevent citizens from exercising religious freedom. Religious conversions will continue to occur though many may not find it necessary to report their matters of conscience to the state.

One thing is positive about such laws, however. They prove that religious conversions that take place in spite of such laws cannot be called as inauthentic and false anymore. Faith conversion (a better word) cannot be challenged when one has genuine grounds for his/her personal belief.

See Also

Anti-Conversion Laws In India

NOTES
1 Jharkhand Cabinet Clears Anti-Conversion Bill, Indian Express, Aug 2, 2017.
2Jharkhand Bill Ignores Himachal Lesson – (Download Bill copy)

Narrative Criticism

Narrative criticism is a form of literary criticism applied to biblical studies that developed in the past few decades since the 1970s. As a method of approach, it  focuses more on stories, events, people, discourses and settings. According to A Dictionary of the Bible,  “The main thesis is that readers (e.g. of the gospels) should read the narratives and respond to them as the authors hoped.” The previous approaches to biblical criticism, viz. form, redaction, historical, and textual are considered to have become obsolete and effecting no conclusive results. According to Mark W. G. Stibbe,

Until the late 1970s, the traditional methods for the study of the gospels and Acts were form criticism, source criticism, historical criticism, tradition history, redaction criticism, and textual criticism…. …traditional methods of interpretation were more concerned with what lay behind NT narratives than with their form and their literary, artistic features….

A change began to occur most noticeably in the 1980s, when two books were published on Mark as Story (Rhoads and Michie, 1982; Best, 1983); one on Matthew as Story (Kingsbury, 1986), one on The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts (Tannehill, 1986), and one on the Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel (Culpepper, 1983). Each of these works, and a number of lesser-known books and articles… took up the challenge of looking at the final form of the gospels and Acts in order to highlight those narrative dynamics which traditional methods had neglected.[1]

According to John David Punch, “the pendulum has swung, for literary criticism looks at the text as a whole with virtually no interest in sources, traditions, or redactional material.”[2]

Christopher T. Paris observes, “Narrative criticism embraces the textual unity of canonical criticism while historical criticism holds fast to textual divisions that arose from multiple sources and editors. Narrative criticism admits the existence of sources and redactions but chooses to focus on the artistic weaving of these materials into a sustained narrative picture.” [3]

The narrative critic tries to first establish the literary aspect and genre of the text (whether it is fiction or non-fiction, prose or poetry?. Then, he goes on to analyse the setting, plot, theme, characters, story elements, etc. His goal is to understand what the narrator (author) of the narrative really wanted to communicate and how he accomplishes it.

NOTES


1. Mark W. G. Stibbe, John as Storyteller: Narrative Criticism and the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge University Press, 1992), p5.
2. John David Punch, The Pericope Adulterae: Theories of Insertion & Omission, Doctoral Dissertation submitted to Radboud University Nijmegen, 19 April 2010.
3. Christopher T. Paris, Narrative Obtrusion in the Hebrew Bible, PhD Dissertation submitted to Graduate School of Vanderbilt University, May 2012. p4.

The Nasrani Symbol

The Arabic Letter “N” that stands for “Nasrani”, i.e. Christians. ISIS used this letter to mark the homes of Christians left in Iraq. “N”, or ن, is the first letter of the Arabic word for Christian, “Nasrani” or Nazarene. The letter has become as symbol of global solidarity with Mosul Christians. The Nazarene taught that it is impossible not to love when He loved the world so much that He gave Himself into the hand of the violent in order to save them for their sins.

The depth of estrangement and contortion was manifest in the kind of death administered: the death of the Cross. It was the world that failed to recognize Him – the world that belonged to Him. Yet, the real story is not that the world rejected Him; the real story is that He was willing to let the world reject Him. Divine self-emptying, divine servanthood, and divine crucifixion are powerful themes that shock the philosophy of religion. Nietzsche called the greatest of all sins to be the murder of God (deicide). There was nothing more sinful than that. On the reverse, the greatest of all righteousness fulfilled was in the self-giving of the Son of God. This self-giving brought an end to the history of hostility between man and God. It cancelled all debts. Man had committed the greatest of all crimes, and God had allowed it to be done to Him in the ultimate divine sacrifice. The Cross was where Justice and Love met vis-à-vis. It was where man affirmed his estrangement and God affirmed His belongedness. It was where God accepted man as he was. The one act of righteousness by the Son of God nullified forever the writ of accusation against all humanity. The veil was torn away; the entrance is paved, now the ball is in our court. He has accepted us. Do we receive Him or choose to remain estranged? (Estrangement and Belongedness)

Online Symbol of Solidarity after ISIS tell Iraqi Christians to Convert, Pay, Or Face Death
How An Arabic Letter Was Reclaimed to Support Iraq’s Persecuted Christians
ISIS Turned Northern Iraq into Blood-Soaked Killing Fields