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Thursday, 9 August 2007

Fleeced and Left Behind

The game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, had made the news again. See this at Talk To Action for more details and this over The Nation. Apparently a group called OSU is sending the game to our soldiers in Iraq as part of a care package.
The international director of Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church, Mark Carver, is a former investment banker who serves on the Advisory Board of the corporation created in October 2001 to develop and market this game. The creators plan to market their game using the same network marketing techniques that Mr. Warren used to turn The Purpose Driven Life into a commercial success. For example, they plan to distribute their merchandise through pastoral networks, especially mega-churches.

and

Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is "to conduct physical and spiritual warfare"; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.
And why the hell do they think that soldiers, weary from fighting and in being in dangerous situations, want to play a game that involves killing American citizens? What in the hell is OSU and the Pentagon thinking? Why is the Pentagon leadership allowing this to happen? My guess is that the non butt kissing senior leadership in the Pentagon has been forced to retire over the last several years and has been replaced with a bunch of ass kissing, holy rolling, yes men.

What do these folks at OSU mean when they say they want a new crusade in the Middle East? Don't they read any history at all? Thousands died as a result of the last series of crusades in the region. Do they want a repeat? See this for more details, especially this tidbit:
"The most infamous event from the city's history dates from late 1098, during the First Crusade. After the Crusaders, led by Raymond de Saint Gilles and Bohemond of Taranto, successfully besieged Antioch they found themselves with insufficient supplies of food. Their raids on the surrounding countryside during the winter months did not help the situation. By December 12 when they reached Ma'arra, many of them were suffering from starvation and malnutrition. They managed to breach the city's walls and massacred about 20,000 inhabitants, as they often did when they captured a city. However, this time, as they could not find enough food, they resorted to cannibalism.

One of the crusader commanders wrote to Pope Urban II: "A terrible famine racked the army in Ma'arra, and placed it in the cruel necessity of feeding itself upon the bodies of the Saracens."

Radulph of Caen, another chronicler, wrote: "In Ma'arra our troops boiled pagan adults alive in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled."

Those events had a strong impact on the local inhabitants of Middle East"

See this series of articles over at Talk To Action for the history of the funding, development, and distribution of the game. Both of their target demographics, teens and moderate Christians, were appalled at the game. The moderate Christians were aghast at the idea of "convert or die" and the teens thought the game was lame.

They spent over $34 million on the development of the game. They should have needed only about $2-$3 million to develop the game and perhaps another million to market it. Where did the other $30 million go to? Seems like the marketers found a nice set of rich and gullible Christians to be fleeced. This almost sounds like the plot of the movie, The Producers.

In The Producers, a Broadway producer and his accountant discover they can make more money by producing a horrible play, spending the money on themselves, and declaring the whole effort a loss when it tanks. Hmmmm. Sounds familiar. Oh and of course, they can also take a tax break on all of those copies placed into these bizarre "care packages". It is or course a "donation".

Now they are supposedly developing a new version of the game. I wonder how much money they have fleeced from their "venture capitalists" and donors. I can't understand why people give money to religious project of such dubious value without questioning how the money will be used. I know of several people who have lost money this way and am amazed that they give unquestioningly when the requester is overtly religious. I have seen this so many times, I now have a knee jerk response the opposite way I am approached by a person wanting money for a religious cause, even if the cause is a good one.

You know, the only way they can improve the game is to allow teams to play for both the forces of the Antichrist and the Jesus characters with the same levels of powers. Let the Antichrist and Christ annihilate each other like matter and antimatter. Or see the forces of the Antichrist kick Christian ass. Now that would be entertaining.

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