Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Purpose-Driven Hoax

The Fox News audience isn't the only demographic who'll swallow any story. In the last 24 hours this scandal has enflamed the blogosphere: Pastor Rick Warren, he of The Purpose-Driven Life, is one of the people behind a violent LEFT-BEHIND-based computer game called ETERNAL FORCES in which you are a soldier of the lord, patrolling the post-apocalypse Earth. You try to convert heretics, but if you can't you blast them away with machine guns. Muslims, Jews, Catholics all must be converted or destroyed. When you blow one of them away, a voice shouts "Praise the Lord!"

People are fuming about this game. "How un-Christian!" is the most common response, followed by "if this were reversed, you'd hear from...(insert Ann Coulter's name here) all right!" As it turns out, the game isn't like this at all. You LOSE points for killing people. As your points drop you lose followers, and eventually you are plagued by demons. Important detail.

People want to believe the Big Lie. Nothing succeeds like implausibility when you're planting stories, and given the choice between a boring truth and an entertaining legend, any good editor will always print the legend. Karl Rove has ridden this theory like a Hawaiian Tsunami. Al Gore claims he invented the internet! Saddam Hussein's WMDs can take us out in 45 minutes! John McCain is crazy AND he has an illegitimate black baby! And the terrorists hate us for our freedom! If it reinforces what we want to believe, we'll swallow it like it's covered with honey.

Maybe it's time we learned to recognize the taste of the Big Lie, sweet but with some unpleasant chemical undertone. The next time you read something about a person or a group of people, stop to think, "would I do a thing like that? Does that person have to be stupid or evil in order for this narrative to work?" The best TV criticism I ever read was of the Miss American pageant; the reviewer said that the entire viewership was made up of people who were saying "I can't believe everybody else buys this crap."

If we stop believing the Big Lie then it will be a lot harder to control us.


jhutson said...

Christian Cadre's Layman has been exposed, and his critiques of Talk to Action's five-part series on the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces, have been rebutted here:

Layman, enjoy eating your Whopper!

Meanwhile, Mark Carver, Executive Director of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church, just resigned from his role giving business advice to Left Behind Games because of pressure from Talk to Action. Read about it in "Revelation and Resignation," Part 3 of Talk to Action's series.

Although Talk to Action did not claim that Mr. Warren himself had developed, distributed, or endorsed the game, it held him accountable for the use of the Purpose Driven name brand in the game's web-based marketing material, and asked whether his mega-church and global pastoral network planned to distribute the game. In response, Mr. Carver has requested that his name as well as the Purpose Driven name brand be removed from the Left Behind Games web site (which actions followed promptly), and Purpose Driven Ministries has promised not to distribute or promote the game. In its statement, Mr. Warren's organization criticized Talk to Action's approach, but did not rebut any of the facts or claims presented.

Talk to Action had argued that what was going on was an old-fashioned business practice, "endorsement by association." By its actions, Purpose Driven Ministries showed its understanding of this argument, and acted accordingly.

jhutson said...

Christian Cadre's Layman: 'A Whopper of Being Wrong' rebuts critiques of Talk to Action's five-part series on the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces.

Layman said...

Talk2Action's follow-up failed to justify the inaccuracies in its first piece. Despite heroic contortions and manipulations on its part. I responded to it in detail, here.