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Blessed are the first-person shooters

This is unexpected: churches across the country are sponsoring Halo nights.

Those buying it must be 17 years old, given it is rated M for mature audiences. But that has not prevented leaders at churches and youth centers across Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches that have cautioned against violent entertainment, from holding heavily attended Halo nights and stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out.


Witness the basement on a recent Sunday at the Colorado Community Church in the Englewood area of Denver, where Tim Foster, 12, and Chris Graham, 14, sat in front of three TVs, locked in violent virtual combat as they navigated on-screen characters through lethal gun bursts. Tim explained the game’s allure: “It’s just fun blowing people up.?

Onward, Christian commandos! I guess it's a logical progression from animated vegetables, trashy novel series, and rock music to violent video games, though it seems like there should have been a line drawn somewhere. What teenage male could resist a well-organized fiesta of digitized gunfire in a place his parents are more than happy to let him go? Especially if he's too young to buy the game himself?

Ironically, the glorification of violence isn't the only thematic issue that seems like it should give church leaders pause:

Complicating the debate over the appropriateness of the game as a church recruiting tool are the plot’s apocalyptic and religious overtones. The hero’s chief antagonists belong to the Covenant, a fervent religious group that welcomes the destruction of Earth as the path to their ascension.

Imagine the struggle of parents who don't want their kids to go to Hell, but have trouble telling them not to go a to a church-sponsored event, because that event is an orgy of pixelated bloodshed where the gamers will try their damnedest to stop a bunch of (fictional) end-times fundamentalists from ruining the planet. What's next?

“If you want to connect with young teenage boys and drag them into church, free alcohol and pornographic movies would do it,? said James Tonkowich, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a nonprofit group that assesses denominational policies.

Hey, my church offered free alcohol; I grew up Catholic. But then, I was also taught my halo had to be earned. As for the smut, I guess one route is to develop Abstinence Porn, which would be even more platonic than softcore. Sounds hot. Of course, you could also stick to the real thing and use the same logic as with the video game. It's just on a TV screen, it's not real sin - see how she's faking it? Jeepers.


Sorry for the huge review, but I'm really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it's the right choice for you.