Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Approaches to grieving (ffvii spoiler)

I have recently been replaying ffvii in preparation for the remake.

One feature I had failed to notice previously is the manner in which each of the party members react to the death of Aeris.

It is a really beautiful moment in which we see something of the depth of characterisation in the party members expressed as well as it could be given the playstation's graphical limitations.

Take a look at the video and see for yourself.

I particularly like Yuffi's scene which I think shows her offering some prayers for Aeris, she then tries to hold herself together before collapsing upon Cloud in tears. What I liked about this was 1) It disclosed her commitment to the religion of her ancestor's 'the dragon gods' of which we hear almost nothing about it the game, 2) it shows her deep affection and perhaps even crush towards Cloud (note how of all the dating scenes Yuffi is the only girl who actually chooses to kiss Cloud for herself) 3) It shows the softness of Yuffi and even the sensitivity underneath her tough exterior.

I could probably offer a similar analysis for each of the other characters in their specific manner of mourning the tragic death of Aeris, but I will leave you to do that.

What I will add is that the different reactions also parallel some of the common responses I often see towards death in my work as hospital chaplain. The game is pretty true to life in the different responses death can bring out in people. 

In fact I actually like Cait Sith's ultra weird response- for me this response is actually genuine and common, the person who tries to cheer up the situation in some way or is ridiculously jolly as their loved one is passing, but this is really just a mask for the underlying gnawing sense of grief. I think in Cait Sith's position that also is particularly appropriate given that his betrayal of the party can easily be seen as a cause in bringing about the death of Aeris through the handing over of the keystone... perhaps... I'm not so sure about that now, ... all the same laughter is often a cloak for tears deep down.

In this month of November, the month for remembering the Holy Souls in Purgatory it is salutary to call to mind the eternal truths- death, judgement, heaven and hell. Each one of us will die, each one of us will be judged... perhaps some will mourn our deaths for a little while, but then, ultimately we will all be forgotten. Our souls however will continue, either in heaven, or for the vast majority, in hell. 

Stay on the narrow road, in the One True Catholic Church and go to confession regularly.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Feeling guilty about gaming deaths!!!?

I just finished Mass Effect 2 for PS3, I am years behind current games! But being years behind has the advantage of getting an awesome title like ME2 for only £2 in CeX.

I was wondering if anyone else out there couldn't help feeling a bit guilty about the fate of certain characters in this game....

If you don't know, in Mass Effect 2, depending on how you play the game and how much time you pump into the game characters will either live or die in the final chapter of the story and all at a pretty rapid succession!

For me, I felt bad when Mordin died, and again, of all things, when Garrus died, I even had a twinge of guilt at seeing Jack's mangled face.... am I disclosing here how little I put into the game, here...?

I think to be honest only Grunt, the black guy, Miranda and the DLC girl survived for me... this was surprising as I thought if you did the side quests for each character they basically would survive... this was not the case, I used Garrus all the time in pretty much every quest.... but still... he didn't make it.... any I felt a little guilty for it......

As for Grunt, I had no sympathy towards him, I had read a few minor spoiler hints and I was under the impression that you had to choose one character to kill off, to send on a suicide mission..... I had Grunt in mind for this because I figured he was the least human and most animal like..... and yet, Grunt survived!

I went down to CeX and saw Mass Effect 3 for £2, so have just bought it, I understand that characters that lived can get carried over, but those who died, they are gone forever.

There is something refreshing about this. In most games death is something that can be corrected with loading up an old save, or using a phoenix down or whatever.... but here, death is death and we have to live with the consequences of our failings to protect the characters in our team. That's something I really like because its true to life, and whilst we play games as a form of escape, I like games to have some moral teaching in them, or something to help make me a better person. Being reminded of my mortality and the mortality of my friends, and the permanence of death... they are all good things from a Catholic world view.

Remember Mordin, thou art bits, and unto bits thou hast returned.
Remember Fr Higgins you are dust and unto dust you shall return.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Existentialism and Essentialism

The problem with so many modern RPGs, post Snes era RPGSs is that whilst many of the great titles  pushed the boundaries in graphics, gameplay, FMVs etc, in the characterization and storyline we find made major concessions to dodgy philosophies and false values.

How many of then however strayed into typical "enlighten the deluded masses that need to be rescued from their perverse religion"?

(That is no bad thing in one sense as most religions are false. There is only one true religion the Catholic Faith and all the rest are evil in some way or another- Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Calvinism, Pentecostalism, Anglicanism- they are false religions.)

But even worse, and even more toxic, how many of them essentially preach the doctrine of existentialism.

Man comes to realise that he does not have an essence- his essence is simply his existence- he makes who he is. Man is. There are no laws he must obey, no standards he is called to and no way of life that makes sense of the world.

This is problematic. Deeply problematic.

The challenge of the Christian RPG is to promote essentialism- you have a nature, you have a destiny, you have an end point, you are charged with a mission, you have inbuilt rules, you inhabit a world in which you have a place even if you don't know it yet, religion can help you discover who you are, your essence, your vocation, the meaning written into every fibre of your being.

This can be exciting too. In fact it can be far far more exciting that having a revelation that you are nobody and that your life is in fact empty of meaning.

We all find joy and experience a sense of expansion even in discovering some weird fact about a biological relative, say a grandfather. Imagine tomorrow you discovered your great great great grandfather was a prince who had been exiled from some small European state 150 years ago. Wow! And you are in fact the heir to that kingdom! Wow!

The joy of discovering your true place in the story of the world is awesome and the amazing thing is- God does have a place for you in this story.

Freedom means you can deviate and reject this role,

in eternity you will discover it, you will see your essence, who God had intended and designed you to be.

Unfortunately the vast majority of souls will gaze upon this essence in rage, amidst the fires of hell, for only those who conform themselves to this image, this vocation, this essence will make it to purgatory and through purgatory to heaven.

Domine ut videam.

Lord help me to see who I am, who you have made me,  help me to live according to your design for me, to flourish and to lead others to this fulfillment that solely comes through relationship with you- in and through the one church you founded.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Misty knows the One True Religion

When it comes to getting rid of demons, Jesus Christ is the only way. Mohammed cannot help you, Buddah is useless, there is only one name before whom they must all kneel, the name of Jesus Christ (and the names of His Holy Saints, who are filled with Him and reflect Him).

Dona Nobis Pacem and Final Fantasy X

At Holy Mass as the priest holds the Sacred Host in His Hand, he strikes his breast three times saying-

Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us
Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us
Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace

This moment occurs just after Sacred Host is broken, one of the moment which mystically shows forth the Sacrifice Our Lord offers on the Cross and that His perfect sacrifice has been accepted to grant us peace- peace between humanity and Almighty God in the New and Everlasting Covenant. 

Holy Mass renews this sacrifice it brings this Once and For all sacrifice into the here and now, God uses the rites of the Mass to intersect history anew with this One Sacrifice, bringing its efficacy, applying its merits to those who are present and who have interiorly united themselves to the sacred rites.

He does this through His Sacred Priesthood- those to Whom He Himself gave the command, 

"Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is My Body which will be given up for you- do this as a memorial of Me", a sacred rites, through which, according to St. Paul, "you are proclaiming the Lord's death, until He comes".

This brings me to the thought, which I have shared previously, about "the calm" of Final Fantasy X.

When the final summon is made, when the summoner gives his/her life in sacrifice, sin is defeated, the evil monster is chained up once more, and a period of peace is given to the world.

Let's skip the fact that as the plot of FFX develops the whole Yevon religion is revealed to be a sham, but the fact of the matter is, the final summonings did bring calm, and this was because of the self-less courage of the summoners.

Here is the extract from X about The Calm, only watch the first 5 mins, after that it moves on. 

Notice the desire for this Calm that the people have, and the language used, it is the period of peace during which people can raise their families without fear. The calm that parents long for the safety of their children, and children so they can be free from nightmares and sleep peacefully in their beds.

Maybe we need to try and see the Sacrifice of the Mass like this- in attending Holy Mass, in being there at this Have Mercy on us! Have Mercy on us! Grant us peace! The period of calm is ushered in to our lives, it envelops us, we are surrounded in Our Lord's merits mediated through the Holy Sacrifice- the Final Summoning. 

This doesn't mean we won't suffer from illness, it doesn't mean endless prosperity, but neither did the final summoning in X, but what it means is freedom from sin, from the power of the Devil, and for those who are living in the state of grace, the promise of Eternal Calm, of which this present time will just be a foreshadowing.

With these thoughts in mind-- Introeamus ad altare Dei.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Xenogears- Anti God or Anti Demiurge?

There are an increasing number of Xenogears fans out there I think, it's an interesting game, but a game I have never completed.

I reached disc two at least a couple of times but the game is far far from perfect and after beginning as an amazing game, a game which you are thinking is going to be one of the greatest games of all time, unfortunately it gradually and then quickly runs out of steam almost from 3 hours in. 

I really love some of the soundtrack though, it is a masterpiece and the vocals are awesome.

The big problem for Catholics with a lot of JRPGs is their blatant anti Catholicism and their promotion of false anti-God philosophies.

I have traditionally seen Xenogears as anti God in a really really big way...sham religion to control people, 'god' himself is an antagonist, reincarnation, etc etc. 

 but I recently saw a video that made me reconsider this a tiny bit, and the video has some good points. The argument is that the Japanese who are godless and largely propelling to eternal damnation like to use Christian terminology to make their games and stories seem more occidental and strange, often applying names incorrectly and with nothing to do with their original reference points. This is certainly the case in Xenogears in a way perhaps unparalleled. 
And so whilst at the centre of xenogears there is this god thing trying to revive itself by farming and feeding itself humans who it has created, this thing isn't really a god at all, it is a demiurge a being that is itself created and yet has the capacity to create as if it were a god. So a created being posing itself is god is the enemy.

But then there is this wave existence- is this the true God? Obviously not, since how could God get trapped by a demiurge (which seems to have happened in xenogears) the whole stuff about the wave existence in xenogears is just incoherent, an all powerful being from another dimension is somehow trapped in a man made robot demiurge and wants to be set free....

So in xenogears we are not dealing with the true creator of the universe in any of this, we are not fighting uncreated existence, we are not fighting the supremely simple, perfect and holy God, we are not actually fighting the supreme being in any way, nor are we helping him escape from the demiurge. 

Xenogears fails in as much as it does not bring to light to fact that whilst the demiurge Deus is a phony god that is rightly destroyed, there is a true God sustaining all things Who Himself exists without the need of any other, a God Who simply Is and cannot fail to Be, a God without which all things would fall back into nothingness.
Hear are some ideas of altering the plot to make Xenogears more Christian:

1) Wave existence has to go. 
2) the continual reincarnations of elly and fei not true incarnations but vocations given by the true God 
3) Just as the demiurge has his false religion in xenogears through the ethos, the true God too ough to His own religion in the world of Xenogears which is acknowledged by the end of the game to be true.
4) The true God wishes to see the destruction of demiurge through means of humans, as humans created this false god the true God wishes that they destroy it.