The Last of Us, Eschatology, and The Theology of Player Involvement
by M. Joshua
Once upon a time, a piece of interactive fiction landed on my doorstep called The Last of Us. While the title suggests that it’s about the end of humanity, the story of the game is much more about a broken man’s heart coming alive again. The story of that man and his pseudo-adoptive daughter is way better than anything I could write. So I spent about a thousand words on what it’s like to be a borderline-hobo that would do anything to protect this little girl.
And while on the subject of apocalypses and the end of the world, I was also thinking about another dreamscape that longingly hopes for the apocalypse; though maybe not the one you’re most familiar with.
So, you remember Eden, right? The place where everything was perfect and God made Adam and Eve? You might not remember it past the bedtime stories that we’re left with from the Bible, because as you probably know, humanity screwed up. We got selfish ambition, murder, and disease as a result. Eden (earth) was filled with those things. And you know what a poisonous environment that leads to disease is called? Miasmata. I dove into this fallen Eden and chronicled the longing it left me with: to see Eden restored when Jesus returns.
At the end of the day, it came time to ask a deep spiritual question: Are my choices in-game a reflection of my true self? Or is it just an abstract waste of time? Is there a divorce between my presence in front of a screen and my in-game persona? I discussed this topic at length with Zachery Oliver and Ted Loring last week on the Theology Gaming podcast.