A Christian's Open Letter To Jim Wallace And The ACL

When the Australian Christian Lobby uses an international tragedy to further its own political agenda, and demonise video games, it does Christianity a great disservice - which is a shame because clearly, the ACL does not represent the vast majority of reasonable Christians. Thank God, then, for Nathan Cambell, student at Queensland Theological College - and Christian - who wrote an intelligent, well written open letter to Jim Wallace about his treatment of video games in the wake of the Oslo tragedy.

I think it's worth reading in its entirety, but here's a short excerpt.

We certainly wouldn’t want to see any vulture hijacking this event to further their own policy agenda would we? It always looks so cynical when people do that. When they take a horrible tragedy. Still fresh. And rebrand it, even if it’s a possibly legitimate link, in order to score political points. Usually it’s nice to wait until the furore has died down, till the grieving families have identified their loved ones and laid them to rest. That’s the classy way to capitalise on tragedy. If you must. But not the ACL, Jim. Not the Australian Christian Lobby. In the Australian Christian Lobby’s infinite wisdom, and with a bit of media savvy that belies days of experience, the Australian Christian Lobby has published a media release with the following headline:

Norwegian Tragedy Highlights Impact of Violent Video Games… why no partner release highlighting how drugs killed Amy Winehouse. At least the link there is directly plausible. Why not an acknowledgment that twisted and evil people do twisted and evil things because we live in a world tainted by sin, where we, as humans, are fallen and inclined to do wrong? That would be a Christian response to tragedy. Why not offer a clear condemnation of this man who claimed to be acting as a Christian?

I also agree whole-heartedly with his conclusion.

The guy was a deranged, evil, lunatic. He committed abhorrent acts. In the name of abhorrent beliefs. That could not possibly be born from Christian theology. And you’re trying to capitalise on it for political gain. That’s disgusting. It’s cheap point scoring. It’s tacky. People see right through it. You’re not convincing anybody of anything except the idea that Christians are out-of-touch and only interested in protecting ourselves.

I've said previously that I didn't want to give any more attention to the Australian Christian Lobby, but I did think it was worth posting this to show that the ACL do not represent Christianity in any way, shape or form when it comes to the video game violence debate. I think this letter goes some way to showing that.

You can read the letter in its entirety here.


Comments

    *Stands up and claps*

      Seriously u are defending violent computer games that this guy used for his training. As a church leader in a movement of 1150 churches and as someone who knows Jim Wallace well I would say he is more than qualified tp speak for Christians and about military media and u are utterly missing the point.

        Bruce perhaps you should go back and check your bible, especially the parts that say you shouldn't lie. Neither the ACL nor yourself "REPRESENT" 1150 churches. This is utterly ridiculous and wrong. Do you have a manifesto signed by every church in Australia? You speak upon their behalf without their consent and then in typical extremist fashion attack anyone who disagrees with you and try to misrepresent yourself as a mandate (which DOES NOT EXIST). Please grow up and while you're at it how about considering atheism because you are obviously not a christian and you insult all real christians by claiming so.

        It's amazing how much YOU are missing the point. I've seen some articles discussing Breivik's manifesto and it seems his drive to perform these acts are based on his interpretation of religious beliefs (along with a large dose of xenophobia). Regardless of whether games existed or not, they had NOTHING to do with his MOTIVATIONS.

        You are a frighteningly ignorant fool if you think he wouldn't have done this without video games existing. As the article points out you are a pretty disgusting, immoral person for using this tragedy to push your own agenda.

        If you know Jim well then can you please get him to provide a copy of his list of experts that allegedly have all this wonderful information that proves what he says?

        And how dare you to presume that Jim Wallace can speak for all Christians. As a lay Catholic, I find it abhorrent that rather than decry the actions of one deranged madman who seeks to pervert the very teachings of Christianity (love thy neighbour etc.), he sought to use it for political point scoring.

        :sarcasm begins:
        If we're going to rail against something senselessly, how about books? I hear they give people ideas, which get into their head and make them do all kinds of crazy stuff. Why don't we ban and burn them instead? And I heard the madman was a Freemason too. Why don't we blame them for the pan-European conspiracy that the nutter was on about? How about the Templars? The nutbag placed their cross on his manifesto. Surely that should be blamed too!
        :sarcasm end:

        I believe it is you, rather than many of us posting here, who has missed the point.

        Who is missing the point here Bruce? A Christian has expressed his dissatisfaction with Jim Wallace's actions and you claim he is wrong? I think he is allowed to express whatever views he wants, just as Jim has himself.

        Jim may well be qualified to speak on Christian issues but it seems to me he has no idea what he is refering to when it comes to video games. Anyone who has played these games knows that the link to violent actions is tenuous at best.

        If you ask me, Mr Wallace should be the one defending Christianity to Sunrise, not Seamus defending video games. Maybe you should show the same tolerance that your religion professes rather than trying to provide a scapegoat to a muderous madman.

        I would like to bring up this point that people seem to be missing, he started writing this manifesto 8 years ago. He has been planning this for almost a decade and in the 3 books of his manefesto, over 1500 pages and 750,000 words long video games don't even get a mention in the first 2 books and are only mentioned in passing at all. There are less than 20 references in the manefesto over 750,000 words.

        That any logical person could believe in a link is mind-boggling.

        So Jim Wallace never does anything wrong?

        The massive irony here is a trained killer claiming to represent all Christians in Australia, namely Jim Wallace, who as far as we know, has never played video games of any nature, is blaming video games as the root cause. Yet ideology, political or otherwise, along with proper weapons training (as seen in Norway's national service for those over 18) would be a more logical, more rational cause and effect for this Christian terrorist.

        I have no qualms calling Brevik a Christian terrorist because history is littered with acts of terror carried out by Christians so lost in their ideology that everyone apart from them is "cleansed" / removed from society in some religious fervour call to security, purity or nationalism. His manifesto is no different to the ideology seen in other acts of war or terror. I say this as a Christian.

        There is a tipping point where one's belief in some cause, religious or otherwise, supercedes the value of humanity around you. Defending Jim Wallace, as you are, Bruce, shows that you might be blind to this tipping point. Especially since the ACL fosters exclusionist, seperationalist, right-wing thought in Australia under the guise of Christian belief.

        Yes Bruce I am defending them.

        Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 sold over 6 million copies. And you have 1 bad apple from that. That ratio is not bad is it.

        Just like I dont judge the whole of Christianity as kiddy fiddlers based on the actions of a much larger ratio of the men of cloth that have molested kids , I dont think it is fair for you to brand these games as dangerous because of the actions of one lunatic.

        These games provide an avenue for many people to entertain themselves without resorting to drugs , crime or alcoholism that is rampant throughout society these days. Surely you can see that the benifits outweigh the consequences of one bad apple actions. ( by the way that said bad apples motivation was Christianity so if he didnt have that motivation the training wouldnt have been needed )

        Well the Church can't really say they have a good track record with the public. I mean there was the whole the world is flat thing and a little thing called the Inquisition. Oh and there was burning witches and then the small pedophilia thing. Also video games aren't the source of violence. The lunatics are!

        Bruce, you couldn't be more wrong, in fact I think it's impossible to represent a more polar opposite attitude from the correct one than you have.

        Speaking as someone who knows Jim Wallace only from his media appearances I'd suggest that his agenda and attitude is such that he's happy to exploit anything he thinks might incite a moral panic.

        I'd be very terrified if I suspected he even believed his own conservative drivel. But his arguments are so empty and devoid of logic it sounds like scripted spin to appeal to lowest denominator (congratulations on making that grade BTW) as opposed to legitimate opinion.

        Bruce, I'm sorry but I must stand against you here. According to the manifesto, the game in question was used in a method other than it was intended: as a training tool for aiming and tactics. He could just as easily have used airsoft or painball or hell, even laser tag. Any of these would have been significantly more effective, too. But the fact is none of these had, or would have had, any relevance to WHY he committed the acts he did. In his manifesto, he tried to attribute his actions to religious influences, with only a glancing statement (about 500 words from a 1500 page document) regarding video games in any context. As such, if there is any weight being given at all to the manifesto as to what drove him to commit these acts, I think it's pretty clear which influence is the primary motivation.

        So, you tell me, should we give any weight to the document? Or ought we simply concede the fact that he was a mentally disturbed individual who deluded himself into justifying atrocities by taking a peaceful text and twisting it to meet the needs of his monstrous goals.

        One more thing: Has Jim ever actually played these games in any way? Has he ever actually interacted with the media that you claim he is qualified to talk about? I don't think so. He is taking advantage of a tragic situation (that is affecting the lives of people as we speak) for his political ends, talking about something he knows nothing about, citing studies that have been discredited by every peer-review process they have undergone, and claiming to represent a demographic composed of a population where the vast majority does not support him.

        Well Bruce, if "you" really are such a wonderful church leader why do all your sentences have "u".

        The saddest and most disturbing thing which I invariably find in these kinds of exchanges is that people who make statements like this never once stop to think they or the people from which these ideas originate might be wrong.
        They choose to believe these words as though from the mouth of God Himself simply because a person who stands in a position of power (which many, admittedly or no, find exhilaratingly attractive) has said it is so. It is a worrisome and shameful thing to encounter in other Christians.
        And the worst thing of all is that these kinds of people will usually always simply turn around and never once stop to reflect on they themselves believe. "'The Leader' has said it so, therefore we are right and these people are wrong."

        Jim Wallace has yet again shamed the Christian -and Australian- community and made us all look like fools.
        Just because the rest of the world disagrees with your viewpoint does not mean you're doing something right.

      How dare you all vilify a good man who is doing a great job. If more Christians supported people doing great jobs instead of tearing down those who are trying to maybe we would as we should, have more of an impact.

    I think you would find that many people would disagree with him on "not possibly being born from christian theology". Unfortunately there is far to much genocide and anti religious sentiment in the bible to rule it out.

      Pretty much this exactly. This letter, along with most people's responses stink of 'no true Scotsman' fallacy. Then we multiply that with the fear people have about ever offending anybody, particularly through criticising people's religion as if it somehow deserves more rights than ones political view, or choice in music, or artistic preference.

        Sorry, but I'm sick of people using the "no true Scotsman" fallacy to rebut peoples use of the phrase "no true Christian". The Scotsman fallacy IS a fallacy because it adds moral characteristics (in it's most common form, an abhorrence for murder) to an ENTIRELY physical characteristic (being a Scotsman).

        Being a Christian is NOT merely a physical characteristic (like being white/black or having green eyes) but is a theological and moral position. Therefore the fallacy does not apply since it is perfectly legitimate to implying moral characteristics from a moral characteristic.

        Seriously getting sick of people using this fallacy, it's utterly irrelevant to the point here.

          You're entirely wrong here.

          Refer to the Wikipedia article on the fallacy.

          It isn't about adding moral characteristics to a physical trait, but instead:
          "No true Scotsman is an intentional logical fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim, rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it."

          In this case, (oddly enough also listed in the Wikipedia entry), the argument goes along these lines:

          A: No Christian would commit these atrocities!

          B: Anders Brievik was a self-declared Christian who used numerous Biblical references to justify his acts.

          A: No true Christian would commit these atrocities!

          The fallacy is entirely relevant here.

          They are implying that Breivik is not a true Christian (a collective of people all sharing the same belief system or derivative thereof) because no one who believes in Jesus, Christian god, the bible, etc, would commit such an atrocity.

          Thereby implying that if Breivik were a "true Christian" he wouldn't have committed such a crime.

          Statement 1 "Christians don't do this sort of thing.
          Statement 2 "Breivik did"
          Statement 3 "Ok well True Christians don't do this sort of thing"

          Cheers for the aggression though, how about a conversation between two people with differing opinions, like adults?

      There's a significant difference between theology and history.

      First thing I thought when I read this. People really need to stop pretending religion makes people incapable of being bad or evil, it does no such thing.

      It sounds really arrogant to suggest the group you belong to is above reproach.

      People mistakenly believe that if it's mentioned in the bible, it must be condoned by the bible.

      Wrong.

      If you read the bible and put everything in its context, you'll see such "genocide and anti religious sentiment" - virtually all of which is contained in the Old Testament - later gets stopped by Jesus, saying it is no longer necessary, and in fact is wrong. So anybody who still says it is ok might be getting their ideas from the bible, but they're not following Jesus' commands.

    You haven't included the link to the letter, Mark?

    Nathan had better watch out for an incoming Excommunication or whatever it is that Jim Wallace feels he can command God to enforce.

    Was it an open letter?...

      And by that I mean where's the link? :(

    Is this missing a link somewhere? Id like to read the full text

    GODDAMN IT we do. I apologise, my browser didn't show it up. My apologies Mark.

    Can you put the link up to the full letter? Seems like an interesting read.

    Is there a link to the full letter somewhere?

    Im not a relgious man in shape or form, but the ACL is really acting like that right wing catholic group from south park's easter special about saint peter being a rabbit

      "All this blaming video games for violence doesn't seem very christian Jim..." :P

    It's an interesting letter. Not the most well written letter I've read but it makes good points. Unfortunately for Nathan, Jim Wallace and the ACL will either not respond or say he's not a true christian or some such.

    We have to remember that rational thought and logic are not things the ACL are capable of.

    Even if God himself came down and gave Jim a swift backhand for being a douche, his views probably wouldn't change.

      Before the page even loaded I was expecting Jim Wallace to respond with the No True Scotsman logical fallacy.

    I hardly see how one person's letter shows us that the ACL don't represent christians at large.

    If such were the case, i dont understand why they would still have political sway.

    One christian writing a letter does not make up the majority of australian christians.

      By that logic, one political group does not the whole christian movement represent. They just have the loudest voice. I'm christian and I guarantee you in no way does this douchenozzle Wallace represent ANYTHING I believe in.

        He is a candidate for ministry, meaning he is endorsed by his church, though not necessarily those views

      I'm a Christian and the ACL doesn't represent me either. I never chose for them to be my voice.

      That's two Christians.

      One group makig wild claims does not represent the majority of Australian Christians.

      The ACL has never been able to show that they have the support of the majority of Australian Christians. They are an effective lobby group because they are on the far right, which means that they're an easy option for the media to use them for their typical "show both sides" type of weak journalism.

      Strong media presence plus the ability to contact politicians through mail campaigns with their (relatively small) memberbase gives them the impression of being a larger and more influential group than they actually are.

      One person's letter does not speak for the majority of Christians, but it does show that the ACL definitely does not speak for all Christians.

        Thank you Trjn, I do believe however that this persons letter does show the belief of a more modern, level headed, sensible christian man/woman.

      M1557:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Australia

      According to this reference approximately 63% of Australian's are christian. If the ACL represented even a majority of christian's in Australia they would be a shoe in for government. Clearly this is not the case so stop with your false arguments please. Next time you want to make wild claims about what christian's do and do not want please back it up with a) facts and b) mandate. If you do not know what these things are (I suspect that you don't) then please investigate.

      How about a petiton?

      http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/australia-news/new-south-wales-news/2011/04/28/christians-turn-on-wallace/50564

    Bravo, god sir. Bravo.

    It's because of people like Jim Wallace that i tend to look down on religion, when i know i shouldn't.

    The problem lies in the fact that religious people who do get face time are fanatical zealots and political pigs with an over-inflated sense of opinion.

    It's good to see that the people mentioned don't represent religious people as a whole, as that would be an utter shame.

    Very well written :)

      Unfortunately, I am guilty of this as well. It's the acts of a few that gives me the impression that all religious people are fruit cakes, yet I'm continually challenged by this assumption having many christian friends who accept that each person is allowed to have their own belief.

      I also appreciate the fact that they don't try to force their religion upon others.

    Not to take away from the awesome letter, but I have a feeling it would make a wider audience and perhaps be picked up more seriously by main stream journalists if he'd improved his grammar and writing style a bit.

    I totally support the letter. But writing in broken sentences. Like this. Makes it seem more immature. And ranty. And I totally get why he's angry with these bunch of idiots. But you have to avoid. Giving them a way to discount you. As a young idiot. Without addressing your arguments.

      I see your point - but I think he was writing like that. For impact.

      If you get what I mean!

      Also - good to see you back Superfred!

        Cheers - been getting stuck into White Knight Chronicles and then I realised it's next week already.

        It may have been for impact but the ACL would probably say it's a sign of a low IQ caused by playing videogames.

    *tips hat

    I have always wondered how groups that brand themselves and decide to speak on the behalf of others come to the conclusion that they are standered.

    Maybe ill start my own group called the ACLofEG

    The Australian Commensence League of Extraordinary Gentleman!

      This exactly.

      The ACL are a fallacy because they don't have a provable mandate but they represent themselves as such. They don't even have a mandate of religious leaders let alone religious people en masse.

    Exactly the points I have made over the past few days(though not as eloquently worded) but as a gamer my view is instantly irrelevant in wallace's mind.

    Hopefully more of the Christian populace can rise up and make Jim accountable for the religion he represents within Australia

    And stop making the church feel like it wants u's living in the good old days where if we disagreed with their beliefs/ opinions we were punished for it

    Also would be amiss to ignore the fact that 10 centuries ago they had crusades that were essentially based on the same principles as the recent massacre

      Yeah but the Crusades only killed about 5 million people. We're talking about 0.00002% of the people that bought Modern Warfare 2 here. Far more relevant... apparently...

    Norway guy did a typical christian thing, only taken to the extreme when compared with recent history - go back to the dark ages and it's less distanced. This much is obvious.

    That said, Nathan has the right idea; there is a difference between good beliefs with good practices, and good beliefs with bad practices - thankfully, the former are the majority. And then there's what happened in Oslo.

    Regardless of what you believe about a creator, good people are universal - Nathan is clearly one of them. I'm not religious, and have a long standing hatred of the organised churches(regardless of mythos), but if I'm wrong and there is a god out there somewhere, it's people like this who should be getting brownie points.

    I seriously have to question if people can really be considered christian when they act like jim has been - seems like it violates the greed thing.

    I maybe an Atheist, but I can find no other words to describe this other than below:

    "Amen to you, Mr. Cambell. May The Lord smile on your affairs."

    Mark, WTF are you giving the ACL so much oxygen? Ignore them. Everyone knows they don't represent Christians. If every media outlet ignored them like they should instead of using them as "dial a quote" when they need to stir up outrage, the ACL would cease to exist.

    Strangely you wont find a media release from a gaming group claiming that Christians are evil and should be banned because the Oslo guy claimed to be Christian. Because gamers are classier than that.

    one thing alot of christians and ACL dont realise is that "things" arent evil, its the person who abuses said "things" that are evil.

    well, replace evil with bad.

    i love drinking beer without getting trashed and i enjoy wine over dinner with my wife. i certainly do not like it when people tell me that alcohol is bad or evil and it isnt christian to drink. if someone abuses alcohol he or she is the problem, not the alcohol.

    in conlusion, i love video games, and i flipping love shooting dudes in realistic video games. call of duty, CSS and the like. it doesnt make me want to get a gun and annihilate people with it.

    seriously do not blame "things" for what a deranged person has done with those "things".

    if i stay away from everything that has the potential to be abused or used illegally or immorally, i shouldnt have gotten married becuase there are alot of women who are abused and mistreated.

    i should try and take the stars out the sky because some people immorally use them to predict fake futures and make money off idiots.

    i could go on and on. im certainly not going to ban my family from using panadol when they have headaches and pain, when some lady abused panadaol and ate 40 of them and killed herself.

    i dont apologize for my faith but i do apologize for some stupid mindsets many professing christians have.

    also an interesting read;

    Lt. Col. David Grossman is the author of “StopTeaching Our KidsTo Kill:A CallTo Action AgainstTV, Movie &Video Game Violence”, which he co-authored with Gloria DeGaetano, and “On Killing:The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill inWar and Society”.We provide the following excerpts of Grossman’s insight on the subject, following the Norway mass killing.The 32 year old who commited the killings described the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” as “part of my training-simulation”. “I am personally on the road almost 300 days a year. I train the FBI; I train the Special Forces; I train the Marine Corps; I train law enforcement, nationwide and worldwide. My job is to examine the act of killing. How do we take a healthy 18-year- old boy, a soldier, a 22-year-old police officer, and make them capable of pulling the trigger?

    The mechanism we use is, we make killing a conditioned reflex, stimulus/response, stimulus/response. At the moment of truth, the proper stimulus pops up in front of them, and they kill without conscious thought. “If you truly dwell on the magnitude of what you are doing when you kill another human being; if you truly dwell on the reality of another living, vital person, who is loved, and thinks and feels; that’s a very difficult thing to do.You’ve got to separate yourself from the humanity of the person you are killing—turn them into just a target.And the best mechanism we ever found for doing that, was this killing simulator, in which, instead of using bullseye targets, as we did in World War II, we transitioned to a man-made silhouette, and we made killing a conditioned reflex. “The same phenomena that the military and law enforce- ment uses to enable killing—which is done with the safeguard of discipline—is being done indiscriminately to our children with violent video games. …

    “Now basically, the children who’ve never played the violent video game before, when they have to kill somebody, they’re thinking about it. It’s a conscious, thinking effort. But, the children who’ve played the games a lot, and are very good at the games—there is no conscious thought; there is nothing but brain stem activity; it completely bypasses their conscious brain. The video game turns killing into a conditioned reflex. “Now, you need three things to kill:You need the weapon, the skill, and the will to kill.The video games provide two out of three.They give the skill and the will to kill. The weapons have been there for a long,
    long time. …

      How can video games give kids the skill to kill?? Clicking a mouse button is nothing like firing a gun.

      I think you make a good point anon, dehumanisation is definitely the reason why these killings took place. Specifically however I disagree with you on the cause as I believe that "teaching people to see muslims as evil" is what caused the shooter to dehumanise the people he was killing. I'm not specifically blaming christians for this one either as I believe it's the media (specifically Bush era media) that is possibly largely to blame.

      In regards to the arugment about "we make killing a conditioned reflex" it could apply if this was a "reflex situation" which it isn't. This was clearly planned over many months. This doesn't discount the argument that video games were to blame but it does discount (I believe) the argument that it's somehow similar to a police training situation.

      I did a little research here. This might be a rather long post.

      In an interview with Grossman:
      Steinberg: In the opening chapter of the book, you state, pretty definitively, that every major serious study, medical and otherwise, that's been done for the last 25 years or so, shows that there is a very high correlation between exposure to violence in the media, and the rate of growth of violence in society. Could you say something about that?

      Grossman: It's important to point out, up front, that we're talking about visual violent imagery; that, the written word can't be processed until age 8, and it is filtered through the rational mind. The spoken word can't be processed until age 4, and it, too, has to be filtered in the forebrain before it trickles down to the emotional center. But, these violent visual images: At the age of 18 months, a child is fully capable of perceiving and imitating what they see. And, at the age of 18 months, these violent visual images, whether they be television, movies, or video games, go straight into the eyes, and straight into the emotional center.
      ...
      In 1999, the American Psychological Association said, to argue [that media violence does not cause real violence], is like arguing against gravity.

      Source

      Looking into that claim about the APA (sorry, I can't take it seriously when he says that violent imagery is affecting kids at 18 months when he says that children cannot process the written word until 8 years old), I found this New York Times article.

      Here's that quote about gravity:
      "''The evidence is overwhelming,'' said Jeffrey McIntyre, legislative and Federal affairs officer for the American Psychological Association. ''To argue against it is like arguing against gravity.''"

      Here's a paragraph shortly after:
      "The research does not demonstrate that watching violent acts in films or television shows directly and immediately causes people to commit violent acts. Rather, the scholarly evidence cited by Mr. McIntyre either demonstrates cumulative effects of violent entertainment or establishes it as a ''risk factor'' that contributes to increasing a person's aggressiveness.

      A few scholars object to this research, saying the links do not prove cause and effect and are therefore relatively unimportant."

      Grossman also dismisses academics who support claims contrary to his as having sold their souls and relating them to Holocaust deniers.

      The man is clearly agenda driven here.

      In a recent US Supreme Court Case, the studies presented on the topic of violent video games were dismissed:
      "The State’s evidence is not compelling. California relies primarily on the research of Dr. Craig Anderson and a few other research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video
      games and harmful effects on children. These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them,and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively (which would at
      least be a beginning). Instead, “[n]early all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws
      in methodology.” "

      TL;DR I don't believe Lt. Col. David Grossman has a leg to stand on.

        Yeah, I've heard that name before.

        He seems to be either disingenuously exaggerating the impact to sell his book (and the whole market of panic that's sprung up on US conservative talk shows), or is deluded enough to believe that correlation of gaming with aggression equals the causation of violence.

        Who the hell exposes an 18 month old child to violent media? Even for an experiment. Shore that is not ethical!

      Anon, in addition to bazuden's comment on the skill, how does playing a war game give people the will to kill. Me any many of my mates, actually millions of people around the world, have played modern warfare and only 1 deranged sociopath has gone on a massecre, I don't want to kill anyone, so there is no will or skill coming from these games, and as you stated, there is no weapon either.

      Couldn't agree more Tim.

      I've played COD along with many other first and third person shooters. Also "light gun" shooters.

      I've also played paint ball and laser tag which I'd say are much better as "training simulators".

      If you handed me an M110 (or other army issue rifle) I'd have as much chance of hitting something with it (or even shooting it) as I would of doing a back hand spring on the beam after playing Sonic and Mario at the Olympics.

      I'd also say with certainty that if you jumped out at me while I was holding said M110 my reflex action would definitely not be to shoot you. I'd probably just crap myself.

      Maybe if a culture didn't parade war and imperialism under the guise of freedom, there wouldn't be so much violent media. If you want less Modern Warfare, then America and its allies should stop fighting every fucking country that looks at it the wrong way. The media only reflects what's already there, and I find it wholly ridiculous that a former SAS brigadier considers himself a beacon of moral thought.

    So what?

    Does it really matter what a student at a theology college thinks or says?

    There are thousands of people out there thinking the same thing. I'm sure quite a lot of them will write up something on this very subject.

    Why does this guy get special mention? Because he convey's his message better than others? Well that's a matter of opinion really.

    What would be better, would be if the media outlets that turn to the ACL at every chance looking for their far right religious zealot commentary actually published this letter, and took what was said in it into account. That would be far more news worthy. Right now it's just another long winded letter preaching to the converted. Until places like The Herald Sun take notice of these things this letter wont make one difference.

    Whilst I'm in favour of anyone arguing with the ACL, and I accept that they certainly don't represent the majority of Christians, I have a big problem with this bit:

    "He committed abhorrent acts. In the name of abhorrent beliefs. That could not possibly be born from Christian theology."

    Sorry, but it's very possible. In this case, I don't think that's what happened, but Christian theology has spawned a ridiculous amount of despicable crap over the years. Hell, I find the whole idea of the Christian God abhorrent. Read the Bible. If it was a video game, it certainly wouldn't be released in Australia.

    I'd like to hear Jim Wallace's response to the fact that the shooter quoted John Howard, Peter Costello and even George Pell as inspirations for his ideology just hours before the attack.

      Twisted and manipulative people throughout history have twisted and manipulated Christian Theology into something they could use to do 'despicable crap' and justify it.

      Same for pretty much every other belief system out there.

      Also, the Bible contains stories and events that are truly abhorrent. But just because you can pick it up and read something terrible from it doesn't mean that 'the Christian God' is therefore abhorrent. Context is important.

      I find the quoted statement to be completely accurate. True Christian Beliefs would require that a believer give everything of themselves to others who are in need regardless of their political/religious affiliation.

      If you find someone who claims to be a 'Good Christian' and 'Acting on their Christian Beliefs' who *isn't* giving to others to the point of self-detriment, then you have just been lied to. :-P

      That's all there is to it.

        It's terms like "True Christian Beliefs" that highlight the subjectivity of religion. What's considered a true representation of Christian beliefs by you might be completely wrong by someone else's standards. Who's to say which is "correct"?

        Have you noticed that the more strictly Christians adhere to the Bible, the more they're painted as crazies or "extremists" by moderates? You can come up with all the convoluted contexts for disgusting Bible quotes you like, but the meaning is pretty plain. I've heard my fair share of explanations for misogyny, cruelty or just plain evil acts over the years, but they've all been completely bizarre. The more you guys dilute the words in the Bible, the better off you are. There's a reason "sophisticated theology" is so vague. You might as well ditch the Bible completely...

        Even if you did so, I'd still find the notion of a similar theist God deplorable - you've got the problem of evil, the idea of being charged with thought crime, essentially being told "believe in me or burn", etc.

          Like I said, if someone claims to adhere strictly to the Bible and is doing anything other than giving to others with reckless abandon then they're being selective about their 'theology'. There are maybe 5 human beings alive right now that are acting on the Bible taken as a whole and several million who are acting on bits and pieces taken at will by themselves or someone they follow. :-P

          Also, it bugs me when people get hung up on the 'evil' thing. If I made something to be an automaton then my creation would have no choice but to do everything I wanted it to do. If I made something that was to have some kind of free-will or choice then I am necessarily also creating the possibility(risk) that it will choose to do something else entirely. So if we didn't have the option of doing wrong then we would have no choice at all... and if we have any choice at all then we must be able to do wrong. Choice without consequences are pretty meaningless and pretty much cease to be choices.

          Do you chain your daughter to the wall for all her life, or do you try to teach her wisdom and let her grow up and leave the house and hope she comes back safely? Maybe I'm just twisted, deplorable and abhorrent but it makes sense to me. :-P

          The 'thought crime' thing I'd say is a legitimate gripe that I can fully understand, however.

          Personally, at this point in my life I'd say I do identify myself as a Christian when asked directly, but I haven't found anyone else who describes themselves as such that actually believes anything that really makes sense to me. Usually they just want to argue and judge everyone else about things that are utterly inconsequential and pointless. Not a fan.

            Not trying to be argumentative or convince you of something, by the way. Not sure if anything that I wrote or the way in which I wrote it could be interpreted that way or not, just thought I'd clarify. :-P

            Haha well I took it as argumentative, but I'm being argumentative as well and there's nothing wrong with that. I don't mind if you're trying to convince me of something either.

            "There are maybe 5 human beings alive right now that are acting on the Bible taken as a whole and several million who are acting on bits and pieces taken at will by themselves or someone they follow."

            Exactly. But who are you to tell them that they're doing it wrong or that they're not true Christians? As far as I can tell, the only factor that makes you a Christian is the belief that Jesus is/was the son of God. If a passage from a "sacred text" says homosexuality is an abomination, it probably means it's an abomination. And if it doesn't, you can hardly be surprised that some people take it that way.

            So you're saying that God thought the ability to choose to rape, torture and murder was worth the consequences? We would still have freedom of choice without the ability to choose to do these things. I heard a story once of a woman from the Congo whose house was stormed by soliders. They killed her husband in front of her and chopped him into bits, then raped her one by one ON the remains of her husband. She passed out, and when she woke up she heard the screams of her daughters being raped in the next room. I have a problem with anyone worshipping the being responsible for this sort of thing, or trying to justify it by saying it's part of a plan, or worth enduring for the sake of free will.

            The response I always get from Christians is "you can't have good without evil," which has always seemed a strange idea to me. If God created us and the laws of the universe, then he could create us to feel perpetually happy if he so wished, with no evil frame of reference.

            Apart from anything else, I don't think much of God's idea of free will. It's equivalent to someone putting a gun to your head and saying "Do you believe in God?" You have about as much free will as someone living in North Korea.

            What I want to know is what's God's purpose for doing all this? Is he just messing with us? I mean, he's sitting there all bored, so he creates a universe, puts the wheels in motion to create humans, (who are very poor creations for an all powerful being) gives them "free will" and desires and tells us he'll punish us for acting on them...and he knows whether we will or not, because he knows everything, and since he created us, it's essentially his fault that we're behaving in this way. It's comparable to a kid playing with army men and burning the "bad guys" with a magnifying glass.

            Oh yeah, and you have to love him, otherwise you're not good enough to be rewarded. Even if you're an amazing and moral person who has never hurt a fly, a murderer who loves God will be held in higher regard than you. I can't see how anyone couldn't have a problem with that. Anyway, that's my rant for the day.

              I get what you're saying. Your example of deplorable human behavior is horrible and unfortunately probably not even the worst thing that has happened or will happen. Personally, if it were up to me I wouldn't have created us to begin with.
              At the same time, a choice without consequence isn't much of a choice at all.

              I just think playing the blame game beyond the individuals who make the choices is kind of a pointless effort. It's easy to blame God, just as it's easy to blame their parents for not locking them up or 'somehow' doing 'something' to stop their child from doing something terrible.

              Or in the case that you mentioned, you could even blame an individual for not having shot the men randomly in the street a few hours before they took part in the murder/rape of a family... but really if you wanna take cause/effect that far then we're all responsible for it somehow.

              As to the possible 'purpose' for creating reality? That's really not answerable. If we are all a part of a created reality, then it's foolish for us to assume we could understand or even know anything outside of that context. :-P

              So can you have 'free-will' that is equal to God's? Obviously not. Can you have 'free-will' as far as it exist in a closed system of reality? Maybe :-P Can you blame God for everything that occurs within that system? Sure, knock yourself out. I just don't think that will get you anywhere. Blaming God takes responsibility away from us, and lots of people use that as an excuse to ignore problems.

              The whole idea of a 'God who created everything' is kind of obtuse and if you look at it logically it just kind of makes sense that the reality of such a situation would make it almost impossible for us to know or understand it. :-P

                Sooo... I suck. I posted another comment based on a random bit of thought that was spurred on by something you'd said, BUT I forgot to hit the 'reply' button, so it's now disjointed and well out of context floating around as its own comment. haha

                *fails*

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