Yellowstone (Part 3)

yellowstone-3

Reflections From Our Recent Trip to the Yellowstone

It strained my ability to be present to “this moment”when I observed my three grandsons Josiah, Justus and Jobe, ages 17, almost 13 and 10 respectively, watching a YouTube video on Minecraft one evening after a day in Yellowstone.

We were in a beautiful house in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming, a perfect setting after a perfect day. Why would anyone want to bring Minecraft into this setting?

I admit I knew little about Minecraft and I had absolutely no interest in learning more about it. From the little I did know, I would have been happy to have had my grandsons all abandon the game and commit themselves to Bible study or something positive like that.

The next morning in our time of reflection and anticipation I brought up the topic of Minecraft.

Forcing myself to be interested and to keep my opinions to myself, I asked each of my grandsons to describe the game and to tell what appealed to them about the game.

Apparently Minecraft is like a digital 3-D sandbox in which you have certain basic tools which you can later enhance in type and effectiveness in order to create your own world with buildings and even cities, while maintaining your health and protecting yourself against enemies.

The game can be played alone or you can play with friends you know or with new friends you meet on the internet who are into the game. The game is ongoing as is construction in a sandbox. You can create your world day after day as long as someone does not destroy your creation.

Josiah gave an example from the game of being dropped into a wilderness setting and having 12 minutes to develop a protective shelter, find food and arrange for a light source to disperse the demons of the night.

The game was developed by a Swede known on line as “Notch”. The game has been wildly successful with 40 million players. Two years ago Microsoft bought the intellectual rights to the game for over 2 billion dollars.

My grandsons found differing parts of the game appealing; for Jobe it was being able to construct things; for Justus it was constructing and also learning from others on YouTube how various game issues had been addressed; for Josiah it was strategy and competing with others playing the game on line.

Seeing my grandsons’ intense interest and preoccupation with the game I proceeded to learn what spiritual values there might be to this game. Sure enough, one blogger believed “Notch” to be a Christian who had developed a game based on a world of conflict between darkness and light, between good and evil, which would predispose millions of gamers to understand the basic Christian message and even receive it. I rejoiced.

But then this same blogger expressed concern that a new game developer was now in charge and that occult themes were creeping into the game. I grieved.

Another blogger, a Christian mother, wrote that when she looked in on what her sons were doing in the game she found them being unkind to one another in the game. She concluded that the best thing was for parents to get into the game and play it with their children.

“Oh, great,” I thought, “Does this mean I need to start playing Minecraft in order to have a meaningful relationship with my grandchildren?”

“I refuse. I am not interested. I am too busy. I have more important things to do.”

But then I remembered that God took the time to become incarnate in my world because of His great love for us.

Well, I do love my grandchildren, so I will enter their world. I will learn about Minecraft and discuss their experiences and values. I will come along side them, especially should they ask me.

I will applaud them in playing their own game even as God does not control us but gives us the freedom to play our own game, though he gives us counsel and power to play it in a way which honors Him.

Maybe that is what a grandparent is: an observer, a sometimes participant, the story teller and the bridge between the generations. And the one who carries the wellbeing of both generations deep within his heart and prayers.

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