Christian Fundamentalism vs. D&D

A commenter on a recent post at IO9 about fundamentalist Christian attacks on Dungeons and Dragons came up with this wonderful quip:

It was never a fair fight between fundamentalist Christianity and D&D. One was a dangerous system full of dark mysticism and threats to warp a young mind beyond repair, and the other was a tabletop RPG.

It isn’t just a clever reversal. It really is the case that fundamentalism has people imagining that they are part of a real-life battle between themselves and diabolical spiritual forces. Perhaps the strong reaction to D&D is explicable precisely because it recognized as an appropriate subject for gaming and imagination, what many fundamentalists insist is real?

But if so, then which of the two is likely to be more dangerous?

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  • Matthew Funke

    If you don’t follow the rules of D&D exactly, you end up with a slightly different game — one that might be even *more* effective than the game’s original goal of providing the means for a group of imaginative people to have fun.

    If you don’t follow the rules of fundamentalist Christianity exactly, you get set on fire forever. No deviation from the rules is permissible for any reason.

    I think the question of “Which is more dangerous?” is pretty obvious.

  • GRobinson

    I remember huddling around a coffee table in a friend’s basement playing D&D as a kid. Dying they time my well meaning parents had warned me of the dangers of the game. A Sunday School teacher told me I would end up a Satan worshipping, ax murdering, druggie if I played it because of the black magic behind the game.

    It was the last attempt, well the last major attempt, of control from my neo-fundamentalist church of my upbringing. And it didn’t work, I loved the game. Probably why I have to keep my copies of Skyrim, Fable, etc under lock and key while I focus on the dissertation.

    And I never became an ax murdering drugged out Satan worshipper.

    • MattB

      Was your ex-church a Westboro type church? Were they bash homosexuals and soldiers with picket signs saying “Burn in hell” Instead of sharing repetance and salvation(the gospel) to those lost?

  • Gary

    Yes, now that I think about it. One of the major points I’ve seen in the fundamentalist churches I’ve attended is their obsession with “Spiritual Warfare”. They throw the term around quite liberally (no pun intended). But I often wonder how they can use the term, unless they have seen real warfare. I was told once by a little old lady, that Jesus was coming back as a warrior. I can only compare that to what another old man told me about his experience in WWII, when he saw the back of his friend’s head blown off.

    • James Walker

      they conveniently forget that a literal interpretation of the Bible means 1) Lucifer is imprisoned and not lord of anyone and 2) there are no “Fallen Angels” around to mess with anyone because see previous point.

      so… who or what, exactly, are they engaged in “spiritual warfare” against?

      they always say it’s against Lucifer (whom they conflate incorrectly with Satan) and the demons he’s lord over in Hell… completely unbiblical…

  • Tim

    I remember the hysteria around this back in the 80’s when I was playing it. My parents and the help of a few discredited authors actually got me to stop playing it for awhile. Now I see where the real mind-control was coming from, and it wasn’t from the game.

  • histrogeek

    I played D&D in the 80s with other Piscos and Catholics, so we never got the lectures on what it would do to our souls. When I did hear about such things, I remember chuckling, “Wow, did I ever play that game the wrong way.” Especially the rampant orgy part.