When fantasy role-playing replaces faith you still need a decent DM

When fantasy role-playing replaces faith you still need a decent DM February 9, 2015

Kyle Roberts writes about the latest anti-gay gatekeeping rant from one of the mini-Mohlers: “Owen Strachan and the Guardians of the Evangelical Galaxy.” Roberts offers some select quotes from Strachan’s over-the-top attempt at an anti-gay St. Crispin’s Day speech, including this bit, which he notes sounds like an out-take from a supersessionist remake of Gladiator or Braveheart:

Are there any in the new Israel, the church, who will honor God? Are the pastors of God’s people boys, and not men? Will we defend the righteousness of God when Satan assails it? Or will we fall silent, grow fearful, and drown out our proclamation of the truth in a series of jokes, qualifications, and selective put-downs of David-like Christians?

… But there are many, many, many other churches that will not. They will not bend the knee to Goliath. They will not submit to the yoke of the Philistines. They have fire in their blood, and Spirit-given courage in their hearts. They will defend the honor of God.

We few, we happy few, we band of anti-buggery. Strachan goes on (and on, and on) like that, posing as Henry V at Agincourt — or maybe as Bill Pullman in Independence Day. It’s all so grandiose that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that he’s not addressing the threat of an army that has his tiny force hopelessly outnumbered — he’s talking about the danger of a single church in Nashville that has decided it will not bar its doors to LGBT Christians. 

Roberts thinks this kind of Hollywood half-time speech will go over well with Strachan’s intended audience:

This is stirring speech – for those who share Owen’s epistemic certainty and theological convictions. This speech will elicit all manner of “Amens” from them.

Maybe. Roberts is right to recognize the appeal of Strachan’s fawning flattery. He’s addressing an audience of conservative white Christians who love to sing “Dare to be a Daniel / Dare to stand alone!” This is a white evangelical subculture that replaced faith with fantasy decades ago. For them, discipleship means leveling up in a fantasy role-playing game in which they pretend to be heroic warriors battling against Satanic baby-killers, relativists, evolutionists, postmodernists, New Agers, the Gay Lifestyle, and a whole Monster Manual of other imaginary horrors. Strachan invites them to play this game, and they love this game.

StrachanThey love this game way more than they ever used to love whatsisname. Jesus or whoever.

And some of them love the game enough to realize that Owen Strachan is a lousy DM. His over-the-top rhetoric is too transparently self-congratulatory and self-aggrandizing. It ruins the moment, stretching the usual bargain past its breaking point.

The way that usual bargain works is this: The culture warrior steps into the podium and tells the audience — the congregation of gamers — that they can from now on think of themselves as bold, heroic champions of righteousness. All they need to do is to affirm that he is such a bold heroic champion, and he, in turn, will say the same thing about them.

But Strachan may be pushing this too far. The superlative praise he’s seeking, and offering in exchange, is bound to make even the most devoted gamers a bit uncomfortable. Push things that far and it starts to seem a bit silly. The gap between the fantasy and reality becomes too wide to ignore.

Strachan’s audience may share his fondness for imagining that they’re Superman. But even they have probably noticed that he looks a bit ridiculous running around in his Underoos with a red towel around his neck.


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