Sunday, January 2, 2011

Distracted by a New Computer and an Old Game

My son-in-law gave me a new computer this Christmas. Generous fellow.

It's a huge improvement over the five-year-old model I've been using. It's good to be able to get some of my graphics work done without taking a coffee break while the software slogs through some process.

Distraction, Thy Name is Software

The new computer's processing speed also made playing Sim City 4 a lot more fun. S. C. 4 is possibly the best of the Sim City games - more about that at I haven't gotten involved in any of the online communities interested in Sim City, by the way.

Essentially, the Sim City programs let someone create and manage a make-believe city: setting up roads, emergency services, and the rest of the infrastructure; establishing zones where the city's virtual inhabitants can live, shop, or work - and adjusting things as the simulation progresses.

I think Sim City 4 a lot of fun, but some folks wouldn't.

That's okay.

I also discovered, over the last week, that I was spending a lot of time with Sim City 4. A whole lot of time. Time that I'd planned to use for other, more productive purposes.

What? No Rant?

I've mentioned that I grew up in an area where some of the loudest Christians practiced a weird combination of Bible study, numerology, and anti-communism. If anything, they were more anti-Catholic than anti-communist, and that indirectly led to me becoming a Catholic. Which is another topic.

Or maybe not so much.

My perception was that America's Bible-thumpers had a talent for taking cultural or personal preferences, and finding a Bible verse that seemed to back them up. Like Ephesians 5:21-30. Pulling verse 22 out of that passage and using that as a reason to keep women 'in their place' may have helped rabid feminism take root, a few decades back. And that's yet another topic.

I've got free will: I could, if I chose to do so, decide that this excerpt forbids video games:
"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have spoken falsehood and have seen lying visions, therefore see! I am coming at you, says the Lord GOD."
(Ezekiel 13:8)
Maybe that sounds silly: But I didn't lead up to Ezekiel 13:8 with emotional word-pictures and more-or-less factual accounts of the horrific things one sees in video games. I won't claim that the "lying visions" refer to special effect photography, computer graphics, or soap opera stories. And I didn't use the King James translation, with its impressively archaic "saith," "ye," and "behold!" for "says," "you," and "see."

And - I want to make this very clear - I do not claim that God told me to denounce video games, soap operas, or electric can openers. That kind of trouble I don't need.

I think I need to do something about the way I enjoy Sim City 4: but I'm not going to claim that it's Satanic, or even un-Biblical.

Imagination? It's Okay

While I'm thinking about it, having an imagination seems to be part of what God equipped us with: and I find it hard to think that using one's imagination is wrong by itself. Particularly considering what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about art. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2501-2503, for starters) And I'm going off-topic again.

There are very few things that the Catholic Church teaches are evil by themselves. Rape, for example. (Catechism, 2356)

Besides acts that are evil, no matter what the circumstances, there are things folks can chose to do that are good by themselves - that we make evil by our motives. Like doing charity work in order to puff up one's reputation. Again, the Catechism has a few words to say on the subject. A pretty good place to start is 1750-1756.

Isn't Beer or Bingo Always Evil, Evil, Evil?!

There are probably still folks who are convinced that playing poker while having a beer is doubly damnable. Frittering away the mortgage in a card game and getting drunk are discouraged by the Catholic Church. Gambling and alcohol, by themselves: not so much. (Catechism 2413, 2290)

What About Sim City 4?

To the best of my knowledge there isn't a prohibition on playing video games, or using a computer. I've looked for one, by the way, just to be sure.

On the other hand, we've got rules and guidelines about what we're supposed to be doing with our time and other resources. (Catechism, 2174, 2184-2186, for example.)

I'm pretty sure there are better ways of using my time, than spending an entire afternoon with the Sim City 4 simulation.

That's why I've decided to watch when I play it - and develop habits that encourage limits on how much time I spend with that particular diversion.

If I have to, I'll give it up entirely. But I don't think that'll be necessary.

Somewhat-related posts:


Abbey said...

"Deep Thoughts!" I like it ....


Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...



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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.