Friday, February 23, 2018

Essence and Existence

Classically speaking Thomists tend to say that unicorns and anime characters and Bart Simpsons do not exist, they have "essence" but not "existence".

I'm not so sure about all this, you see, I think Cloud Strife, Sonic and Frodo Baggins do exist, obviously not in the same sense that you, or I, or the keyboard that I am touching, "exist" but nonetheless this is something very real about these characters.

The characters of fiction have a life, their authors and developers conceive them and then we all maintain them through our imaginations, through cosplay, through fan fiction... they then influence our culture and our lives. Basically they, in some sense, exist, and not just analogically, they really have a level of existence, they aren't just non existing essences.

How do they exist? They exist as relative to our minds, they are conceived in human minds and are sustained collectively. This is something amazing and incredible about humanity, something that completely differentiates us from all the other non-human and non-angelic creatures.

Everything that exists exists relative to a mind. So much of our collective culture is sustained in this way, a whole universe of literature and art is sustained in this way.

And here is the point I want to get to.... the way in which we maintain the existence of imaginary things through the power of human minds is exactly parallel to the way that the Absolute Mind creates and sustains the whole universe, we are sustained by a mind, just as Pikachu and the Hydra are our creates and are sustained by our minds, we are God's creatures and we are sustained by His Mind.

Psalm 136 reads:
"And in Your book were written all the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!"

Indeed, how precious are the thoughts of the Almighty, I am a thought of the Almighty and in my little imaginary creations I bestow an existence that is a type or reflection of the existence that He bestows on me as He sustains my very being with His Absolute Mind.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Earning trophies in eternity

PS Trophies or XBox acheivements don't really do too much for me, I'm not that bothered about them for some reason. But I know that there are plenty of people out there who really are.

Sometimes it is fun reading up about the trophies that are out there for games, the crazy little
challenges that have been added on top of a game to add an extra layer of challenge or competition. One I read about a little while ago was the challenge added to FFIX to get Vivi to jump the skipping rope in Alexandria 1000 times! From my memory, doing it 100 times was a challenge enough! Looking over FFVII, there are some hardcore challenges- get Aeris' final limit break, obtain maximum Gil, beat Emerald and Ruby weapon.

All these trophies got me thinking about our Holy Faith.
Maybe there are heavenly trophies to be gained in life, and stored up in eternity?

Resisted impure temptation on 5th May 2016,
went to daily Mass every day for a year in 2017,
spoke to a random person about saving their immortal soul last Tuesday,
this morning got up an hour early to make a meditation.

What if we are earning trophies all the time and don't even know it? What if there are trophies out there that we will only find out about in eternity? I think there are you know, I think there are acheivements to be earned every day of our lives, this is when we use our free will to co-operate with His Holy grace and do great things for Him. These are the kinds of trophies I am interested in, because they really mean something and they truly last forever.

Having Platinum trophies for 100 games, that passes away, but the trophies of merit that we earn for eternity, they will NEVER fade away.

Rev 22:12- Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

1 Cor 3:8- Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

2 Tim 4:8- Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Matt 10:42- And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.

What are you waiting for, through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, earn those trophies, build up a treasure for yourself in heaven! But remember, if you commit a mortal sin all those trophies get taken away from you, you disqualify from the race- but, praise God, they are returned when you make a good confession and return to God's friendship- He forgets your evil deed and returns all those trophies once more.

Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever! We are more than conquerors through Him.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

I'm that guy!

I am replaying Suikoden 2 at the moment, a game I last played back in something like 2001. I'm now playing it on PSN, purchasing it for something like $5.

 Funnily enough though, I actually owned the game back in 2001! The actual CD! FFVII basically took over my life when I was 11 years old and after completing it, and becoming obsessed with it, I started looking through my back copies of the Official Playstation Magazine to try and find some games that were like it in some way, part of this genre called "RPG" which I had never even known to have existed previously (I'm not sure I can be blamed for this either, because in the UK we hardly received any RPGs for consoles).

I made it my mission to check out the used sections of Electronic Boutique and the other second hand games shops near me (which included a shop called a record shop called Bebop and another which I think was called Games Express in Sutton, surrey).

 On one fateful day, I found it, Suikoden II, as I flicked through the boxes in Games Express. From what I remember, I think I payed an insignificant amount for the game, I certain don't remember having the save and go back, I'm guessing it must have been about £10. I took it home, I played the game through and I had a great time with it, it isn't too tricky and I completed it, getting the 'bad ending' the only ending I knew of at the time. And then I took it in a second hand game shop and sold it.

 I'm that guy! I had Suikoden II, now worth £150 on EBAY, and at points in the past worth even more. I have almost no recollection of exactly what I traded it in for. Sometimes I like to tell people I traded it in part exchange for Chrono Cross.... but I don't know for certain if that is true. I know I definitely got CC pretty soon after Suikoden II, but I don't know... another memory says I traded it in for Ergheiz (now worth as much as Suikoden II on EBAY! A game which I also traded in!), or possibly it was Destrega or Street Fighter Alpha 3. The thing I do remember though is that I was surprised at how much the store gave me for Suikoden II, I think it was £15 or something, more than I paid for it to begin with.... I think they got the recommended price out of a book.

 Anyway, I'm that guy, the guy that traded a super rare and expensive game in for almost nothing. But in all things Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever. Games are there for fun and recreation, and if we are really lucky, we can find something good and true and beautiful in them which can lead us to praise Him and bless Him and love Him more. Games aren't my life, my life is hid with Christ in God.

 I played a lot of great games back in the day, I owned and played almost every PS1 RPG released in the UK, and now I own Suikoden II once again on PSN, in all honesty I have no regrets that I sold it, but it makes a fun story. I am going to write a review on Suikoden II soon. There is a lot in this beautiful game which is genuinely inspirational and supportive of the truths of our holy faith.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Final Fantasy 6 Review

From Guest blogger Helen Davis

Final Fantasy 6, or known as 3 in North America, is one of the greatest RPGs of all time. It  certainly ranks high on the nostalgia factor, and many iconic moments in Final Fantasy history are portrayed in this game. An unforgettable cast of characters, top-notch graphics for the time, a stunning soundtrack and an intriguing storyline keep the player hooked till the very end.  How does it hold up from a Christian perspective?

Very well, actually.  Though there are some moments that are questionable, mainly that one of the final bosses is based on the Virgin Mary, the plot throughout the game more than makes up for it.  Unlike FF9, which views souls as recyclable and life as meaningless, FF6 seems to incorporate more of the biblical worldview, or at least, not anti-biblical. Many of the characters face losses but deal with them in ways that are more consistent with Scripture—Locke feels remorse over the death of his first love, Rachel, believing he couldn't protect her.   He resolves his guilt at the end and decides to move onto his new love. Cyan loses his wife and child and is nearly destroyed, but receives his courage back, believing he must move on and leave the past in the past.  He later becomes a powerful asset to the party, although the Dreamscape sequence in the World of Ruin with Cyan is somewhat creepy. Celes tries to commit suicide after the loss of her only family member, but regains her courage and gathers the party back together.  Though the reason why she should not commit suicide is not addressed, the fact that she is able to recover, move on, and reunite the party shows why we should not. 

The star of the show, though, I feel is Terra. Terra is, in many ways, quite similar to Christ. First of all, her Japanese name, Tina, is actually a shortening of Christina, a feminine form of Christ's name. She is also half human and half esper, and bridges the gap between them, much like Jesus bridges the gap between God and man.  Terra also desires to learn what love is, and finds it not in a carnal way, but in protecting the children in Mobliz. Terra is also unjustly accused and persecuted during the course of the game. At the end, Terra even offers to sacrifice herelf for the party, but remains on earth as a human, in a somewhat interesting parallel to Christ's resurrection. 

Those who begrudge Final Fantasy females such as Aeris and Rinoa should look to Terra and Celes. Both women are strong female protagonists that overcome personal and exterior difficulties to emerge as leaders, Terra in the first half and Celes in the second.  Both are amazing women that complement each other and even form a friendship.

Kefka is also an interesting counterpart to Satan. Saying he wants to destroy all and create a monument to nonexistence is exactly what Satan wishes to do—in Jesus's words 'the thief comes but to steal, kill and destroy.' What words better sum up Kefka Palazzo?  The first scene of him shows him 'destroying' Terra's innocence and ordering her to 'kill kill kill!' The second scene has Kefka 'stealing' General Leo's authority over the Doman mission, killing many with poision, and 'destroying' Cyan's life. His horrors do not end here, as in the interlude on the Floating Continent, Kefka commands the warring triad to strike down Emperor Gestahl so Kefka can rule- an allegory to Satan trying to usurp God. Kefka is later known as destruction and seems to be completely evil with no redeeming qualities, unlike villians such as Golbez or Sephiroth, who at least showed remorse or motive.

The end of the game shows the cast finding joy in spite of the fact the world is nearly dead. Terra has found love. Locke and Celes have found each other. Cyan carries his family inside of him. Gau has his friends. Sabin and Edgar have each other. Setzer has his dream After threatening to destroy  all their dreams and hopes, Terra counters that life continues and that it's not the end result of life that matters, but the day to day joys of life and love. 

Is FF6 perfect? No. But in comparison to the poison of FF7's recyclable souls and FF9's 'our memories live on', it's a breath of fresh air. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The popularity of Vivi

I was looking over a subreddit within the JRPG community thank showed the results of a poll of the most popular JRPG characters of all time.

In the results of that poll Vivi ranks as number 2. second to a character from a game I haven't played yet (Breath of Fire iv). Vivi is the highest rated FF character.

I found this really interesting. Vivi is definitely one of my favourite characters also, and I think it is for exactly the same reason. He is one of the only JRPG characters who shares us genuine anxieties and worries about death. He allows himself to actually sit with and dwell upon the mysteries reality of life coming to an end, he has an interiority that the gamer can relate to, but perhaps would never vocalise, would never admit to being able to relate to,

As Catholics, members of the one true Church, with the entire truth about reality, we want to help poor Vivi realise what awaits him after death, what awaits all those who have failed to be regenerated by grace, and all those who have been regenerated, those few who have persevered to the end as friends of God.

There was a beautiful comment on the review of FF9 by a reader-

"Vivis ending is also very sad. I wanted to go into the game and tell him all about Jesus."

That is certainly true, because the best the game can offer the reader is continuing existence through your offspring, having meaningful friendships while you are alive, living on in other people's memories..... basically the kind of stuff you get in humanist funerals.

What Our Lord and saviour offer is the full truth, heaven or hell and for eternity.

I am glad Vivi is the most popular character because it shows that there are so many individuals who, deep down, are worried about the eternal truths, they are worried about death, they are worried about who they really are and what purpose they are made for.

This is fantastic, it shows there are people who are preparing themselves to hear the Good News. Because Jesus Christ's message can only reach those who have got this degree of interiority, who aren't just chasing after pleasures but are genuinely seeking meaning, answers to the biggest questions. Vivi embodies that. Vivi doesn't get the answers, but we have them.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

30 games for 30 years

The games I enjoyed the most at each year of my life (so far!)

1986  As a baby I can't remember playing any games so nothing here
nor here
 Nor here
 Nor here

1990  I received a hand-me-down from an uncle of an old pong-clone with about 6 different sports variations on pong.
 I got a NES, loved Super Mario Bros
 Wizard and Warriors
Metal Gear
 Zelda 2

1995 got a Mega Drive. Golden Axe
Super Kick off 2
Super Street Figher 2
Got a PS1 and got a PC, loved Premier Manager
Final Fantasy VII

2000 Final Fantasy VIII
Chrono Trigger (Rom)
Half Life for PC
RPG Maker for PC
Chrono Cross

2005 Got a pocket PC-  played Age of Empires on it
 Pocket PC replaying Final Fantasy IV
Was doing my university finals, not sure I did much gaming this year!
Seminary in Spain- no computer, no video gaming.
Zelda II

2010 got a PS2, played FFX
Suikoden 1
Wild Arms

2015 Castlevania Symphony of the Night
Metal Gear Solid
I am Setsuna

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Priest as Sacrifice. Inspired by I am Setsuna/ FFX.

The world is soaked in sin, and sin is adding to sin, evil upon evil, every day. The peoples of our world are seduced by the evil one, and he gains more slaves every day. Gripped in the slavery to the evil one many souls are falling into hell like snowflakes in winter, like the leaves in autumn.

See the people living lives of despair! Under fear of the unknown, fear from the meaninglessness of their existence, and fear of death, the great enemy of humanity.

Is there an escape from this misery? Is there a pathway from the great plague of our time?

It is said that many ages ago a perfect sacrifice was offered, a sacrifice to do away with sin, an oblation to release souls from the grip of the evil one, an immaculate offering that compensated for all the outrages of our peoples.

This holy sacrifice, this wondrous oblation has been taken into eternity, into another dimension, into a perfect domain, here is the answer to humanity's woes! Here is our hope! Here is the desire of the nations!

The Almighty wishes this perfect sacrifice to intersect with time, to touch each age of the world, to encounter the sins and peoples and needs of every day of history.

He calls forth men, chosen men, to enter the domain of the perfect sacrifice, He sets men apart to pass through the veil into the fiery realm of the eternal perfect sacrifice,

These men are to encounter the Holy of Holies and to be the conduit for allowing that perfect Holiness to intersect with our daily realities- to dissipate sin, to snatch souls from the evil one, and to offer a glimpse of hope to the broken world.

O noble priest! O Catholic priest! You are that man set apart, that man summoned from a country village, from a city tower block, from an anonymous suburb- you are that man who perpetuates the sacred incarnation of the sacrifice, who allows us mean folk to meet the all holy God, and brings the absolution of the Most High to the dead and the damaged.

O God, how you whisper into ears of that young man, how you speak in the silences of his prayer, how you lure him with the scent of your beauty. You set before him a holy pilgrimage, a mountain of trials, a way of self denial, in order for him to become a man worthy of victimhood, worthy of entering the Holy Place and encountering the All Holy.

Know this young man, at the end of your journey lies death. You will die when you pass through that sacred veil, your pathway ends in complete oblation, the loss of all the things that you would desire in this life.

And yet your oblation is needed if the world is to find peace! To have any hope of salvation! Any respite from the evils of sin and the damnation which poison the great multitude of our race.

Hear His voice and follow Him.

Bring the calm that the nations yearn for,

allow your life to become His Life, to be the perpetuation of His Sacrifice, the perfect eternal sacrifice,

become Christ, bring Christ.