The Dark Descent: I’m Not Scared

So last week we talked about Five Nights at Freddy’s, and how it manufactured a stressful environment to maximise potential for scares. This week, we’re going back to a previous work that did the same thing in a landmark fashion: Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Everybody’s heard of it (and if you haven’t, well, you’re in for a treat). The Dark Descent came from the folk who made the Penumbra series, which was particularly noted for the way in which players weren’t able to fight the monsters. There was none of the Dead Space bombast of ‘scares and shotguns’ – or any of the others, you know the big offenders. In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, they took it to the next level.  (more…)

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Augustine: About Time

So we’re going to jump over to Confessions today, and talk a little about time. In Book XI, Augustine’s discussing time: he responds to general questions like ‘What was God doing before He created the world?’ (XI, 10), which challenge the idea of God’s nature as unchanging. If there was a time when God hadn’t created the world, the argument goes, then why did He suddenly decide to create it? That would imply that God had a new thought, which means that He changes, which means that He’s not perfect. This is all Platonic stuff: the assumption is that all change is for the better or the worse (debatable), and so if God changes for the better, He wasn’t perfect to begin with, and if He changes for the worse, well, then He’s not perfect now. Change is a condition of imperfect creatures (still debatable): if God is incapable of change, what was He doing before creating the Earth? Augustine’s first response is “Preparing Hell for people who pry into mysteries”. (more…)

Augustine: Beggars in the City of God

St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City has been hailed as the greatest church in all of Christendom. It has significance for all of Christianity as both a religion and a culture or society. Drawing on Augustine’s image of the City of God, we might refer to St. Peter’s as the town hall. At the same time, St. Peter’s was partially funded by the sale of indulgences, which, to all intents and purposes, preyed on the faith of the people. This abuse led to protests from Martin Luther, and the eventual birth of Protestantism. As an example, St. Peter’s highlights a certain tension in the Christian faith. On the one hand, we want to affirm the goodness of the Church as a social and cultural force – as the City of God on Earth. On the other, it must be acknowledged that the Church (and, arguably, all governmental bodies throughout history) has marginalised and abused certain groups, failing to live up to the confession of identity as the City of God. That’s what I’d like to talk about today.  (more…)

Augustine: De Doctrina Christiana, Book 4

So I’ve officially finished reading the primary Augustine works that I was planning on reading. I’ve got a long list of texts added to it now – On The Trinity is his other big work, besides City of God, and some of the secondary readings have made On Free Choice of the Will sound awesome, as well as The Teacher, a dialogue between Augustine and his son, who died aged 18. Anyway, those are for later – there’s no rush. I’ve ordered my next set of books – I’ve got Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem on the way, as well as Geoff Manaugh’s A Burglar’s Guide to the City, which is (notably) neither about video games nor theology. I’m also playing around with learning about architecture. See, this is the glory of a full-time job after uni – you can just keep learning all the things. Anyway: let’s knock De Doctrina out of here. There might be a couple more Augustine posts, depending on how the supplementary reading goes – but Hannah Arendt will be here very soon.  (more…)