Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Does Adventure Require Evil?

This week I've started playing a new (new to me anyway) fantasy table top game called "Thunderstone". It's something of a card-based dungeon crawl, though I'll let you check it out for yourself for more details.

But playing the game got me thinking about the concept of adventure. In fiction, adventure always seems to come with evil. Adventure never seems to exist in RPGs, video games, comics, books or movies without evil being in the mix somewhere. There's an evil enemy to overcome (moral evil), or dangerous circumstances to avoid (natural evil).

Two verses I've been trying to memorize recently describe what eternity with God will be like for those who choose to trust him in this life.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

If eternity will involve complete satisfaction ("fullness of joy") and will be unfailingly, unceasingly pleasurable ("pleasures forevermore"), if there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, then where is the risk? Where is the adventure?

I think if we're asking ourselves this question, we probably need to re-examine our view of "adventure". The primary definition of adventure is "an exciting or very unusual experience". A number of games, whether athletic or strategic, can be very exciting without any notable risk of injury. Even in a game like football, people are most excited (I'm told anyway) when the score is close near the end of a game and no one knows which team will win. It isn't the possibility of injury that is on the front of everyone's minds, but the anticipation of a glorious victory for one team or the other.

Adventure is really about anticipating and experiencing the wonder of the unknown, rather than about risking harm. That's what the heart of every dungeon crawl is about, too. What kind of treasure will I find? What kind of unusual monster will I face? What am I capable of accomplishing? Any "risk" is only simulated, with no real negative consequences for failure. (Hint: If we feel otherwise, we've been playing too long.)

We have no reason to believe that eternity will be a static, euphoric state in which we do nothing but glow and sing "aaaaah". For those who entrust themselves to Christ, eternity will be an increasingly exciting adventure as we discover who God is, what he has made and what he has made us for. We will likely put our ever growing skills to the test in endeavors that may be challenging, but never the least bit frustrating.

In this way, games like Thunderstone are a sneak peak, the tiniest foretaste of what is waiting for us. Evil will be a thing of the past, but adventure will last forever.

-Paeter Frandsen


  1. Currently every good story (which includes the story of our lives) is driven by tension. It is driven by conflict. All the narratives of the Bible are driven by tension. And every story has a protagonist (who drives the story . . . not necessarily the "good guy") and an antagonist (who is against the protagonist).

    Without conflict, there's nothing of any interest in a story. (Which is the exact reason the History Channel, TLC and the like have abandoned their educational origins and embraced tension-inducing reality shows).

    So the question that we come to is, "will eternity be boring?" After all we won't be experiencing tension/conflict anymore.

    I think in eternity the paradigm for a good and entertaining story is different. From the glimpses I see in the Psalms, Revelation and elsewhere . . . I think entertaining stories will involve God's glory and holiness (his and ours). Our motivation for this shift I surmise, will come from our changed nature and deeper understanding of holiness and glory . . . which we can only glimpse in this side of eternity.

    For now, though, we live in a paradigm where toil and strife fight against goodness. We are entertained by stories we relate to. And we all relate to tension and conflict because we live in a fallen world.

  2. What a great supplement, Nathan! Really well said. Thanks so much for posting!