Chrono Trigger

I’m not sure how many of you even know what this is, but for you gentlemen out there, this is a classic:

Technically, Chrono Trigger was a pioneer in eliminating random battles from Squaresoft’s RPG line, using on-field graphics for battles, a double and triple-tech combination system that was unparalleled in its creativity, and vibrant, colorful graphics that blew all its SNES competition out of the water.

Yet beyond those accomplishments, there were 2 things Chrono Trigger was really known for: a soundtrack composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu that is still considered by some to be the greatest video game soundtrack in history, and a storyline that was one of the most intricate ever, spanning eons and having a (then) unheard of 10+ multiple endings.

The story revolves around a silent protagonist by the name of Crono (creative, I know, but the Japanese came up with the name, so it’s creative for them), whose communication with people throughout the game consists entirely of “yes” nods and “no” head shakes. Note, protagonist silence is a mechanic meant to draw the player into a deeper connection with the protagonist, as if the player’s own personality could be projected onto the character. This is impossible with movie storytelling. But this post is not about game mechanics, so I’ll stop the geek speak and get back to the story.

Early on, Crono encounters a “Gate,” which causes him to travel back in time into the Middle Ages. After a number of plot twists, fighting alongside a man-frog, and hopping time portals a few more times, Crono and his friends land in a barren wasteland. They soon realize upon watching a video recording that the wasteland is actually their own world just over a thousand years into the future, and find out that the world saw an Apocalypse in the year 1999. The rest of the story follows Crono and friends as they journey to find out just what happened, and if there is any way they can use their ability to travel time to stop the Apocalypse from happening.

One of the main reasons the plot of Chrono Trigger was so compelling was the group’s resolve to do something about the fate of the world in the future. The events of the future were almost a millennium away from the present, and Crono and his friends from the present would have long since died when the Apocalypse came. In other words, the Apocalypse was effectively removed from the lives of Crono and his friends; they could very well have went right back home without ever thinking about the future again, and they would have suffered nothing. Yet instead of choosing to live a comfortable life, the team decides that they will do whatever it takes to save the future, because they make that future their own.

The sheer heroism and altruism at this moment in the story is actually quite powerful; this is one of the first, if not only, storylines in a game where the protagonist will risk his life to save people who are of no benefit or connection to him whatsoever. Yasunori Mitsuda’s score written precisely to characterize this determination and altruism is also moving for anyone who knows its significance.

Young men often dream of doing great things, of taking a risk to save a love, of fighting for the fate of the future, and so on. Most dismiss this dreaming as the naivete of youth; after “experiencing life,” the wizened are pushed to a cynicism that resigns them to settle for mediocrity. Yet at the hearts of even the old is a stirring, a trembling, a desire to expend their energies and heart for the sake of the greater good. To bring peace to war, to overcome evil, to rescue the future. To put aside the petty worries of life to bring change to the world.

Enter Christ. For all the grandiosity that young men aspire to, Christ actually achieved it. From a comfortable throne in the heavens, he saw the impending doom that would come upon billions if something were not done, and he left his seat. Though these billions could just as easily mean nothing to him, he decided to make them worth something to him, worth laying down his own life.

He decided to take humanity and make them his own. In so doing, he died, and he rescued the futures of all those who would believe on him.

If you are a young man, or if you are old, and you know this longing to give yourself for the greater good, there are two simple calls to you. The first is to recognize that the great story of history is not just about you. It is about Christ and how he has fought and died to make you his own and save you from your sin, though you would rather not have him. You do not deserve the chance to live your life for others. Your apathy for the future and your lack of sacrificial love for your current companions betray your true interests, and you must first be rescued from these before you can help anyone else. You must recognize this, or else the second call will never materialize for you.

That second call is to look around you and call those people who you see yours. Their lives may not affect you. You might have a better, more comfortable life without them. You may not even like them. But you must make them yours, and you must refuse to let them go. You must commit to them. You must bind up your future with theirs. You must pray for them. And you must throw your whole might into them. This is what church is meant to be, and this is what mission is meant to be.

Only when you put your whole being into this call of Christ will you know what he means when he says that “he who loses his life will find it.”

Young man, do not throw your life into saving the world from death only to realize you are postponing the inevitable. Only Christ can rescue from the coming apocalypse.

Yet you now have one life to pour into bringing others to him! Do his calls to true life not make your heart beat faster? Do not those impulses that you were made for something more coarse through you and stir you to put your whole life into that cause?

Those around you have a future. What you will do today may very well determine what happens to them tomorrow.

Do not delay. “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” Choose to take up the fates of those around you and put your life into their rescue and their restoration through Christ.

The future of the lost may yet be rescued. Go to them. Today.

Web 2.slow?

I read an interesting article recently from the Atlantic called, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” It’s located here and the basic premise is that the convenience of Google as a means for retrieving information has radically altered out ability to think. Instead of being forced to do more arduous forms of research involving reading long articles and looking for coherent trains of thought, everyone now does Google searches and then skims everything they find. The modern person has essentially lost the ability to keep up with a long, sustained, coherent train of thought.

I think I’d agree that we as a generation have a much shorter attention span than the one before us; this works to our advantage on the internet, where speed is everything when it comes to information (or so we’re told), but works to our detriment basically everywhere else. Logic doesn’t work with us anymore when trying to persuade, mostly because we let our stray thoughts and emotions interrupt essentially interrupt ourselves. Thoughts like, “hey, I wonder who won the game last night,” or “what was that one actor’s name again,” or “who the heck is John James Audobon anyway,” lead to an immediate and convenient attention breaker.

Even on those who consider themselves logical and who think they can carry a logical argument for several steps, it is difficult to break through to any level of real persuasion, mostly because most people have no grid for whether anything is true anymore. if you can find it on a google search or on wikipedia, it must apparently be true. Or not. Which is precisely the problem; most people I have met who pride themselves on their logic and reasoning tend to come out to the conclusion that you can never know what is true, even though they try to devour as much information as they possibly can. Instead of having balanced, coherent people who are able to reason on an honest, emotional level, there are now large numbers of detached trivia gurus who seem to know what they’re talking about but are themselves never sure 1) if what they’re saying is really true, or 2) what they really think anyway.

Another trend I have heard about that has arisen from the internet is the sudden drop in face-to-face interaction since the advent of AIM/GChat/Facebook and the entire online social network. While their appearance on the modern social scene was a good addition at first, their long term effects on our society could possibly be one of the most relationally robbing developments ever. This is most prominent in college students; much of my thinking on this was influenced by an interview with a college chaplain located here. A snippet I love from him is that we are easily the most socially connected generation ever, and yet there is still a real hunger for relationships (both platonic and romantic) on the college campus.

We spend more time with one another in text boxes than we do face-to-face, and this leads to problems. I have seen this largely affect my own life.

I have a problem, for example, with mumbling from time to time when I’m trying to say something that I’m not sure the person I’m facing will like to hear. For some reason, I’m hard wired to think that, as long as I say the words the other person will understand, even if they are drowned out by background noise. Obviously that is not the case; the words need to be audible. I never had enough face-to-face interaction growing up to actually mitigate this problem; I spent most of my time with my friends not with them at all, but on AIM with them.

This is a mild case. Things like mumbling, eye contact, general friendliness, all of these things are small concessions that might even be culturally acceptable, if irritating. Far more sinister, however, are inabilities to interact in conflict resolution, honest confession, sound conversation.

What I mean is this: Our generation is the Web 2.0 generation, and we know it. If we don’t like something about someone, we don’t need to voice it to them. We can just blog about it. Instead of working through issues and dealing with differences and annoyances, we can remain entirely socially accessible and yet remove people entirely from our lives. In some cases, this might be a necessary and good thing, but in the majority case, we are building a culture that doesn’t know what a relationship looks like.

Friendships are hindered. Marriages will be hindered. The church of God will be hindered in loving one another. All the while we sit idly by, chatting and isolating ourselves until all of a sudden, our personality is but a shadow of that which we used to be.

Well I, for one, intend on fighting this in myself. I don’t want to be someone who hides behind the internet. I want to be real. I’m not sure if I have been, and I’m not sure how long it’s going to take, but I will not succumb to my selfish, narcissistic tendency in this area. I’ve done a terrible job so far. I don’t care. I will fight it.

Ironic that this declaration should come in the form of a blog. Know this, all who are reading, that I intend on being your friend.