Die Hard Fan

Every one of us must have, at one point in time, experienced this overwhelming passion and admiration for someone or something. Stereotypically, a lot of men are fans of a sports team, maybe the Golden State Warriors or Manchester United. On the other hand, many women are fans of some popular public figures, celebrities essentially. But this feeling is not restricted to people or even sports teams, many can become fans of various works of art such as movies, comic books or even TV Shows. We all know at least one person who is obsessed with the Marvel franchise, or that person might be you yourself. We would get that exciting feeling when we are able to see these people and/or their works and would keep ourselves updated with their recent stories. We willingly sleep at 4 am to stay up and watch the Manchester derby even though in the morning we need to go to church for Sunday service and as a result, we feel sleepy and unprepared when time comes to be in the presence of the Lord. We voluntarily queue for hours so that we can see Ed Sheeran up close in his concert even though we could have come to a youth fellowship that afternoon. The Manchester derby and Ed Sheeran’s concert have successfully captured, held and won our attention. The question is, what makes us so willing to do all this? What is it about these people or pieces that makes them more enticing than the Lord Himself?

What Do You Value the Most?

It is actually alright to listen to pop music, to be fans of popular actors, singers, movies or sports teams. God made and allowed these things to exist in this world and they are not sinful in themselves, and there are certainly things that we can appreciate about each of these figures as they are also images of God. However, the problem comes when they take our attention away from the Lord. We must ask ourselves why we willingly end up giving our time to these avenues? Why do we choose things that give us short-term pleasure instead of something more precious than that? These people have successfully led us to sin. We have crowned these creatures Lord instead of the Creator. What do we treasure the most?

One of the reasons why we end up choosing worldly pleasures over godly ones is because we do not know the true value of either. It is normal for Christians like us to forsake our weekly youth fellowships for something we see as a once in a lifetime opportunity (eg. concerts, festivals, etc.), and our choices can indicate which one we value more in our lives. What do we prioritise more? Something that gives immediate and temporary pleasure to ourselves, or one that we know is right and gives us eternal joy?

Who do we follow?

We have to acknowledge that each person in the world, each celebrity or public figure, has their own separate way of thinking, worldview or ideology. But they can generally be broken down into two categories, those that are for God or against God. It is generally good for us to enjoy media that presents an ideology or way of thinking that is for God, and oppositely avoid those that are against Him, but why is this?

It is because each artist’s work will inevitably present his/her own worldview, and it can subtly influence how you serve and live your life for God. This influence runs deep but unnoticed, able to change us to be like them, sound like them, do things like them, and most importantly think like them. This is good if the artist in question presents a godly ideology, but more often than not, this is not the case. If you know your favourite artist’s songs are full of curse words or inappropriate lyrics, then you should be uncomfortable following them, and you may consider changing your favourite artist. This is not to say that there is no merit in following those with worldly ideologies. As said before we can certainly learn some things from them, but it is important to remember that these influences exist and can change how we behave.

Similarly, our actions and how we live reflects our own ideologies that have been shaped by the environment as well as the people we spend the most time with. When living overseas and mingling with locals there, we will eventually speak like and do things that they would do and we might even find ourselves forgetting our own mother tongue. The results may not be clear now, but in time, we will know them by their fruits. So, as God has given us the ability to choose, should we not choose to follow things that are in accordance to the Bible?

The Bible says that we must be an imitator of Christ, the perfect man (Hebrews 5:9), but instead we become an imitator of immoral creatures who make no attempt to imitate Christ in their lives. Then, we should ask ourselves, do we love them more than Christ? Are they actually the masters of our lives, dictating whatever we do and think? Should our identity rest on them and not on God? What if others see us not as the image of God, but as the image of our idol?

It is very possible that we must cut ties with whatever we are idolising, before we succumb to the addiction to love and obey them. This level of dedication must be presented to God and not our source of entertainment, whoever or whatever that is. When we make entertainment our god, it will surely be a sin. Bear in mind, that God does not stop being in control of our lives when we make other beings our gods. He was, is, and will always take full control of our lives, no matter what our choice is.

What should be our response?

Being a Christian does not mean that we completely restrict ourselves from the things of this world. It is not as if, when worldly folk go to the cinema we refrain ourselves from going there as well, or when others wear jewelry we ought to avoid them entirely. It is true that we need to be different from the world, but not in this way. God did not prevent us from becoming fans of someone or his/her works of art, neither did He stop us from following whatever that person is doing. As Christians we are not called to be monks that meditate in a land far, far away. Instead, we are commanded to engage with the world and have the right response or approach when admiring these people or things. Firstly, we should pray for God’s mercy so that He gives us the desire for Him more than anything else in this world. Pray so that God can make us alert to things that are from the world that will make us love the world. Truly, it is not by our own strength that we can let go from wayward desires, but it is only by God’s grace that we can get back into the right path (Ephesians 2:8-9). We, as sinners love to fill our lives with things that we love, anything besides God. But as someone who is saved, we are transformed and made to desire God more and acknowledge that He is the master of our lives (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 2:17). We need to remember that Christ has died and risen again together with us, which means that we are now able to say no to sin, all by God’s grace.

This change does not happen instantly, but progressively; it may take some time before we can see that we love having quality time with God, such as in our daily devotions or in prayer, more than anything else. Next, we need to continually examine the things that we like. We are responsible for things that we do, watch, and listen to. Do we glorify God in liking them? Or instead, they bring us further from God? Is the worldview presented by the person/work according to God’s Word? As Christians, this is a question we must ask ourselves and know the answer to. This is in order to fulfil 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV), which says that “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Remember that we are humans living this world, but we are not of the world. What we must seek is God and God alone. If we choose to seek God and make Him the centre of our lives, it will not be in vain.

What’s next?

However, it is not enough for us to have a correct response to celebrities and works of art, we also need to have the right approach when we become a fan of someone or something. In his book ‘Redeeming Pop Culture: A Kingdom Approach’, T.M. Moore wrote that there is a need for a biblical approach to popular culture. It is by having a missiological element in our approach to pop culture, as in our reaction to it allows us to more easily engage with others. An example of this was with me and my friend, we were both fans of Chris Evans, however we manifested our appreciation for him differently. One day she asked me why I did not want to attend his meet and greet session, citing it as a rare chance and a once in a lifetime event. I then explained that I had youth fellowship during the same time, that I’ve already made a commitment and how I saw this fellowship as a once in a lifetime chance as well. She replied by saying: “Well, you come to church every Sunday. It is okay to miss one session, there’ll be next week. Something like this won’t be available next week.” This sort of scene may be familiar to you, it may have happened not too far from today. Here, we are given a choice to choose and by choosing to hear God’s Word and commune with His people, we may perhaps show others how important that is to us, even more important than a chance to meet celebrities or be among the first to watch a movie.

Of course, this does not automatically mean that it is correct to choose to come to youth fellowship and that any other alternative is sinful. But it is interesting how we regard these events as ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities, while fellowship with other Christians and learning the Word of God are not; we regard these events as less important to us and by extension, it may signal how we see the Word of God. Keep in mind, there are times where there is an urgent need coinciding with church activities, and where it would be more important to choose to attend these urgencies instead. If, for example, there were to be an exam at the same time of a church youth event, or your friend or relative had just been admitted to the hospital on the same day, it might actually be more sinful if you did decide to come to the youth event; it shows irresponsibility in God’s calling for you to be a good student or brother/sister. Every Christian needs to make a scale of priorities, which event or action is more important and which one is not. If we were to choose fellowship over fan meetups, our motivation to come should be one that seeks God’s relationship and His Word as well as wanting to glorify Him as best as we can. To come to them merely to appear obedient would be living a life of legalism. The most important aspect is not about how we are wrong when we skip religious activities or how we are right when we attend them, but do we truly seek to have a relationship with God or not?

Through this, we can do our Christian calling which to tell the gospel of Christ and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16-20). It is not only a calling for particular people in the faith, but for all those who call themselves a newborn Christian. By having the same interests as other people, it makes us easier to talk to them, to insert Christian values in our conversations and later on to share the gospel of Christ to them. To get that truth and the good news out to them, to be the salt and light of this world, to partake in the coming of the Kingdom of God in this world, so that through us, His name alone is glorified (Matthew 5:16). (PS)

Seeing Double

Instagram’s additional features have offered its users with a myriad of options to personalise their posts and page, giving each user the freedom/autonomy to control how their content is viewed by others. These features range from having your pictures archived, to more private features like ‘close friends’. One of the interesting features offered by Instagram is the ability to switch between two Instagram accounts, which can be used to further engineer the concept of a ‘finsta’, or a ‘fake Instagram’ account. Unlike in regular Instagram accounts, finsta users would disguise their names, as it is supposedly made to “embody the real person hidden behind the screen of their real or first Instagram account” and to create an avatar distant from their appearance in society. Having a finsta means that an Instagram user would have a secondary account to “share posts with a smaller, curated group of users”, being able to “conceal his/her identity, in a brand-new world, where photos are stripped of their saturation, where filters are non-existent and overthought captions are nowhere to be found” (Hoenig 2018). Due to the increasing usage of users having two accounts, Instagram developed the ‘close friends’ feature which can be used to limit posts to specific people. This makes it so that users can have a figurative ‘finsta’ without switching between two accounts. Generally, a finsta usually consists of pictures, videos, or any form of content that the users regard as a raw, and vulnerable representation of themselves. Most of this content is usually unimportant, and is often used to create a one-way projection of themselves; this can consist of compilations of funny pictures/videos, a minute-long video talking about their day-to-day experience, or stating their opinion on some topic or event.

There are various reasons why people would filter their content like this. Perhaps it is to maintain a close-knit friendship or maybe the second account or finsta is reserved for ‘behind-the-scenes’ experiences, and for pictures that are not ‘Instaworthy’ to be shown in the first Insta account. Another reason would be to escape the fear of being judged by peers or family members. I acknowledge that this notion predominantly caters to teenagers, and cannot be generalised for all Instagram users. Nevertheless, this finsta phenomenon persists, as “one of the last refuges of the authentic online self” (The Verge, 2018). But why shouldn’t we make one anyway? Is it that big of a deal?

The More Accounts, the Merrier?

Herein lies the paradox between signing up for a finsta, or having our Insta stories ‘close friend’-ed, whereby people indiscreetly try to share to as many people as they can, but at the same time limiting this content to particular people. These people often exclude parents or family members for the fear that they may be judged based on what they post. One one hand, to limit information is not something that is inherently wrong. However, to do it because we want to live double lives is sinful. This behaviour is also evident among self-proclaimed Christians who put Bible verses, or Biblical quotes in their primary Instagram page, but afterwards switch to their second account to complain about something or someone, and essentially gossip. In contrast to their first account, their finsta displays a different side of themselves, completely detached from their Christian persona. Hence, this is when one’s finsta becomes an avenue for a hypocritical life as they encapsulate themselves between two perfectly ‘self-constructed’ worlds. They use good and pleasant means, but only for the sake of appearing and feeling good about themselves in front of others. Christian hypocrites lead a double life, entering the church by Saturday or Sunday, but leaving the weekdays to themselves and their fleshly desires—oblivious to the pointlessness of the reality they live in. We would justify living in such a condition by saying that it is a fulfillment of our so-called demand in freedom of expression; in which we validate these unimportant contents on our Instagram as the means to reach it. The reason in doing this may seem very simple and innocent, to have some semblance of individualism in our lives, a way to say “my life/insta, my rules!”; But is the crux of the matter that simple? This theme of transparency and cynicism shows one of the core principles of the postmodern era we currently live in.

The Worldview Under the Mask

Postmodernism is a philosophical worldview that denies the reality of an objective or absolute truth—especially in relation to religion or spirituality. This viewpoint is held true by many in our current society and is reflected in their actions and intentions. We see individuals start idolising themselves, and some even becoming self obsessed; in this case, towards their mediated-selves on Instagram finstas. There are also those who idolise other people by accepting everything “as it is”, in order to avoid conflict. Terms such as “don’t judge others” are highly encouraged in a postmodern society. However, we can see that these words and actions are pointless because they do not have any foundation to lie upon. The apostle Paul warns us against people like these:
‘[They] exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things’ (Romans 1:23 ESV)
These postmodernists see themselves as the measure of all things. They see themselves fit to determine their ‘rights’ or ‘wrongs’, hence everything should be tailored merely to what seems pleasing to their eyes. In general, social media users will continue to seek authenticity, craving a realness of self. Through finstas, we attempt to live this double identity and define ourselves by using these pictures, videos, stories, and captions. These two representations of the self reflect a person who adopts a dualistic worldview—where one views the sacred and the profane as within separate realms which could not or should not be reconciled. The dualistic worldview violates the fact that Christ should be exalted, glorified in all domains of our lives. What we have to realise here is that, when one identifies him/herself as a Christian, then Christ should be the core, the centre of their lives (1 Pet 3:15 ESV). As the Dutch statesman and theologian, Abraham Kuyper once stated, “If Christ, is not the Lord of all, He is not the Lord at all.”. We must realise that everything we do either glorifies God or goes against Him.

Coram Deo: In Instagram, as it is everywhere in life

We may not know this, but in every action of our lives, on social media or otherwise, we are revealing something of ourselves. When we do, it warrants examination—what kind of person are we projecting to the world? Are we posting this as someone who is joined to Christ in one Spirit? Or as a hypocrite who still aims to claim this domain of instagram as ‘ours’? Let us be aware of the fact that identifying ourselves as Christians comes with a necessary consequence. Said consequence is that we are to live coram Deo, or ‘before the face of God’. The world sees this consequence as something completely different, as they see only the risk of being judged by others for our radical life. For instance, when choosing not to post something to a finsta, or a regular Instagram—they might be constrained to do so out of fear in being judged by their followers, or those who view their posts. But for Christians, we realise that we are to live coram Deo, meaning that everything must be done in obedience, to please God. Pleasing Him means to “know nothing of evil” (Psalm 101:4 ESV), and not setting his eyes to worthless things (Ps 101:3 ESV), this not only includes examining what we post, but how we post it on Instagram. We cannot profess to be Christians and yet also be slaves to the world and its desires. ‘For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world’ (1 John 2:16 ESV).

When we live coram Deo—do realise that we are accountable for all our actions, online or offline. And acknowledging this fact should lead all our actions to be acts of obedience that is done out of gratitude in Christ. Living before the face of God means that we acknowledge His’ sovereignty in all things, which includes our online presence. Being obedient to Him is not solely out of a fearful submission, instead, out of thankfulness having known that it is His’ grace alone that allows us to obey and be living sacrifices for Him, our Creator. ‘And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.’ (Col 3:17 ESV). A comfort lies in the Holy Spirit, who assists us in obedience to God, to resemble and conform to the Master. It is in obedience to Him, who offers light so that we do not need to conceal ourselves with ‘anything’ outside of Him. Coram Deo, there is not a single situation in our life that allows us to ‘tune-out’ from God. Because we are either for or against Him, as stated in Matt. 6:24, ‘No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.’ (Mat. 6:24 ESV). We have to be sure that everything that we do should be made to display the will of God. Are we doing so as we decide to tap the ‘close friends’ button, and take a picture on our camera?


It is important to be critical in viewing our conduct as Christians on social media—in the midst of endless options to new features, we can be easily allured with this world and what it has to offer. As Christians, who are joined to Christ in one Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19)—we are to be “set apart for His use, and our bodies must be kept as His, whose they are and fit for His use and residence” (Henry, 1706) in all domains of life. And we must remember that our identity as Christians is not encapsulated in a single domain as we resort to social media. Therefore, all of our actions should be done for the glory of God and the good of our neighbours, so that ‘whether [we] eat or drink, or whatever [we] do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor 10:31). Pray that your presence on Instagram will lead to “the magnifying of Christ, winning of the lost, everlasting joy of all people and the glory of God” (Piper, 2018).(AEM)



Julia Ross. Retrieved from https://socialmedia.umich.edu/blog/the-finsta-fascination/

Mahaney, C. (2008). Worldliness (1st ed., pp. 36-67). Illinois: Crossway.

Matthew Henry Complete Bible Commentary Online. (1706). Retrieved from https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/

New York Magazine. (2017). Retrieved from http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/05/instagram-wants-users-to-make-second-finstagram-accounts.html

Piper, J. (2018). How Can We Tweet to the Glory of God?. Retrieved from https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-can-we-tweet-to-the-glory-of-god

Sarah Hoenig. (2018). Retrieved from https://studybreaks.com/culture/finsta-2/

The Verge. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/23/15856858/instagram-favorites-private-sharing-friends-list

Thanos: Altruism and the Movie-going Audience

“What’s wrong, little one?”
“My mother. Where is my mother?”
“What’s your name ?”
“You’re quite the fighter, Gamora. Come. Let me help you.”
Gamora and Thanos – Avengers : Infinity war 2018

And so begins Gamora’s journey, an alien girl who was adopted by the intergalactic conqueror, Thanos. Avengers: Infinity War was a long awaited sequel to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) released in April 2018 which broke the box office gross revenue record compared to all previous superheroes movies (All Time Worldwide Box Office for Super Hero Movies, n.d. ; List of Highest-Grossing Film, n.d.). Its well-managed yet complex plot, smooth CGI animation, wide roster of characters, and many other factors led to the movie’s authentic cinematic beauty. However, many watchers would probably agree that the one prominent factor that greatly contributed to the movie’s fame, which was the movie’s main villain, Thanos. The Mad Titan is not your typical villain character, especially in comparison to many other villains of the MCU; there seems to be more complexity behind him, a quality shared by many good villains in good movies. Such intricacies in a villain’s character can have both positive and negative merits which are important to look at, and as such we will examine them in this article.

“A Small Price to Pay for Salvation“ – Thanos

The Zehoberei were a race of green humanoid creatures who inhabited the planet Zen-Whoberi. Their planet was suffering from a lack of resources, this prompted Thanos to conclude that overpopulation was the reason they lived by “scraps” (Zen-Whoberi, n.d.), and he proceeded to slaughter half the population. However, since Thanos arrived “ the children born have known nothing but full bellies and clear skies” and the planet seemed to have become a ‘paradise’, but all because Thanos’ murderous act.

It was quite clear that Thanos was portrayed as the the main antagonist of the movie, whose goal was to wipe half of the universe’s population through the power of the six infinity stones that possessed limitless capability. But the complexity behind his intentions is revealed as Thanos was trying to do it for what he thought to be a good cause; to bring balance and save the world, or at least half of it. While Thanos’ view of the world deserves some discussion of its own, It would be amiss to neglect the significant change in the character of Thanos over his comic book counterpart who made his first appearance in 1991 (Infinity Gauntlet(1991), n.d). His personality in the comic could easily be described as ‘evil’.

While the comic also tells of Thanos using his gauntlet and enacting a massacre of half of the universe’s population, he did it not to save the universe but to impress his one and only love, Mistress Death, who was the Marvel Universe’s embodiment of death itself. Thanos’ love for the concept of death itself led him to various evil acts such as killing his own classmates when he was small and torturing his mother to death( Death – earth 616, n.d). Thanos’ intentions in the comic book lacked sympathy for the countless beings in the universe and while they were acted out of love, it was a selfish, ambitious and twisted form of love, caring for nothing else but his relationship with Mistress Death.

This new Thanos in the MCU has a more altruistic and sympathetic motivation as bears his gauntlet. His home planet – Titan – suffered a similar bout of overpopulation to the Zehoberei, however his people did not listen to his suggestions to cull the people, and in the movie we see the planet already in ruins, Thanos implying that it was caused by this problem. Saddened by his history, he set out to ‘save’ the universe. Here he was portrayed to a certain level to be ‘good’, and many moviegoers seemed to love it.

There is Nothing New Under the Screen

Interestingly, Thanos is not alone in his apparent altruism. A similar instance can be seen in the 2008 movie, The Dark Knight. The Joker from this Batman movie was characterised as a smart psychopath who wanted to introduce anarchy to the city. Even so, his motivation was not presented as ‘absolute evil’ as he showed the world how hypocritical society truly was. To him, they were the real bad guys.

“Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics,
because it’s all, part of the plan.
But when I say that one, little old mayor will die,
The Joker – The Dark Knight 2008

While The Joker’s act was clearly cruel, the film offers another perspective on the villain. A perspective that attempts to make the audience sympathise with the villain, a perspective that presents the Joker as having some truth in his words, such a perspective suggests that perhaps, he is not actually so evil (Or at least his reasoning seems sound enough to not be evil). The notion that the villains are purely evil is abandoned in movies like Infinity War, The Dark Knight and many others.

Are ‘Bad Guys’, Bad?

There are reasons why these types of villains are more interesting compared to the usual villain’s motivation of pure hatred. By adding slight traits of altruism, or a sliver of truth in the antagonist’s motivation, the movie incite a deeper contemplation of the villain’s character and narrative plot.

On one side these portrayals are good, they encourage moviegoers to see that there is more than meets the eye with regards to morality. That a person can have a more complex personal history and motives different from mere stereotypes, and Christians should also see as such. James 1:19 calls us to be “quick to hear, and slow to speak”, which should bring the realization to not quickly judge someone before being aware of their full story or scenario. In the book Generous Justice, Timothy Keller tells a story of how he faced his furious deacon (Keller, 2010). A woman who was a single mother of four, has been wasting funds from the church for menial things such as junk food, bikes and trips to the restaurant instead of paying her bills. While it may seem normal to say “No way do we give her anymore” as the deacon did, Keller convinced the deacons to hear her story, open up their hearts and continue in funding her life. It had turned out that the mother felt guilty of not being able to provide her children with a life as a normal family in the neighbourhood and thought that buying them those things would remedy the situation. Indeed, her view and actions needed to be corrected, but as the smog clears and the circumstances present themselves, the woman does not seem as bad as the deacon initially thought.

This is the uniqueness of movies that portray the villain with selfless ulterior motives like Avengers: Infinity war. Characters like Thanos prompt the viewer to contemplate deeper and not to judge too quickly of someone’s intention even behind malicious looking actions. However, we must acknowledge that even Thanos’ motivations and worldview were terribly misguided through the Biblical lens.

Then are ‘Bad Guys’, Good?

We see in the Israelites and even in people today, every God-given grace and every God-given beautiful thing can be twisted by the human heart into something hideous. As John Calvin once said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” (Calvin n.d.)

As discussed in the previous section, this addition of multi-faceted motives with a pinch of altruism in a villain’s motive can lead someone to think more critically, quicker to hear than they are to speak, and see from the perspective of the individuals we face in our life. However, we must all be aware of the underlying worldview that is being pushed throughout today’s culture, a worldview that continues to be stronger and its message clearer. This worldview says – the notion of truth, good, and evil are very subjective matters.

Postmodernism is a worldview that came about as a response to the modern era. It is characterized by a perception of fundamental things such as truth, value, beauty, and morality to be non-existent in the absolute sense, but rather only existing in an individual’s subjectivity (Postmodernism Philosophy, n.d.) . Hence, postmodernism holds that morality is relative, each person defines what is good or evil and it is impossible to impose one’s morality upon another. I do believe that many people, including Christians, take this notion of postmodernism or “post-truth” as their view of reality. There is certainly a history of how this way of thinking came about, which will not be discussed in this article. But the prevalence of postmodernism means that those who watch Infinity War will see a sort of affirmation of this relativistic idea.

The postmodernist viewer might say subconsciously:
“Even Thanos who does wretched things, does so out of good intentions – at least it seems so from his subjective view. Goodness is truly to a subjective matter.”

However, anyone -especially Christians- should realize just how dangerous, unrealistic, and self-defeating both the popular philosophy and its presentation in the entertainment industry are. While an ice cream flavor can be preferable to some but not others, morality and truth cannot be considered as subjective matters, and must not merely be a matter of choice. If the notion of good and evil is truly relative to the individual, then Thanos is not a villain and the Avengers are not heroes, they are just individuals fighting for their subjective perception of reality and their notion of ethics. While some would think this view is not problematic, in actuality upon close inspection it does present some pressing issues.

The Postmodern Contradiction

This is made clear in Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God. When one claims that “reality and morality are subjective things”, one might need to question whether he/she earnestly believes this statement to be true. Some may hesitate to say yes, but many of those adopting the postmodern relativistic philosophy would readily do so, often holding this truth close to their hearts with absolute certainty (Keller, 2008). But when someone does affirm his/her certainty of the aforementioned statement, he/she is already describing an absolute reality of the universe, which is contradiction to the previous statement. To make it clearer, it is as if that person said this:

“I as a person who holds the postmodern and relativistic philosophy,
claim that the world does not have any absolute standards and all standards are subjective, but my statement that I have just spoken to you is not my subjective perception but I hold it to be true objectively and absolutely.”

We see that this is a self-defeating statement, as it contradicts the view that the person held. But the argument may not be over; after realising the foolishness of the statement, the person would change his/her answer to. “No, my view of relativistic morality and reality is not absolute but only true in my subjectivity.” We then move to another problem, that is, society cannot run based on this principle.

Relative, yet Misguided Morality

Imagine someone had just killed your beloved mother whom you loved so much, right in front of your eyes. With deep anger and sadness you will then bring the murderer to court for the judge to decide the punishment he deserves – while your hands are also eager to give some as well. But suddenly the judge releases the killer without a sentence of any kind. How can this be? It seems the killer struck his knife with good intentions in his mind. He did it in order to save your mother from the misery and harshness of the world, the harshness of working 8 hours a day, or the harshness of having flu every now and then. The killer subjectively thought that his act was done in mercy more than malice. And so he was let go.

Now this is an easy example which articulates 2 things: First, morality and truth cannot be subjective matters, and secondly there are clear boundaries regarding what is moral or immoral, ethical or unethical and this is a concept affirmed by most people.

But if morality and truth cannot be subjective matters, is there an absolute standard everyone can subscribe to? Where should that absolute standard come from? This is why John Frame in his book ‘Apologetics’, argues clearly that ethics and morality can only exist when grounded by the absolute personality of the Trinity – which is a very exclusive statement among other worldviews (Frame & Torres, 2015).

“The end is near”- Thanos

As like any good movie or entertainment platform, Infinity War should incite further discussion about philosophy and worldview. While further questions may be raised of the viability of Thanos’ motivations, this is not the purpose of this article. I also believe that the claim that morality must exist with a Trinitarian basis requires further explanation, perhaps through other articles. However, the main purpose of this article is mainly to bring to light the prevalence of altruistic villains in modern media, and that we as followers of Christ must both be grateful and wary of this uprising of relatable villains.
As Marvel answers our questions in the coming movies, we pray that the Lord will answers our questions as well through reading passages in the Bible, and perhaps other articles on our page. To God be the glory. (HIC)



All Time Worldwide Box Office for Super Hero Movies. (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.the-numbers.com/box-office-records/worldwide/all-movies/creative-types/super-hero

Calvin, J. (n.d.). Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 3. (H.Beveridge,
Trans.). Retrieved from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iii.xii.html

Death-(Earth 616). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Death_(Earth-616)

Frame, J. M., & Torres, J. E. (2015). Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief. P & R Publishing.
Infinity Gauntlet(1991). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://readcomiconline.to/Comic/Infinity-Gauntlet-1991

Keller, T. J. (2008). The reason for God: Belief in an age of skepticism. New York: Dutton.
Keller, T. J. (2010). Generous justice: How God’s grace makes us just. New York, New York.: Dutton.

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Zen-Whoberi. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Zen-Whoberi

For Thanos So Loved the World

It’s likely that many of those reading this article right now have watched the blockbuster movie Avengers: Infinity War. Anyone who has watched the movie may know its appeal and how dramatic and unconventional the ending turned out to be. These different elements intrigued me as well, but what caught my attention was the resemblance and similarities the movie had with God’s story in the Bible. One example of this is in Thanos’ act of sacrificing his daughter, Gamora, which paralleled God the Father sacrificing His son Jesus Christ on the cross. While there are other similarities between the movie and the stories of the Bible, especially those regarding Jesus Christ, this article will focus on the example mentioned above. This is because, upon closer inspection, one will start to see a large difference between Thanos’ actions to what Jesus Christ did.

Let us first take a look at Thanos’ motivation in sacrificing Gamora. In order for Thanos to receive one of the powerful Infinity Stones (a necessary item for his plans), he needed to sacrifice someone he truly loved, and being the mad, genocidal Titan that he was, nobody would have guessed that he had a place in his heart for love, and even his adopted daughter Gamora mocked him for his ‘inability’ to love. But in an ironic twist of events, Thanos did love someone, and not just anyone, but his own daughter who mocked him moments earlier. I was shocked to see that Thanos killed Gamora in order to obtain the stone. Why was this so important for Thanos? In the movie, Thanos’ motive in acquiring the Infinity Stones was to save the universe from apparent extinction. Back on his own planet, he faced the problem of overpopulation, which led to the conclusion that half of the planet’s people had to die. Nobody paid any attention to his idea, and so his planet did eventually die off. To prevent this from happening again to the entire universe, he thought that it was best to gather the stones and use their power to wipe half of all life from the universe.

This view is similar to the philosophy of utilitarianism, a worldview which states that any action is right as long as it promotes the wellbeing and happiness for a greater number of people. And by the end of the movie, he apparently succeeded in achieving this. Thanos’ sacrifice of Gamora led to the ‘salvation’ of half the universe (at the expense of the other half as well). However, he had no ground foundation on who to save or not. It was all arbitrary slaughter. The weakness of the utilitarian view has to do with justice. For utilitarians, all that matters is the net gain of happiness (Austin, 2015). Although, Thanos did save half of the universe for the greater good, his choice was fundamentally flawed as it required him to commit immoral actions.

Let us now contrast this with the Christian story of redemption. God’s sacrificial act led to our salvation as He saved us from our own sin. He redeemed us so that we may have a relationship with the Father again. Thanos’ actions however, did not bring any direct benefit to anyone. Those people Thanos randomly picked did nothing to Thanos to ‘deserve’ their deaths, yet we, whom Christ saved, deserved nothing but annihilation for our disobedience against God. One acted out of selfless love, the other out of pure ambition. Should we not be grateful that God’s act of sacrificing His Only Son was not in vain or acted out of randomness? Should this fact not bring us to glorify Him?

For Thanos so loved the world, that he sacrificed his daughter, Gamora, out of a foolish ambition of trying to save the universe by killing half of its people, people who did not deserve it. We, as Christians, have a Father who was willing to sacrifice His Own Son, to save us. We did not deserve to be saved, yet He chose to save His elected people. We deserve judgement, yet He chose to replace us on the cross. He did not sacrifice us in order to save the others. On the other hand, Thanos saved based on his random will. He also does not know who dies or who does not. Thanos assumes that people will be happy with his decision to sacrifice half of the population and they should be thankful and glorify him for killing their family. Per contra to what the Bible said in Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” God saves us out of His own glory and loves us that it should lead us back to glorifying Him. We need to bear in mind that we and everyone else deserves to die in eternity. He is the almighty and a just God. We do not deserve salvation, but through grace we are chosen to be saved by God. Unlike Thanos, who ask for the people to glorify him because he has saved half of the population, but killing half of it as well. We have a God that chose us based on His wisdom and has predestined us way before we even existed. He will not randomly change His decision to save us as He has decided on His actions even from eternity. In John 3:16 (ESV) we know that “ For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” This was a loving act. How glad should we be to have a loving God who sacrificed His Son so that we may live forever? (JK)



Austin, M.W. (2015). What’s Wrong With Utilitarianism. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/ethics-everyone/201506/whats-wrong-utilitarianism (accessed on 26 June 2018).



YOLO, an acronym which stands for “You Only Live Once”, is a term that garnered popularity in the year 2012, when the Canadian rapper known as Drake used it in a track in one of his albums. The term has been used in other ways in the past, which shows that it has existed before its usage by Drake. Even then, the concept of a person having only one life was already a widely held belief, they just did not use the term #YOLO to express it in their social media (which they did not have at that time). The meanings and implications contained in some old concepts of living only once were also different to how we understand YOLO in this age. This article will not talk on this topic, instead we are going to see what meaning does the term YOLO generally carry today, the dangers it poses to our generation, and how we as Christians should view this abbreviation.

I am sure that most of us are familiar with this term and what it implies. However, this article will define YOLO according to some dictionary definitions to avoid any sort of misunderstanding. The English Cambridge Dictionary (n.d.) describes YOLO as an “abbreviation for ‘you only live once’: used, especially on social media, to mean that you should do things that are enjoyable or exciting, even if they are silly or slightly dangerous”. This explanation seems to be mostly correct, however I prefer the definition given by Oxford Dictionary (n.d.) – “You only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future, and often used as a rationale for impulsive or reckless behaviour)”.

YOLO in Society

“Impulsive or reckless behaviour”, I think the Oxford Dictionary captures an important aspect of YOLO, i.e. this concept has been a motivation and a push for people to do irresponsible and inappropriate actions. You only live once so why not try sex before marriage? or why not ‘drink ‘till you drop’?; “I mean if this life is all that there is then let’s just do all these wild things. Who cares what happens in the future?”. Most of us have probably seen posts that repeat these ideas on social media such as twitter and Facebook. These people would even post their reckless exploits on these sites, showing that they are proud of their actions and want others to see and admire them. However, this is only one of the manifestations of YOLO.

There are those that interpret YOLO in exactly the opposite way. “You only live once, so take care of your body that you may live a healthy life”. Those that hold this interpretation would advise you to take care of your body in order to live a longer and more enjoyable life, and with that life you can attain your life goals, whether it’s to travel around the globe, seeing your grandchildren, or maybe even to change the world.

We see two radically different outward expressions of how these two kinds of people live their lives with regards to YOLO. The first interpretation of YOLO is that because you only have this life you should satisfy your desires doing all the reckless and irresponsible things you could possibly do, basically squeezing every bit of available pleasure to you in that moment of recklessness. But even though the second one seems to be a better and more biblical option, we must take a closer look. You only live once so take care of your body, make sure that it is healthy, but for what? Why are we trying to make our lives healthier and longer? What is the motivation behind us living a long and healthy life? Is it simply to gain more pleasure in this life? If so, is this not just another way of satisfying our desires and getting every bit of pleasure possible? We must see that even though the means of attaining their goals are different, these two ways of life are fundamentally the same, they have the same intent i.e. to satisfy themselves with worldly pleasures. While the first seeks to gain enjoyment by squeezing every bit of pleasure from one or two moments, the second aims to expand the period of time for you to enjoy that pleasure. Basically, behind whatever it is you’re doing, you have one aim, that is to enjoy as much pleasure as possible while you are living in this life because this is all you got. This is the basic assumption of YOLO – that our finite lives warrant us to live them fully, whatever the lifestyle.

YOLO and Christianity

How should Christians respond to this culture of YOLO? YOLO is founded upon the fact that the time we have in this world is limited, so we must live it to the fullest, no matter the lifestyle. Up to a certain extent, there is truth in this. In a very real sense, we only possess one life in this world and our time here is finite. Isn’t this what Psalm 90:12 means when it says: “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”? (ESV). We only live once in this world and with every passing second the time we all have in this world is decreasing. In previous verses, Psalm 90 describes the life of a person like a fragile leaf that withers and dies. David in Psalms 39:4 realises that his life is a fleeting one. This shows the limited time that we have now is very precious.

Realising Our Limited Time

We can see from Psalm 90:12 that gaining a heart of wisdom involves the realization of this limited time. Time is one of our many resources and just like any other resource, knowing how to make best use of it is of utmost importance. If you’ve studied economics, then you would know that one of the main aims of economics is to maximise production using the resources available. CEOs want to know how to get the most profit out of the funding they possess, but to do this, they must first know how much money they actually have. This is also applicable to time, in order to know how to best use our time we must know how much time we have. But as we do not know when we will die, we must at least be aware of its very limited amount. Only then will we be able use our time wisely. A person who does not realize he has a limited amount of money is far more prone to overspending than someone who is conscious of his/her finite wealth. The same goes with time, this is why we often say “time is money”. In fact, time is even more precious than money. If you spend your money in the wrong way, you can work and get it back again; but once you spend time, you can never get it back. What is worse is that you have no option whether you want to spend time or not, every living person right now is spending time with every passing second. You are even spending your time reading this article right now. Without time, you would not be able to spend your money, yet all the money in the world can never buy the time you’ve lost. Time is not money, time is life, and life is one of the most valuable resources that you can ever have.

And thus, in realisation of our short existence, Christians should live this life wisely and make use of the precious time that has been given to them. But one might ask, “so what’s the difference between the Christian and the general interpretation of YOLO?” The difference lies in how we use our lives. The fact that we have a limited amount of time in this world manifests itself differently in a Christian compared to the general public.

The Christian’s YOLO

As I have mentioned above, people generally interpret YOLO in one of two ways, either trying to maximise the amount of pleasure they can get from their lives or to try to extend their lives so that they can attain enjoyment out of their prolonged lifespan. Both approaches use this one life that they have in this world to satisfy as many desires as they can.

But true Christians know that the life that they have is not meant to be used for satisfying their worldly desires, the end goal is not getting as many things or going to as many places in this world as possible. With the continuous flow of time, the Christian longs to spend every moment not to satisfy their desires within this world but to achieve the end goal of glorifying God. Examples of how we can do this include evangelising the people around you, having fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, and having fellowship with God through Bible-reading and prayer. Unfortunately, this reality is far from what we see in the lives of so many people who profess themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ.

So many people in the world, in response to the idea of YOLO, immediately use their lives to satisfy their desires. However, not many Christians, in realization of this one life that they have, use their time to do God’s will; Instead they live like the rest of the world, like those that deny the existence of God. We have forgotten our true purpose that has been revealed in God’s word i.e. to make His name and His work of salvation be known among all nations (Psalms 67:2 & Matthew 28:18-20). With our limited time, we choose to spend it on sinful and time-consuming pleasures like video-games and YouTube videos, rather than evangelizing the lost and making the name of God known through our lives.

Wake up Christians! Remember your identity and the calling that God has called you to. See the world around you and realize that every second you waste is a second you are never getting back. See the people around you that have not known Christ and realize that the time you have to share the gospel with them is decreasing moment by moment. See the vast amount of work that God has called you to do, and see the preciousness of time that is your life, and when these two realities meet may it drive us to live our lives glorifying God, sharing His gospel, making His name known among all people. Let the concept of YOLO reminds Christians all around the world of the precious time that we have, and use them to live, not for ourselves but for God. (CSS)



YOLO | Definition of YOLO in English by Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/yolo

YOLO Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/yolo


Pokemon Go: Is It Just a Game?

Pokemon Go is a mobile-based game created by Niantic Lab and Nintendo that is based on the Pokemon franchise. It offers a different gaming experience compared to its predecessors through the implementation of augmented reality technology. In the game, players are able to catch em’ all and evolve Pokemon not in the fictional Pokemon world but in the world that we live in. It goes out and beyond the traditional gameplay of Pokemon by placing fictional creatures from the Pokemon world into real places in our world. Pokemon Go is a pandemic. It grabbed the attention of the whole world right from the get-go. In just a week, more than 30 million android users have downloaded the game in the United States alone, attracting not only people from the younger generation but also from the older generation. Furthermore, the daily average usage of the game has been reportedly greater than any existing social media applications, beating the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram (Molina, 2016). Hence, one of the question that people may ask is, why are so many people attracted to Pokemon Go?

I believe that it says something about humanity in our society today. Unwittingly, Pokemon Go has touched one of mankind’s greatest desire, that is the desire for a world that corresponds with our ideals and imaginations; and this desire is clearly evident if we try to look back in history. Why is that? It is indisputable that the world that we now live in is full of miseries and darkness. Ongoing political turmoil, hatred, environmental issues, the threat of terrorism and other uncertainties in our world today. In this sense, Pokemon Go can be considered as a means to escape from the realities of this world. Traditionally, games offer a brief getaway from the reality to the gaming world; but through Augmented Reality, pokemon Go has brought the fictional pokemon world into the very world that we live in. Perhaps let us imagine a life with pokemon in it. Pokemon may help us in our daily chores and and provide our basic needs. Moreover, we can have a life full of adventures where we can travel the world to catch and train pokemons. Now in comparison with the harsh reality of this world, life with pokemons will certainly be more interesting and fun! An article in The Guardican titled Pokemon Go: Why Our Dark World Needs Escapism More Than Ever discussed how technology (Pokemon Go) has provided a way for people to escape the harsh reality and the raw pain of the real world (Alexandre, 2016). Considering these arguments, does Pokemon Go really delivers the answer that we have been looking for? If not, will there be an ideal world as opposed to the world we now live in?

The Bible offers something more than just a mere utopian world and imagination. It provides true and real solutions for the dark reality that we face today. The Bible never denies the inescapable, calamitous reality of this world but instead affirms the fact that this world has indisputably fallen (Genesis 3); and as a result, suffering and pain is inevitable thus integrating itself in the lives of all. However, God had provided a redemptive plan for mankind where he sent his own Son, Jesus Christ as the atonement and sacrificial lamb to provide redemption for His people, that those who believe in Him may have eternal life (John 3:16). Of course this does not mean that the world we now live in shall have no pain and suffering but instead there are many sinful realities that we have to face every single day as Christians. But, God promised, that during the second coming of Jesus Christ, there will be a new heaven and earth that will be of a greater splendour than any utopia mankind can ever imagine. Revelation 21:4 (KJV) stated, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Therefore, as a Christian, this new heaven and earth should surely be our greatest longing and desire

Many people have commented that Pokemon Go revolutionised the way people play games; because what was only possible to do from inside a room has changed into an outside gaming experience. In a way, it ‘forces’ people to go outdoors, to enjoy the environment and “socialise” with others while catching and battling other pokemons. On one hand, it is undeniable that Pokemon Go has been a catalyst for people to get moving and to explore their neighbourhoods; but on the other hand, it gives us a warning signal of a sad human condition. Why is that? G. K. Chesterton, an English philosopher and writer once said, “This is proved by the fact that when we are very young children we do not need fairy tales: we only need tales. Mere life is interesting enough. A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon. But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door.” This is an accurate description of mankind in which as time goes by, we need stronger and stronger incentives to be able to appreciate the little things in life. The beauty of nature and social interactions are no longer enough to encourage us to go out and enjoy the world. We have grown accustomed to and perhaps even took for granted these small things, hence requiring stronger incentives and attractions to even acknowledge them, moreover appreciate them. Pokemon Go might well be the tool at our disposal to do so.

In the end, some people may argue that Pokemon Go is a product of our advancement in technology. Being able to combine virtual concepts into the real world is surely a great technological and cultural achivement. Another may argue that the current world is in desperate need of joy and Pokemon Go is able to offer, ironically, a short relief from the world. Moreover, some may also say that “it is just a game!” There is no doubt about it, Pokemon Go is indeed a game and will always be a game. However, considering the effects that pokemon go has caused to the world and the driving force behind it, it is surely a cultural force to be reckoned with that might very well give us a clue of the condition of humanity of this very day. Looking at it from this point of view, perhaps Pokemon Go is not “just a game.” (KH-FMP)