As unlikely and absurd as it may sound, it seems even the niche realm of retro gaming hobbyist writing is not safe from salvos launched by offended church groups. While religion is always a tricky topic to approach in a public forum without heated discussion, especially around the Christmas season, Patrick Scott Patterson probably never imagined that his tame words in an article entitled “Christmas Comes to Pac-Land was so messed up” would raise the ire of an entire place of worship.
Yet soon after the work was published, Scott received a strange email in his inbox. It purported to be from a specific congregation, on behalf of entire families, and had some frank sentiments to share, as in this excerpt:
“We are shocked and appaled [sic] at your choice to include the name of our Lord Jesus Christ within such blasphemous, distasteful, disrespectful, and profane material. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the reason for the Christmas season and as devout followers of Him we do not appreciate your efforts to discount the importance of Jesus on the season.”
This is quite the response to receive to a modest feature posted on a collaborative retro gaming site. So, what was it that Scott said that could provoke such reply? What did he say, exactly, that would be regarded as so “blasphemous” and “profane”? What thought did he put forward that could be interpreted as “efforts to discount the importance of Jesus on the season”?
The answer is not found easily. Curiously enough, and as many have noted since Scott began sharing his ordeal on social media, the column in question actually reads sympathetically to a Christian sentiment. Centered around a 1982 animated Christmas television special based in the world of the Pac-Man video game, Scott had this to say in his piece, speaking of the television special’s avoidance of mentioning Jesus at all:
“He skips the birth of Christ and all that to talk about people coming together and exchanging gifts, good will toward men and the such… Now, I’m not what you’d call a super-Christian guy or anything, but it is pretty notable that the Pac-people are pretty much taught here that the kids’ toys are more important than the guy the holiday is named after…”
In other words: Scott seems to, within reasonable interpretation, express the same defense of Christ having a place in Christmas that the church email does. At this point, it seems that either the church did not actually read the article they were offended by, or they were simply expressing distaste at the use of the name of Jesus Christ expressed anywhere on the web at all, which would be a remarkable stance to take, considering the medium on which that stance was expressed.
However, the saga only became stranger. Scott revealed on Facebook that he actually received over 20 emails, each with the identical body text, but each from a different email address. This raises the question of whether such an odd effort is even truly the product of a church, or a robo-spammer using that church’s name as a convenient scapegoat. Among the only imaginable motives would be to stir further public sway against annoying evangelical insistences; which leaves, as fair wondering, much desired in the way of explaining why to choose an article about a 1980’s Pac-Man Christmas television special as the crux of his or her tactics.
Attempts have been made to reach the church in question by phone and email, without response thus far, although many churches do not maintain weekday office hours. Nonetheless, this leaves us with a uniquely quirky story that may never fully explain itself.
Eric Bailey blogs at NintendoLegend.com, where he is reviewing every American-released NES video game. He also serves as Editor-In-Chief of retro gaming features site 1MoreCastle.com, and can be followed on Twitter @Nintendo_Legend.