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Religions 2018, 9(4), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040133

I Have Faith in Thee, Lord: Criticism of Religion and Child Abuse in the Video Game the Binding of Isaac

1
Department of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands
2
Department of Biblical Sciences and Church History, Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 March 2018 / Revised: 9 April 2018 / Accepted: 12 April 2018 / Published: 16 April 2018
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Abstract

The game The Binding of Isaac is an excellent example of a game that incorporates criticism of religion. Isaac is a roguelike dungeon crawler with randomly generated dungeons. Both from the perspective of narrative and of game design, McMillen built The Binding of Isaac around the Biblical story of Genesis 22:1-19, which has the same name in Jewish and Christian tradition, but he placed it in a modern-day setting in which a young boy is endangered by a mentally disturbed mother who hears “voices from above” that instruct her to sacrifice her only child. Multiple critical references to Christianity can be found in addition to the narrative: hostile embodiments of the seven deadly sins, rosaries, Bibles, and crucifixes, and unlockable characters, such as Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, Samson, and Cain, who are all depicted negatively in both Jewish and Christian traditions. McMillen’s inspiration came from his own experiences with his family, which was made up of both Catholics and born-again Christians. The game describes both the dark creativity and the mental and physical abuse associated with religion. In this article, we analyse the narrative of The Binding of Isaac by performing an intertextual comparison with the Biblical narrative of Genesis 22:1-19. We then analyse the three-fold narrative structure of the game which enhances and nuances the criticism the game directs at religion. View Full-Text
Keywords: studies; Bible; theology; Isaac; Catholicism; criticism of religion; child abuse studies; Bible; theology; Isaac; Catholicism; criticism of religion; child abuse
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Bosman, F.G.; Wieringen, A.L.H.M. I Have Faith in Thee, Lord: Criticism of Religion and Child Abuse in the Video Game the Binding of Isaac. Religions 2018, 9, 133.

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