Friday, November 2, 2012

Of HALO 4, History and Newfound Battlecries!

My family plays video games.  We use our XBox Kinect for fun exercise during the long Winter months here in Northern Indiana, and after the kids have gone to bed, my wife and i stay up some nights and save the planet from various impending threats (see?  you can sleep easy knowing that Jack and Sami Magruder are hotly engaging alien invaders and robot apocalypses while you rest!).  If you've been aware of video games in the last decade or so, you probably haven't been able to miss the HALO franchise.  It's an exceptionally well-done series of video games aimed around an intergalactic war between humans and an advanced alien army called "the Covenant" who are bound to wipe out humanity.  That may not sound too unique, but the franchise always delivers with stellar gameplay and a fun story-line.

In a couple of days, the newest game in the series (Halo 4) will hit shelves.  However, for the past five weeks before, we have joined many people in tuning in to a live-action web series that builds to the game's release called Forward Unto Dawn.   Featuring both some Hollywood favorites as well as new faces, FUD seeks to provide some back story for the Halo universe and gives you first glimpses into First Contact between Humans and hostile Covenant Forces.  It's a very well-done series (though starting in about Episode 4, it's intensity and violence pick up substantially), and we have been pleasantly surprised by the acting, writing and effort.

Through watching the series, I stumbled across something that has given me considerable pleasure.  While the short films center on a small squad of military cadets at a futuristic training academy called the Corbulo Academy of Military Science (CAMS), they are told often of whom the academy is so named:  General Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo.  Corbulo was a Roman general and governor in about 60 AD who, upon being commanded by Nero to take his own life, did so by falling on his sword and shouting the word, "Axios!".  In FUD, this is used as a model for absolute obedience to orders, honor and sacrifice.  The cadets are told that "Axios!" means "I am worthy!" (of honor as a function of my unquestioning obedience and commitment to cause), and they shout it somewhat akin to "Aye, aye!" or "Yes, sir!" when given orders.

I did a little digging on the phrase "Axios!", however, because i thought it was a cool idea and i wanted to know if the origin was really historical or merely fictional, and what i found in the process was that the historical Church actually has considerable track record with this phrase.  In the Greek, "Axios" primarily means "worthy", but in the Eastern Orthodox and a few other Christian traditions, it is shouted, responded or chanted to mean that "[He is] Worthy!", specifically in reference to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  In fact, during ordination services for priests, deacons and bishops, "Axios!" is often shouted or reiterated to indicate that while we may be servants and our lives may be sacrificed, they are done so in service to One who is truly worth of such.

In Revelation 5, we also see a picture around the throne of God as all of creation shouts this to Jesus, who is called the Lamb of God:

"Worthy (literally "Axios") is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Rev 5:12)

It's interesting to me that even in English, our word "Worship" comes from this concept.  "Worship" is literally "Worth-ship", and i learned at Moody to memorize the definition of such as "to ascribe to something that which it alone is supremely worthy to receive".  Indeed, He is Worthy of all that i have to offer:  my life, my time, my effort, my sacrifice, my finances, my talents, my family and my relationships.  I'll smile with a new sense of historical fullness and spiritual significance when i watch a few scared human cadets scurry to grab their Battle Rifles to fend off Covenant forces by screaming "Axios!" in the process.  We are not "worthy".  He is.  Axios!


bgcarlstrom said...

I totally hope I can have a wife who will play video games with me!

Jack Magruder said...

Sami always says that video games are a fantastic way to improve your marriage. She actually counsels young wives who have husbands who game to jump in and learn to play too. She says that it increases communication (even if at first, it's just screaming "On your left! Take cover! Watch the incoming!!!), fun, and honestly, trust. "Save his butt a couple of times by fighting at his side amidst an oncoming horde of zombies/aliens/monsters/terrorists/whatever and you'll be shocked at how much he'll start to believe you really do care about him." Yeah... my wife rocks, but honestly, i think she's right too. We fight alongside each other every day anyway, but video games allow us to do it in an imaginative and fun way where instead of slaying errands, homework and dishes, we save the world together.