That Evil Flying Fish

It is with great fear and reverence that I introduce you to the most diabolical of  creatures.   Be it know that this evil and diabolical creature has a name.   That creature is called ‘Flappy Bird’.

flappy bird 1

Maybe some of you have been blessed with ignorance of this creature and may be reading this and asking what exactly is this Flappy Bird?   With great dread – Let me share with you the evil of his ways.   Flappy Bird is not a cute and cuddly as he at first appears.

Flappy Bird is thought to be single most downloaded video game of all time.    Some reports say that in this age of smart phones, it has been played by more people than Pac-Man or Pong.   Despite this reality, I urge caution; because for those of us in the know, we recognize it to be perhaps the most foolish and rage inducing creations on the planet.

If it is ‘just a game’ it fails miserably, for the concept of the game is overly simplistic.    The game centers around a fishy looking bird, who is probably the least knowledgeable of birds when it comes to flying.   Your job, via your smart phone, is to make up for that lack of continued flight by tapping the screen of your smart phone in such a way as to maneuver that silly bird/fish through gaps in what appear to be simple green pipes.

flappy bird 2

Yet these are not simple pipes by any stretch.  For some reason if the bird hits any given pipe, he plummets to his death.   If he lands he dies.   Your mission?   Its simple;   keep this incredibly stupid bird flying, and by extension keep him alive.

In light of the knowledge that we have sent men to the moon, you would think that we should be able to tap a screen and get a sorry excuse for a bird through those gaps.

Oh, contraire mon frère.

You could play and play and play and play this game and never make it through 2 pipes. Ultimately this is the foundation of this game’s inherent evilness;  you never get better.   It doesn’t get easier.   It just gets more and more annoying.    There are times when you actually become convinced that the game is cheating or that maybe it’s out to get you.   It can leave you swearing, shaking, and wanting to throw your phone from a moving vehicle.

As a result of this psychosis being so frequent there is actually a condition called ‘Flappy Bird Rage’ that is leading people to actually lose their marbles with those people who accidently bump our arms while playing. In a flash of rage, smart phones have become weapons of assault upon the innocent. Yes, otherwise normal everday people take it that far.

As I put all of this before us, let me introduce you to Dong Nguyen, the 29 year old creator of this evil flying fish/bird. Last week, Nguyen decided enough was enough and pulled the plug.   This game, the most downloaded of all time, of which was estimated by Apple to be making over $50K per day on advertisements, was pulled off the shelf, and a second chapter of this story took root.


In his public announcement, he said that he was sorry for the addiction he created.   He was sorry for the way we all embraced his creation.   He was sorry that this game had become the phenomenon that it had, and he declared that enough was enough.    In the most cryptic of messages possible he took to twitter and said simply…. “I cannot take this anymore.”

It has been suggested by a Facebook acquaintance’s blog post that this might just be a rare and altruistic act that deserves our celebration.  Maybe it is, but perhaps born of the rarity of witnessing such acts, my gut warns me to be careful in assessing Nguyen’s actions as the jury may still be out.    As I wait, reports are trickling in that he might have found a way to actually hack into the Apple Store, and faked popularity for the game, leading others, like lemmings, to chase after a version for themselves creating an uncontrolled market rush.

There are also those who contend that Nguyen stole code from other games, and perhaps even the game itself from another popular but lesser known Chinese game.     For those who question his motives, the argument is made that he took this game of the shelf, because at $50k a day, he had dug himself a very deep legal and financial hole.    If the game was stolen, or if he did hack into the juggernaut that is Apple, he opened up a world of hurt, and maybe – just maybe – his removal of the game is less an act of a noble conscience but a last ditch attempt to run away.

Although the true evil inherent in Flappy Bird may be up for debate, I do believe our willingness to devote our precious time to this game and along with devoting a crazy amount of discussion on its cloudy demise, some degree of light is shed upon our nature, who we are, and those broken parts of our life.   As with all aspects of life, maybe Flappy Bird and all his baggage, can speak to our faith journey. Could this silly bird have a lesson for us? Can this silly bird teach us about one of the most dreaded and often avoided topics among the faithful; sin itself?

As I begin down this path, I must add a disclaimer.   When I use the word ‘sin’ I mean it in what I believe to be a more biblically sound understanding and refer to those times when we ‘miss the mark’.   Today, many churches might have you believe that sin is a matter of what you do, or maybe who you do it with.  With less of such a concrete listing of do’s and don’ts driving my assertions, I see recognizing and addressing our sin as an inseparable part of our faith journey that exists beyond a simple set of rules.

Instead, I view the act of sin as a failure to respond to that never silent call of God.   We sin when we fail to listen or respond to that still small voice that rattles around in our heads and calls us to be holier socially, personally, and communally.  Less than a call to confirm to a set of rules, that voice at times says stop and at other times it says act.  We sin when we fail to do either.

With that said, I think the lessons we learn from talking Flappy Bird are the same for our battle with our sinful or broken natures;  we need to stop believing that we can win… at least on our own.   Instead, we. need to start listening and responding to the still small voice that can change everything.  We need to stop playing the game and surrender all to a God who is ultimately the one in control

We are called to embrace something holier, and our battle is to live out those calls day in and day out.   In the end, we have one weapon in this fight;   To stop and turn to God; a God that is bigger than any sin, any brokenness, or any demon we can name.  We can make that turn, or instead choose to keep trying the same things over and over to no avail.

For each of us, it is imperative that we each find that moment when you can shut off the world – if even for a few minutes – and call out.   We need to find that moment when we enter the presence of God and declare that the destination that God has for us, is the only one we want to embrace.  It’s the moment of realization that no matter how hard you try, that still small voice cannot be silenced by you.    You may try to muffle it in the noise of nothingness or the clutter of things, but it never truly be silenced.  In that recognition, stop, take the time, listen and act.

To win in Flappy Bird is to enter into a state of mindlessness and go with the flow, to forget the pipes, and lose yourself in a daze.   In our faith journey, this is precisely how we get further and further lost. Our prescription is a call to remember and recognize; it’s a call to commit to stop embracing the foolish and empty.  We need to separate from the flow, step apart and beyond it.

However you name your sin, salvation comes to each of us in the same way.  It comes in remembering to step out of the mindlessness or the flow and committing to face your demons head on.   It comes with refusing to play the games and to put the demons down no matter how pleasant, addictive, pleasing, or attractive they may be when you are holding tight.  It comes with committing to be holier, and be bigger; and ultimately acting upon that choice.   It comes with remembering that the promise of the Cross, and the promise of our faith, is that God’s voice is louder still.

(And just in case you are still debating,…no matter what you tell yourself,… that first step, is exponentially easier then making your way through those damn pipes.)

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