*Community Blog by Glowbear // Touched by a Comstock: Christianity in Bioshock Infinite
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Touched by a Comstock: Christianity in Bioshock Infinite


It's hard to play a game like Bioshock Infinite and not noticed or worse yet, ignore the potent level of symbolism, allegory and references to religion. This isn't meant to be a stirring article, it's not meant to be a conversion one either.
So a disclaimer prologue is going to happen just in case you get confused. This article is mainly about what is all very obvious anyway in the game and my points of view regarding it, some opinions will be expressed coming from a gamer perspective, a no doubt failed comical perspective and being a Christian myself.

Now lets get a move on...

Welcome to Columbia

Those who have played Bioshock Infinite already know the plot, either in it's basic sense or entirety. Up high in the sky there dwells a city, floating thanks to the technology of a brilliant scientist named Rosalind Lutece. The city is ruled by a supposed prophet of God, Zachary Hale Comstock. Comstock is revered by the people of Columbia, aided by visions sent by the Angel Columbia, which might have actually just been him cheating via using the skills of Rosalind.

Treading on blasphemy

From a Christian point of view it's quite easy to find the whole game to be quite blasphemous in its symbolism. For many believers or theologians, the lamb is a symbol of Jesus Christ and to adorn that title upon Elizabeth, who will ultimately lead to the destruction of the 'sodom' below can be a bit jaunting to people. But as a Christian I'm not too put out by these references because we're playing characters who have been deemed labels and fates not always by their own actions but by the doctrine of others.

One issue I find intriguing and somewhat blasphemous if I were a citizen of Columbia, is the worshiping of the cities founder. I mentioned above, Comstock is revered by the citizens of Columbia in a manner that makes me wonder if they're confused and assume he is God, not just an apparent prophet. When you see giant statues of the man, posters scattered throughout the city and golden effigies of him in airships and museums it also makes me wonder if they ever heard about a little party that went down that made God and a cool dude called Moses pretty ticked off.

Whether Comstock is truly a man of faith, is something that I'm still not entirely convinced off even on my second play through. I find that yes he has a belief and it's quite strong, but his methods are clearly questionable. Outside of his moral actions throughout the game there is one scene in particular that makes me wonder how anyone could truly believe him infallible and worthy of adoration. When Booker is on board an airship, as he changes the trajectory, Comstock appears before him on a smaller vessel and says "The Lord forgives everything, but I'm just a prophet so I don't have to. Amen.".

Now Zachary, that's a bit of a cop out isn't it. If you are a prophet of the lord then you should at least try your best to be like the Lord, striving to always do the right, just and forgiving thing. But no you abuse the power of the word prophet and use it as a means by which you can do what you want and it's ok, because you're not suppose to be a 'forgiving' as God.

Burn them all...with Vigors

So you're a god fearing citizen of Columbia. You live in a time where you'd mistreat people that had different coloured skin and a different accent to you. A woman working is considered "not the done thing" and moral standards are deemed by society, a holy society.
And yet....you don't seem to fussed by these magical witchy death-dealing elixirs that give you powers, that in reality back in the good ol' days would deem you a witch or warlock!?!

Even though the accompanying tutorial videos that feature these Vigors are repellents against devils, some are quite macabre and gory. You have one that sends a flock of crowds to peck humans apart and rip to shreds and then of course there's the Devils Kiss, you drink the energy drink of the devil and get to throw flame balls everywhere. How about the vigor called Possession? Yes that's not something that would put fear into holy people. Oh lemme drink this lemonade thingy and do something that is usually featured in films where Tubular Bells is the main theme score. Columbia would make for an interesting episode setting in Touched by an Angel.

The origin of all Infinite's

The events of the game seem to come from your decision at the brink of possible baptism. If you interpret the ending in a certain way, it seems that after the battle of Wounder Knee Booker had a choice to be baptised, hopefully ridding himself of the sins of his actions on the battlefield or to declined the baptism. Cleansing meant he would become Comstock and refusing would mean he would remain as Booker, tainted and set on a dark path that would eventually and with him losing his daughter Anna. Whether Irrational meant to infer the notion that salvation only come from baptism is something I can't comment on but I can give my own viewpoint.

Baptism would have given Booker a chance to start anew and to be forgiven in the eyes of God for his sins. Whether people believe or not isn't the point within this story, for this is a story about belief and how integral it is on an individual basis, as much as it is a story about a mad city in the sky.
But then again, the way the story pans out seems to confuse us about the utter good that comes from baptism. Even cleansed Booker's path goes horribly wrong and he becomes a man who misuses his power and hurts his own child.

It seems like Booker can't win no matter what he chooses. For me I think that no matter whether he took baptism or not, that it was his actions afterwards that led him to wherever his verging selves went. We're baptised not to get exemption from all follies of life but as a step towards salvation. We can still fuck things up every day and that's why we need confession. The game is all about possibilities and infnites, the Baptism is no different. It's easy to look at the baptism scene as merging only in two directions depending on choice, yet to me it offer many branches, because choice, ultimately the use of our free will is integral in the world of Bioshock.

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About Glowbearone of us since 2:18 PM on 10.18.2011

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