The following is a letter written by Slanted Fish, editor-in-chief of this Poptropica Help Blog. PHB staff and readers are invited, but not required, to embrace the beliefs shared here. This letter does not intend to offend or attack in any way. Instead, its goal is to offer a hope-filled, love-inspiring perspective on life that Poptropicans can relate to and consider for themselves.
Dear Poptropican friends,
I love Poptropica. It’s a remarkable game world full of witty characters and beautiful scenery and so much more. Its fandom is full of amazing people who share a passion for this game, inspiring others through things like writing fan blogs or creating fan art. Personally, my life was made better with Poptropica, and since you’re here, perhaps that’s been your experience too.
You can see why it would be difficult not to share about something that has impacted my life in such a positive way. Which is why I feel that I should share about something even bigger that has, and continues to, transform my life in the most powerful way. Poptropica can offer a small glimpse into it, and that’s what I’ll try to make it do for you in this letter, but it’s so much more than what I can cover here.
That big something, friends, is the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s best summarized in the following famous sentence from a famous book called the Bible:
This is the core of the Christian gospel—a word meaning good news.
Before you balk, I know—the idea of mixing religion and a Poptropica blog together is an odd one, but I believe the risk is worth taking. If I haven’t lost you yet, let’s keep going. It might just change your life, or at the very least, make you a little more aware of something that’s been a big deal in our world for over 2000 years.
The readership of this blog is a diverse group, and we all come from different life backgrounds. But whether you’ve heard the biblical stories your whole life or this is your first time exploring any religious topic, perhaps a Poptropica-based perspective can spin a new light on the old tale.
What does this “Good News” have to do with Poptropica?
Think of it this way: the Good News of the gospel concerns the world. “For God so loved the world…” This invitation is for the world. As for Poptropica, it tells stories about the world. Our complex, beautiful, and broken world.
It’s true, we live in an impressive world. From the vast depths of the ocean teeming with life to the miniscule DNA sequences creating every part of every living being, the sheer complexity and beauty of our earth (and even beyond into space) is simply amazing.
In Poptropica, you get a taste of that wonder when you bounce your way through the jungle of Twisted Thicket or poke around the inner body of a fellow human on Virus Hunter. And while Poptropica has its Creators who invented these virtual worlds, perhaps it’s not so far-fetched to infer that a designer put together our incredible real world, too.
The stories in Poptropica are mostly fiction, of course, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t elements of truth to be found. Take the main idea of your typical Poptropica island: there’s a problem, and over the course of the island quest, you solve it.
Again, you don’t need to be religious to see how Poptropica’s stories reflect our reality of a broken world, and make clear distinctions of what is good and evil. Ironically, good fiction can be an effective tool for showing truth in a fresh, indirect perspective.
Poptropica does this well, often with humor, like when a grown man in a pink bunny suit steals an entire town’s carrot supply and tries to mind-control the world (24 Carrot). But other times, the stories are more believable and a little dark, like when a successful young man betrays his best friend over a lady (Ghost Story), or when a crazed hunter decides that hunting animals isn’t enough anymore and you become his next target (Survival).
In Poptropica, and in the world, the logical next step to being presented with problems is to try to fix them. And, Poptropica being a game, the path is already written out for you to execute. But real life is not so simple.
In fact, even accepting the Good News isn’t going to make every problem go away right away. God doesn’t work like that. However, what it (and the rest of the Bible) does do is equip you to be stronger in facing and fighting issues of justice (2 Timothy 3:14-17), and to bring hope of a world to come that will erase every injustice… forever (2 Peter 3:11-13). Doesn’t that sound like a worthwhile cause?
What exactly is the Bible’s story, and why should I believe it?
The Bible is a complex book which is really made up of 66 “books” of varying literary styles, contexts, and authors. Put them together, and they tell one grand narrative about God and his people—which you’re invited to join.
The video below provides a 5-minute summary of the big story:
For more informative and well-animated videos like these, check out The Bible Project.
At the heart of it, this story is offering the best news you could possibly hear, in light of the reality we all face: a beautifully complex world that’s often messed up.
As for whether you should find it true… well, there are many other alternative worldviews out there, and this would go on for far too long if I were to address each one. Suffice it to say, every worldview believes they have it right, and that the others are inadequate in some way. In that regard, I admit that I too am making such a truth claim. However, we can’t all be right. The truth is out there, and regardless of what you believe, you must find good reasons for what you believe and how that impacts your life.
For me, I’ve found that, in addition to being grounded in historical fact (the fulfillment of old prophecies, the life and death of Jesus, and rapid spread of the Christian church despite persecution both then and now) and promoting genuinely good values for this life (loving a God of justice and mercy, loving your neighbors, and even loving your enemies), this is the story that also offers the greatest hope for our world (that all things will be made right: 2 Peter 3:11-13).
What does this story mean for us?
In Poptropica, you are the hero: you’re the one going around saving the citizens of every island, every time. You already recognize the need for justice, but where does this come from? How did we get a supernatural idea that there was injustice, if not for a supernatural standard to measure by?
Moreover, why would we take the time to help anyone but ourselves? This story tells us that every human life is made in the image of a Creator God (Genesis 1:26-27) and therefore ascribed dignity, which makes serving others highly worthwhile.
In God’s story, however, we’re just as prone to mess up as the rest of the citizens on the island. We may not be stealing an entire town’s worth of carrots like Dr. Hare, but we’ve all done things that hurt someone else’s metaphorical carrots. We put our needs above everyone else’s, we lose our temper, we’ve envied others… the list goes on.
We could all do with a savior and a role model for what it means to be the best kind of human, even as we constantly fall short. Our own brokenness may be an uncomfortable thought, but as the Good News tells us, we can be forgiven – if we dare accept such an invaluable gift, freely offered to all, through Jesus’ own sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10).
I’m only scratching the surface of theology with this letter, but if you do get to that point, be sure to let God know. He’ll celebrate with you (Luke 15:7). And he’ll even take care of you (Matthew 6:25-34).
No matter what your beliefs are today, thank you, truly, for reading this letter. Thank you for being curious about the world through Poptropica and beyond.
In the end, it is up to you to decide what your heart will follow. The world is full of things to follow, and as long as you’re alive, you will be following something.
It is my hope that you will come to know the only person who can model for you a perfect example for what it means to be human. Knowing Jesus is a lifelong journey. Come discover the source of enduring hope in this life, and everlasting joy in the life to come.
P.S. Thoughtful, non-hostile questions and comments are welcome. While I do not claim to have all the answers, I invite you to explore this revolutionary story further. If you want, you may also reach me privately on the PHC Discord server.