Virgin Mary Found on Back of Grand Theft Auto06/30/2008
By Danny Gallagher
After spending more than three hours in line outside of a Gamespot in Rockford, Illinois, hoping to buy a copy of "Grand Theft Auto IV" so her son would have "friends," Jane Wallach made a startling discovery.
The game she purchased had an image of the Virgin Mary plainly visible on the reflective side of the disc.
Wallach said she found the image after beginning her inspection of the disc, per the advice of parenting magazines that encourage parents to preview video games before letting their children play them. She was inspecting the disc for potential scratches or fingerprints that might interrupt her child's ability to shoot pimps or carjack school buses when suddenly the familiar shape of the Virgin Mary's rounded veil came into view.
"My legs went numb," she said. "It was like the face of Mary was staring back at me, along with my face staring back at me as well. So really it's like she was looking at both of us, which was doubly scary."
News of the holy image spread quickly throughout the global Christian community. Thousands made the pilgrimage to Wallach's two-bedroom suburban home to view the game and leave offerings of flowers and crosses at the feet of its plastic casing. Even more showed up to
pray the Rosary and ask for divine guidance.
“I’ve been to the Vatican, to Nazareth, and to the Dalai Lama’s summer condo in Dharamsala, thanks to that trip I won after turning in three proofs of purchase to Fruit Loops,” said Justin George of Boise, Idaho, while waiting outside Wallach’s home. “But this is a place where I truly feel God’s presence.”
Retailers capitalized on the news and rushed ads into Sunday newspaper supplements. “The Mother of the Messiah Has RETURNED TO EARTH!” read the Best Buy ad, “and is available at the special Virgin Discount of $59.99.”
Religious scholars believe this newest image is the Holy Mother's way of reaching out to younger followers who may have strayed from her son's flock.
"This isn't a coincidence, just good marketing," said Dr. David Danforth, professor of theology at Southern Methodist University. "It could be only a matter of time before we see images of Mary and Christ on high-sugar energy drinks, iPods, carrot-flavored coffee cakes at Starbucks, meatless Boca Burgers, and even Ashton Kutcher films. Actually it’s long overdue. God should have been doing Airwalk shoes in the eighties, or badly painted custom vans in the seven–oh, right, he did do that."
Some of the children in Wallach’s neighborhood said they do feel closer to God after playing the game.
“My son is talking about wanting to go to church for the first time,” said mother Janey Weintraub. “He says he wants to ask the priest for forgiveness for shooting that hooker and taking her money after not paying for sex.”
Video game critics, however, such as Florida attorney Jack Thompson, worry the effect the games may have on holy deities. "Scientific and psychological studies have proven these games are designed to teach the players how to kill and soften their moral aptitude,” Thompson said. "Don’t we have enough earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and salmonella outbreaks? The last thing we need is something that encourages God to kill."
Dan Houser, Rockstar vice president, scoffed at the worries of critics and welcomed the divine appearance of the Holy Mother on one of his titles.
"The best part is we don't have to pay royalties for her appearance on the game," Houser said.