The Kart and the Kingdom

4 lessons about life and theology through the Mario kart Royal raceway.

For most of my life, I considered any type of video game a total waste of time. But one day, Mario Kart, the road racing classic of the early 90s, slipped through the cracks as the exception. When I was in middle school, as the population moved on to more complex games like Halo and Call of Duty, our family inherited an ancient Mario Kart game console. Since none of us had ever owned a real video game before, we didn’t care it was old. The game quickly became our one and only sedentary competitive outlet. That being said, sometimes the games became so competitive that the players stood on their feet. Also, the loser often took out their postgame frustration through several minutes of aggressive trampoline bouncing outdoors. During the summer, we held bracketed tournaments with the intensity of March madness basketball. My sister Laura kept the organized color coded scoreboard, and the experience was made all the more lively by Peter Trudelle announcing play by plays through a makeshift loudspeaker cone. Years later, I went to college and quietly humbled a group of overconfident guys in the Freshmen dorm by ruthlessly chucking both red shells and strategic lightning bolts before rolling across the finish line in first. I still feel prideful about the accomplishment today.
But Mario madness aside, looking through the lens of metaphor, the game does provide ample lessons about life, and even theology.

1. On Jealousy: Never throw a blue shell
As a spiky bomb that exists to seek and destroy the first place contender, the blue shell arguably presents the greatest source of frustration in the entire game. You’re cruising in first place, well ahead of the pack, and out of nowhere, someone blows you up, and speeds right by for the win. In life, people of a poverty mindset, who feel threatened by others success will throw blue shells at you. In my personal experience, every time I’ve made a successful life breakthrough, at least one person will take this as prime time to criticize. While this once eroded my desire to strive for excellence, I am no longer ruled by fear of the blue shell. As far as I’m concerned, a party of celebration brings far more joy than a saga of drama

2. On drama: Deal with your banana peels

While the banana peels on the course won’t cause total devastation, they do litter the royal raceway with unpleasant annoyances. We cannot deny that life presents us with banana peel trials that will cause us to stumble. For example, maybe you want to swear violently after your friend leaves a rotten banana peel in your car, everyone is different. But a larger problem arises when someone carries around toxic negative baggage like a long string of bananas to carelessly leave for everyone else to deal with. Whether it’s gossip, complaining, or something else altogether, the result is the same: a dizzying spin out for everyone in your circle. Let’s all do the world a favor and place our banana peels in the compost pile.

3. On hard times: Don’t blame God for the rogue question marks 

Picture this: you’re smoothly rolling along your life path just fine, and then your curiosity draws you to a stray question mark. But when you run to after it, what appeared so promising only explodes in your face like a bomb. So maybe you convinced yourself you were called to buy a Lamborghini, but then crashed it into a lamppost and concussed your head. Or maybe you’re a guy, and you pursued a woman you thought was sweet, with lips smoother than honey. But she turned out to be a double-edged sword and became bitter and poisonous to your soul. This happens. But sometimes, people will attribute the deceptive and destructive event to God, as though He intended to give His children snakes and stones when they asked for bread. By all means, when God gives you question marks gifts in the form of rocket fuel goodness, use it! But let’s not blame Him for the car crash or poisonous person.

4. On Forgiveness: Accept help when you fall
So you made a poor choice, wandered off course, and fell off some cliffs. Maybe you sit stuck at a crossroads after your first job fired you just one month in. Or maybe, your third consecutive dysfunctional relationship just broke off again. Doubting whether you will ever find your way back on track, your heart weeps with hopelessness. But fear not, because despite your minor delays, there is still good news! Just as the rescue crane brings us back to the main raceway–even if we fall off the Mario Mountain 77 times– Jesus will always do the same. *Please refer to the Prodigal’s son parable in the Bible.

The Star Power Summary

Indeed, one can glean many profound concepts while playing Mario Kart; but sometimes it’s as simple as Forest Gump. “Life is like a box of chocolates, [and Mario Kart question marks] you never know what you’re gonna get.” The terrain of our live’s paths vary. On some days, you may feel small like lightning has struck, and all the coconuts of the Donkey Kong jungle could squash you. But other days, you will peacefully soak in joy, as though life’s a Koopa Troopa beach. But regardless of feelings, the Truth is that the raceway is royal. And most importantly, when we recognize our completeness in Christ, our lives overflow with the Holy Spirit like star power brightness.

2 thoughts on “The Kart and the Kingdom

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