Falling for Utility

by MW Cook

When you were born, the very forests of Lordaeron whispered the name, ‘Arthas.’

In 1994 Blizzard Entertainment released the original Warcraft game. It’s sequel was the first game I ever purchased. The storyline was amazing, and it keeps growing to this day with World of Warcraft.

One of the most interesting characters in the franchise is Prince Arthas. He was a paladin in his youth, and son to the king of Lordaeron. He devoted his life to fighting against the forces of darkness, be they orc, undead or demon. From the beginning his zeal and passion for his people was apparent. Nothing could stop him from serving his realm. He would have made a decent king.

And then the Scourge came. The Scourge is the army of undead, ruled by the Lich King and bent of the destruction of the world. Arthas threw himself against them, willing to die to bring them down. But when the Scourge defiled the entire store of grain at the capital city of Stratholme, Arthas was forced to pause and think.

The defilement was going to turn every single citizen of Stratholme into undead minions of the Scourge. There was no cure. And such a large city would have bolstered the Scourges ranks so much that victory may have been impossible. So what was Arthas to do?

He decided that the only fitting course of action was to kill the citizens of Stratholme before they became undead. His Paladin teacher opposed him, but he was stubborn. So he took his knights and began the culling of Stratholme.

Arthas’ intentions were good. And you could even argue for the utility of his choices. But the choice led to his fall. In culling Stratholme, he damaged his soul. And this became the first of many choices that led Arthas to not only join the Scourge, but to become the Lich King himself – enemy of all living.

Utility did him in. He thought only about the outward result, never wondering about what his choices would turn him into. I wonder if many of my choices have the same stench of dependence on utility. I may not be killing doomed civilians, of course. But do I refuse to help people, thinking utility instead of thinking of what Jesus would have me do? Do I refuse to help, thinking that my help will make them weaker and pander to their weaknesses? If I do, I imagine I’m ignoring my own soul. There must be a better way than strict utility. Maybe Arthas could have found a third way. A way to save the world, without damning his soul.