The Dangers of Orthodoxy

One of my favorite games is Halo 2. I am a big fan of the Halo series in general, but I think Halo 2 is especially good because of its deeper themes about religion and such. Watching the Halo 2 scenes on Youtube inspired me to write this post. My favorite character in Halo 2 isn’t Master Chief, but the Arbiter.1 I have the figures of the Master Chief and the Arbiter on my bookshelf:2


But the Arbiter is my favorite. The Arbiter is a member of the Covenant, a group of alien races that follow the same religion. Different species have different roles. The Hierarchs are the leaders and priests, the Elites are the warriors, the Brutes are personal guards, etc. But they all follow the same religion which worships ancient technology left behind by another civilization that is now gone. I linked some movie scenes from the game below (linking directly didn’t work unfortunately). Even if you have never played Halo before, I hope you enjoy.

Here is the trial for the alien general after he failed to stop the Humans in the original “Halo” game, on trial for heresy (00:16 – 02:49).

The three Prophets, Truth, Mercy and Regret, punish him for his heresy by giving him a death-sentence. Later, the Prophets decide to not kill him, but instead become the Arbiter in order to stop a real heresy in the Covenant (13:25 – 19:04). In this scene, it’s really interesting to hear the Covenant soldiers talking about destroying the heretics:

Those who would break this oath are heretics.
Worthy of neither pity nor mercy.

Speaking of the Covenant religion, this scene explains it very well, and how they worship the ancient technology. They believe that the “Halo” rings will bring salvation to the faithful, and cleanse all evil (27:48 – 29:16).

This last scene is really interesting to me (43:49 – 45:36). When the Oracle explains what the real purpose of the Halo rings is, the Arbiter realizes his faith until now has been a lie and he is devastated. However, his rival Tartarus (the large white ape-like alien), cannot accept the truth and almost destroys the galaxy.

In other words, Tartarus’s faith is very strong, but he’s blind to the truth. The Arbiter has doubts, but he learns the truth and even works with his enemy, the Humans, to save the galaxy.

I find the contrast between Tartarus and the Arbiter really interesting, and I guess this is why I find the Arbiter such an interesting character.

P.S. For readers learning English, some of these videos are pretty difficult because the Covenant use a lot of advanced, religious words. This is the full script. The first video is from Chapter 1, the second video from Chapter 6, the third video from Chapter 10, and the final video from Chapter 15 (section “—–Delusions and Grandeur—–“).

1 Keith David did a great job as voice actor too. Halo 2 had very good voice actors in general, including the Arbiter, the Prophet of Truth, etc.

2 A number of readers have kindly donated some of the Buddhist books in the background. Thank you. 🙂


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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