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God and Geekdom

Review of "Thy Geekdom Come: Fandom-inspired devotionals"

If you love geek culture – Dungeons & Dragons, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Lord of the Rings and more – and you’re a Christian looking for devotional material that combines the two, you are in luck.

In May, local publishing company Mythos & Ink launched Thy Geekdom Come, a collection of 42 fandom-inspired devotionals that explores the spiritual implications of the worlds of superheroes, science fiction, anime, fantasy and video games. The brainchild and passion project of Winnipegger Allison Alexander, the collection aims to relate those tales “to an almighty, loving God who is ever present in our beloved franchises.”

For Alexander, a 30-year-old who attends The Hearth, a “geek affirming” church that meets Sunday evenings at River East Church in North Kildonan, the book is a way for “Christian geeks to celebrate the two things they love in one place instead of seeing them as separate entities.”

It also fills a gap in the devotional book market, she says. “You can get a devotional directed at almost any type of person – women, men, parents, children, artists, sports fans,” Alexander says. “But you won’t find many directed at geeks or that engage with pop culture and the Bible in a deep, meaningful way.”

A quick glance shows a chapter that discusses an episode of Doctor Who, showing how it affirms God’s unconditional and unceasing love for humans. Another one uses an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to show how trusting God can help overcome fear. The movie Ghostbusters is used to reveal the importance of having faith, even in the face of doubters, and sharing it with others. Lord of the Rings is used to ask questions about what people really value in life.

All of the devotionals in the 250-page book reference relevant Bible verses and come with questions for discussion. “I hope readers will see the biblical stories in a new way and consider questions they hadn’t thought of before,” Alexander says.

She also hopes they can see themselves in the stories and characters from geek culture – “the mistakes they make, the trials they go through, the redemption they experience . . . it’s not difficult to see arcs of redemption that mirror the biblical story if you look.”

Kyle Rudge, 38, is a volunteer pastor at The Hearth and author of some of the chapters in the devotional. For him, Thy Geekdom Come is also a way to build a bridge to geeks who have felt alienated by Christianity. “Lots of geeks have been deeply hurt by the church,” he says. “We’ve heard pastors say there is no redeeming value in video games or popular culture.” But, he adds, “God speaks to us through these stories.” At their essence, he says, geek stories are like the Christian story – something was beautiful, but then it went all wrong, and now it needs to be redeemed. Sometimes, he says, that redemption involves sacrifice. “After that, things and people are broken. Evil might be defeated, but scars remain.” Through the devotional, readers can find “applications for life from various geek things, along with scripture and questions for discussion,” he adds.

Alexander and Rudge hope clergy who have geeks in their churches – which is probably all of them, considering how popular these activities, books, games and movies have become – might buy the book to learn more about how popular culture intersects with faith. So far, response to the book has been positive, Alexander says. “Christian geeks are excited this book exists because they don’t usually get to connect their faith and fandom,” she says.

In the foreword, Derek W. White, known as the “Geekpreacher” in the United Methodist Church in the United States, writes the book “carefully considers how stories from pop culture related to biblical texts,” finding “echoes of salvation” in the broader culture. “One of the beauties of being a geek is seeking out God’s truth in stories from TV shows, movies, music and all types of media,” he adds. “In connecting biblical stories to the tales found within popular culture, we may see them in a new light.”

  • John has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News. This article originally appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press at www.winnipegfreepress.com.

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