Longhurst: Faithful fantasy

Sep 2, 2019 by

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If you love geek culture — 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.

Longhurst

Longhurst

In May Mythos & Ink, a Winnipeg, Man., publishing company with Mennonite connections, 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 Allison Alexander, the goal of the devotional is 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 is part of River East Church (a Mennonite Breth­ren congregation), 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 notes.

“You can get a devotional directed at almost any type of person — women, men, parents, children, artists, sports-fans,” says Alexander. “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,” says Alexander.

She also hopes they can see themselves in the stories and characters from geek culture: “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 explains, 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 notes, that redemption involves sacrifice: “After that, things and people are broken. Evil might be defeated, but scars remain.”

In addition to serving Christian geeks, Alexander and Rudge also hope clergy who have geeks in their churches — which is probably all of them — might buy the book to learn more about how popular culture intersects with faith.

So far, response to the book is positive, says Alexander. “Christian geeks are excited this book exists because they don’t usually get to connect their faith and fandom,” she says.

Thy Geekdom Come is available for $15.99 from mythosink.com.

John Longhurst is a freelance writer and communications and marketing consultant in Winnipeg, Man.


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