My Geeky Faith: The Heart of a Geek
Geek culture has been a part of my life since some of my earliest memories. I can vividly remember sitting on the floor of my dimly lit living room. I had just come inside because it was getting dark and I had been running around playing outside. As I sat there smelling of sweat and dirt, I remember the first time I saw the vivid colors of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song coming across my tv screen. I was hooked. My cooler uncle had an N.E.S. and would show me skills on Super Mario Bros that I wanted to imitate. These were the worlds I wanted to be a part of.
Sometime in my early teens after being nurtured on things like Batman: The Animated Series and the X-Men cartoons, I discovered my local comic book shop. That would become my haven. My mom would drop me off when it opened and pick me up when it closed. I was living the life.
Around the time I discovered the comic book shop I discovered the Church. I had made it to my teens before I had ever really been to a church. The first time I went of my own free will was to go to a teen lock in. The first time I heard the Gospel, I felt more at home than I did in my comic book shop. From that point on, my growth and development in both areas kept a neck & neck pace.
Fast forward 15 years or so, I’m pastoring a church when I finally visit my first comic con. I was blown away by the community and experience. I attended the largest comic con in my region for a couple years before it really hit me how much of a void there was for spiritual encouragement in that climate. Not saying comic cons were evil or anything like that, but just that there wasn’t any real presence to encourage spiritual growth in that arena. You’d occasionally have hateful street preachers condemning people as they came and went from the event, but not much more than that. I felt a calling to do something about that. It was going to be a one-time thing, but God apparently had other plans.
Over the years that followed, writing geeky Bible studies and touring them around comic cons became a big part of my life. I went from only attending 1 show a year, to being set up at 28 comic cons a year with the goal of publishing a new book of geeky devotionals each year. It became such a standard part of my life that the church I currently pastor had already factored in my geek life in hiring me, allowing me 5 full weekends a year to be absent solely for comic con ministry. Adding a semi full time ministry on top of already having a full-time ministry and a very active family, wasn’t something I was planning on, but I’m so grateful.
In the past 6 years I’ve been able to meet tons of great vendors in the Artist’s Alley, becoming a chaplain and friend to many of them. I’ve had the chance to lead chapel services at cons and even be brought in as a guest for shows. It’s afforded me the opportunity to put Bible studies in the hands of entertainers who have shaped my life like Zachary Levi, Alex Kingston, Summer Glau, Kevin Eastman, and more.
When I was growing up, especially in the Bible college range, people used to try to shut my geek side down. I can’t tell you how often people would try to punch me in the throat with “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” - 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV). Normally they would use it out of context as a way just to tell me to grow up, but that’s the thing about being a geek, it’s not about maturity. Being a geek is simply being enthusiastically passionate about something. Being a geek has shown me that it’s not a negative thing.
That’s the kind of passion God wants from us in all things we do.
My favorite Bible verse is Colossians 3:23:
“Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart for God, and not for man.”
God wants people who can put their whole heart into things; geeks have that down pat. That’s also why the geek community should be embraced rather than abandoned. We fill our lives with rich stories that can help us have greater spiritual understanding and depth when we share and discuss them. Since my jaunt into comic con life I’ve clung to what Paul wrote about how we use our freedom and opportunities.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. - 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV)
Geek culture has inspired me and encouraged me to take these things that I, and many others, am passionate about, to use these things as common ground to connect. To the Whovian I can be a Whovian, to the Browncoat I can be a Browncoat, to the Trekkie...I can be a Star Wars fan that still totally recognizes the validity of Star Trek. I can connect with people about the things they are passionate about, and be a source of encouragement, counsel, strength, and love as they are going through their journey. Through those relationships they can see the validity and sincerity that, hopefully, accompanies my faith and might engage them to explore it on their own. Geek culture has been a constant companion through my life and faith, and has also given me a passion for the people who love it, and I’m grateful for each experience that has brought me.
Hector Miray is a Pastor in Lumberton, North Carolina. He is the author of the Faith & Fandom book series and travels around to comicons in the southeast United States. He is also a former camp director, and screen writer for Clevver Movies / Screen Junkies.
Fun Fact: Hector can't watch basketball because the sound of squeaky shoes drives him crazy.
Find Faith and Fandom at:
Books are available on Amazon.com
Something I love about being a geek is the geek community where we can all share our stories! Keep your eye on the blog for more upcoming stories from my geeky friends (in real life, and from all the reaches of the internet!).
Do you have a story to share about how geek culture has influenced your life and faith? Email me for more details to be featured on The Hoot & Howl!