My Geeky Faith: Rejection to Belonging
It is my honour to introduce to you one of my greatest geek influences, a great encouragement in my faith, and a great friend. He is largely responsible for most of my table top obsessions, has recommended me a vastly eclectic collection of music, and has made me think about Jesus and grace a lot. It felt appropriate to have him be my first guest poster on The Hoot & Howl – I give you: P.J.
How has geek culture affected your life and faith? It’s hard to write on a subject like this, not because of lack, but rather FAR too much material to try and focus in on any cohesive line of thought. As anyone who has been in proximity to me for any length of time will tell you, I am compulsively dissatisfied with whatever I’ve spent more than a week thinking about (even this article, which this will mark my third try at). Having said that, and knowing that so much has already been said regarding both geekdom and religion, I’d like to make a (hopefully) humble contribution.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”- 1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV
We geeks and Christians are notoriously both tribal and fractious. There is a deep love for the objects of our affections, as well as an equally deep distaste for anything that deviates from “the pure.” Whether this is simply fallen human nature, or some neurosis particular to our subcultures, I’m sure you have your own preconceptions (I’m of the opinion that both are true). I’m also of the opinion that this carries over to the non-geeky world too. I could be wrong, but it seems as though there’s still some stigma toward our geeky obsessions (quite a bit, depending on which ones you subscribe to) - and in that stigma, we feel a real sense that we do not belong. The rejections we suffer actually hurt, despite our insistences to the contrary, and we are on the lookout for a people where we can finally call our own. Faith and Geekiness, in my opinion, have their greatest crossover in this longing - certainly in my case, and likely in yours.
I grew up in a time when the geeky things we loved ostracized us from “the norm,” made us anathema to regular folk, and placed us squarely in a position of scorn. My love for RPGs in particular felt the powerful aftereffects of the Satanic Panic of the 80’s, especially given my background in Conservative Christian Evangelicalism. To be fair, especially to my parents, they were protecting me from a fairly powerful draw to the occult - and they did the best they could with the influences around them. But while there really are dangerous and dark things out there, roleplaying games are not necessarily one of them. I felt very much caught between worlds, belonging in neither and drawn to both. There was very real guilt for disobeying my parents regarding their rules about games (and lying about it), as well as the shame that came from that - and no one knew just how badly I needed absolution.
Here’s the thing: this is where Christianity does its true work. The Law of God comes to us and confronts us with the truth that we really do not belong. We stand exposed before an honest and just judge, with no excuse or plea. But that is not God’s final word to the outcast! When we have been crushed by the law, the Gospel comes. “Forgiven,” comes the verdict, “Your sins, which are many, are forgiven you on account of Christ.” And that is the final word. And not without cost: for Jesus Christ knows what it is to be truly rejected, despised by men who ought to have been honored to call Him a brother. He has become our stigma; more still, He became our sin - yours and mine - and has borne it into Hell on your behalf. Blood that you really did deserve to shed for your own rebellion, was fully and finally shed by Him instead. As if that were not enough, He was overjoyed to give us all the Righteousness that He rightly earned, and with a smile writes the full account of His flawless obediences under our name.
So now, we do belong, not by virtue of our actions or inactions, but by the declaration of another; and we walk as citizens of another realm but for a time living in this one. More surely than Pevensies in Narnia, we really do live as exiles awaiting a greater land. And our every imagination, as soaring as we might make it, is pale reflection of the One who imagined us all - the One who has laid out His own grand Epic in which He is our Hero, and we His cherished people. World without end. Amen.
P.J. Snell is an estimator for an insulation company in Alberta. His hobbies include procrastination and hearing absolution for his many sins. Husband of one, Father of Two, GM to several.
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!