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One Heart, Not Two Halves - Light One Candle

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September 17th, 2013


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10:45 am - One Heart, Not Two Halves
Two parts of my life collided this year at Comic Con San Diego.

They have brushed against each other before, but always online, or in discussions with family and friends who know my commitments and my obsessions well.

One part is my deep, abiding affection for story.

I've responded to stories by bringing them into my inner life since I was small child. I became the person I am partly because of Samwise, Lucy Pevensie, Dr. Crusher, and Anne Shirley--their adventures, their talents, their faults. I wanted to write for television because of Star Trek and Babylon 5. Life on Mars saved my sanity one recent summer. That richly nourished inner life shaped my morals, my sense of responsibility, my longing to write and create and to continue the wonderful tradition and community that we sometimes call fandom.

The other is my bedrock devotion to God.

I've always known that something--someone--exists beyond this material world. I never had imaginary friends because I didn't need them. Whenever I was alone, I sensed a presence with me. I learned to call this God, and pursued that divine presence through Christianity, with my heart, with my reason, with all my strength. Even when I was out of work, depressed, and questioned the existence of anything good, when I sat down and asked myself what I had left after losing so much, I found one thing inside me: a longing to know that divinity. To know God as much as a finite being like myself can. That longing drives much of what I do, and the overall direction of my life.

In the past, I rarely brought the stories of fandom into my faith. Except, maybe, with friends who would understand the metaphors. (The Holy Spirit as a Trill symbiote. That's just one example.)

I didn't bring faith into my public expression of fandom, either. On my blog, yes, behind the shield of my internet handle; in a couple of my stories, sure. But I've attended Comic Con San Diego for years, and the part of myself that has faith felt crushed and small there. Seeing how geeks have been burned by Christianity, by the lying versions that actually bother to show up at conventions, hurt me. I couldn't figure out how to change the status quo.

This year, some of my fellow Christian geeks got fed up with the horrible street preachers that showed up to tell con-goers how much God hates them. They gave me an opportunity to change at least my status quo: to make a homemade sign and stand next to the street preachers and give a different message.

"God loves nerds."

"Jesus told stories, too."

"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."

"I want to believe."

"God loves you, even if God doesn't exist."

I'd somehow swallowed the lie that any expression of faith or religion (except perhaps a Bajoran earring) would toss me out of the company of my geek tribe, the way my geekdom has sometimes made me a conceptual outcast from my church tribe.

The number of positive responses we got were amazing. I'm an introvert. Smiling at strangers for three hours on a hot street corner is not my idea of a good time. But this was easy, because so many of them smiled back as soon as they saw what our signs said, as soon as they saw the cute Yoda on one of them, or the copy of Mulder's UFO poster that was on mine. Many came up and said, "Thank you for being here." Shook our hands. Gave us hugs. Some wanted to talk theology. Some wanted to take our pictures.

Mostly, people just smiled, and relaxed their shoulders, and kept on walking.

I stood there in the middle of my beloved Comic Con, with my fellow geeks all around me, saying things that are important to me in the languages of faith and of fandom.

I feel more whole as a person than I have in a long time. Fandom (all stories, in fact) and faith intersect at the same place inside me, the one that considers the meaning of life and human relationships, the one that is creative and loves beauty and light and joy even when they are wrapped in pain and confusion. I was tired of pretending that faith doesn't inform my fandom... or that fandom doesn't inform my faith.

Now I know I don't have to. I can speak both languages at once.

Current Mood: happyhappy

(16 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:nun_sense
Date:September 17th, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
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YES!!! Good for you!!! I'm so proud of you and your friends for what you did.

Why do people insist upon tucking their god into a box they can carry and define and use as a hammer over the heads and hearts of others? God is so much bigger than that!

I love what Deepak Chopra said once about all this: "God lives in you, and you live in God."
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:September 18th, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
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Aw, thank you. :)

I think most of us are afraid all the time, so we want a God we can understand. Which makes me sad, because God is so much bigger than that!
[User Picture]
From:scionofgrace
Date:September 17th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
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That is awesome. I would totally do that too.

Coming from a geek heritage, I kind of wonder how different things would be if Christian geeks had spoken up earlier. There's a good community of geeks at my church: we've got two elders who are into MMORPGs, and a couple years back I found out that our fellowship president is an old-school Whovian. (Then there's my dad, chairman of the elder board, and life-long Trekkie.)

And then I'm running around online, among fellow geeks, and hearing this appalling stories about their treatment at the hands of Christians, and insults and anger directed at Christianity, and I'm like, this is something we should address. This is something we need to be open about. Christianity has a long history among geeks. (Saint) Luke wrote like a geek - I'm pretty sure he was one - and God used that: the four gospels are four different perspectives on the life of the incarnate God, and one of them is geek.

God is all about variety. He didn't create us all the same, praise be to him.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:September 18th, 2013 05:21 pm (UTC)
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*pokes you* We're going to do it again next. Come join us.... :)

I bet things would have been different. I remember my childhood pastor getting in trouble with some of the congregation for using the idea of aliens visiting Earth to talk about the Incarnation--he was an avid Trekkie. As a child, I saw a lot of tension among believers between spiritual Truth and fiction in general, but especially genre fiction. Thank goodness my parents love all this good stuff!

Ha! Your take on St. Luke makes me happy; I think he was rather a geek, after a fashion!

God is all about variety. He didn't create us all the same, praise be to him.

Praise be, praise be, praise be!
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:September 18th, 2013 06:22 pm (UTC)
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I remember my childhood pastor getting in trouble with some of the congregation for using the idea of aliens visiting Earth to talk about the Incarnation--he was an avid Trekkie. As a child, I saw a lot of tension among believers between spiritual Truth and fiction in general, but especially genre fiction.

Oh yes. I experienced that kind of prejudice against SF as an adult - and worse. Certain stripes of very serious and sincere Christian genuinely praying that I would be released from the oppression and evil of SF. (sigh)

But as you say, thank goodness for one's parents. My father read the Narnia stories to us as children - and The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, and Andrew Lang's coloured Fairy Books. We would watch Star Trek and Doctor Who together, and pick it apart afterwards.

I think if I had to pick one of those signs to carry, it would be "Jesus told stories, too."
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:September 18th, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
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Certain stripes of very serious and sincere Christian genuinely praying that I would be released from the oppression and evil of SF. (sigh)

Oh my. There were a few of those protesting at Comic Con, too; talking to people politely rather than ranting or holding nasty signs. Misguided, but not as off-base as the screaming hellfire preachers.

Yes, my parents handed me Narnia and The Hobbit and the Oz books and LeGuin's books as soon as I could read. Star Trek was, for a long time, our only family-watched TV show. :)

"Jesus told stories, too" was one of my favorites, too; I suggested it.
[User Picture]
From:feliciakw
Date:September 17th, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
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I have nothing more eloquent to say than, "Yay!"

So, yay!

[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:September 18th, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
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Yay! :)
[User Picture]
From:maevebran
Date:September 18th, 2013 01:50 am (UTC)
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I just wanted say good for you. (And some day Nate and I will make it to Comic Con.)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:September 18th, 2013 04:21 pm (UTC)
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Maybe, if we do it again when you guys come, you can join us. :)

I look forward to seeing you and Nate there sometime--let me know if you're coming and we'll plan to meet up!
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:September 18th, 2013 06:06 am (UTC)
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*hugs*
Yes.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:September 18th, 2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
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I think I dared because I know people in fandom like you and Mistral and scionofgrace. It's enough to remind me that I can speak in real life, not just on the internet.
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:September 18th, 2013 06:09 pm (UTC)
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*hugs*

(oh I miss Mistral...)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:September 18th, 2013 06:29 pm (UTC)
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I do, too. I've been thinking about her a lot over the past few months.
[User Picture]
From:jhall1
Date:September 18th, 2013 10:11 am (UTC)
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Well done!

I like your slogans, especially "God loves you, even if God doesn't exist". :) As an atheist whose heart would like to believe but whose head won't let him, that seems very apt.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:September 18th, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC)
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That slogan was courtesy of our ringleader, who was agnostic (I think he said) for many years. It certainly got him a lot of attention; he ended up talking about theology and philosophy with both Christians and atheists that day. All very polite and in good fun--I was proud of him.

There is a fine line between an atheist of your type and a believer of my type. I'm glad to have you as one of my fandom friends.

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