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.