Introduction, Part 2
Rebels are cool. Intellectual rebels just happen to be cool in a very specific way. It’s not in a James Franco or Ryan Gosling way (winners of the little known Time Magazine “Coolest Person of the Year” award in 2010 and 2011, respectively) which feels more like the old “rebel without a cause” kind of cool but in a Lena Dunham way (winner of “Coolest Person” in 2012) which feels more like a pursuit of passion in spite of public opinion kind of cool. You know, geeky cool.
This is where we lose some labels. Looking at our chart, dweebs just can’t fit in the cool category. Their “social ineptitude” just keeps getting in the way. I love my dweebs, but they just aren’t who we are going to be talking about here. For that matter, some of our nerd friends fit into that category as well. We are talking about your classic Urkel nerds not your Steve Jobs nerds. So, for the sake of clarity, I’ll be using the term “geek” to refer to folks who are intellectual rebels with a cause.
Which brings us to the origins of this blog series. I am a geek. As a result, I participate in the fan culture in a number of areas. One such area is AMC’s The Walking Dead, which is going to become important in the next paragraph or two.
I live in Greensboro, North Carolina where there’s a local coffee shop that caters to all things geeky. It’s called “Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema.” See what they did there? Geek + Greensboro = Geeksboro. The geek in me loves that. More to the point though, one of the wonderful things they do is host geeky viewing parties. Doctor Who is on? Let’s watch it together at Geeksboro on the big screen. The Walking Dead season finale? Get to Geeksboro early, there will be a crowd.
My good friend, Presbyterian minister and singer/songwriter, Bryan McFarland had just arrived at Geeksboro to catch a live broadcast of The Walking Dead. I had hoped to join him but church things came up and I wasn’t able to make it. So, he gave me a call – mostly because he was just so excited about the energy there.
The phone call started out taking about fan culture-ish stuff, but we are ministers and, not surprisingly, it turned to faith but in a surprising and interesting way. I could practically hear the energy and excitement at Geeksboro through the phone. I’m not sure which of us went there first but one of us said, “You know, I wish we could figure out how to get people this excited about church.”
I’m going to let that sit with you for just a minute.
Think about it: two ministers wishing we could figure out how to get people to be as excited about their faith as they are about a T.V. show.
Again, let’s let that sink in.
What we had stumbled upon was a very interesting reality: fan cultures are frequently more “religious” about their pursuits than Christians. Ouch. Honestly, it stung a little bit. Not only that, the more I thought about it, the more I realized we Christians could actually learn a lot from geeks and fan cultures. It became even more interesting when I recognized many of the lessons we might learn from geeks looked a whole lot like the lessons Jesus tried to teach us. Again, Jesus was a bit of a rebel, geeks are more rebel than you think – maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
This blog series is about one very specific lesson. There are plenty of others. I listed just a few of them in this article for Huffington Post. In our case, we are going to be looking at the last thing on that list: “Be prophetic, even if you have to use metaphors.”
My first recollection of geeking out about something was Star Trek. Yes, the original series. One of the things I’ve come to love about it was the way it pushed us into new frontiers without bashing us over the head. Story and metaphor softened the blow of moral imperatives for a more fully functioning society based on equality. The further I went into the geek culture the more of this kind prophetic behavior I noticed. I like to think I’m a better person because of it. Come to think of it, Jesus told a lot of parables that did the same thing. I read those too. Once again, I like to think I’m a better person because of it. It is time for Christians to reclaim our prophetic roots and begin to both dream of the good God intended for this world and to make it happen.