Musings of a Christian Geek about the Word, Geek Culture, Science, Music, Movies, and anything that is deemed noteworthy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why Should the Devil Have All the Geek Culture?

Originally posted at the Christian Apologetics Alliance.

To all of you geeks and nerds out there, a round of congratulations is in order.  The ridicule and hardship faced in grade school has finally paid off and your culture is now a mainstream phenomenon.  Shows like The Big Bang Theory have made it possible for people to not only laugh with but relate to the main nerdy characters. The current video game console generation sells better than Hollywood and social networking sites show us that many people would rather interact from the comfort of their computer than in real life. Everybody from the young child to the octogenarian is willing to buy what the techies are selling. However, one area of the culture seems to be severely lacking in representation in this new digital age:  Christianity.

Go to any comic book or science fiction convention and you will see panels discussing atheism, evolution, the singularity, and all manner of humanistic endeavors, but nothing of Christian interest. Comic books (of which I am a big fan) frequently cast Christian heroes and themes in a negative light. Many heroes in the comic are not only non-believers but are demons or possessed. Video games, magazines, and novels seem to fair no better when it comes to Christian viewpoints.

The common idea is that geeks and nerds, as a whole, are pretty much atheistic and secular in their thinking. Thus, these “rational” human beings would not hold such religious views. But is this really so? Sadly, a scientific poll or study does not exist on the subject; therefore, I will relate my own experience. Many years ago, I started a Christian message board on a very popular gaming site and I didn’t expect much interest. However, to my surprise, hundreds of Christian gamers joined the group. In addition to Christian issues, we discussed games, comic books, movies, and all things pertaining to geek culture. Thus, I believe, the audience is out there. This causes me to question, “Why are Christian geeks ignored so much in current pop culture trends?”

Unfortunately, the answer to this question lies within the Church as much as it does with the secularists. Many attempts have been made to legitimize geek entertainment within the Christian sphere; however, a big obstacle seems to be advertising. In the early 1990s, Thomas Nelson teamed up with Marvel Comics to create a Christian superhero called the Illuminator. What, never heard of it? Well, apparently Thomas Nelson did not want to advertise the comic book which predictably failed to sell (“Christian SF/Fantasy Recommended Reading”). The same goes for Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. Can many believers name any modern Christian genre authors outside of Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker?

In addition, a number of Christian video games have been released within the last 15 years which have gotten almost no recognition at all. How many people have heard of the titles Ominous Horizons, Catechumen, or Guitar Praise? One of the few games which received any press at all is Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Unfortunately, this game got most of its press from harsh critiques by Christian media and watch groups. Which brings us to the next point; the Church doesn’t always have an easy time adapting to pop culture trends.

Precedent exists concerning the lack of Church foresight on culture. The 1970s and 1980s saw religious groups picketing Christian Rock bands at concerts. Eventually, most denominations warmed up to the marriage of Christianity and Rock music and the genre is now a very lucrative part of the music industry starting with successes in the 1990s. Hopefully, mainstream acceptance does not take as long with geek culture.

After perusing through articles in print and online tackling Christian leadership’s attitude toward Science Fiction and Fantasy, the attitude looks to be shaky at best. Changing Christian genre perception is something which needs to be addressed just like it was with Christian Rock. The change in attitude made multi-platinum Christian musicians and bands where once these same artists were hardly able to put food on the table. Similarly, mainstream acceptance of Christian geek culture would bring support and advertising. In addition, it would bring an influx of creative Christian minds who would realize the market and potential for their ideas. Larry Norman, the father of Christian Rock, once wrote a song entitled, Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Today, I ask a very similar question, Why should the devil have all the geek culture?