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Can A Geek Be A Good Christian? Part II — Forgiving and Forgetting

Two weeks ago, I asked the rather provocative question about whether or not a geek could be a good Christian. I asked it in connection to the hue and outcry that erupted when it was announced that Ben Affleck would […]
| Sep 11, 2013 | No comments |

Two weeks ago, I asked the rather provocative question about whether or not a geek could be a good Christian. I asked it in connection to the hue and outcry that erupted when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be portraying Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel. I thought I might get some interesting reactions and boy, did I.

For example, one of my friends, a fellow pastor named Pat, had this to say to me on my Facebook author page:

The theological reality is that the “good Christian” does not exist.

However, the “charitable Christian” can and does exist.

Sin no more and your faith in Christ makes you well.

Points well taken, Pat.

The more common point that people made was along these lines:

There’s nothing wrong with being critical of a person’s past performance.

And that’s certainly true as well. I’m not suggesting that we should turn off our critical faculties when engaged with a story and simply love it because well, it’s there. It’s okay to leave a movie theater less than impressed with an actor’s rendition of a character. It’s okay to think that an author’s craft isn’t quite there. And it’s okay to express that opinion on-line.

But that’s not really the point I was trying to make.

My partially tongue-in-cheek question has to do with how certain aspects of geek culture and how geeks express themselves might point to deeper sins that can lurk within us. As I reflected on my visceral reaction to the Batfleck news, I saw in myself an uncharitableness that worried me.

And it wasn’t just in me. Rumor has it that after the Batfleck news broke, people actually petitioned the White House to make it illegal for Ben Affleck to ever portray Batman (revealing not only the unforgiving vindictiveness I see in myself at times but also a woeful ignorance of how the United States legislative process works. Perhaps they need a refresher). People, myself included, weren’t even willing to consider that Affleck may have grown as an actor or artist since he last portrayed a superhero in Daredevil.

In other words, it’s not that they were being critical of Ben Affleck’s performance. Instead, they weren’t going to give the man a chance.

At times, it seems like the geek motto should be the same as that of the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous: We do not forgive. We do not forget.

Don’t believe me? Think back to when it was announced that Disney bought the rights to Star Wars and that they were planning to make Episode VII. I don’t know about you, but my immediate, visceral reaction was that George Lucas had better stay as far away from them as possible. We didn’t need any more anticipointment. Once again, I don’t think it’s wrong to be critical of the prequel trilogy. But how can we know that Lucas didn’t learn his lesson and would be able to craft and deliver new Star Wars stories that would knock our socks off once again? We’re so wrapped up in the previous hurts, we’re not willing to give him the chance.

It’s not just in movies. You browncoats, how do you feel about Fox? Or videogamers, how do you feel about EA? The simple fact of the matter is that geeks seem to have long memories when it comes to being burned by their fandoms. Like I said, we do not forgive. We do not forget.

And that’s a problem.

Now I know what some of you might be thinking. “Oh, come on. You’re blowing this out of proportion! Why does it matter if I’m holding a grudge against Fox or EA or George Lucas or whoever?”

Well, here’s the thing. Jesus once said this: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Sometimes little foibles and eccentricities can point to larger problems lurking beneath the surface

But the Good News is this: God continues to forgive us. That’s what Christ and Christianity is all about. God chooses to forgive and forget, and our freedom from sin is made possible by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. As far as the east is from the west (in a straight line, no less!), that is how far He removes our sins from us.

That’s why He calls on us to forgive and forget as well. We forgive as God in Christ first forgave us. And that forgiveness is something that should flow into every corner of our lives.

Fandoms included.

Now, I’m not quite done with this subject yet. My problems with Batfleck sparked a few more theological thoughts. In two weeks, though, I’m switching superhero fandoms and I’ll be taking a peek at some geeks’ reactions to Iron Man 3. Until then, may we all learn to forgive and forget just a little bit better.

John W. Otte leads a double life. By day, he’s a Lutheran minister, husband, and father of two. He graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a theatre major, and then from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. By night, he writes unusual stories of geeky grace. He lives in Blue Springs, Missouri, with his wife and two boys. Keep up with him at JohnWOtte.com.

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P.R.Aquilone
Guest

I think that there needs to be a separation of topics although I acknowledge that many will mesh them together. The topics should be “the person” and “the job” (which in the case of the Batfleck or fandom it is entertainment based).

Given that, the person should always be forgiven as Jesus clearly states so. Therefore our attitude towards Ben or the executives at Fox or whatever should be one that has forgiveness, compassion and love. And this should be across the board no matter who they are or what they create.

On the flip side, their job is another story. For example, if you go to a mechanic to get your car fixed and then later discover that you were ripped off because he charged you for work not done, then you would become upset. Would you bring your car back to him? No. Why? Because the business operated dishonestly towards you. Now you might if you met the mechanic and he apologized or the shop put a sign out “under new management” or you heard via a friend that the business changed it’s ways. But only if something changed.

Another example, suppose you hire a carpenter to build you a house and inside of two weeks of the house being completed it falls down. The investigation shows that the builder (the carpenter) used faulty wood and took a ton of shortcuts making the structure unstable. Would you hire this guy again to build your next house? No. Again if time passed and you heard something changed, then maybe but you would still be hesitant to hire him.

The entertainment industry is tricky because the “job” is about people. But we need to remember that they are acting, writing, etc and what is produced is not the person. For example, none of us think that Benedict Cumberbatch is a generically alter superhuman who is kind of evil. Nor do we look at Mark Hamill and see him as a force wielding Jedi. So there is a difference between the person and the job.

Back to things like Batfleck. Personally I say give him a chance (http://wp.me/p37kAZ-1ce). He has done a bunch of other things since Daredevil and I think he has grown as an actor. Is he going to be a good batman, well, that remains to be seen. But I think there is validity in questioning their craft just like you would question the mechanic who ripped you off or the carpenter that took shortcuts. Because there is a separation (or there needs to be) between the person and the job.

Anyway, I guess that is my two cents.

Galadriel
Guest

How would you apply this standard to characters, then? It was announced months ago that Billie Piper will be returning for the 50th anniversary Doctor Who special as Rose.
I have very little exposure to her acting outside of Doctor Who, but Rose is far from my favorite character. I feel her story is done with and does not need to be revisited. That’s not exactly ‘job’ and it’s not quite ‘actor’ either.

notleia
Guest
notleia

Rose’s returning would be the “fault” (it’s the most convenient word) of the writers, producers, and other executives who run the show. And I agree, it looks like beating a dead horse.

notleia
Guest
notleia

You’ve pretty much articulated what I find not-sense-making about this article. Being angry about dumb (or potentially dumb) corporate decisions isn’t really the same as being angry at a person. Corporations are made up of people, but corporations as entities are faceless, bloodless things whose motivation is almost entirely in making the biggest pile of money possible.
And I think being angry is an okay thing (provided that it doesn’t consume your life and yadda-yadda). This isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone use the word “angry” in the sense of all-consuming rage-bitterness, and that implies that it’s never okay to be angry for even a little while, which I think everyone can agree is pretty absurd.