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.
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.
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.