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Can Geeks Be Good Christians?

Can geeks be good Christians? Or do our natural tendencies make it difficult? What was your reaction to the Ben Affleck casting news?
| Aug 28, 2013 | No comments |

Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

And no, I’m not apologizing for missing another posting date. Although I did and I am sorry. I wish I could make an excuse like I’m a Time Lord who finds the concept of linear calendars and keeping dates unnatural and abhorrent. I mean, the Doctor keeps forcing Amy Pond to be the Girl Who Waited, and I…

Nope, sorry, got off on a tangent there. Back to my apology.

I recently engaged in some not-Christian geeky behavior and I feel the need to bare my soul and confess my sins. And since I can’t reach the person I wronged directly, I figured I’d do it on this blog. So here goes.

Ben Affleck, I’m sorry.

Let me back up a little. My brother-in-law always goes to ComicCon every year. When he does, we’ll occasionally get phone calls from him when he learns new information about something geeky. So when it was announced that the second Avengers movie was going to be “The Age of Ultron,” he called us immediately to share the news. The same thing happened when they announced that the Man of Steel sequel was going to have Batman in it as well.

When I heard that news, I was stoked. Batman is by far my favorite superhero. The idea of him showing up with Superman on the big screen would be fantastic. But naturally, that raised the question: who would don the cape and cowl?

Speculating ran wild for weeks. And then, the announcement was made. It was going to be Ben Affleck.

And then the Internet exploded in a maelstrom of unrestrained nerd-rage.

Ben Affleck? You mean the guy who starred in that cinematic abomination, Daredevil? That Ben Affleck? Whose dumb idea was that? rage rage rage, grumble grumble grumble

I got caught up in it too. When I saw the news, I posted it to my Facebook wall with the comment, “Really? REALLY?!?! … really?” I even attempted to poke a little fun at the news on my author page. I had this sinking feeling that this casting decision was going to scuttle not only what could have been a fantastic movie, but any possibility of a Justice League movie too.

But then…

But then some friends reminded me that Ben Affleck has starred in and directed some pretty good movies lately, meaning that he’s grown since he last portrayed a superhero. They also reminded me that the geek world experienced a similar explosion when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, and look at how well that turned out. One friend asked a valid question: “How can you judge a movie that hasn’t even had one frame shot yet?”

And I bristled at the correction because, well, DAREDEVIL! It’s Ben Affleck, for crying out loud!

And yet, this morning, as I thought about it, I realized how uncharitable I was being. And, dare I say it, perhaps un-Christian as well? I was led into some deep theological consideration (well, maybe not that deep. We’re talking a superhero movie here), and it made me ask the titular question.

Can geeks be good Christians? Or do our natural tendencies make it difficult?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be examining that question from a few different angles. For now, let me ask you: what was your reaction to the Ben Affleck casting news?

John W. Otte leads a double life. By day, heโ€™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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Amanda Luedeke

My reaction was a bad one for sure. I’m not a fan of his in general, and, to be honest and shallow, couldn’t really imagine his mouth fitting well with the mask. BUT it still wasn’t fair of me to judge so quickly. And I’m not even a geek. ๐Ÿ˜‰


I am SO glad someone else brought up the mouth thing! I just can’t see his smile with a Batman mask. But then, Batman doesn’t really smile … ever.

I’ll admit, my reaction wasn’t great either because I also saw Daredevil. *sigh* But, I’m willing to give it a shot–if the movie previews can convince me.

Teddi Deppner

Sure, I thought it was stupid. But Hollywood makes a lot of decisions like that. Some turn out better than I’d hoped.

I haven’t been much of a fan of the recent Batman movies. Not for any great geek reasons, they just lost my interest with all the dark-dark-moody approach. I could probably go back and watch them and get something enjoyable from the experience, but it’s not a big deal.

Overall, the comic book superhero movies that have come out were only so-so (Spider-Man, Elektra, Daredevil, etc, etc) — until recently with the stuff leading up to the Avengers release. I never intended to see Thor’s movie, figuring it would be so-so. I was never a Thor fan. Then I happened to watch it and despite my bias against it, I liked it. It was fun.

Anyway… I know you were tongue-in-cheek about Christian geeks, but for the record I don’t think we have a harder time. Everybody has their pet peeves. Ours just involve more things that don’t exist in the real world than the average Christian.

Kristen Stieffel

The Affleck backlash reminds me a lot of the why-not-a-female-Doctor backlash. It all amounts to nothing more than people kibitzing about other people’s art. It’s more a waste of time than a character flaw.

Can geeks be good Christians? Yes. Some of the best Christians I know are geeks. And vice versa, now that I think about it. I don’t think geeks kibitz and kvetch more than other people; we just kibitz and kvetch about different things.

E. Stephen Burnett

I reacted briefly and negatively to the Affleck news based on what I now realize was media-trained reflexes. The last time Affleck was really in the news was when he was making what most folks believe to be bad movies. That’s the lingering cultural perception of him. But now he’s making far better films, yet fewer pay attention.

Hmm. Sounds a lot like Christian fiction. Or Christians doing other things.

Kat Vinson

Like Teddi, I’ve lost interest in the Batman movies so I could care less who they cast as I don’t plan to watch it anyway. But that being said, my hubby & I must be in the minority because we actually enjoyed Daredevil and were annoyed they deleted him out of Electra.

As for geeks being good Christians – I don’t really understand the question. What natural tendencies? Being too attached to fictional characters? Everyone has something they feel passionately about, whether it be something “geeky” or not. And reeling in our initial unChristian responses when something hurts our passion is part of our development as Christians.


I’ve had a few Christian geek moments where the worlds collide awkwardly…like, we were discussing regeneration and I was dying to inject a DW example. But I don’t think this is a either-or. I mean, can a circle be yellow?

Izzy Stevenson

I don’t think it’s unchristian to believe that someone was miscast in a role. I don’t think it’s unchristian to not be a fan of an actor/actress, or to believe a certain actor/actress lacks talent. As long as there are no personal attacks, of course.

As for my opinion on the casting, I haven’t seen enough of Ben Affleck, or read enough DC Comics, to really have an opinion on the casting. ๐Ÿ˜‰


And likewise, it’s not unchristian to feel that a show has been poorly written or could use better character development.

Mickey Kit

There’s critical viewing/reading, and there’s snarkiness. I wrote a nasty review of The Hobbit movie, which I hated. Much of my dislike of the movie is sourced in Martin Freeman’s performance. I was uncomfortable with how comfortable I had become in publicly tearing someone down.

Now, my blog is modest. There’s no chance that Freeman would ever read it. I wasn’t worried he would be offended. I was worried that I would misrepresent the “…of Christ” part of my name.

I don’t know if there’s a universal rule. For me, I reread what I had written after it posted and I took it down. Actually, I prayed about it and took it down. Right now, it’s sitting in my “Scheduled” folder for a publication date of December 25, 2050.

Christopher Kolmorgen

I sure hope the movie turns out to be good. Fingers crossed!