The Surprising Delight Of Sudden Geekiness

Which is better: “I can’t stand subpar/sinful stories” or “I absolutely love this story”?
on Jan 16, 2014 · 8 comments

Last week I suggested we Purge the Stereotypes of ‘Geek’ Readers. But not with complaints, or by forsaking your own identity, or by removing all official genre distinctions.

Start here.

Geekness alert

This week I found new appreciation for several people: a coworker I haven’t met, Answers in Genesis founder and infamous creation-activist Ken Ham, a street-preacher acquaintance on Facebook, and Reformed rapper Shai Linne.

Here’s why.

Last night before I left for work, I glanced over to said coworker’s desk and noticed a tiny toy C-3P0 and R2D2.

Sudden geekiness.

From a distance it appears C-3P0 is also on the album cover.

From a distance it also appears C-3P0 is on the album cover.

Yesterday I was arranging real-estate listings and re-listening to “Lyrical Theology, Part 1” by hip-hop artist Shai Linne and several others. I’d either forgotten or missed these lines:

My job is done if this encourages you to commune with Him
To get a bigger view of Him we gotta dive in deeply though
Six million forms of communication like C-3PO

That was from Linne’s “Table of Contents.” Three tracks later in “Active Obedience”:

Although we’re born into a unholy environment
A Holy God can never lower His requirement
You think God’s accepting something less than perfection?
You must be living in a dream world like

Sudden geekiness.1

Yesterday AiG founder Ken Ham, who’s preparing for a public debate with evolutionist Bill Nye, posted an image and link to a debate spoof. Ham showed less of a “you evolutionist kids get off my lawn”2 side and more of his kindly-geeky side:

At last, theistic evolutionist Dr. James McGrath and I agree about something concerning creation/evolution! McGrath […]  often writes scathing blogs against me and Answers in Genesis.

Today, I decided to share a recent blog by McGrath (he did it as a spoof) with you, primarily because I love the science fiction TV program “Dr. Who.” […]

Now, it would be great to have a TARDIS machine to travel back in time, but we have a far better “Time Machine.” It’s called the Bible. […]

Enjoy his “Dr. Who” illustrations—I did! See:

Sudden geekiness.

Finally, from my street-preacher acquaintance’s FB page which more often features verses, evangelical devotionals and theological texts:


Sudden geekiness.

Disregard geek-grumpiness; acquire delight

What does it all mean? If you’re a professing “geek,” you already know.

  1. Who is my coworker? You don’t know, and (so far) neither do I. But you already feel a kinship. She likes Star Wars! And enough to place little Star Wars toys in her workspace.
  2. Who is Shai Linne? You may not know, but I described him as a “Reformed rapper” and either word — “Reformed” or “rapper” — may conjure all manner of meanings, some of them negative. Then again, he cleverly worked in references to Star Wars and Inception.
  3. Who is Ken Ham? That grumpy creationist guy who hates anyone who disagrees with him and gets especially cross with Christians who happen to hold different views on evolution.3 But wait a moment. There he is showing that geeky side — a little overly “evangelical” about the time machine back to Genesis and all, but still more appealing.
  4. Who is my street-evangelist acquaintance? Or the person/page who shared the image? You don’t know (and I don’t know him that well). But especially if you’ve had bad experiences with evangelicals or street-preaching Christians, you may have assumed this person is another hellmonger. Now you may not be so sure. As I said in response: “At the risk of ruining/over-explaining … organic and delightful pop-culture referencing + Biblical truth + fun = awesome. More of this from street preachers, please.”

There is something tremendously appealing about anyone who shows that geeky side.

I don’t mean the grumpy geeky side, the side that demands right continuity or nitpicks the science or rejects a derivative/bland/mass-marketed fantasy. I mean the delighted geek side, the kind that shows enjoyment for stories over industries, imagined worlds over the encyclopedias about them, and finding other fans rather than Being a Part of a Fandom.

Nobody ever hates a Trekkie. Only stereotypes them. And better Trekkies laugh right along, not to be hipster or defuse discomfort, but simply because they’re having a good time.

With that in mind, which of these two geek approaches is more appealing?

  1. “Christian fiction is way too sentimental. I’m sick of our stories not having the right kind of realism or Challenging Content. I’m tired of people laughing at Christian art. I’m fed up with subpar creativity, always running behind the creative and popular and soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture secular fantasies and sci-fi. I hate all those Amish novels and cozy romances and sanitized less-than-G-rated claptrap in the Christian bookstore.”
  2. “I love stories! The more fantastic, the better! That one I read/saw the other day was so excellent because [appealing reasons for awesomeness]. There was some challenging content. I realize that’s not for everyone. But it worked for me because [a little more, such as: I wasn’t tempted to sin but instead found I loved God more for His redemption from such things]. You want to read or watch that story? Here, I’ll loan it to you. Or we can read and discuss it together. Again, it may not be your thing. But why not try?”
  2. I also want evolutionists off the lawn. But I’d come at them with less panicked screaming and more “Have at thee!”
  3. I’ve grumped right back about some, not all, of AiG’s marketing.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. notleia says:

    I dunno, the Nostalgia Critic has made a huge following by being negative about dumb movies, but at the same time, he’s fully capable of reveling in the good stuff. But the moral of this story is “people like enthusiasm.”
    Still not enough to make me like Ken Ham, though.

  2. Great article. I love the “disregard geek-grumpiness; acquire delight.” There has been so much negativity that I have finally walked away from many of my circles. So in answer to your question, #2 appeals so much more than #1. Let’s talk about what we like and enjoy and share our enthusiasm instead of gathering under rainclouds with Eeyore and bemoaning everything that’s bad.

    • Amen!

      I wish to stress that I by nature have many grumpy-geek tendencies. It’s not like I’ve reached this plateau of pure “delightedness” without nitpickiness. There will always be some nitpickiness, if for no other reason than that Christians are called to be discerners of truth and beauty, sorting it from lies and ugliness. Only in the New Heavens and New Earth will we attain this kind of “delightedness” standard.

  3. Julie D says:

    This isn’t just a problem in Christian geeks–it’s a problem with geeks in general. Why else are half the online posts about Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat full of hate and insults. calling him sexist, homophobic, and a horrible writer.
    Anything can have problematic elements. Most things will, depending on how easy one is offended and one’s worldview. But it shouldn’t reach a point where we delight in pointing out flaws, no matter what the reason. 

  4. bainespal says:

    Geekdom is best when it’s inclusive and spontaneous. Sometimes I feel intimidated because it’s too hard to be a good geek. Being a hardcore geek costs a lot of money and requires more enthusiasm than I am capable of mustering. As much as I love my favorite sf/f franchises, I don’t have the motivation to memorize random trivia and learn the whole timeline.

  5. I agree, lets focus on the fun and the delight found in geeky things. I know I have geek-grumpiness tendencies, but when that begins getting in the way of having fun with what we’re geeky about, all the joy drains out.  And who wants to be around something joyless?

  6. dmdutcher says:

    The problem is that we simply don’t have enough of number two to do the grass-roots style of evangelism. Christian geek content is defined more by its lack than its breadth.
    You like anime? Well, there are these ten year old comics I can recommend you that are mostly shoujo and never finished their runs because their publisher dropped them. Oh, and they are for kids. Unless you want manga Bibles, we have some of those!
    You like superhero comics? Well, there are some for kids again, and Marvel did do three issues of one back in the nineties. But hey, we have comic book Bibles!
    You like science fiction movies? Fantasy ones? The few that get made tend to be syfy channel quality or worse. Seriously. 
    Webcomics? Video games? Nah.
    About all we do well is books, and even then it’s tough. I try to recommend as many as I can, but we need a few more things to delight in depending on the kind of geek you are.

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