Geeks for Jesus

By powerbooktrance [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Some time ago, I tweeted about my interest in the relationship between the misogyny in geek culture and the misogyny in Christian culture.  I haven’t forgotten about it, and I’m still digging through some things.  Something a friend commented on what I shared on Facebook yesterday made me sit up and take notice, because I think it’s relevant.

I linked to this piece about prejudices that continue to appear in films.  My friend commented that she wasn’t surprised, as she believes media reflects culture rather than influencing it.  Now, I don’t entirely agree–I think there’s a kind of unhealthy symbiosis there–but I do think she’s mostly right.  Playing with Barbies doesn’t make little girls want skinny waists and big boobs, but Barbie sure does reflect what little girls are taught to want.

Over time, I’ve seen how Christian culture reinforces many of these norms.  For all the talk of being “in the world but not of the world,” there’s an awful lot of blending of church and culture.  This includes running a church like a business, creating flashy shows and aiming for being “relevant,” and a capitalist mentality that urges people to give more of their money to a specific church and its programs than to their community’s needs.  It’s not surprising to see the same kind of mutually parasitic relationship between church and culture as between media and culture.

I want to continue to explore the subject of geekdom and Christianity in part because I’ve seen a slow progression in the church over the last 20+ years I’ve been involved.  When I first became a Christian, the sorts of things one finds at gatherings like Comic-Con were acceptable among adolescents, but still considered fringe.  These days, pastors even give sermons on Star Wars, video games, and the latest superhero movies and you can find Christian web sites with geek themes.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of my more conservative religious friends (which is, admittedly, a very small sample of American Christians) really love the just-this-side-of-mainstream geek culture–but only if it’s perceived as not being “evil” in some way (Luke Skywalker but not Harry Potter; Batman but not Buffy).  There’s also a failure to examine sexism, racism, and homophobia in any of these worlds.  When one holds up the lone female character–who often has to be saved by the men–as an example of “but it does contain women!” there’s something wrong.

It’s hard to tell how the lines ended up blurred.  Are churches cashing in on the cultural shift in geekdom becoming at least marginally more mainstream?  Are the reinforced gender stereotypes in much of geek culture and in church culture related by more than just the broad category of misogyny?  Or is the church just, in a warped sense, welcoming something perceived as an ally in proper gender roles?

I’m interested in your thoughts.  If you have something you’d like to say about any of this, my space is open to you.  What have your experiences been?  I’m leaving it open-ended, so there’s no time limit.  If you have something to share, let me know.  You can leave a comment or use the contact form.

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2 thoughts on “Geeks for Jesus

  1. i can’t speak for much of the church or geekdom, or the geekdom church, but i know that aragorn sending Eowyn on to the caves to do women’s work instead of was highly lauded in my circle. it was considered a glorification of women, an affirmation that peaceful women’s work is very noble…. (nowadays, i expect i’d call this benevolent sexism.) People , in talking about this part, invariably neglect to mention the rather subversive scene in which Eowyn is the only one who could kill the witch king, and does. what if she’d stay’d behind submissively to lead that time?
    I think Tolkien is pretty sexist in general, but i really love the scene where Eowyn saves her uncle.

    • Ugh, yeah, Tolkien definitely doesn’t pass Bechdel (2 women talking about something other than a man). But that part is pretty cool. I always liked Eowyn much, much better than the other female characters.

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