I am a die-hard geek. And mostly, being a Geek helps my faith. But if I’m honest, there are times when my Geekishness hinders it.
This blog has been live since May, and we’ve tackled all kinds of awesome geekery. But pretty much since day one, I knew I would have to write this post because there is another side to this story.
Sometimes being a geek can hinder my faith.
Here’s what I mean.
1. Truth is stranger than fiction, they say, and harder, too.
There is such a thing as, and a valid place for, healthy escapism. But the fact that I feel like I need to justify it at all proves I know escapism can be unhealthy, and often is. Sometimes it’s easier to live in la-la land than face the music. Sometimes I don’t want to pray through my tangled life, so I watch movie trailers on Yahoo! instead. Sometimes I don’t want to process how work went, because I’d rather blow up bad guys on Uncharted 3 (multiplayer online).
Which brings me to my next point.
2. Not all escapes empower us.
Healthy escapism refreshes us and maybe even inspires us, so we’re better equipped to face reality. But that’s not always what I’m trying to get out of my escapes. Some escapes are sinful derelictions of duty. Some escapes erode morality and undermine the soul. Some escapes are a form of denial, working like a drug to numb us to what’s really going on and what we ought to do about it.
This is the most common critique of gamers and avid readers alike, and we rail against the critique—not only because it’s an unhelpful generality, a sweeping statement without basis—but because there’s more than just a kernel of truth there, chafing us where it hurts most.
3. Of no earthly good.
I’ve never been prone to confusing reality and fantasy. I wasn’t that kid who began to believe his Dungeons and Dragons character was real and lost his marbles when said character died at the hands of an Orc army at 2am Saturday night. In fact, I found Dungeons and Dragons boring.
My imagination is a vivid, powerful gift from God. That said, my imagination is also prone to fantasy—replacing reality with fancy. Predictably, I’m a visionary kind of pastor. The problem is, I can “see” the future so clearly that it never arrives because I’ve been too specific in my visualization.
Populating our minds with fantasy archetypes can be fatal to the soul because they represent utopian ideals rarely (if ever) experienced this side of heaven. Perpetual disappointment can take root, which may in turn prompt us to spend more time in our unrealistic escapes.
4. A good story is life, with all the dull parts taken out.
Alfred Hitchcock said that, and he was referring to fiction. When we get used to fiction, though, it’s hard to face a life with the dull parts left in. Especially when the exciting moments are so few and far between. Real people eat Corn Flakes, sit on the can with the fan on, lie around the house, perform data entry for six hours a day, and mow the lawn. Woo hoo.
5. Living Vicariously.
The stuff that makes for an exciting story worth living is terrifying and painful to live through in the real world. The best books and movies shove the protagonists through the gauntlet, and we follow them with bated breath, identifying with their fears and stress. But would we want to live on the run from FBI agents while facing down a demonic entity that had already murdered half our hometown?
The problem is, God’s path often leads us through dizzying pain and epic risk-taking. Vicarious or imaginary risk taking can inoculate us against the real thing by taking the edge off our God-given need for adventure in the real world.