Quest Long and Prosper

One of the more fun things I had to do while seeking ordination (often called The Process because it is long—8 years in my case—and arduous and can veer straight into institutionalized hazing), was a summer parish internship.  I was offered a position at a little church, where I stayed in their apartment and could walk down to the farmers market Sundays after services.  As I’ve been ordained longer and preached more, I’ve been increasingly thankful for that church.  They very kindly listened to some sermons I would preach very differently now.

But along with their homiletical patience, an inside peek at day to day Church life and power differentials, they also taught me something very important about who sits in our pews: Geeks.

I’d preached a sermon that mentioned my deep love of speculative fiction (SF—often called science fiction and fantasy).  It wasn’t horrible.  And while I don’t remember the details of the sermon, I do remember that for the rest of the morning people would approach me, always when it would be just the two of us, and confess their love for Star Trek.  We are all, I learned that morning, Star Trek geeks. 

This memory surfaces when I’m afraid I’m about to get too geeky for people.  It’s a balm against a the cultural norm that asks us geeks to stay in the basement with our dice, books, and to-scale models.  It helps me remember that, even when the rest of the world seems a little too normal, I have a place in the pews with all the other geeks.

My friend, Jordan Haynie Ware, wrote a fabulous book about the Church and Geeks.  Jordan and I go way back on Twitter and were once in the same room at General Convention 2012.  She is awesome.  She is a geek.  Ultimate Quest: A Geek’s Guide to (The Episcopal) Church (CA link) establishes her as a wise and witty writer.

Far more effectively than the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Ware draws readers through the basics of Christian faith, with an special eye on Episcopal pomp and circumstance.  She manages both an eye for the essential things people first wandering into the Church would need or want to know with enough detail to impress some longtime attendees at coffee hour.  And please join in me in giggling, hopefully internally, next time a congregation near you starts some “communal slam poetry.”

As the title promises, Ware introduces lay and clergy in gaming terms,

“Laypeople are the front-line fighters of the Christian party.  Clergy are the caster—they hang back “buffing” with encouragement and teaching, “detecting magic” by naming the Holy in everyday life, and “healing,” by offering the sacramental presence of God when that everyday life gets rough.” (pg 47)

managing a delightful balance of truth, humour, with a deft combination of Church and gaming geek-doms. 

Through out the book Ware shows her thorough knowledge of many corners of SF and Church worlds, citing the Bible, Joss Whedon’s works, The Prayer Book, The Princess Bride, Hamilton, papal encyclicals, Marion Zimmer Bradley, CS Lewis, and, yes, Star Trek among many others.  And if you don’t know all of these inside out there’s a bibliography (“Worlds Unknown”) in the back—you can find some new favourite authors and artists. 

Definitely written with a particular care for those who are new or newly exploring faith and the Church, this book would fit nicely into the shelves of all faithful geeks as we seek to “Quest long and prosper.”

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