Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Need for a Support System

A dear friend who is a Chaplain and PTSD Advocate asked me to  record a video to uplift, and encourage veterans.  The series uses driving a car as the analogy.   Here is what I came up with:


Tires – A Car’s Support System
A car needs four tires.  If one gets flat or is removed, then the car can’t go.  One tire by itself can be OK as a swing or something, but it won’t get you anywhere…  OK, so I am NOT a mechanic.  I know that, so I am smart enough to know when the car is having problems that I need to take it to someone who knows what they are doing.  When our spiritual life is out of whack, we need to do that, too.  If my car analogy is a bit of a stretch forgive me, my area is spiritual.
In today’s society there is an undercurrent that you must be self-sufficient.  You need to “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.”  Independence is everything.  In fact, in Psychology the notion of being “co-dependent” is supposed to be a really bad thing.  That undercurrent has made many people believe that they have to face their problems on their own and if they don’t then something must be wrong with them.  I believe this goes against the very fiber of our being.  We were created to be in community.
In Genesis 2:18 it says, “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” (NRSV)  Most people interpret this as husband and wife, which is part of it.  The Hebrew is much broader.  The word “man” is Adama, which is the word for humanity.  So, Adam means human.  So, it can be translated, “It is not good for a human being to be alone.”  We were made to be in relationship.  No one can make it entirely on their own.  So, my first tire is find someone to be your “helper.”  You need to find someone who you trust to walk with you through life’s journey; someone who will not abuse or take advantage of your vulnerability.  This person can be a spouse, a best friend, a co-worker, a sibling, but needs to be someone who will always be on your side even when you don’t want to hear it.
The second thing society says is that you don’t need a church…  OK, part of that is because churches are made up of imperfect humans who don’t always do what the church is supposed to do.  But we as human beings need a community to uphold us.  I have found many churches that do love you as you are.  In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he advises, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NRSV)  The law of Christ is to love one another as Christ loved us.  How we do that is to come along side each other and bear one another’s burdens.  None of us were meant to bear the weight of the world alone!  We were meant to be in community.  So, your second tire is a community to support you.
Now, if you are one of the tires, you may think that you are fine with the first three.  A tricycle is fine, right?  But the forth tire is the most important tire.  The forth tire is God.  When life is hard, and you are hurting is a time that many people turn their backs on God.  “God let this happen to me…” or worse yet, “God did this to me…”  On the opposite side, some people feel broken, dirty, or guilty.  “God wouldn’t want me as I am.”  So, many people try to deal with their brokenness alone.  They can believe that God abandoned them. 
Have you ever read the poem about the footprints in the sand?  The person looks back at two sets of footprints in the sand and notices that at the hardest times of their life there is only one set of footprints.  So, they ask God, why God abandoned them when they were in the most need.  God’s answer, “Where you see only one set of footprints, that is where I carried you.”
The second half of Matthew 28:20 says, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (NRSV) This is the very last thing Jesus says to his disciples before returning to heaven.  When we feel that God isn’t there, it is something wrong with our senses, not an actual lack of God’s presence.
When I was little I had horrible nightmares and night terrors.  My mom found a picture of Jesus holding a little blond child in his lap and hung it over my bed.  She told me that when I woke up from a bad dream and was afraid that I could remember that Jesus was holding me.  I was safe in his arms even if I couldn’t always feel it.
People can let you down.  Even the person you trust the most, that community that you have found to walk beside you, and you are all human.  We will all fail sometimes, but God won’t.  God promises to be with you in good times and bad, joy and suffering.  So, actually, God should be tire number 1, not 4.  If your three other tires go flat, you can depend on God to never let you go it on your own.
That is my best car analogy.  In this life get a good set of tires.  Get a partner and a community to walk with you, but don’t forget to invite God along.


And a link to the video:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fQuFlMZs4os" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>


Saturday, April 28, 2018

"This is Me"

I have loved musicals since my parents brought me to some anniversary showing of "The Sound of Music" when I was three or four.  I didn't even want to go to the restroom during intermission in case I would miss something.  Musicals like "The Sound of Music" or "The Music Man" were the only exceptions to our "no eating in front of the TV rule."  So, when "The Greatest Showman" came out, I was just as entranced as that three year old me.

Having watched it many times now and played the soundtrack over and over I realized something.  It's not just a musical to me, it is a new anthem.  My story resonated with these characters.  I have always been a Geeky nerd.  I have loved Sci Fi, D&D, and cosplay since I was a kid in the 70s and 80s... long before being a nerd was cool.  I was bullied.  I was teased and made fun of...  I was encouraged to conform, to be more like everyone else.  It would be easier.  It would solve the problems with being an outsider.  Even in the church, well meaning people would suggest that sci fi and D&D would lead me down the wrong road and away from Jesus.  In Seminary my ad visors suggested that I don't mention "certain" hobbies when interviewing at churches, after all, I was going to have enough problems being accepted as a woman pastor.

So, this musical helped me see that my passion over starting Geek Church wasn't just for those friends of mine who were driven out or turned off by the church that didn't understand them.  It was for me, too!  I need to be able to worship as me.  Super Girl is not the costume that hides me from the world, the three piece suit is the real costume.  A Faerie Princess, Superhero or Elf cosplay is more me than the get up I have to wear to Presbytery.  I am more me when I have the temporary pink hair dye and bright blue fingernails then when I wear my power suit.

Jesus accepted people as they were.  He accepted the smelly fishermen, the hated tax collector, the women that society thought were worth nothing, and even Zachaeus the wee little man who climbed a tree to see Jesus.  Jesus accepts as we are; scars, warts, and all.  The guest speaker at Oviedo Pres. last Sunday was brought up in a family that was Hindu, Muslim, and Ba' hai.  He decided that Jesus was the way for him because of the unconditional grace, love, and acceptance that Jesus had for everyone.  God so loved the world, including Geeks, nerds, and shy little girls.

When I have to put on that suit, and pretend I am just an average, normal preacher I now hear,
"I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
'Cause we don't want your broken parts
I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one'll love you as you are"

That is not what the Gospel teaches.  Jesus loves us just the way we are.  We should be able to find the love and wonder of God discussing the theological implications of Star Wars, or The Avengers, or any number of comic books.  I should be able to worship in my Wonder Woman T-shirts and Harley Quinn dresses, because that is who I am.  Being a Cosplaying Geek doesn't mean that I am not a good Christian, doing the best I can to show Christ's love in this world.  Somehow I hope that once Geek church is up and running that I will proudly wear my Super Girl dress to Presbytery meetings.

For now, I think that the chorus of this is me is the perfect anthem for Geeks everywhere, and especially for Geeks of Faith.

"When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me"

I hope that Geeks of Faith everywhere will find this truth,  Jesus loves our scars and broken parts.  I pray for a church where everyone can stand up and sing God's praises and still be able to sing "This is me!"

Love and Peace,

Karen

Friday, March 9, 2018

Musings on the 50th Anniversary of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Last night Jon-Paul and I watched the PBS special on the 50th anniversary of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.  I admit that I shed a few nostalgic tears.  It even taught me something new.  Michael Keaton was one of the flying Zucchini brothers... who knew? Mister Rogers' Neighborhood first came on when I was six or seven months old.  Some of my earliest memories were of watching Mr. Rogers while my mom made dinner.

I loved Mr. Rogers.  I loved his music so much that mom bought his song book for me, before I could even read, so that we could sing his songs together.  When I started piano lessons at 5, I did my best to plunk them out on our piano.  I admit that I probably watched him for quite a while after my friends were "too old" and "too cool" for a children's show.  But when I was watching Mr. Rogers I felt loved and accepted for who I was, which was a big thing for a shy little girl who was often bullied for being to smart.

Eventually, I gave into the peer pressure and stopped watching.  Oddly enough, when my brother went off to college at Carnegie Mellon, he discovered that Mr. Rogers was a hero to the local University.  When Mr. Rogers came on all other activity would stop and all of the students would go to the dorm lounge and watch it together, and not to make fun of it.  There was something about Mr. Rogers that appealed to those future engineers and actors.

When I was a senior in High School, the year book team thought it would be funny to caption my senior candid "Yes, I do date Mr. Rogers."  Of course, at the time I was mortified, but I have come to love that caption.  Even though it was poking fun, it implied that there was something about me that would fit well with Mr. Rogers.  That is really high praise to me now.

When I was in Seminary studying to be a minister, I actually got to meet Fred Rogers.  My childhood pastor from Pittsburgh was being installed as pastor at First Presbyterian in Atlanta.  Jon-Paul and I went to his service to discover that he and Fred Rogers were good friends from Pittsburgh Presbytery.  Mr. Rogers came to do the children's time during the service.  That was where I learned that he was an ordained Presbyterian minister.  As we were going out George Wirth, the pastor, introduced us to Mr. or should I say Rev. Rogers.  I don't remember what I stammered, because I was as star struck as meeting any movie star or Star Trek actor.  I do remember him saying, "It is very nice to meet you, Karen." in his wonderful, gentle voice.

My first 16 years as a Presbyterian minister, I was an associate for youth and children's ministry.  After my very first children's sermon Jon-Paul came up and asked me if I was purposely channeling Mr. Rogers.  I wasn't.  I was trying to be kind, and gentle.  I was trying to show love, acceptance, and respect to the preschoolers sitting on the steps around me.  So, I guess sub-consciously in trying to communicate how much these little ones were worth in God's eyes, I pulled from the best example I had from my childhood.  To this day, Jon-Paul still refers to the tone I use when talking to preschoolers as my Mr. Rogers voice.

When Mr. Rogers passed away I cried.  I didn't cry for him, for I knew he had a special place waiting in heaven.  I cried for his family.  I cried for future children who wouldn't grow up knowing this loving, special, adult friend.  I am glad that most PBS stations still show reruns.

But as I am beginning my journey to start a Geek Worshiping Community, I find myself thinking of Mr. Rogers again.  As an ordained Presbyterian minister if you are not in a church you are supposed to seek what they call a "Validated Ministry."  Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was the validated ministry of Rev. Fred Rogers.  Pittsburgh Presbytery saw it as an outreach to children.  Although he didn't speak of church or denominations, he made sure that each child knew that they were greatly loved and priceless.  He modeled the love of Jesus as well as any disciple.

So, as I seek to reach out to the Geek community I pray that I will have the love, compassion, sense of justice and equality, and acceptance that I learned from Mr. Rogers.  He was a living sermon.  It is a sermon that is sorely needed in our society today.  I miss you, Mr. Rogers.  May I spread even half the love and light that you radiated.

Instead of just signing off "Grace and Peace", I think there is only one way to end a blog about Mr. Rogers: with his own words.
It's such a good feeling
To know you're alive.
It's such a happy feeling;
You're growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say:
I think I'll make a snappy new day.
It's such a good feeling,
A very good feeling.
The feeling you know, that I'll be back
When the day is new.
And I'll have more ideas for you.
And you'll have things you'll want to talk about.
I will too.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cries Too Deep For Words

My heart sank as I read the news of the shooting in Las Vegas.  Everyone was talking about it.  In line at the bank the man in front of me was insisting to the two tellers that this is surely a sign of the end times.  I am not sure about that, but there is something very wrong.

There is something wrong when so many people believe that the way to get their point across is to strap a bomb to themselves, drive through crowds of innocent people, or pick up guns and open fire into crowds.

How did we let hate get so out of control that anyone would feel justified in taking lives... not only lives, but lives of innocent strangers.  I don't know if the media has made us desensitized or what, but how can we as a society ignore this hate to argue about politics?

We NEED to stand together to say this is wrong and must stop.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindu must stand TOGETHER and say, "No, this is not the way."  Blacks, Whites, Asians, and Hispanics must stand together and say, "No, this is not the way." Gay, straight, transgender, and bisexual must stand together and say, "No, this is not the way." Believe it or not Democrats and Republicans need to get over themselves and stand together and say, "No, this is not the way and we will no longer tolerate it!"

Yesterday was World Communion Sunday where we remembered that all are God's children, all over the world.  We sang "Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world.  Red, brown, yellow, black, and white we are precious in His sight.  Jesus loves the little children of the world.

I don't know if it is the end times or not, but I know God's heart is breaking that hate, prejudice, and nonacceptance seems to rule all of our society.  If we say nothing to condemn this hate and violence then we are partially at fault.

Romans 8:26 gives these words of comfort.  "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words."
 
My heart is crying out because I don't know what to pray, other than this:  "Lord help us!  We have forgotten how to love our neighbors as ourselves"

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hearing it Anew: A Holy Week Meditation on the Need for New Venues

My first ordained call in 1993 was to a small southern church in Rural Tennessee.  The town had 10,000 people during the day when the pencil and air conditioning factories were running, but it dropped to 5000 at night when those people went home.

While serving there I was blessed that some of the youth began to bring their friends.  These were the children of farmers and factory workers.  Their parents didn't go to church and in one case strongly objected to their children coming.  They wore jeans and t-shirts and knew nothing about proper church etiquette.  Many of the older, lifelong church members pressured me to teach them the proper way to behave in church or ask them to leave.  My answer was always firm.  They are wearing their very best.  They sit in the front row because they want to hear what is said and the youth form the church talk about football, baseball, or their date from the night before on the back pew and it was too distracting.  (Of course, I did not say that they also made faces at me when I was in the pulpit, trying to get me to mess up.)

I loved having these youth.  Yes, they tended to stir up the youth that were brought up in the church.  But, as a pastor you often tell church members to pretend you are hearing this story for the first time.  These youth were.

One Sunday the sermon was from a passage in Acts 5.  I can't remember if the head pastor or I was preaching.  But when we came to 5:30 that says, "The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree" half a dozen faces in the front row looked up at me with mouths open in shock.  You see, in the rural South hanging someone from a tree has a very specific meaning.  It was usually done by those wearing white sheets.

As soon as the service was over this group of Middle Schoolers in their jeans and tennis shoes ran up the aisle dodging  long time church members in suits and ties undoubtedly fueling another lecture on how I need to teach them how to behave in church.  They butted in front of all the people filing out to shake the pastor's hand.  The ring leader (Yes, that is a very apt description of what she was) held a pew Bible open to Acts 5:30.  It would be more impressive if these youth hadn't figured out there was an index in the front, something many kids who grew up in the church don't know.

They all earnestly looked up at me, horror on their faces.  "Pastor Karen, in Sunday School you said Jesus died on a cross.   But here it says he was hanged!  Was Jesus lynched?"  I excused myself from the greeting line and went back and sat with them on the front pew.

I started with explaining that Jesus was crucified, but sometimes the cross is referred to as a tree.  I went over the horrible punishment of Roman Crucifixion and what an excruciating way it was to die.  These innocent youth asked the theological question of the ages, "Jesus was good.  He didn't do anything wrong.  Why did he have to die like that?"

I told them of the Jewish concept of atonement.  For every sin, everything you did wrong you had to make a sacrifice.  Sacrificing a dove, sheep, or goat would make you clean again in God's eyes, but if you sinned again it would start all over.  Jesus offered himself up, innocent, to suffer and die so that all our sins would be paid for.  No more sacrificing.  Jesus did it once and for all.  There were lots of tears and a much deeper understanding of the love of Jesus.

So, ask me why I want to re-imagine church.  Why do we need new ways to tell the story?  Jesus said it himself in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  If you are well you don't need a doctor.  Those long time church members didn't need me to tell them what was in the Bible.  They probably knew the stories as well as I did.  But the story is important!  What Jesus did for us, dying on the cross, is important.  You don't get the real story out there in society and definitely not in the media's portrayal of the church.

Yes, the church is full of sinful people that Jesus died for.  The church does make mistakes, but if that is all that the media or society tells you, then why would anyone want to walk through the doors of a church?  The stories that we have are life-giving.  They are freeing.  They are world changing.  We can't just wait for those who haven't heard to come to us, because they won't.  We have to go where they are whether that is coffee houses, bars, or even comic book shops.  We have to bring Jesus back out where he originally taught, among the people.

May your Holy Week open your eyes, like those Middle Schoolers and break your hearts so that you will be ready for the joy of Easter.

Blessings,

Karen

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"That is NOT Us" Vs. "Yes, That includes You"

As I work through Geek Church and what that may look like, my first thought is that the word "Church" has come to have a negative impression among many people including those that I want to involve.  Maybe "Geek Spirituality" or "The Spiritual Geek" would be a better title.  But like those churches that drop "Presbyterian" from their signs because it gives a "negative image", I am sad because the negative image that society has of the church is NOT us.  That is not who we are or at least not who we should be striving to be.

The media seems to equate the church with the far right of the political spectrum.  But in reality the church covers the whole spectrum ultra conservative to ultra liberal.  But what really makes me angry is that it is portraying political views as what the church believes or what Jesus wants.  God is NOT part of a political party!  No politician, Republican, Democrat, or any other party is putting forward God's agenda.  As well meaning as they may be, they are serving their constituents at their best, and at their worst, themselves.

There are churches out there advocating for what certain politicians are doing, but that doesn't make it God's will or even in line with Jesus' teachings.  Don't get me wrong.  Some political decisions will be for the good of the people.  I will support some candidates because of what they say that they will do, but that still doesn't make them God's agents.

What I do know is churches are filled with sinful human beings.  I believe that some churches are actually going against what God wants us to be doing.  Believe it or not, it has ALWAYS been that way.  If you read the New Testament the times that Jesus got the angriest was when the religious leaders started telling people that they weren't good enough.  When religious leaders exclude others it really made Jesus angry.  I assume it still does.

John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the WORLD that God sent Jesus.  It doesn't say that God loves those who follow the rules the best.  It doesn't say that God loved those who voted for the correct candidate.  It doesn't even say that God so loved those who protest the loudest on social media.  God loved the world.  Every last one of us.  Guess what, that even means the Muslims, the Jews, the Hindi, and even (gasp) the Atheist.  God so loved the world, and God didn't tell us to go out and condemn and hurt those God loves...

But not all churches do that.  The press would have you believe that the church is built on hating anyone who is different or believes differently.  While that does happen way too often that is NOT the way it is supposed to be.

In both the church I served in Memphis and here in Oviedo my husband and I wound up leading the young adult Sunday School class.  One of our best attended series was a survey of religions.  The purpose was not to try to convince other religions that we were the best.  We  wanted to learn from our fellow brothers and sisters.  We invited not only members of different Christian flavors like Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witness, but also Muslims, Budists, Hindu, and Jewish people to come and talk with us.  We asked then what they believed and what was important to them.  We learned a lot!  We came to understand our brothers and sisters better.  It was a time of coming together, respect, and gaining understanding.  That is who the church should be.

In my last blog I lamented that many of my dear friends in Geek culture were either openly turned away or felt judged and unwanted in the church.  That is wrong.  Whether they were condemned because they played Dungeons & Dragons, believed in The Big Bang Theory and Evolution, or even for their sexual preference, that was not what the church should be about.

Jesus didn't come for the religious leaders and the righteous few who think they do no wrong.  Jesus came for the outcast, the misfit, the ordinary.  Jesus' disciples weren't scholars.  They were stinky, unwashed fishermen, tax collectors (who were even more hated back then then the are in April here in America today), women (gasp), and even non-Jews!  My last sermon I preached was about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.  She wasn't Jewish.  Jews and Samaritans hated each other because of their theology and beliefs.  She was a woman, which meant that Jesus shouldn't be talking to her in public at all.  But in her day she would have been considered a loose woman.  She had had multiple husbands and was living with a man without being married.  So, Jesus, like the church and probably everyone in her village condemned her and sent her away in shame, right???  WRONG!!!!!  Jesus discussed theology with her and then sent her out to spread the Good News.  He made that outcast woman, the one that the church would probably kick out a disciple!  That is what is on Jesus' agenda, reaching out to those who need healing and those who don't feel like they fit in.

One last thought on who is included in God's love and God's call.  In Matthew 25 you will find one of Jesus' parables about the sheep and the goats.  It is a parable about what is most important in the kingdom.  What is the most important thing to Jesus?  He said that the greatest commandments are "Love God" and "Love your neighbor."  This parable is the clearest image of how we are supposed to do that.  (Matthew 25:35-36) "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took  care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."  That is what we are supposed to be about.  So, when a politician says, "This bill is doing God's will" be sure to check it against this list.  When I question turning away refugees, I am not making a political statement or supporting one party's views over another.  I am trying to follow Jesus.

I know that this may upset some people.  I know that I am just as sinful as everyone else.  I know that I am going to make mistakes.  But I see my friends who have been rejected by the church or turned away on their own because they didn't like what they saw, doing what Jesus wanted them to do. Dragon Con gives more than $100,000 to charity at their convention every year!  In 2016, it was the Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency, which works with homeless and jobless citizens on job training and resumes.  ( From: "Dragon Con’s Pat Henry on Building a Convention Community" By Hayley Panagakis, April 3, 2017 on connectyourmeetings.com)  They also hold what may be one of the biggest blood drives in Georgia.  Geeks are really good at Justice, equality, and caring for the least of these.  That is why I want so badly to engage with my fellow Geeks to redefine what it means to be church.  I want to create a place where everyone feels loved and welcome even if you do not consider yourself a Christian.  I want a place where it is OK to discuss faith without worrying about being judged by others.  I want a place where Geeks can feel comfortable enough to be themselves knowing that God doesn't really care whether they know all of the churches liturgy by heart and can sing hymns with gusto.  I want a place where we can serve and make a difference together.

If you long for a place like that, too, I encourage you to join me as I try to figure out what Geek church should look like and be.

Blessings,

Karen

Monday, March 6, 2017

"Geek Church"... a joke? a dream? necessary for the future?

This blog comes deep from within my soul... that tortured part that is trying to find my way and God's will for my life.

Now, I am purposely writing this blog for my Geek friends; D&D, cosplay, convention attending, science fiction and fantasy loving friends.  I truly crave your thoughts and opinions, but please no "hate" comments, because I am truly seeking what can or even should be done.

First, I feel the need to establish my Geek Cred.  I have always been a stereotypical nerd.  I have been bullied because I was smart.  In elementary school I walked over a mile to catch the bus so that I wouldn't be pushed down and forced to eat dirt or worse yet worms.  I snuck down to my brother's room to watch Star Trek and Logan's Run, because my parents thought Science Fiction was too scary for a 5 to 6 year old girl.  I went to my first Star Trek convention when I was 14 and when I realized that people actually went in uniforms I had my mother help make costumes for my brother and me.  I have been cosplaying ever since!  (Well, unless you count being Princess Leah for Halloween in 77, 78, and 79... if so then I have been into cosplay since I was 10.)  I discovered D&D in Middle School back before it was even AD&D.  In High School I was BOTH a theatre and choir geek... Not to mention having a 4.0.  I met my husband in the college gaming club, which while I was an officer we officially changed our name to Vanderbilt University League of Gamers and Roleplayers... even though the yearbook refused to list us as V.U.L.G.A.R.  Through all this I still had a strong faith.  When I felt called into the ministry my mentor asked me two questions that should have tipped me off to some of the problems I would face in the church.  1. How will you respond when you encounter who believe that women shouldn't be ministers? 2. How will you respond to the people who think that D&D is the equivalent of Satan worship?  (To be clear, he didn't agree with either view, but he knew what I would soon learn.  The church is made up of sinful people just like the rest of the world, and it is most dangerous when it believes it is being "righteous.")

It has always bothered me that the people that I feel the most kinship with are for the most part absent from the church.  I have spent many long nights in college, over D&D tables, and waiting in line to see the latest Dr. Who or Arrow guests discussing why that is so.

I have discovered that most geeks fall into two categories.  The first I will call the "Sheldons".  Like Sheldon Cooper in the "Big Bang Theory" they were raised (or just encountered) churches that taught that you couldn't believe what science taught.  They believed that all Christians believed in Creationism and that the world was only a few thousand years old.  They were shocked when I said that isn't universally true.  The Presbyterian Church doctrine says that there is nothing in science that contradicts what we believe.  For instance the Bible itself says that God's time is not our time.  A thousand years is just a moment to God... So, creation could have easily taken Billions of years.  Also, not all Christians believe everything has to be taking literally.  My example:  God said, "Let there be light" sure sounds like a description of the big bang to me.  Hebrew culture, that wrote the Old Testament is filled with parables, analogy, and (gasp) even poetry.  There is a group of NASA scientist that write a Christian journal for the scientifically minded discussing new scientific discoveries and how they show God's Glory.  (They happen to be Presbyterian.)  Those weird off putting black robes that most Presbyterian ministers wear that creep out some church visitors have their origins in Masters' robes.  Education was so important to John Calvin, one of the Presbyterian Church's founding fathers, that you wore your graduation robe to prove you had a formal education.  Presbyterian ministers are still REQUIRED to have a Masters Degree... (and "yes" it is a real Masters Degree... You wouldn't believe the number of times people have asked if a Masters of Divinity is a real degree or just honorary...  Three of the most challenging years of my life including learning to read both Greek and Hebrew, argue, "yes" it is a REAL Masters Degree.)

The second category I will call the "wounded".  Just like in school, many of my Geek peers feel unwelcome in church.  Whether it is because they played D&D, believed what they learned in Science class, or because their sexual orientation didn't fit with what some well meaning, but misinformed church members in their past told them, or whether they were actually asked to leave because of who they were or what they believed, these friends have real reason to mistrust the church. I do my best to explain to them that it isn't God or Jesus who rejected them, but sinful, fallible, human beings.  The Bible teaches us that God so loved the world... not just the chosen few.  We are called to love our neighbors, and even more our enemies.  We are told NOT to judge.  No matter how much of God's healing, grace, and love I am able to show I have very little belief that I will ever get them to go through a church door.  It is clearly not just a problem of my friends... At Dragon Con there is one lonely "fans for Christ" table and more than 16 "Good without God" type groups represented.

From my experience most Geeks are good people.  They volunteer, they give to charity, they give gallons upon gallons of blood, they march for equality and serve their fellow human beings whenever they can.  They fight for justice. They are also spiritual.  They hunger for meaning and seek the truth.  All of these things are things that Jesus taught and God wants from us and it breaks my heart that we as the church have driven off or alienated these wonderful, beautiful, human souls.

So, a couple of years ago as Jon-Paul and I were admiring a "Geek Easy" (a grill and bar in the back of a comic shop) he only half jokingly suggested that I start a Geek Church (Geek Orthodox Church in his words... but the word orthodox has too much negative baggage for me.)  We could meet in the back of comic book shops and discuss faith in comics and movies and work together for good.  I rolled my eyes at the time, but it has been gnawing at me ever since.  I also keep running upon a relatively new Presbyterian phenomenon, the 1001 Worshiping Communities.  This is a program that is helping us re-imagine what it means to be faithful.  There is one group that is Cyclists for God.  They bike 10 or 20 miles then stop for a meal and worship.  Then, this past Saturday Katy gave an update on her "Missing Piece" worshiping community.  The people who were coming together in homes, coffee houses, and parks to "Worship through Cerebral, Spiritual, and Physical and service"  sounded like my Geek friends!  They were doing it!  They were reaching these people who felt a strong call to serve, but for one reason or another had turned away from the church.  Katy was actually excited when I mentioned my silly dream of reaching out to my fellow Geeks, and her thoughts were seconded by two other Geeks who happened to come to speak to Katy about similar things.  Katy suggested that I start to talk to people about my dream and write about it.

So, Katy this is probably my longest blog to date.

My question to all of you is, "Is this just my silly dream?  Am I being called to reach out to the intellectual, comic book reading, roleplaying, cosplaying community?  Would there be any interest to meet over drinks(Yes, Jesus drank wine and probably danced as well), before or after super hero movies, or even around a gaming table to discuss faith, being faithful, and what is the meaning of life?  (I know... 42)  But most importantly, does the church itself need the re-imagining that the Geek culture could bring to it?

Faithfully yours,

Karen
Blogger, Preacher, Cosplayer, AD&D Roleplayer, sci-fi/fantasy amateur author, and humble seeker of truth