Evangelizing Fandom

Evangelizing Fandom – it sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

When Jon Del Arroz first confessed to me that it had come to him that he should consider evangelizing fandom, I admired the idea, but I thought it would be impossible.

After all, is there a greater collection of wicca and atheist anywhere in the universe than science fiction and fantasy fandom?

Then, I had a dream. I dreamt that I was speaking to Jon about his idea, only in the dream, I was aware that it was very, very urgent. As if there was practically nothing that could be more important.

The dream shook me.

I woke up, and I sat there, and I thought: Could it really be done?

The question comes next: What is Fandom?

There are many questions to this question, but one of the best comes from Declan Finn’s upcoming book, Lightbringer, in which he quotes Moira Grayson Peat.. When questioned by the main characters in the story, the fictional Moira—based on words from an interview with the real Moira—replied:

“Please note: back then…fandom was a counterculture group, like the Society for Creative Anachronism. In those cases, the group becomes a stand-in for family. Even today, fandom is full of the disaffected, the misfits, people from broken homes, or rejected by their own families. The new surrogate family is every bit as broken as the original, but its value is greatly exaggerated to the people who need it.”

This passage really struck me, because it resonates with my experience. I, too, was someone on the outside, lost and not fitting in, who found a home in the science fiction and fantasy convention community.

I, too, used to feel it was us—fans, authors, and readers— against the world.

But no matter how good a story is, how inspiring a work of fiction, other flawed humans like us—even ones who love the same stories we love—are not the place to turn for guidance and comfort.

There is only one place we can turn where we can find the peace we are searching for, the true family, the true home.

That place is God.

And if there are any who do not know this, are we not under a duty to tell them?

But let us go back to: : Could it really be done?

The truth is: I thought it could not be—that it was a good idea that would just end up with us being humiliated.

After all, atheists and wicca and New Agers never change their minds, right?

Well, except for my husband, vituperative, super atheist John C. Wright, who used to talk people out of believing in God before he converted.

Except for him…

Okay, maybe an occasional atheist, but not witches or New Agers right?

Then I spoke to a friend who had been, in fact, Wicca, before she became a Catholic.

But not New Agers, right?

Then, just a few days ago, I came upon something astonishing.

Some years ago, I used to read everything on Near Death Experiences that anyone wrote. These books were often in the New Age section of the bookstore, so I would have to dodge books on auras and tarot, searching for a more scientific work on patients recovering from surgery.

Of all the books I had to look through, the ones I wanted to avoid the most were all by the same woman, Doreen Virtue. She wrote crazy books on nearly every topic, but mainly about communicating with angels and having them get you stuff: jobs, money, soulmates, etc. I always avoided her books; they seemed even more light and frothy than the average book in that section.

Just the other day, I came upon a show for Christians recovering from other believes—particularly New Age. The spokeswoman leading the show mentioned her own conversion from the New Age and showed a picture of herself back then.

And I went… Huh. She looks familiar.

So I paged down under the video to see what her name was. It was Doreen Virtue.

In an article on her website, she explains: “I used to think that calling on angels was correct because it seemed to result in wishes getting granted. Then I noticed that those ‘granted wish…es’ were like desert mirages that would soon disappear. They would also have something wrong with them: the new job would have serious issues; the new ‘soulmate’ would have serious issues; and so forth. These demons give horrible guidance, designed to ruin lives and guide people away from the real Jesus and the Bible.”

The other thing that changed my mind was an article from someone who had converted from atheist to Christianity who kept saying, “How come none of my Christian friends told me? They never told me who Jesus was or anything. Didn’t they believe it?”

At first, I thought: well, this person knew, right. They had just chosen not to believe.

But…did they know?

We assume, often, that others know and have rejected, but, more and more, nowadays, that is not the case—parents are not even telling their children about God and Christ and the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, it has been more than one generation since even a whisper was passed along.

And even the more devout sometimes no longer believe in the Enemy, which means that they see no harm in all sorts of dangerous things, including things encouraged by the strange ideas we love so much in our fiction.

If we know that the Powers of Light and Darkness are real, shouldn’t we tell the folks who keep waving their forks at the lighsockets?

So, without further ado, introducing Evangelizing Fandom—a new column from Superversive SF.

 

15 Comments on Evangelizing Fandom

  1. Ages ago, while trying to convince _Fandom_ to choose my hometown to host the WorldCon, I had some good conversation with wiccan and Buddhists whilst at the table. They were a bit dismayed at the militancy of the atheists at SF Cons.

  2. I’ve had this burden for some times regarding writing fanfiction for broken, hurting people in these niche communities. You’d be amazed how much Christianity you can pack into the worldbuilding of any game or show.

  3. Thank you, Ms. Lamplighter-Wright! I found this blog on RMC Facebook. I was a spark to rekindle and old fire.
    Over a decade ago I felt a call to reach the residents of fandom’s Nineveh. I’ve been building a world that is firmly based in faith and welcoming to the odd ducks who turn to the fandom of a TV show, movie series, or novels, while having outlets for all the fun of fandom – fanfic, costuming, meeting others, creating art in any medium.
    This world will have no tolerance for unbiblical behaviors. Play by the rules and we’ll all have fun. I’m finally at a point to give this … project? mission? calling? the attention it needs to get the Word out to those Needy Ninevites!

  4. Thank you, Ms. Lamplighter-Wright! I found this blog on RMC Facebook. It was a spark to rekindle and old fire.
    Over a decade ago I felt a call to reach the residents of fandom’s Nineveh. I’ve been building a world that is firmly based in faith and welcoming to the odd ducks who turn to the fandom of a TV show, movie series, or novels, while having outlets for all the fun of fandom – fanfic, costuming, meeting others, creating art in any medium.
    This world will have no tolerance for unbiblical behaviors. Play by the rules and we’ll all have fun. I’m finally at a point to give this … project? mission? calling? the attention it needs to get the Word out to those Needy Ninevites!

  5. Not to mention that fans can turn fandom into an actual, or “joking,” religion. I’ve read that Tolkien was dismayed that many people in the 60s read The Lord of the Rings and developed a quasi-belief in it. Star Wars fans can sometimes wax on about the “actual” Jedi. Even fans of “The Big Lebowski” – which (like all the Coen Brothers movies) is a profoundly spiritual film — hold annual gatherings and somewhere there’s a “Church of Lebowski.” I think the more based on real faith (but not specifically allegorical) some fictional worlds are, the more some lost people gravitate toward them and wish they were real.

  6. I noticed that fairy stories are basically Christian in origin. The idea of doing humble but good things and ending up living in a palace because of it is basically a Christian idea. Provide food and lodging, you might be doing it for a prophet, and receive a prophets reward. So, those stories, how would you like them to be real? They are.

  7. I still remember the critiques that said I should move my story from a Christian milieu to a polytheistic one. Never actually giving any reason for its improving the story. (One said that polytheism offered “more possibilities” — how’s that for precise?)

    and merely putting your high fantasy in a Christian milieu at least gets comments if not criticism.

  8. This is cool. I have had similar ideas for taking settings that are popular but doing unexpected things by giving the characters real depth of character including religion. Subtly, perhaps, but emphasizing that without a foundation in absolute truth, everything falls apart for someone.

    Not to mention the fact that so many people come from messed-up families and backgrounds that positively portraying the intact family is an important piece as well.

  9. “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.”

    There is a question of target audiences, especially because there are fans ready for solid food, and others able only to drink the milk.

  10. In Madrid, Spain, a group of Catholic friends of RPG, fantasy literature, wargames and science fiction where starting some months ago, before the pandemy, to have meetings to create something like a Fandom Christian Society. The pandemy has stopped it, but we will try again when it ends.
    The goal is to create a fandom-like society, specially a safe and creative movement for our teenagers, raised in the fandom-things of their parents; it would grow with their friends; and then with all kind of fandom people,of all ages, that would say “these Christians are fandom… but merrier and healthier and happier than the mainstream mundane fandom; I want their healthy and merry meetings for my children, and for me…”
    It has to be very presencial, people hugging people, eating tapas and drinking together, and playing games and talking about F&SF. Young people should proudly invite their friends interested in these fandom topics. Witness and reasoning with friendship. Parents and children and teenagers in it, so pagans will have a healthy envy (“I would like to have that… is that possible also for me?”)
    In the Internet age, significant real life friendships -such as Lewis and Tolkien- are effective and life-chanching; mere Internet contact is not.

  11. Excellent post. Especially the point about Christians tending to think that non-Christians have made a conscious choice. So often, at best, they’ve rejected a caricature. More often, they know next to nothing. Just like the first pagans who were converted.

  12. I need to do this, but I do not seem to have the time. So if anyone wants to start the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Shooting & Sewing Circle, please feel free. Its motto: Whether you love handguns or handwork (or both) join us for good food, good times and good learning. Start every meeting with prayer.

    I have another project I am working on that I hope will cross-pollinate with this one

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