Jesus promised rejection and ridicule for those who seek to follow Him (John 15:18-20). Don’t be discouraged when encountering rejection or scorn while peacefully enjoying your hobbies.
“Keep your religion out of my hobby”, is a common pejorative of those who disdain Christianity, quipped whenever Biblical themes or convictions cross their geeky hobby, whether it be comic books, video games, or board games, among others. It is usually followed up by an exaggerated “satanic panic” reference from the 80s.
The reality is that it is, in fact, their hobby that has plagiarized Christian tropes, themes, and vernacular.
Presenting the following information below to those determined to hate you and your faith will not convince them to stop using the aforementioned cliché.
My hope, rather, in presenting this information is to embolden you, the Christian, to share your faith all the more within the geek and nerd subcultures.
Christians need not be ashamed that they have hobbies, nor should they be ashamed to introduce their religious convictions into the geek conversation.
In fact, Paul the Apostle reminds us that he is indeed not ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) and that he became all things to all people to win some (1 Corinthians 9:22-23). This should include geeks and gamers!
So let’s dive in…
Apocalypse Is Our Word
Ever wonder why the word “apocalypse” denotes doomsday or evokes images of the end of all things? The Greek word itself simply means to “reveal” or “manifest”.
The word’s menacing global implications are rooted in the last book of the Bible titled- you got it- The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is depicted returning after a series of universal judgments, destroying His enemies, and establishing His universal and eternal kingdom on earth.
People unwittingly misuse the word post-apocalyptic, when really what they mean is pre-apocalyptic, as the Bible itself defines the pre-apocalyptic world as dystopian, while the post-apocalyptic world is paradise on earth.
Either way, the word, and its geek/cultural understanding, is taken straight out of the Bible.
They can thank us later.
The Roots of Dystopian Fiction
While on the topic of universal dystopian regimes, let’s now investigate the roots of this literary theme.
George Orwell’s famous novel 1984 is seen as the literary dystopian novel. It might come as a surprise to know that before George Orwell’s 1949 iconic work, C. S. Lewis wrote a dystopian sci-fi series first. This work is collectively known as The Space Series, published between 1938 and 1945.
Orwell even commented on the final book That Hideous Strength, which no doubt influenced and inspired the writing of 1984:
“All superfluous life is to be wiped out, all natural forces tamed, the common people are to be used as slaves and vivisection subjects by the ruling caste of scientists, who even see their way to conferring immortal life upon themselves. Man, in short, is to storm the heavens and overthrow the gods, or even to become a god himself. There is nothing outrageously improbable in such a conspiracy.“
After Orwell admits to Lewis’ probable future of universal scientific dictatorship, he continues:
“His description of the N.I.C.E. (National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments), with its world-wide ramifications, its private army, its secret torture chambers, and its inner ring of adepts ruled over by a mysterious personage known as The Head, is as exciting as any detective story.” – George Orwell’s Comments on That Hideous Strength
If that does not sound like inspiration for Big Brother and Room 101, I don’t know what does!
Here is an advert for Half-Life that mimics Apple’s 1984-inspired advert directed by Ridley Scott:
Lewis’ depiction of the end of the age is no doubt informed by the Bible’s description of the final kingdom on the earth (Daniel 7, 11, Revelation 13, etc), which is a global regime of systematic satanic enslavement.
This sentiment was also expressed by his friend and contemporary (I doubt you have ever heard of him before) J. R. R. Tolkien.
The Roots Of Higher Fantasy Fiction
The Lord of The Rings would literally not exist if it was not for C. S. Lewis. No seriously, Tolkien admits this himself:
“Lewis was a very impressionable man, and this was abetted by his great generosity and capacity for friendship. The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby. But from his interest and unceasing eagerness for more, I should never have brought The Lord of the Rings to a conclusion.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters to the Tolkien Society of America, 12 Sep. 1965
This means the entire higher fantasy genre exists, (alongside its tropes of elves, wizards, quests, gold-loving dragons, etc.) because an Anglican encouraged his Roman Catholic friend to finish and publish a fantasy novel.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
It’s true that The Lord of the Rings is no Christian allegory like Lewis’s Narnia series, however, it is very much influenced by Tolkien’s relationship with Lewis, his own Roman Catholic beliefs, and of course, Biblical tropes and themes such as a returning king, resurrection, etc.
“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion’, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism. However, that is very clumsily put, and sounds more self-important than I feel. For as a matter of fact, I have consciously planned very little; and should chiefly be grateful for having been brought up (since I was eight) in a Faith that has nourished me and taught me all the little that I know; and that I owe to my mother, who clung to her conversion and died young, largely through the hardships of poverty resulting from it.” -Tolkien’s reply to Robert Murray, S.J, 1953
Every higher fantasy-inspired game, film, or work of art that uses the trope of elves, wizards, quests, etc. has little ol’Tolkien to thank.
Higher fantasy is therefore rooted in Christian ideas and morality.
The First English Novel
Since both Tolkien and Lewis were gleaning concepts from the Bible and other works, I would be amiss to neglect the work of a Puritan, credited for writing the first-ever English novel: John Bunyan.
While in prison for preaching the Gospel without a “license” from the crown, Bunyan famously produced The Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegory of the Christian’s fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Borrowing heavily from the Biblical text itself, this first-ever English fantasy novel has the Christian putting on armor and battling a dragon Apollyon (inspired by Revelation 9 and the Red Dragon in Revelation 12), and other such fantasy tropes that we take for granted today.
Here the world thinks that all Puritans were simply obsessed with burning witches, when, in fact, they were the purveyors of fantasy fiction in their day and no doubt popularised the genre.
Gary Gygax A Christian?
One of the co-founders of the tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax seems to have shown significant signs of Christian conversion at the very end of his life:
This is not to say that D&D is Christian or inspired by Christian morality, (his conversion was after the fact), but more so that significant individuals within geekdom have professed Christian faith, which is no small matter when considering religion in the hobby space.
Religion Is Not A Dirty Word
Unfortunately, we as Christians, though well-meaning, can often say scripturally incorrect things:
“I don’t do religion, I have a relationship with Jesus”.
You have a religion. In fact, the Bible defines religion:
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. -James 1:27
To despise true religion is to neglect widows, orphans, and personal holiness (without which no one will see the Lord – Hebrews 12:14).
Don’t be ashamed of your religion, don’t hide it under a bushel (Matthew 5:14-16). Seek to lovingly proclaim Christ to all should the occasion arise, particularly among geeks and nerds who often suffer from mental health issues due to their defective worldviews.
Always remember to pray for your enemies and love them no matter how hateful they are towards you and your beliefs:
“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” -Matthew 5:46
Are there any other Christian roots to geekdom? Let it be known in the comments below!