This afternoon, I was sitting here trying to figure out what to write about. What nerdy things can I come up with this week, and then it hit me. Religion! As a kid, I was extremely terrified of not getting into heaven; so much, in fact, I took the Catholic faith very seriously and literally. I know how close religion can be to fandom. People are hardcore for this stuff. You can get into uber trouble if you say the wrong thing about someone’s faith; kind of like comparing the 11th Doctor to Han Solo (I meant it as a compliment).
I’ve drifted away from the practice of religion over the years, but have become more fascinated with the pure fantasy entertainment of it. The parallels between God and Sci-Fi are old news for Fan boys/girls. Have you read the bible lately? Burning bushes, Arks filled with animals, Immaculate Conception! Even Jesus spends the better part of the book wandering the desert with his away team…healing zombies, no less! (Editor's note: lepers are not zombies)
Speaking strictly from my Christian roots, add a couple of car chases, a few explosions and a wicked soundtrack to any sermon and you pretty much have yourself Transformers 3. Throw in a good sound effect every time you “transform” your pew into a praying bench and it’s already more definable then any anorexic robot Michael Bay could whip up.
Believe me, I respect when people use faith to focus on something positive to help get them through a tough time or a personal struggle, but just like Sci-fi for me, religious dogma needs a level of suspended belief. Just some tongue in cheek. It especially comes in handy, for example, when a priest expects you to drink from a pimp chalice filled with wine called “the blood of Christ” without yelling “God damn it, Sookie! Do you want to live or not?”
I frequent many a con panel, so I totally get how people would patiently wait once a week to hear a dude talk about a book filled with betrayal, murder, and magic. Who am I to judge? I can’t fault anyone for worshipping a man in the sky every Sunday, when I spend every Wednesday trying to find out what the man flying in the sky is going to do in the next big Marvel/DC crossover event.
Space, celestial intervention, and celebrities trying to stay relevant, are just a few of the themes that seem to constantly pop up in both Sci-Fi and religion. So it helps me to see organized religion as fantasy entertainment with a few life lessons, rather than to get frustated with it for its contradictions, intolerance and old world views. To me, the problem isn’t the distraction, it’s when the distraction becomes the solution.
I remember waking up early on school days so I wouldn’t miss my favorite anime, Force Five; right before it, however, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker's PTL ministries would air. This was just before the Bakers were busted for misappropriation of funds from their parish. Now, to the casual observer these two programs couldn't be more different.
However, to my 8-year-old mind they were almost one and the same. For example:
From 7am – 8am, I would watch Jim Baker use the power of the Holy Ghost to heal desperate old people with the gout. Then from 8am – 8:30am I would be a witness to Grandizer destroying other giant Robots with the power of missiles that shot from his face.
As a kid, I would almost applaud the network for the masterful stroke of genius for airing both shows back to back. To my young eyes there was no clearer definition of simpatico. Growing up, I obviously began to understand the difference between both programs. Now, I can clearly understand that one was science fiction teleivision at its finest, and the other a really cool Japanese cartoon.