As Christmas approaches, many geeks, religious or not, may find themselves at church wishing that instead they were at the theater enjoying a matinee showing of The Adventures of Tintin or home downloading a pirated version of the Doctor Who Christmas special. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Throughout the world, religious leaders have been coming out of the geek closet and findings ways to integrate sci-fi into their sermons. If your pastor's speeches are a bit on the dull side, why not forward them this list of sermons inspired by sci-fi movies?
A long time ago, in a church far, far away ... OK, actually it was just 2008 and somewhere in the Deep South. This low-resolution YouTube treasure shows a small congregation witnessing a fierce sermon about Hebrews 4:12 that features a battle with a Sith lord.
The passage states: "the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edge sword."
What's quicker, sharper and more powerful than a two-edge sword? A lightsaber. Ergo, the Bible is a lightsaber.
When the devil's shooting bullets of sin at you, you gotta dodge it Matrix-style, says Pamela Frazier of the City of Life Christians Church in St. Louis, Mo.
As as a Christian and a Trekkie, Trudy Morgan-Cole found herself caught in a conflict between her faith in the Second Coming and her love of Gene Roddenberry's "atheist dream" of a future where reason and technology result in peace on earth. So in October 2010, Trudy delivered a sermon on the matter, using her Starfleet uniform (starting at the 1:25 mark).
In an email, Morgan-Cole told me: "An interesting bit of trivia is that before that sermon, I was asked to preach fairly often at my church, but since then I've never been asked again. I don't know if someone took offense to the sight of the Trek uniform in the pulpit or what. Guess I'll have to move to another church to preach my Doctor Who sermon ... "
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Talk about a disagreement over canon: Rev. Chuck Currie of the First Congregational United Church of Christ told his flock in May 2011 that he believes that all people are Unitarians in Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future. In the "The Gospel of Star Trek," Curry says that Christians can look to Spock in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country for guidance: "Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."
In 2008, Christ's Church Camden in Georgia launched a sermon series called "God's X-Files," looking at supernatural phenomena of the Old Testament, including the parting of the Red Sea, Baalam's talking donkey and the fish that ate Jonah.
Wait a second ... talking donkey?
Some biblical scholars memorize the Bible. Chris Bern memorizes full tracts of dialogue from Firefly.
Perhaps it's testament to Joss Whedon's storytelling prowess that even as an avowed atheist he was able to capture the complexity of religious devotion through the character Shepherd Book. At least that's what Chris Bern, a self-identifying Browncoat and member of Fans for Christ, thinks.
In this 17-minute reissuance of a sermon delivered at DragonCon in 2009—"Lessons From The Good Book" (get it?)—Chris goes almost episode by episode, investigating what Whedon's clues might reveal about the series' most mysterious character's salvation. He even does the voices, reciting full scenes verbatim, to argue that the central message of Christianity can be summed up as: "You don't fix faith, River. It fixes you."
V for Vendetta
In a highly political sermon sympathizing with the Occupy Wall Street movement, Dr. Roger Ray, pastor at Community Christian Church in Springfield, Mo., delivered a detailed oral history of the Gunpowder Plot, Alan Moore's V for Vendetta comic and the Wachowski brothers' adaptation (including a long clip of V's speech) to bring home the point that Jesus would've stood up for social justice. And somehow, he ends up on the subject of Rage Against the Machine.
In terms of science fiction in sermons, The Twilight Zone is a popular motif, in part because the show is packed with moral quandaries, but also because, as one pastor puts it, "being a Christian is often like living in another dimension." In the video above, Pastor Charlie Boyd of Southside Fellowship in Greenville, S.C., tells the story of Jacob and Esau as if it was an episode of Rod Serling's classic series.
Contact (and more)
Paul Boag, an innovative web-design expert and podcaster in Lockerley, England, was assigned by his church to deliver a "family service," something that all members of the congregation fear, since it means crafting a sermon that appeals to adult sensibilities without boring the children. So Boag turned to film with his "Science Fiction Parable," working in clips and images from Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, E.T., The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Men in Black, Wall-E and X-Files, concluding with Jodi Foster's moving speech on science and faith at the end of Contact.
"Church of the Latter Day Geeks"
Wearing your "Sunday best," means something completely different to fanboys and girls who attend services, especially at Romsey Uniting Church in Australia. Church leader Dr. Avril Hannah-Jones already pushed the envelope of Christian acceptance with her campaign to allow gay ministers to practice. Earlier this year, she riled up the fire-and-brimstone crowds again by allowing geeks (in costume, no less) into the church for a sermon that drew from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter (read it here).
And yes, Daleks were welcome:
Some states have laws banning texting while driving, but as far as we know, it's completely legal to proselytize while operating a motorized vehicle. Pastor Greg Arthur of the Duneland Community Church in Chesterton, Ind., recorded this first segment of this sermon inspired by the Christopher Nolan film Inception while driving. The question he asks himself and his flock: Has God implanted his kingdom in your mind?
You can watch part 2 here, which is set in Pastor Arthur's kitchen.
BONUS: The Sermonator
Paster David Choi is ... the Sermonator. He turns Twilight books into Bibles and sings praise to a techno remix of Orff's O Fortuna.