Storms and The Geek Life
May 3, 2010
I know that some of you reading this blog may find George Carlin’s bit on “stuff” to be quite off color and possibly offensive. I’m not going to defend his language but I must say that there are some great truths to be found in his stand-up routine. You can find it here:
So, what does this have to do with Christianity and the Geek life? Well, as some of you may already know we’ve experienced a bit of a displacement as of late. The parsonage in which we live was invaded by an evil Treant/Ent (read some Tolkien, okay?) on Saturday, April 24, 2010. It crashed through the roof of the parsonage and in doing so broke itself in half. Its suicide attack did not do the damage it may have hoped to do as it only took out part of the attic without fully crashing through the roof. However, its efforts were not totally fruitless in that its “attack” did cause a great deal of water to come flooding through the kitchen and washroom ceilings.
Well, again, you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with The Geek Life, preacher man? Besides your geeky Lord of the Rings references we don’t see much geek “stuff” going on here so what’s the problem?
The problem, my friends, is that my extensive gaming/geek collection was in the attic. I have been collecting many of these items (figurines, books, etc) for a long time now and a great deal of them are out of print. Over the past few years, a number of the people that originally wrote many of these products have passed on so some of this “stuff” is virtually irreplaceable. Many of these items mean a great deal to me both as a geek and a minister. Why? Because quite a few of these authors are/were people of faith and those that have passed on have had an impact on both my geek life as well as my life in ministry. (Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and Bob Bledsaw…you will be missed.)
Again, I was very fortunate. The Ent (Tree) that attacked the attic missed my collection by mere inches. Even with all the extensive rain and wind only one or two items were really damaged so I must say I was very fortunate. I was even happier when a company showed up to help me move these items out of the attic. Friends also arrived from Jackson, TN later that night to also help make sure my collection was okay.
Now, you may be wondering about the family during this whole time. Was I worried about them? You bet! I made sure they were safe and that our bedrooms and other areas of the house were secure before giving any more thought to this collection so put your hearts at ease on that point. My son and daughter were quickly picked up by my mother-in-law and were in the safest of care. My wife and I also checked on quite a number of other things before worrying about the collection.
However, over the past week I’ve had a great deal of time as a geek and a preacher to think about all this stuff. What meaning does it have? Am I too focused on my stuff? During this same time, I remembered the fear in my daughters eyes as she realized the possible of losing quite a number of her stuffed toys. She really loves WebKinz and she’d worked hard to build up her own collection of toys. (She works around the house for an allowance and does a great job. She is becoming a very responsible young lady. Yes, I’m her dad and allowed to brag. She’s a much better child than I was at her age.)
So, here are my thoughts on stuff. As a geek, I’ve got ties to quite a few things. Just like a hunter has his trophies scattered across his home, geeks have quite a few books, games and electronics scattered throughout the house as well. Since I’ve had some time to meditate on these things over the past week while living in a motel and moving from room to room (Yes, motel rooms even flood!), I realized that stuff often can be a huge hindrance. We supposedly need tons of clothing to get by but I’ve found that two or three outfits can be cleaned fairly easily and reword throughout the week. When you don’t have room for a lot of things, it’s very easy to narrow your “stuff” down pretty quick.
As geeks, I have found we have come to rely on our tools and toys much more than we rely on our brains. I have noticed over the years that geeks who did great math in their heads as a child now like to pull out the latest gadget and use it instead of that great brain that made us so “cool” in school. The other thing that I’ve become aware of is that our stuff often helps us lose focus on our spiritual life as well as the geek life. We become so enamored of things that we often don’t think about other people. Spiritually, the pursuit of things (whether it be toys, gadgets, wealth or power) often blinds us to the needs around us. On the geek side of things, all those nice geeky toys end up getting in the way when we try and have fun. Who among us has sat down at a gaming table to watch someone pull out twenty or so gadgets and books and realized that no gaming is going to occur until all the flashy toys and books have been examined?
I’m reminded of this very good tale:
Mark 10:23-31: And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter(AH) the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you,there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
I know this is a long blog and I hope many of you are still with me. I’m not going to go into all the ramifications of what Jesus is saying in this passage but I’ll let it suffice to say that “stuff” isn’t all that we’ve made it out to be. Following Jesus and spreading the good news is more important than any single thing any of us own. Now, what is this good news? Is it telling people about Jesus? Yes. Is it sharing forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus? Yes. But this good news is also about serving others. Helping one’s fellows….even those unlovely ones. Giving to the hurting, helpless and hopeless is a major part of the Gospel and so many times things get in the way.
It’s not impossible for those of us attached to “things” to follow Jesus but it sure is hard! Are we willing to take the hard path? Are we willing to count those things as nothing? Can we set the things aside and put our brains and hearts back into action? It doesn’t sound very geeky but, hey, isn’t going on an adventure one of the things that geeks love the most? Just follow Jesus and you’re going to find yourself on the adventure of a lifetime (or maybe an eternal adventure, eh?)
Remember the words of Johnny Cash:
I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.
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