Jesus, Brian Jacques and Tom Hardy walk into a bar…

Mad Max
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWNWi-ZWL3c
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Simon Pegg, a famous science fiction and genre actor/writer/etc. and prominent nerd, recently caught some flack for some comments he made to the Radio Times regarding science fiction, specifically as a self-infantilization of the adult population, which you can google yourself if you’d like, or find better summarized and clarified here (NSFW language, fyi), on his personal blog. When I heard about the initial comments (before reading his clarification, which then made sense), I was in the midst of deep thoughts regarding a friend’s aversion to science fiction, and as someone who in addition to being a Simon Pegg fan has to fight the “No, science fiction is important” battle on a frequent basis, I must say I was grieved. That’s not to say that all science fiction is amazing, but coming directly on the heels of seeing Mad Max: Fury Road, I was especially disappointed, since the film stands as a perfect example of the reason science fiction exists. Thematically and cinematically beautiful, when the credits started to roll, I found myself spiritually satisfied. Now I don’t mean that to say that Mad Max fills the place of God, but there is a sense that God is in things that are done with excellence, and well, even if none of the people involved in that film are Christians, deep does call to deep, and when people tell stories that point to and search and talk about the true things in life, there is satisfaction in that.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

There have been times in my life where I think I’ve felt guilty for liking the things that I like. Science fiction, action movies, videos games, etc. If I was a better Christian, I’ll think, I wouldn’t like these so much. I’d be more sensitive to the violence, wouldn’t like dark heroes (even though, technically speaking, all Christians are dark heroes). But I do read dark Batman comics, and I do like big chase scenes and car flips.

And here’s something God’s just taught me.

Some people are meant for action, and seeing the fantastic is not a bad thing.

See, the problem is that the people that I (and probably others) sometimes see as the “best Christians” are often the ones with the strictest standards. They don’t watch violent movies, they don’t read comics, and they typically don’t like genre fiction, or at least not most of it. I compare myself to these people and the standards that they/God have set for themselves, and then feel bad when I don’t sync up. But this is not how we are meant to live, and on pretty much all levels, it’s really unhealthy. Romans 14 discusses just such a problem in fact, and in light of that passage I would almost think that I’m lucky to have the freedom to be a carnivore, as it were.

The other day I was reading Rakkety Tam, a Redwall novel by Brian Jacques. The creatures of Redwall Abbey were talking about the hares of the Long Patrol, an army from the mountain fortress of Salamandastron, and how while they themselves were peaceful creatures, the hares were creatures of war. They couldn’t fathom taking up arms themselves, but were so thankful for the Long Patrol, who are born fighters with war in their blood.

I’ve read about the eye needing the foot many a time (1 Corinthians 12), but I think this was the first time that I really felt it on a heart level, partly because it’s one of the first times I think I’ve ever seen an eye being verbally thankful for the presence of a foot (not that people aren’t thankful for me or don’t express it or that I know what qualifies a foot from an eye, but just the way it was phrased from a story vs. teaching perspective caught my attention).

And watching Mad Max, wishing that others could see it in the way that I see it, the beauty amidst the carnage, I realized liking science fiction and fantasy to the depth that I do is not a bad thing, but a gift. Seeing beauty where others see only action, Spirit instead of frivolity, these are wonderful qualities, a gift for seeing light and redemption where others see only darkness. And while that’s not to say all science fiction/fantasy/superhero/genre fiction is done well, I would also say that it might be the only place where some people see God at all, and especially on such a vast scope. After all, where else do we see epic battles of good vs. evil, communities forced to stand lest the entire world fall? This is in fact the Christian reality, the spiritual battle we wage every day, and as another friend of mine recently said on the topic, genre fiction is one of the few places our culture even admits to the potential for this other world to exist, the presence of a spiritual reality.

While I’ve rarely felt bad socially for being a nerd, I have felt bad spiritually. Thank God that He has shown me the beauty of being a trench fighter, a foot, a Long Patrol hare. I do see the world in shades of wonder, see potential for the fantastic across the mundane. Such is the fount from which I draw inspiration, the world from which my books come. And while I don’t fault others for not being the same (what hypocrisy that would be), am not even bothered that not everyone (not anyone perhaps) who reads this will give science fiction a chance (and perhaps shouldn’t, if that’s where they need to be), I won’t be ashamed of what God’s put in me, the gifts that I’ve been blessed with.

I am his beautiful daughter, a warrior princess, and yes, I am a nerd.

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Taking a chance on love

Hey all,

Just thought I’d give you all an update on things so you didn’t think I was still lost in that perilous whirlpool of angst I seemed to have fallen into last time I posted.

So, basically, I’ve taken some steps to follow through on what I said I would last post, which is basically to try to be more connected to my community, less hard on myself, more trusting that people do in fact like me and to play more.

Thus far, I have met with success. Not only was it super healthy to address the fact I was having struggles (and thank you so much to those of you who read/listened/talked/connected with me about it), but I have also taken a few risks and been more myself or more goofy or more trusting in my relationships and it has been and felt great. I danced like a crazy fool at a wedding without needing a three hour lead in time and/or being insanely self-conscious about it, sent out an email to all my friends inviting them to come have adventures with me this summer, extended a few other well met invitations and in general have just tried to be more present. Perhaps not surprisingly, people have been super responsive to it. People have seemed more playful with me, have wanted to come on adventures and in general responded with the love I always should have trusted they would. I’m so grateful to have people who care about me as much as they do and who have not thought the bad things about me that I am sometimes all too willing to believe about myself. I’ve liked taking the risks, feel like I’m getting over some of my unreasonable fears, and have been so pleased to find that so many of the things I thought were big scary deals are actually not big or scary at all. I have also made personal progress with not viewing myself in such a bad light, choosing to believe more about what God thinks of me (or even the fact that he thinks well of me at all), falling in love with Him again and getting my life back in balance. I’ve been learning about faith in the sense of choosing to believe things even when I don’t necessarily feel them in the gutteral, gut way I like to, and though it’s sometimes been really hard, it’s also been incredibly rewarding.

Also, as a couple of side notes as long as I’m doing general updates, I found out that the local theatre group I had submitted my play to passed on it for this season, but also found out a poem I wrote in 2008 was featured in the school district calendar for my home town. I have also been doing massive changes to Machine, and am absolutely loving it.

So thank you to all those who help me, who were there for me and connected with me, and of course, to you, gentle reader.

Thanks, love, and blessings,

-Abby

A public confession and new goals

In my defense, I had a second blog post typed up in April, but didn’t feel that the emotions/ruminations that fueled its creation had settled enough to feel certain that what it said was actually what I wanted/needed to say. That post is now gone, replaced by what follows. So, story time:

Recently I’ve had to make some pretty important decisions regarding dance, not least significantly whether or not I was going to try to teach at my studio. Ultimately that answer was no, but through that decision, the difficult questions and conversations I had regarding it (thank God for the family and friends I have who put up with my stubbornness, angst, and often over-ambitious foolishness, and who guide me daily with their wisdom), and the grief-stricken period of despair that followed (yet another of my plans to fix the planet all on my own cast aside, alas), I have come to recognize many facts about how I have been approaching my life and, as many of those facts are unhealthy, things I want to do to change them. In the spirit of public confession, communal vulnerability, encouragement and accountability, I’d like to share them here.

First, I have once again been approaching my life through the lens of usefulness. As far as artists go, I tend to find myself fairly utilitarian. I typically don’t buy things I don’t need, I don’t take as much time as I should to stop and smell the roses; if something isn’t actively doing something to better the planet in a quantifiable (in my eyes) way, I question its worth.

And sometimes that’s the way I think about myself.

If I’m not helping, brightening, guiding, cheering, improving or what all else, I don’t feel useful. And if I don’t feel useful or that usefulness backfires or falls through, well, geez, what’s the point?

Unhealthy mentality number one, it would seem.

God loves me because He made me. I exist because He breaths the breath of life into my lungs. My value lies in the fact of His creation and love. Whether or not I’m being particularly useful at any given point rests entirely outside of that equation. Not only that, but when I am so hard on myself, putting weights on my shoulders that aren’t mine to carry, comparing my progress to those of others or questioning my value, I am actively tearing down what God wants to build up.

God wants me to be joyful in who and what I am. He wants to raise me up to be the beautiful, brave, warrior princess I am. Attacking myself and making myself feel bad or worthless is in direct opposition to that goal.

Related Goals: Grant myself the same grace I give to others. Stop comparing myself to others. Untangle usefulness from value and identity so I can focus more on doing things with God than for God.

Second, I am starving for community.

Because of my tendency to think people don’t like me, are mad at me, tolerate rather than enjoy me, etc., etc., it can be really, really difficult for me to let people love me. It’s not that they don’t, I just never open my doors enough to let them in close enough to really be able to show me. Couple that with a seeming lack of usefulness in the area in which almost all of my friends excel, the fact that I either don’t or aren’t allowed to spend fellowship time with the people at the places I spend most of my time, have chosen a field of work that is primarily conducted independently, rarely have the time, energy or schedule to spend time with my family and friends once all the other things I feel I have to do are finished,  and the fact that I’ve either by my own lack of diligence and/or choice strayed farther and farther out of connectivity with my friends over the past couple of years, and you can see why I feel so isolated. I often feel selfish or guilty for taking more than I give into my community. I rarely let people draw me in close enough not to feel like the outsider. I don’t feel I’m as “good” or “far” as they are in life and pull back when I feel unworthy. I don’t want to hurt or disappoint them, and know if I get close that I will.

Unhealthy mentality two through about forty-five, I think.

People do love me for who I am. They do like spending time with me. I am a part of my community and one that adds value whether or not I see or recognize it.

Goals: Be more connected. Let people in. Be more willing to play. Give to the community but don’t feel guilty when I have needs. Be more interested and involved in their wants, needs, plans and goals and do what I can to help them. Don’t pack my schedule so full that I don’t have the time I need for myself and others. Be less self-involved. Be vulnerable enough to be loved, even if it means making mistakes.