During my First year in Theological College we were set the task of writing a short paper on what we thought the biggest event/issue the Church would face in theological thought in the next 50 years. The task excited me as my mind immediately moved to imaginative speculation and began to explore the possibilities of Christian fan fiction. I quickly set to work writing about a first contact event where aliens from another world had landed in a local sports field.
I found myself excitedly exploring the possibilities of such an encounter and posing questions about whether it would be peaceful or hostile, colonial or diplomatic, would they offer us their blessing to live long and prosper? I began to imagine about their form and image and how they may have structured their society, to reflect on the ways they might perceive the universe and the passage of time. Each of these questions came with their own set of challenges to our human centered anthropomorphic understanding of creator and creation.
From a Christian perceptive I began to wonder if the salvation that comes from Christ would be extended to these new beings and if so had there been a messianic figure on their world or has our Christ lived, died and risen for them as well. It then occurred to me that if Jesus had indeed die for all the universe why it was that our little planet on the outer spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy was deemed so important to contain the Divine on behalf of all beings.
With playful exuberance I imagined and wrote about the arrival of such extra terrestrial beings and submitted my short paper with a strong sense of pleasure expecting that it would be met with equal delight and conversation.
Oh how wrong I was!
When the paper was returned the comments advised me that if I was to succeed in theological writing that I would need to take a far more serious approach than the frivolous attempted I had made. The lecture’s disappointment in my piece of playful imaginative speculative fiction was clear and I quickly learned not to stray into such dangerous academic waters again.
For years I have kept my faith and my fiction separate from each other even though in my heart of hearts I knew there was a link. There were times when authors such as Anne Rice in her Christ the Lord novels seemed to be enticing me to believe that it might be possible that theological speculative fiction might be a reasonable narrative however my rational theological education kept me on the straight and narrow no matter how much Buffy the Vampire Slayer seemed to be about calling and ordination and Ben Sisko was the Emissary of the Prophets.
All this changed a few years ago where a series of difficult and traumatic events led me to study beyond the Church where I was encouraged to explore integrating my identity narratives and allow my playful self and my spiritual self to inhabit the same creative space and NeveroddoreveN was born. You can find this story in a previous blog here.
So now I am fully entering into a new world that still today some might class as frivolous or even heretical. Where I can merge the narratives of existentialism, dystopia, spirituality and faith into playful opportunities to explore the universe.
My faith now allows me to fill in the gaps with religious fan fiction and explore personalized non-canon approaches to scripture. I can now retcon the parables of Jesus and role-play in the gaps left for me to explore by a living God and their living word. I have since that time been podcasting, blogging and youtubeing crossovers between faith and fiction to my hearts content.
Recently I have been reading Theology and Science Fiction by James McGrath and I am looking forward with excitement to having him as a guest on Deep Faith Nine this week and attending this online lecture on Christianity and Science Fiction.