• Checkpoint Church

Nerds of Pray: Weird Church & Accessibility with Heather Moore of Accidental Tomatoes (1.6)




Find Full Transcript Here: https://www.checkpointchurch.com/post/nerds-of-pray-heather

Nerds of Pray is the podcast where Nerd Pastor Nathan Webb of Checkpoint Church sits down with some of the leading people in the realm of Nerd/Pop Culture Ministry. He asks them questions about their specific venture into the ministry, as well as what first led them to the intersection of faith and fandom.

In this episode, Nathan sits down with Heather Moore, Deacon in the United Methodist Church and Weird Church enthusiast.

Support Heather Moore:

Website: https://accidentaltomatoes.com/

Twitter: @mooremusic216

Instagram: @mooremusic216

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mooremusic216

Discord: mooremusic621 #3803

UMAMD: https://www.umdisabledministers.org/

Nerds of Pray is made possible by the support of Checkpoint Church, the church for nerds, geeks, and gamers online. This episode was hosted, produced, recorded, edited, and mastered by Nathan Webb. It was captured via Cleanfeed and edited in DaVinci Resolve.

Intro/Outro Music is Royalty Free: "The Little Broth" by Rolemusic

Key Art/Logo was created by: Nathan Webb

Character Art/Avatar by: mondayvibes

To support Checkpoint Church and the ministry they produce, please like this video and subscribe to our channel or these other sources:

Podcast: https://anchor.fm/checkpoint-church

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/CheckpointChurch

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Website: http://www.checkpointchurch.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/checkpointchurchnc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CheckpointNerd

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Merch: https://checkpoint-church.creator-spring.com/

Our next episode will be dropping next month and will feature Drew Dixon of Love Thy Nerd and Know Thy Gamer. Look forward to that and thanks again so much for giving us a listen!

If you have any recommendations or would like to be considered as a future guest on the podcast, submit your name and biography to checkpointchurch@gmail.com.

The Checkpoint Church Podcast Hub is the hub for all of our podcasts, sermons, and special projects. To learn more, go to checkpointchurch.com or send any questions you have to checkpointchurch@gmail.com.



RAW UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT (MAY CONTAIN ERRORS):


Heather, welcome to the podcast. So glad to have you on and we just want to know a little bit about you and about your experience with the intersection between faith and fandom, between these things that make us nerds. Just to start us out with a primer, who are you, and then where are you physically, and then where are you on social media? What platforms do you use the most in that kind of way?


Thanks for having me. It's great to be here with you. I am Heather Moore. I am a, an ordained United Methodist Deacon in full connection in West Virginia. I am primarily in Morgantown, West Virginia, and I do several different things right now. I'm serving as a pastor of two small churches and I am transitioning into becoming a hospital chaplain through some continuing education stuff.


I'm doing the Deacon thing all over the place for United Methodist. We are part of the ordained clergy, so that's where I am physically. Where am I on the interwebs? I am on Facebook, for better or worse. I'm on Instagram as mooremusic216 as also on Twitter there I'm on Twitch as Armimius WVU because Wesleyan tradition and theology nerd. That's a good place to find me. My gamer tags on most of the platforms are Arminiast for WVU. So you can find me there, Discord, Twitter, et cetera.


We'll get back to that again at the end and kind of remind people where they can find you, but it sounds like you're in a lot of places, definitely in those gamer spaces, which is where I have a feeling a lot of our listener audience is probably finding themselves as well. My next question is what flavor of nerd are you? More often than not, I've found that everybody is a mixing pot a kind of melting pot, would you consider yourself more, a geek, more a nerd? Are you a gamer? Are you a Trekkie? Are you a Whovian you know what's your interests? I consider myself a weeb I love anime and manga the most. What flavor would you define yourself as?


I read this question and was very concerned about my answer because I don't know. So I even asked my husband, I was like, what kind of what kind of, nerd culture part would you consider me to be? And he was like I don't think you have found your final form yet. I started out in the world as Pokemon science nerd and I have consistently stayed a Pokemon nerd. I am still playing that actually. That's what I've been playing recently. Pokemon snap was just released. It's super cute by the way. So I'm definitely a millennial. But I would definitely qualify myself as a Whovian as a RPG nerd over the last handful of years. My husband has been playing since he was a child, basically. And with his six friends, he thought that was the only place you could play D and D. I have very quickly since we have gotten together, been a TT RPG kind of nerds. So board games, TT RPG basically Nintendo culture. I'm so down for that as much as they, take my money. That's fine. Yeah. Whovian I love Dr. Who what else? Oh, there are so many things musicals. I know that's, wasn't technically on your


Oh, definitely. Definitely a category of nerd. Absolutely.


Yeah. So there's a whole lot, I feel like an onion and there's constantly layers that people get to see. So yeah.


So you already touched on it a little bit about where your nerd journey began out of curiosity. What Pokemon was your first, what was your first game?


Oh man. It was Pokemon red.


I was a blue kid. I played blue and I had no friends. I didn't have the comm link. I never traded with anybody. So I always had just those blue Pokemon. So I didn't know what a Vulpix was hardly until I finally came around. I was always Growlithe for life.


We, because my brother is like a year older than me. My parents knew that they couldn't get one of us a Pokemon game and not the other one. So he had the other one and we could trade back and forth. As much as brother and sister are willing to play games together. So


Yeah, that's awesome. I always had a dream. My, my siblings were so much older than me that we didn't play games like that together. We played Goldeneye and N64 and stuff like that, but they weren't like willing to play the games that were like kid games or whatever back then. But now that, that, that label doesn't even exist hardly anymore. We're just all playing all the games like Pokemon snap was a big one for N64, for sure.


Yes,


Other than that. How did you first come to your discovery, that you were a nerd. Where did your nerd awakening? When did your third nerd? I fully awake as a child.


That's a really great question. I guess I grew up with my brother. We always just assume that playing Sega and N64 and all of those kinds of systems were pretty normal. And so it never really hit me. Even my cousins were playing things like original Nintendo and PlayStation, the original, which is, hard to believe.


And so it never really liked dawned upon me that was not a typical kid experience until basically I think I hit middle school and began choir culture. And I very quickly realized that that was not a normal expression. And I think for a while I probably ran from that. I'm not happy about that, but I think I did.


And I became like an internet nerd, if that will like, an AOL aim kind of kid who was constantly on there, I would hang out on Omegle in very unsupervised kinds of ways because that latch key life. And so I spent a lot of time. On the internet side of things, not realizing that was like also its own kind of deal.


So it probably took me until college to realize, to like fully embrace that and to be okay with who I was as a nerd. And I would give a shout out to my one of my best friends. Who's my first college roommate who like, is very much a literature nerd and an anime nerd. And we connected in such a way that I was like, you know what?


I don't have a problem with this. This is actually who I am. And I can embrace that side of myself. And so it's been the flood gates from then. Even though it's been like 12 years now, I still feel like I'm rediscovering my inner nerd self. So yeah, that was a really long answer to question.


No, I totally get what you're saying. I think there is this weird, like division that we take in like around those years of middle school where you have to choose you either. You either choose, yes, I am this or no, I'm not. And my, my running theory is that kind of, like you said, you found an internet nerd culture.


I think we all nerd out over something and we just have to choose where that nerd culture is going to lead us. But I think that's super interesting that you came around and rediscovered a part of yourself that you grew up with. I think that's very neat. So moving forward with life and with all of these discoveries and the third eye awakening, like we said, when would you say you first found the intersection between these two things. So when did faith and these gaming nerd culture fandom things, when did they intersect or have they intersected for you? What, when did you say those overlapped and you realized it


the real answer is, I don't know. It's a, both and I'm going to give you lots of those answers today.


Good,


I started out in college, when I had that awakening I was also in the middle of changing majors because that's what you do in college. So I was changing over to studying religious studies, which, that worked out cause I'm now clergy.


And I was also reading for the first time Harry Potter, because, my parents didn't let me read that as a kid that, evangelical life. And so I was really looking at all of the ways in which the things I had been playing could, and also had connections to what I was studying in school.


And. Even as mundane as it is like the creatures and the world building that happens in games just blew my mind in thinking about some of my childhood understandings of the way God worked and like a, I don't want to say doll maker because that's pretty basic, but as a child, I had this idea of God building a world in a sense and having dolls in the houses and such.


And advancing that to a college age kind of culture. It was like, oh, this is really fascinating. All of these characters have their own life system, their own belief systems, and they have different ways of expressing themselves. And how does that connect to my own journey and what I'm doing in the world.


So it was for a while they existed. Side by side. And I think now I'm able to bridge that divide more because that conversation has opened up and I feel much more comfortable in my nerd identity that I'm able to bridge those gaps conversationally. And I think I also have less pressure on myself and on others.


And that sort of allows the conversation to flourish in ways that maybe it couldn't previously.


Yeah. I think it's really interesting that there's typically you find two approaches to kind of spirituality and games. You either find like games that are literally called, like God-like simulators. Like you were talking about where you perceive this presence of God or a creator of some sort within the And then there's the other end of things. But you said you like RPGs, you're more in the tabletop, but if you play any J RPG, you're going to discover that the bad guy in the game is always religion. And so right there, there's those two places where nerds typically experience religious culture. Either they learn that it's the bad guy or they get to embody it and discover what it's like to either give into the temptation of evil and take the ladder away from your SIM and the swimming pool.


Like whatever it might be there, those are the two places. And then we're revealing a third place and checkpoint trying to anyway, and trying to find how the morals and ethics of games might help us live better lives. And so I find that really interesting that your first real approach was more with the godlike.


More with that experience of creation and creating. Can you think of any games in particular that may have really brought that up in you? Was it just Pokemon? Was it just the reality of these massive creatures and these worlds? Or was it more of a SIM.


Both, I think. When I was hiding away from my nerd culture, I played the Sims because that seemed like a super approachable kind of thing. And that definitely brought up the like doll maker, variety of God that I had envisioned. But I was thinking later, like playing through Fable and watching the world of Bioshock even there's this straying away from an ethical society and things have just gone down the sewer.


And so thinking about those worlds and the way in which creation happened, the sort of unfolding story and Fable like really caught my interest for the way in which that paralleled my own experience in the world. Exploring some of the gods and the different stories and conversations probably made that a little bit more of a world religions kind of conversation, which is really interesting as well.


Because there's so many different interpretations. And even right now, we're, I'm in a campaign in ice Windale and it's a new campaign setting and there are so many different God conversations in the world of Farron. Fair run. If you're picky on pronunciation the gods are everywhere and yet magic is also a huge part of the world.


So it's yeah, those were the progressions of my understanding of that. There's so much more like my brain is in 12 spaces right now, trying to think about it.


I totally get it. So let's talk more about that. I find that really interesting. You think about digital gaming or video games in particular, we're locked to an algorithm. We're locked to a designed by a game developer, but when you go to D and D, when you go to tabletop, when you go to those kinds of things, it's more of a world, of exploration and creativity and improvisation.


So how does that explorative work of world religion, religious culture, spirituality. How does that work?


Around a table where you're all coming up with it on the spot, or maybe your DM has done some deep dives into a, a rule book written by some other nerd somewhere else. Who's thought about this too much.


How does that exploration work for you? How do you think that, is there room to explore or does it just happen through the actions of the world?


Yeah, there's definitely room to explore. I find it super fascinating to explore the world of the gods and the many conversations that can happen there in game characters. The way that people, average your normal character or in PC, want to have a conversation about gods. I have never played a cleric and that, I don't know if that's, personality wise because I do that, like in my real life, I don't want to say real life, but if I do that for my work in ministry, but I have definitely played lots of sorcerers and they're still that conversation about sources of magic.


And it's really interesting to explore that I have always played alongside either clerics or somebody who is. I won't say mage of some variety, but some kind of temple worshiper. And so all of our stories are open-ended and the way in which the, I won't say nemesis cause the gods aren't always the nemesis, but there are definitely some sways and you can see that in critical role, if that's your deal the way the conversation of the gods.


And I love that. I think it's really interesting to bridge that and to think about the parallels of world religions and what different traditions say about our existence say about creation as a whole and our part in it. Yeah I'm definitely all game for that.


yeah, I think it's an interesting world to play around and it is something we don't really get too. And something that we don't get to witness a whole bunch in the new Testament, if we focus too much on new Testament stuff, but in the old Testament, there were all kinds of conversations, right? Job is one big conversation, right?


Between God and this guy who's hard pressed. These tabletop games, they do provide a really interesting opportunity for.


conversations, not with, a Christian God, necessarily not with a Yahweh, but they are conversations between a deity of some sort and humanity, or, whatever race you might define yourself as in the game that is a curious place of exploration and I almost feel bad. Have you ever DMD a game in particular where you might've been able to play a God? Is that heretical. Should we take this out of the podcast and make sure our bishops can't hear it?


huh? No, I have not. And I think that would be really interesting at least for in play, like in game play and I don't think it would be heretical as long as you're exploring those things. I don't think it's a problem. But I think there's probably some conversation to be had. I will say, go check out rhyme of the frost maiden, because the overarching theme of God's involvement and the consequences there upon, the environment is heavy. And I think it would be really interesting to play some of those gods, not in a way of aha, I'm going to sick my life upon you people. But just to get in the mind frame of some of the concerns and roles and obligations and responsibilities that might be upon a deity of sorts. So no, I don't think it's heretical, but then again, I'm like I'm game to deconstruct and reconstruct however much we need to


Yeah. I think that's exactly what it is. It's a playful deconstruction. It's an opportunity to get in there and get your hands dirty and to explore. Going back to the Sims, like there are peoplethat will take the ladder away from the swimming pool and that's the, cruel tormentor God but then if you're playing the game, as I am, in my opinion, it's meant to be played. Then you're genuinely trying your best to achieve what you want to achieve and what a curious thing to play within the constraints of someone else's system. But to still be this godlike figure, genuinely trying to do your best and suffering the consequences of all these other decisions that you've made along the way. I'd never really considered the Sims as being an almost opportunity to step in the shoes of God and fail. That's what a dramatic word to use a, with a godlike game that you could lose the game, right?


Yeah. When the Reaper shows up and you've accidentally not fed your human in a while, the, consequences, man.


I find that really fascinating. So one thing that I like to always ask is I feel like the answer is always yes, but I'm always here. If you want say no, but I have a feeling I know your answer. Do you believe that God can use these fandoms, these cultures for good. And then if so, how have you seen this? If not, why not? Because I'm curious. So let's see here. What do you think? Can God use fandom?


Yes. God definitely can work through games, game culture, and nerd culture. However you wanna define that for sure. I think that the way that I see it and that wasn't necessarily part of your question, but the way I notice it is through the community, right? The the connected people and it's. Connected in the way that church typically defines, but I find the connections and the common concern for one another, especially when, like the first generation of Christians did not feel like anybody else had their back. For a large part of nerd culture, nobody had their back. And so there was this huge push to care for one another and to to live life together in whatever way felt most authentic. And that's some good church stuff, man, like that got, that gave me goosebumps to think about like the beloved community.


That's our ultimate goal here at Checkpoint. And what we're, what we were doing was trying to forge this community, trying to forge this thing and to tap into this already gathering body and try to bring in just some focus and some community and togetherness and to try and unite people in that place. But where we first found that was with Comicons and with this convention culture where people are willing to be from across the world and to come together for a single unified event. We've got, coming up here in the next couple of weeks. Whenever this comes out, it may have already happened, but we have coming up and that's like a massive event where all these people come together to talk about games and electronics and all this wonderful stuff. And I find that really intriguing. And how could God not right? How could God not work in that whenever so many people are gathered and trying to learn and to have this passion towards something.


I am thinking about how, if you have a very limited view of God and the way that God works, then maybe that connection is not innate there. It's not already present, but if you think of as we come upon the liturgical seasons in the church, we're coming upon Pentecost Sunday and the spirit is sent out and imbued in every person. And so God is already in those communities. Whether or not we choose to embrace that and talk about it is a secondary conversation, but God is already in those spaces. And if we want to bring up that conversation right then that's part of our work here on earth. Yeah, I think it's really important to think about God is already being amongst the nerds. Checkpoint church is like a natural progression of that.


Yeah, I agree. Obviously and I think that's something really intriguing to think about how do we, I'm an elder in United Methodist church you're a Deacon. We're both called to very similar lives of ordained ministry. And how do we do that? How do we as ministers do that? And even on a smaller sense, people that aren't ordained but are called to this life of not so I'm hesitant use the word evangelism, but that are called to community and that are called to be light Christ called to be Christians. How do we do that? How do we reach out into these communities? How do we find God in these places?


I think it begins with our own our own role as I don't want to say ethical human being cause that doesn't feel as churchy as some people would expect or want. But really it does start as being an ethical person, making moral choices, weighing those choices and deciding that you're going to use your power for the forces of good. And do that and care for one another. And so from that comes a natural progression. It involving oneself in relationship. And from there, one thing leads to another and you have a knit community who is pursuing work that feeds people that gives people clothing when they needed that changes the fabric of society in ways that create a more loving, more, just more more comprehensive world that invites all from the margins. That's it, that's the kind of world and kingdom that I want to be a part of


Yeah. I've always been so humbled by internet cultures, willingness to give. Financially to charity there's all these charities, streamers there's one, one YouTube, or that I follow, that's never even hardly stream. He doesn't have a streaming channel, but he was like, I'm going to do a stream and a charity stream for 12 hours and we're just going to hop on and we give what we give and just raised, like $200,000. And that's such a like hallmark, that's not, what's amazing is that's not rare like that. That's not a surprise that he raised, a fifth of a million dollars for some charities. That's a common occurrence on the internet and a kind of extravagant generosity that just doesn't take place. Other areas of life. Churches will hurt to raise that kind of money. And so I wonder if there's something about working in that space of generosity and finding ways for these communities to give beyond just financial but to give of themselves, to actually go and serve. What does it look like for a Comicon to take, 20 to 30 of those people that are at UCON and say, Hey, let's take an hour off and go work at the soup kitchen down the road that this church has. What does that look like? What are some ways beyond just financial means that these convention cultures can be generous with their time and with their spirit. I wonder if there's a spot for that.


yeah, especially, at con culture, like all of the hospitals, soaps and sh or sorry, not hospital, the hotel, soaps and shampoos that are there and are given to you as part of your stay. You can give those to, to shelters and make sure that you take those with you and donate them for good. And hotels, please don't berate me on that. I'm trying to make sure people have necessities, I'm also I'm not necessarily tied to that. That solely has to be a faith phenomenon, right? Like people doing good in the world is good enough. And there's I need to see those glimpses of people from all different backgrounds doing that together and that God is already at work there, whether or not they're churchy people or they're not. And seeing streamers raise money or show up at cons and say hi to the little kids and take pictures with them in their favorite. Like Mandou March gear. Like I am here for that. Sorry, Amanda Marks. My brain was thinking I would like some Amanda March gear anyway.


When we all.


But thinking about all of that, like going in your cosplay to the children's hospital and playing video games with the kids, like that means so much in the world. And it's really a cool way to give back to something that God has. in us and with us and co-create with us. So I know you probably


the gun on proselytizing and evangelize evangelization. We don't need necessarily to just say you need to be a Christian right now. Like just being a loving presence can sometimes be the best example that, Hey God does love you because I'm doing this and we're doing this. And this is just an amazing example of love. Shared


if I need to tell you that I'm like doing God's work, like I'm not, I don't know. I feel like I've missed a point. Like my the things that I'm doing should already indicate to you, the kind of God that I serve and the kind of person that I want to be in following that. God. Yeah, there is room for conversation, but that's something like way down the road. If we don't ever do that, I don't feel like I've missed out on an opportunity. I've still done the work of God's.


yeah. we just got to, we've got to trust there. That's that whole faith thing that we talk so much about, just hoping that we're hoping that we're being faithful people and trusting, trusting in the presence of God to do what God's going to do. So to try to kind of change gears the reason why I know your name and why we found each other was through accidental tomatoes, the podcast by Joe Webb. And on that podcast, you talked about weird church. And so I want to know more about this weird church. What is weird church? How did you get involved with it? What can you tell us and how does it relate or does it relate to this intersection of faith and fandom? What do you think?


yeah. I definitely have trouble identifying exactly what we are churches, but I feel like some of those cliche things like, when you see it even though I hate that, right? I don't want to say that to everybody. But I found myself. In my adult maturation and growing up with friends who weren't quite part of the, like in crowd I found a lot of willingness to be open and vulnerable with each other and to share some of the really hard stuff that, you go through it's the hardest thing you've ever experienced in to that point. And finding other people to go through some of the quagmire of life with was really like a huge point. I don't want to say pride, but like a huge point of care and concern for me. And growing through the years, I continue to see glimpses of that in the midnight conversations at a land party. When, you're all in the same space, you're drinking monsters. Not that I recommend that for anyone, but if you're going to do it


We all had to


care for your heart, at one point talking about the stuff that like weighs on our minds and our lives, and that was church to me, right? That was the beloved community. As I said earlier, like experiencing humanity together and connecting our souls in a way that like I could tell that God was there in that conversation. And throughout the years I have continued to find that in my nerd culture circles and. So absolutely. I think they are tired and we are church doesn't have to be something specific. I find that in groups at the coffee shop, if I am people watching, like I can see their conversation become very important and meaningful. And I see the connection there. So I think maybe if I had to boil weird church down, it would be in really witnessing to one another, the depths of our souls. And like I said earlier, it doesn't have to be explicitly churchy or churches to use church language. It can be ebb and flow. It can be whatever it can be late night making like tortillas and playing games and sitting on the couch together. If that connection is there and. I hope that people know what I mean. When I say connection, they're like, you can find that on the internet, you can find that in person. But it is a thing. And I hope that everybody has a chance to meet another soul that they're able to connect with in that way.


Yeah, I think it's what we're all seeking out. I think it's the reason why we subscribe to YouTube is the reason they have so many millions of subscribers is because we found something in that chat section, or we found something on their Reddit or we found something in that place. We're all seeking out and pursuing that sense of connection.


yeah. This is a little bit off tangent, but last night I watched nomad land on Hulu and I was really blown away, one by the movie, but two by the premise of the story is people without an established house per se, but like people living in. Like RVs and do in the van life thing. That's like super common amongst millennials right now. And people choosing that life and finding people along the road that they will meet down the road. And that really spoke to me as that's exactly weird church. That's one, one image of weird church and it was really cool to see the main character. I'm not going to give away anything here, but see a main character seek out another person who was by themselves, but had a campfire and like to seek out that connection and share her sandwich with them. And that's that's that good? Like bubbly heart stuff. That's the fields I got the fields


I find that fascinating this seeking out connection and trying to find people that are like us. And I think we all feel a little weird. We all feel a little outside. There's a reason that imposter syndrome is so high up on the ranking for Google search and all that stuff. I'm curious. Yeah, I'm curious. So one thing that I've run into with checkpoint is, in our title, in our tagline, we say the church for nerds, geeks, and gamers. People don't have too much of a problem with the word gamer. But depending on the culture you go to, whenever I say the word nerd and geek people say isn't that degrading? I say, isn't that insulting? Those are insults. I think about freaks and geeks with Seth Rogan and all those guys, that, that term has only recently become a term that's even socially acceptable. And so I wonder, is it the same thing with weird, a weird can certainly have a derogatory, you can call somebody weird and mean something nasty by it. So have you run into that conflict where you have to remind people, Hey, we're all a little weird and this isn't an insult. It's just a qualifier of, Hey, we're all in this thing together, seeking out this of.


yes, for sure. And I actually think that probably my experience with a game geek nerd culture allowed me to tear down the restrictions on weird church because I did feel different and I did feel weird at some point in my life and, for a good portion of my life, I just felt different than I don't want to say that was like Myers, Briggs different, but I just, I didn't quite fit in. And so reclaiming the word weird was a place of Liberty and like liberation for me to be able to. To live into all of the stuff that makes me uniquely me in the image of God. And I'm willing to reclaim geek and gamer and nerd and all of those pejorative terms as like sources of pride. Now I don't have that shame and I'm willing to like low key word nerd shirts out in public. And I'm like willing to have those conversations in public. Even when I know in the church that those aren't like normative conversations because I, even my cousin, who's like several years younger than me. She grew up seeing my uncomfortability in my own skin. And now that I have started to embrace that and to be myself, I can have conversations with her and we can be. At ease with each other. And so that's worth all the world to me to be comfortable in my skin so that somebody else can feel comfortable in their skin. And I'm okay with letting other people have weird expectations around me. And I know that doesn't change my inherent worth, so I'm totally I'm okay with whatever baggage people bring to that term. And I say it's more conversation to work on.


Marker


One of the things that I find interesting about the models of church, if you want to, put that label on it that, we're working on with this nerd church, with weird church, with these things where we're doing this is that it's a unique ministry in the sense that it's super applicable. You can put it in a lot of different contexts. I don't have to be the one implementing the nerd church. I might be specifically set up. I like anime. I like Mon guy, like video games. I play them. So I'm specifically set up in a place where I can do this work, but it's not something limited to me. It's very broad. So w what does it look like for someone who's not connected to either one of us who may just be listening to this podcast on. an offhand, just thought it sounded fun. What is the possibility for them to start this kind of weird church, this kind of nerd church? How does it look like for them in their community and their space that they exist in to get this thing started?


First of all just be bold and start the thing. Maybe it's you a bold step and you being out publicly and visibly on the internet, like that's a first step and that's a hard step. And then from there. Maybe you don't have any followers, but maybe you start to have conversations in person and like people at your local gaming store start to see Hey, you stream on the inter webs. Widely, I don't want to say specifically places, you stream and you're a cool person. Like maybe I'll tune into your channel. Or maybe you'd like to come play in my ex night game, or maybe you'd like to come play Pokemon with me. And so those kinds of things unfold naturally, and it doesn't have to have a timetable on it. Like you're already doing the fun work that you feel called to. And if nobody follows that, I think you're still doing the work. If somebody comes by and comes along, that makes it all worth it. And if they don't, then you're still putting your authentic self out into the world. And that's a really beautiful thing. So just do the thing, be bold and go therefore into the world and yeah.


Yeah. I think keeping an eye open an ear to the ground on a cultural phenomenon is also a thing. I feel like Pokemon go presented a really fascinating opportunity where I have met, I didn't do this personally just because I wasn't in a place in my life where I don't know, it felt the call or the tap or whatever it may be, but I have met more Pokemon go chaplains, self affirmed. Self-proclaimed Pokemon go chaplains than I ever expected to. It was such a cultural phenomenon is such a thing where you had people. I can remember. My YouTube is in California, would all go to the Santa Monica pier and you just saw thousands of people out of the pier catching Pokemon. And it was a mind blowing phenomenon that I don't know if we'll ever get that again, but being aware of those things, being keenly open to those things and utilizing those things, I think is going to be a big step as well, just being attuned to the world around us. And when you see something take talk is a great example. I've seen people that, maybe had churches of 50 people, which is perfectly fine. All of a sudden they've got 50,000 followers on Tik TOK from their messages, right? That's an insane thing that just doesn't happen. And so leaning into those cultural moments and taking advantage of this viral virality, this viral nature of the internet I think might be a really strong opportunity for these models of weird church as well.


Yeah, I think there's a really interesting segue that's happened. And I say happened because we've already seen that a lot of the. Modality of connection and communication has shifted to digital means. And, even for boomers and other generations, like they're on Facebook and they connect through Facebook, they get their news through Facebook for better or worse, but like we've already seen the shift to digital spaces amongst the generations. And so there's a huge space that now we're living into it almost reminds me of like ready player one, right? There's a whole world that we're living into. And it's the new oh, I just lost the word. My brain is going too fast. It's like the new community center, right? The internet is the community center now. And you're not in the courtyard having conversations or at your local church doing that. If your church is out in the middle of nowhere, yeah, there's not really a new, fresh, fertile, like group of people to talk to. Like you're still in the same relationships with people that you have been for many years. And so I think the internet is a digital community center that is vast and wide and really cool and interesting. And I want more of that.


Yeah. I think that one thing that could be super humbling to some of our existing churches, our physical locations is, before all of the internet really has kicked off as it has. had to have a building, you had to have a place, you had to have a spot and that costs money and that's hard to do and hard to find and is controlled and managed. But the internet, there are certainly boundaries and milestones and things that are, capturing people off. But for the most part, it's free, right? You can create a VR world, you can log on to VR chat, you could download core and build a world for completely, no expense other than your time. And so this incredible possibility of you don't really need any funding to plant a weird church. You don't really need any approval because they're just happening. They just are existing and we're building communities anyway. So why not make them better? Why not make them pursuing truth and learning to grow and striving to grow and attending upon the ordinances of God? Like why not take those steps forward and take advantage of this awesome opportunity that. we've been given?


For so long, the internet was a I don't know if you got this as a kid, but like stranger danger, be careful on the internet. And now there's so much out there like that. I'll say that's not the truth still. There's so much danger out there, but there's also so much potential and possibility for good that why not? If we're already in those spaces, why not?


Yeah, exactly. Changing gears again, one thing that's important to you and I want to talk more about, is this world of accessibility, so accessibility in the gaming world. Whenever I hear that word. I think about games, like cyberpunk, I think about games that are taking steps forward in accessibility I think about how we're trying to do better with these worlds of accessibility but how a lot of games, a lot of game makers and especially technology. Makers and technology providers are missing the mark. And aren't managing to hit that. Tik TOK, for what it's worth has just started to really be robust in their captioning system and provide free caption software that you can just have already on your videos, but even YouTube the biggest internet market I have to put in those captions they can't even auto caption like Facebook and anything, Facebook is not perfect, they're rough, but at least they have auto caption. It's super interesting to me this world of accessibility and the lack of willingness to really invest in that. So tell us more about first off, your approach to it and what you would like to see and where you see accessibility in this.


Yeah. So accessibility. For me is really important because I have become part of a world in which I need accommodations. I have my own chronic health issues and my husband has some hearing difficulties. And so for us, the way of accessibility and reaching the internet, that we're already a part of. Has been a little bit of a challenge, right? All of the captions, sometimes you watch the YouTube captions and you're like, I have literally no idea what the auto-generated ones are saying right now. That's definitely not it. And tick-tock like, they're just now scratching the surface, but even for those, with low visibility, like those platforms are not great. There are no image descriptions. Even on Instagram, like people are only starting to put image descriptions on those things for people with low visibility. And it's a really important part to the world that we're leaving people out. If we're. Being willing to make some accommodations and yes, it is work, but yes, it's important. And we're seeing this now with COVID-19 and the sudden shifts that businesses and huge companies have had to do to allow people to work from home. When we have had generations of people with disabilities who have needed that kind of accommodation and companies said we can't do that. We can't do that. Like my husband with. Had to take days off from work because, he couldn't have the accommodations of having an at-home work laptop. So like the change in pace is possible. It just has to have a stake in the community. And for these companies, like over the last year and a half, there was a huge stake if they didn't become a commendation list. And so we're not seeing that in these platforms, but I do hope that in my conversations, like we're willing to commit to the beloved community in such a way that all of God's children are able to be part of that. And whether that's the actual. Physical technology have a control that allows people with, like physical disabilities to be part of the game culture or whether that's part of the accessibility technology and software, right? Like we need more auto generating software. We need more kinds of things that help people to exist in those spaces because they too want connection. And I want connection with them, right? Like my life is enriched by being in around and with them and witnessing their life experience. It's hugely important and I'm pretty passionate about it. I do a lot of re-tweeting and tweeting on Twitter about that. Disability is an important conversation that I don't think enough people are having and the. Conversation of nerd culture and nerd world is a huge crossover there. Like I can access game nerd culture from my living room or whatever place I'm in, in ways that I can't access typical society. And that's a huge place of comfort for neurodivergent people. And so let's meet the need. Let's be there. Yeah, I'm not sure if I answered your questions, but I went all in


No. I think that, one area that we just, we fail to see the connection. One of my, the bane of my existence right now is with COVID and with all of the quarantine, a lot of churches quickly shifted to doing, digital ministry, Facebook lives, all that stuff, and they couldn't wait to get back to normal. But like you just said, there were people that were reached by digital ministry that weren't being reached by in-person physical, normal ministry. It's so derogatory. And so I wonder, are there any experiences, are there any places, are there churches, are there communities, are there technologies what, who is doing it? Who can we point to as an example, who can we look at as a, this is what we should be doing. This is accessibility. Can you think of anyone in particular or anywhere that stands out in your mind? Whether it might just be a free software or whether it be a pay, software, just something that you found that a place that's doing it in a, in an adequate manner.


honestly I am mostly clueless, I will say as to for better or worse, Microsoft Microsoft teams has a captioning that is relatively decent and they allow it in their team meetings in ways that other platforms do not like, I think zoom just recently acquired some captioning capabilities, but honestly amongst my United Methodist association of ministers with disabilities we have been in our meetings and in our learning sessions, they have. And they have people doing ASL on the video chat. They have captions, we do certain limited kinds of chat because for those with low visual bits, they the captions, sorry, the comments in the chat are read out loud. And I will give a shout out to the U M AMD for their accessibility in that. But in the larger world, I don't see a whole lot of that. And maybe that's just my limitation in the places I'm existing. But it seems like some tic talkers are doing captions and image descriptions. Some Instagrammers are doing that. Some people on Facebook are doing both voice recordings and text. Recordings, but I don't see it a whole lot. There's no comprehensive program that I've seen so far. And if somebody has those options, please share it with Nathan and myself. Cause I want to know that and be able to share that more. So I wish yeah, I think the pandemic has for, it, it is what it is. It's stretched us in more ways than we can count. And so I think some people are, everybody's doing the best they can, or at least everybody's trying and to better or worse, some people have been more accommodating and others less. So yeah, I don't really have a good answer for that.


I think that pointing us in The direction of the Uma M D was not what it was


yes.


pointing us in that direction. We can support how we can and do what we can to support that and be, a part of that. And that, I think that's an awesome shout out just to know what's being done at least within our own United Methodist community. And to support that in the outside as well.


you don't have to be Methodist. You don't have to be clergy. You can be lady, you can join however you want. They put out like weekly blogs and podcasts and book recommendations and all different sorts of things as to disability, accommodations, life and chronic illness. And to go back to the conversation that you were having about churches, reaching new people in this COVID or a time I myself have chronic illness in such a way that I'm immunocompromised. And so for a long time, I was very scared before the vaccine conversations. And even since then, I'm very scared of the ways in which the church is going to forget about the accommodations they were willing to make and to reach people like me and people who are on immunosuppressants. And so I hope that the church becomes more inclusive and just, and remembers to include those of us who are have to be at home because it's safe. So yeah. Do the


starts, I think it starts with us. I think it starts with a change in our own personality. I, my wife has also the same way immunocompromised and so I didn't have to think right before I got my vaccine, I was like, yes, of course, I'm going to go get my vaccine. No problem. My wife was like, no, like I've got to talk to my doctor. I've got to find out if I can even take this thing cause I don't want something to go drastically wrong. And what a place of of privilege of myself that I'm able to go and say, I am healthy. To not even be concerned about this vaccine, what a delightful place that I find myself in. And so just being aware of that, acknowledging that and trying to become more aware of that. Not everyone else's scenario. I think that's a big step that we can take, right here right now, whether you're, whether you are consider yourself in need of accommodations or whether you are not in need of those Asking yourself, who is, what am I doing that everybody can't do? And what can I do to change that? Can I take an extra 10 to 15 minutes and type out the captions on my new Tik TOK? Yeah, you probably can. You probably have the time to do that. You might not want to, but you can. And so taking those small steps of just changing ourselves I think is an incredible way to take a step forward and thinking along those lines of taking a step forward, I want to ask what do you think, whether it's with weird church, whether it's with accessibility or whether it's just with Pokemon and all of your interests and passions, what do you see as the future of this thing? What is the future of faith and fandom, faith and pop culture? If you could dream a dream that's the way I put it in last time. If you could dream a dream what would your vision be of this intersection in 5, 10, 20 years?


oh man, like a digitally connected fast number of communities that are doing the work of God in ways that like, our local communities are supported and ways that. Justice and care for our neighbors that maybe don't even have the access to the internet culture that we're talking about. Like the accessibility, even to have a life of gaming is for me it feels like a necessity, but also like a privilege. It's a huge privilege to be able to do that. And finding more ways to get people connected and create a community. And I don't know exactly what that looks like, but a huge revolution of nerd communities that also call themselves people of faith and people who are making the best choices they can in society and contributing back in the ways that games and their faith and life together have given them new spirits. yeah that's the big dream. I don't have concrete steps, but that's what the beloved kingdom of God looks like. That's the freakin kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. So yeah,


Awesome. Awesome. I love it. I like to end these with these three questions just because I think it helps humanize us and proves, that we all love these things and we love this culture. And also they might be recommending because you may not have ever heard of them. So what are you currently watching? What are you currently playing? What are you currently reading? And since I need to add this caveat, because we had this made in the last one, reading audio books are absolutely reading. Don't feel bad to say audio books, if that's your preferred method of reading. So what are you watching? What are you playing? What are you reading right now?


okay. What am I watching? So my husband and I are working through a couple classics. So we're watching through X-Files and Stargate, Atlantis. We've already finished. So those are some of the things we're watching right now. Some of the things I'm playing, I have been playing a lot on my switch Pokemon snap lately. I of course am still an animal crosser. Check out my island, if


few, the proud.


the few, the proud. Let's see Pokemon go. Of course I stopped playing wizards unite for awhile. I still do play on occasion, but yeah. What else? I'm doing some digital drawing on my iPad on procreate. So that's fun as well. I consider that play as well. And then what was your other question?


were you reading?


What am I reading? Oh right now I'm trying to diversify my reading. And so I have spent a lot of time on anti-racist literature and right now I'm just finishing up some of Austin Channing Brown's work, which I highly recommend they're on audible. And so I am trying to do my due diligence as a human person and read more from our black writers and our writers of color. So yeah. Do the thing.


Yeah. And I always like to shout out, I've read a couple of anti-racist books from my library, so of course support the authors if you can, if you're able, but if you're not able to still dig into that literature your library


it out.


may have an audio book. I, that's how I was able to listen to it and really dig into it. So I am currently watching, I'm watching love death and robots on Netflix, which if you haven't watched it, I love


the new season came out.


volume, two just dropped I'm a little over halfway through it. I'm absolutely eating it up. I love every minute of


How is it?


It's so good. It's it made me really sad because volume one is like 20 episodes and volume two is eight and it's killing


Oh no.


me because I'm so close to the end and I'm like, no, I don't want to be done. But it's great. The animation is just breathtaking. Absolutely beautiful. I'm loving it. I'm going to play if I could find the time I've been sober. I really want to play. I love murder mysteries and I love mystery games and visual novels and the switch just, re-released some old like eighties mysteries and they revamped them and they're the Famicom detective club and they were a surprise. They were the predecessors to ACE attorney. And so I love ACE attorney and I really want to play them and I've tried to get into them, but every single time, it's 9 45 at night and I'm laying in my bed and I pull out my switch and I'm, I play five minutes and then I just like zonk out. So I want to get through them. I'm hoping to and then reading, I'm reading a a manga called fly me to the moon, which is such a, an absolute, a guilty pleasure. It's a romance. And I'm like, oh, it's just so cheesy and sappy. And I love those. I love those kinds of stories. They're nice. Just easy reads. So that's about where I'm at. I think it's all good. Hopefully you've gotten some recommendations I'm out of here. If you're listening and if you haven't read any of this or experiencing this, let us know on social media, which you might be watching, reading, playing. And if you double down on many of our recommendations today and then add to wrap us up, Heather, what, where can people find you? Where can they find you now? How can they support you? I know we mentioned a little bit at the beginning but what can they do from this point on let's remind them where you are.


Yeah in one of my newer spaces, I am just coming on to as we talked about before accidental tomatoes, I'm gonna become a content creator on accidental tomatoes. You can check that out on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook at accidental tomatoes. Also my personal channels on Twitch, I'm at Arminius for WVU. Mostly am just a lurker there. But I do some Twitch streaming through let's play games, West Virginia. That's at LPG WV. Where else personally, you can find me at more music. 2, 1 6 on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook. I'm Heather Moore.


All right. Awesome. Thank you so much for your time and thanks for coming out and sharing with us a little about weird church and all these wonderful things. I really do appreciate you coming on the podcast.


sure. Thanks. It's a great time. Thanks everybody.


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