• Checkpoint Church

Nerds of Pray: Faith & Fandom Author Hector Miray (1.3)


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TRANSCRIPT:


0:00:00.2 S1: Would you rather Him read the bible study that already connects him to what he's playing that you feel uncomfortable with and put him back to the gospel or just be salty about it, and she's like, I'll take one of everything


0:00:13.1 S2: And go, everyone and welcome to The nerds of prey, where we're bridging the gap between faith and fandom by introducing you to the leading folks on the front lines of nerd ministry, Des, are the people I have met as I plan a church for nerds and gamers, I found them. So you don't have to. I am nerves Nate, and this is a check point church podcast that drops every three weeks or so, that seems to be working out pretty well for us. Each episode of the podcast will feature someone on the intersection of faith in fandom, we will then sit down with them and learn some more about their story, for instance, how did they first discover that God is in pop culture, and where do they see things going from here, folks, our guest for today is a real treat. This is somebody that I have known about since I've very first started doing research in the nerd ministry, and today we're gonna be hearing from her MRI of the faith and fandom. Divisional series faced in fandom is a book series of devotional essays on faith and eat culture, the Bible studies include things like video games, comic books, anime, manga, super heroes, TV movies, pop culture, and so much more.


0:01:15.8 S2: There is also the faith in fandom podcast, several Comic-Con appearances by Hector. Hector is a busy, busy person, definitely somebody that... I don't know if he considers himself this, I didn't ask him in the conversation, but he's almost like a hobbyist, I just loves to do and to learn and to grow and to develop new talents. According to his Facebook profile, he considers himself a pastor and author, a DJ, a husband and a father. We didn't talk about the DJ thing, but now I'm super curious. I first found out about Hecker through love thy nerd, which I will mention a little bit later on in the podcast. And I instantly had to go and binge all of the faith and fantastical and everything else, as soon as I learned about him, I have mad respect for the hustle that Hector shows, and I think he shows some pretty great wisdom in this podcast on how to be a Christian content creator, and most importantly, for all of us of any creed, Christian or not, how to manage burnout in a busy world, have you ever been burned out, I think every hand should be raised, right.


0:02:09.8 S2: Hector is also an excellent collaborator and someone who does some great work in managing relationships with others in the field of nerd Ministry, and he talks more about how to do that and why it is important. I was thrilled to finally get to spend some time with Hector, He is exactly who he says he is on the 10, and brought some great biblical wisdom to topics such as creation, writing, ministry, as well as just day-to-day life. There was a little bit of an audio error, so here, sometimes that I'll be echoing in hectares computer, that's just a little Ira. I tried to fix it as best as I could, it's not too distracting. It should be fine with that. Let's just get into the show, so here is our latest nerve Pray, Hector meri from the faith in fandom diversion series. For those of you out there who might not know who you are, I have a feeling you, you're becoming more and more ubiquitous with faith and fandom and all that stuff, but tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? And where are you currently? And I normally ask that both physically, where are you, and then also, where are you on social media?


0:03:09.0 S1: My name is Hector. Me, I may pastor in Lumberton, North Carolina. Before that, I ran a Bible camp, and then after that I worked in a collegiate ministry for 11 years, but I've been passing in the church I'm at now for six years, it's been a good... I've had a big variety of ministry and I really enjoyed all of it, how it's going down so far, I'm in Lumberton, North Carolina, lived in this region outside of traveling for camps and stuff, most of my life on social media. I'm Hector-y on Facebook, and then the faith in fandom page is facebook dot com. Faith and fan demand, Instagram and Twitter are faith and Tremonti dot.


0:03:48.7 S2: The more and more I'm asking this question, the more more discovering that the answer is that every nerd is a melting pot, but I like to hone in what flavor of nerd are you in the most fullness? What is your absolute favorite nerdy thing? If you had to give yourself one flavor will be the one you would choose...


0:04:07.9 S1: I'm really on the doctor who end of things, if you would have asked me two years ago, it would have been hard. Doctor Who, over the last two years, honestly, I doubled down a lot on Star Wars between my kids and come wars and me and to Lorain stuff, our families really dove more into that, but no, I'm always a big story person, so CIF books, video games are a big deal for me, comics, if that's a little four square peg of it, it'd be a Safavid games comic books, and probably action figures would probably be the other one, I am nowhere in your shape or form a table top nerd... I try so hard to be... I've got friends that are passionate about it and I support it, I'm wearing a Columbus got game shirt, which is like a table top ministry in Georgia. I love people like Mike partner that do the tavern and stuff like that, that are about that table top life, but it's just never played into my world. Yeah, I'd say that's my big stuff, like I have a kid named after a Doctor Who character and a kid named after a fire...


0:05:15.7 S1: Flat character.


0:05:16.7 S2: Yeah, so definitely dig into that story, and I think that that's awesome that you make it a part of your family, and I think it's a great cycle because most of us probably link it back to being children and being Nerd growing up in the comic book shop and at the arcade and that kind of thing. So it's kind of flashback, let's flash back and say, Where did your nerve journey first get started, where do all this began...


0:05:39.0 S1: I take... My first fandom really was nitrate tales. I remember sitting on a summer day in front of the giant wooden box TV that looked like a whole cabinet by itself, sitting on the carpet, sun down in the summer and watching Niners intro come on the screen for the first time. And at that point, I'm like, Okay. And I went from that to, once a fox kids really started doing the X-Man cartoons and stuff like that, and that means the animated series, I found a local comic book shop, jumped in there. I'd been playing in tendon, I was born in 81, so I was hitting kindergarten when the NES was really dropping to my uncle, who was a cool soldier, had it, and so played into deal with my uncle asked my mom to get me the system that had Mario on it. Little did I know that Mario was also on the Atari at Mario Brothers, and not super... Just Mario Brothers, sassari, Mary brothers. And she got me Atari that was really disappointed, that was like out the gate, disappointed video games really early on, comic books. By the time I got to 12, the deep dive probably happened around 2005.


0:06:53.1 S1: I was a newlywed-ish within my first year. My best friend, I went to visiting for Christmas and he's like, You watch these... And he held up Firefly. I'm like, No, he's like you messing up me through my mate, we went home as a newlywed couple and watch fireflies, and that led to battle started Galactica, and that led to Doctor Who, and that led way down the rabbit hole, and I think I started winning my first CommonBond, it was 009-410. And then I just kinda jumped in from there.


0:07:21.2 S2: Obviously, Firefly is one of those that doesn't shy away too much from religion and where faith comes into these nerdy topics, but where did you first discover that there was some overlap between faith and fandom? When did you first spot that in the zeitgeist?


0:07:39.3 S1: I probably say the earliest would have been with the X-Men cartoon with Nicole, that's not even interesting, you pull from... That's like there there is an episode where a wolverine, rogue Gambit and Nightcrawler and Nightcrawler and a monastery, but... And it's the whole episode about God, and then by the end of the first episode, by the end of that episode, we'll bring this straight up, like saying the sinner's prayer. And I'm like, Okay, I think at that point in time, the only gospel I had really heard, 'cause that would've been about Sam's 12-13. The only time I'd actually heard the gospel was because I was a cub scout or a boy scout at that point, and you're required to go to a certain number of church services a year. I had only gone with other Cub Scout kids, I hadn't really... I didn't have a full understanding of anything, I think that's the first time I really saw it, but then by the time I think Firefly had come around, I was an adult, I had just gotten married and I was in my first professional full-time ministry, and so when I was looking at stuff at that point in time, it just kinda...


0:08:45.4 S1: It felt more like, Oh, look at that.


0:08:47.7 S2: The more abundant ones that show themselves kinda like the night crawler, but when did you start to discover maybe that there was an exegetical process to find these kind of things inside of our favorite fandom?


0:08:59.0 S1: I think that once I hit a place of really seeing everything through a lens of the gospel from every opportunity and everything else, now I really just started seeing it and everything, not that you force it or try to make it be in there, but when you're actually looking for a spiritual content or biblical encouragement and things, you just start to see it more and more, 'cause there's a good chunk of my early adult life in college life where I had no... Anything from the time I graduated in high school. Till time I got married, I didn't have TV. Once I came into it with fresh eyes, it just kinda... I saw it a lot more everywhere, but you could always just tell there's always something with Star Wars in different levels. I don't know if there was a specific one, I just know that there came a point in my life where I saw that there was the spiritual side of me and the nerdy side of me, and I saw a lot of cross-way over the two of them, I'd be reading the Bible and say, Oh, that's like this, Think of how...


0:09:59.1 S1: They'd be a good illustration, but I could never use that. On Sunday.


0:10:02.2 S2: Yeah, so I think I've heard you in some other podcasts or YouTube videos or something, where you talk about how your family all knows that when you get the note pad out, when you're watching something that you've got some notes to take, you're writing down thoughts on these shows you're watching and you're just figuring them out. Did faith in fandom get started like that? Is that kind of an anti-sea thing that's come along now, book on, what are you doing, are you taking notes on shows constantly, or was it just kind of... I'd written so much already, it's time to compile these things.


0:10:30.6 S1: It started with... And honestly, it really did kick off a firefly, where the first book was actually going to just be a firefly devotional. I was watching Firefly, I really loved it. I loved the character's shepherd book was like a really big encouragement to me in a lot of ways, like I had this notion of like, I'm gonna write a firefly devotional and it's gonna be called by the book A Shepherd's guy to Fire Flow. And I was actually reading a couple of books like right after that, that were Firefly philosophy, I was like, Yeah, this would be great on a spiritual level to actually do this biblically, and that in firefly, in that, the book was actually called serenity found in finding serenity where the philosophy books, and I was looking at how they were pulling part episodes just by... On a philosophical level. And I was like, Man, I would love to do this. I say it was like 2005. I just kind of sat on it, the summer camp, I was actually... That I had built, that I was working with... We had decided to do a superhero theme, and I'd got up with our local comic book shops, they had donated a ton of posters, and we are gonna do each cabin was gonna be a different superhero world, so there was gonna be a Gotham, there was gonna be an Xavier's Institute for gifted youngsters.


0:11:46.3 S1: We're gonna have... Each cabinet is gonna be different thing, and then at the last minute, someone on our staff was like, This is too worldly, we have to stop. And I'm like, Oh no. And I literally, I already had every room fully decorated, I'd had Bible studies I mapped out for where we were comparing them to different biblical leaders and stuff like that, and I was just like, Okay, and then it just kinda sat on it. I had the idea in my heart and I had the rough plan of it, then just kinda... Years went by and then I started going to Comic Cons, once I started going to comecon at really, really start waiting on my heart because I went for three years, I went and wanted to just attend for the first time, and if being in North Carolina, I'm not sure, if you've been... If you have been to hero's come, I'm not. Okay, up until right before the pandemic, hero's can was the biggest con in either of the Carolinas, it's one of the longest running ones, I wanna say it's their 40th year, but there's 30000 people all crammed into a convention center, literally thousands of vendors.


0:12:48.0 S1: I remember just walking around there the first time and I was just so happy and overwhelmed, and the next time I went and calls played, and the next time I did, I was doing a YouTube channel, I was doing a documentary type thing on it, but then it just hit me that last year that I was doing that, that there's all these people here, and I know there are people in this room who are thirsty for the Gospel, I know there are people in this room who are bitter towards the Gospel, I know that there are people in this room who don't know the gospel, but I said, I also know there are people in the room that love Jesus, but there's no landing pad for a discussion at all in this place that really... I walked out of hero's can thinking, I need to do an outreach here, and that was my big thought, I was like, I need to do an outreach, and right after that, literally the next week, a summer camp in Tennessee, it had hit me up about being a speaker, and they wanted me to do a super hero thing, and they said, Do whatever you want.


0:13:50.5 S1: And I said, so I could do a devotional on Superman and how that compares to Jesus. And they're like, Go for it. So I took what I already had had marinate in my heart forever on Firefly, and I wrote eight sessions for a summer camp, and they became the eight super hero chapters that are in the first book or the seven... I just started working on the rest of the stuff that filled out the first book at that point, and my game plan was that I was going to take this one book, print it one time, and do a one-time outreach heroes con in 2014. That was the whole purpose was like, beginning to end, I'm gonna make a book do a one-time outreach it be done. I had an event actually pop up that wanted me there before her as can, and I didn't win a Middle Beach by the time heroes cows over that first time, I had had so many positive gospel interactions and conversations and other people saying, Oh, we need you to come do this, an Archon, like other con promoters and stuff. By the end of that first show, I had been invited to do a church service at another comic, there's just so many doors opened up with that, but it wasn't like a man, I have all this stuff welded up, it was just...


0:15:07.2 S1: I felt there is a need and that this could be a unique opportunity to do it, it really kinda took off from there.


0:15:13.6 S2: Looking back on those years, and then now where you are with so many volumes... And admittedly, I'm only on volume four, I think I'm making my way through them and enjoying them and love it every minute and saverio each morning. It's incredible what you put together, I think it's an impressive library to say the least, and you already kind of answered, but did you ever think it would ever get to this point, and when did you kinda realize... What was the turning point where you said, Oh, I'm gonna keep going with this for however many volumes I've got in me, I'm gonna keep going.


0:15:45.4 S1: I have bounced around around that so many times, so after the first book came out, before I'd even done my first con, I got hired to be a screen writer for a season, and I went from writing that 90-page first book too, I had to turn in the script twice a week on a schedule on a deadline, and that made my writing... I have to like... I had to be better and I had to be more prolific with it, so by the time the second book had come out, I was so tired of Friday and I was so tired of everything else, 'cause I wrote more... I could be wrong, but I think in a three-year window as a screen writer, I think I still wrote more than I've written in the books, which is a lot... I was really tired, and I was at a youth ministry event in Greenville, South Carolina, I mentioned to somebody that was gonna stop and they literally showed me out, don't you dare, and started telling me why it was important, so I was like, Okay, okay, I'll keep writing it just, it took... I got so in my own head about things, I was like, I'm just gonna stop, and all of my friends have that up hung around through the process of like you say every book, your last book.


0:16:57.3 S1: Back in probably 2017, maybe 2018, Chris POE and I, who's gotta do the poll list with, when we're talking about just what this could look like long term, because while faith and fandom has always been provided for the screenwriting paper faith in vain for the first three years. As far as the expenses, while things are getting going, but the more books that come out and the more cons that travel to by the end end of 2019, I always do... I did 28 shows in a year, and not every show is even cost breaking, a lot of these times is just, you're doing this at the cost of just being able to share... It was starting to financially affect my family because I have some really great shows that we'll cover all the costs, and then I'd have some shows that were big gambles, and then I literally have to come home and my wife and say, Hey, so we're out on this and I was starting to really reconsider what that looked like, and the long-term plan was to... Because we still wanted to do something to be fruitful with, it was that we build a website, and I'd keep writing there and I'd go to an occasional con, but I'd stop trying to be as active in it as I was...


0:18:09.5 S1: Went through that out in 2017-2018, didn't really do anything with that until the pandemic, 'cause it came to the point at the end of 2020, I'm like, I've hated how few shows I've been to and wanted to do something with still making these available to people, it might be helpful. So put them all on the website, we put a website together and spend a couple of weeks putting all the devotionals individually on the website and said, people get access to... I feel really good with that being a resource, I don't know that I'm not intending to stop right now, and I don't know that there's a definitive end game as long as it can be fruitful, and I'm doing this for where God's leading me and not because I'm stubborn, 'cause that does happen that I'll do something out of... Sure, I don't wanna give up, but I know that things are seasonal this year, if things play out the way it looks, I'll have 10 shows, maybe eight, depending on how it goes, Have I had to cancel some of the ones that actually open back up still being able to put the Gospel out there to a community, 'cause most of the times...


0:19:10.0 S1: One of the biggest interactions I've had, it comes is people thinking that either God or the church automatically hates them because they're passionate about something else as being able... More often, not the positive conversations I have with people at shows are like, No, God still loves you, and just because you like in the assortative, you can be into these things and it'd still be okay, and I was like, Look, and he's... Just being able to point them in a direction to actually say that you still have value even if you don't fit into everybody else's margins, but I don't know that there's a definitive end game or goal... I never thought it would get this big. Literally like my dream go when we started this was like, You know what, maybe one day I'll get to be a San Diego and then I got to be at San Diego and I'm like, Well, now what... Right, and what's next? I don't have a goal long term and I don't have it what's next, other than them trying to be faithful in the arena that I'm in, and honestly, that's changed a lot just over the last year with my pastoral life, because I'm not gonna say I was halfway doing it, but there was a lot less required of me because of what my pastoral staff as a team, and my team was really stacked and our team has changed a little bit, and so there's a lot more that's required of me.


0:20:35.2 S1: So it takes a lot more effort for me just to be able to do my actual job...


0:20:39.9 S2: Well, I think you touched on a really important subject, especially this audience that's gonna be listening to this podcast, it's kind of varied, we're gonna have some ministries gonna have some people like that, but Ellen's have people that are in the nerd world and in faith and fandom world and intersectionality happening here. And I think one thing that we can probably all relate on regardless of if we're in the ministry professionally, if we're in the church, or if we're not even at all connected, our culture that we're living in right now is very much a hustle. Creator or content-focused, we're all doing the thing, we're all on there trying to make the funny as tiktok, trying to make the next great YouTube video, trying to get more subscribers, and sometimes that can be really tiring, and so you touched a little bit on the possibility of burnout. What does that look like? How do you address burnout, do you make sure that you stay on the other side of it, is it just remaining faithful and trying to lean into God and those moments, but what if you're not in a place where that's even what you believe in, how do you conquer that thing, because you're definitely a busy person between all of your podcasts and full-time ministry and writing books...


0:21:50.5 S2: What Does burnout look like? How you conquer that? And how do you get on the other side of it? What wisdom can you share?


0:21:57.2 S1: One of the biggest things I would say is to honestly take an inventory of your effort and your resources, but also to say, Why do you... To do what you're doing. One of the things that we've said in our church recently is, if our church disappeared from our community, would the absence be filled, like Are we doing stuff just to do it, are we doing stuff because it's the right thing or the thing that is required of us, or are we doing things that actually have fruit and value in the kingdom, and I realized a lot of the stuff that I felt pressured to do was pressure that I was putting on myself, and honestly, there was... I can guarantee that there was some element of going from a place of insecurity growing up to all of a sudden there's a market of people that like you, and we all find that whether it's in validation from a work experience, from a church experience, from our relationship experience where we're doing things for validation, to have a better sense of worth in ourselves, and if you're ever in a place where you feel like your productivity is equating your value, if you're close to burn out, if you feel like you can't step away from what you're doing without it following apart.


0:23:17.3 S1: You're close to burnout. That's one of the things is like when you feel it's an obligation and you feel like this is going to... Absolutely has to happen when it feels like that mandatory obligatory thing of, This has to happen or else, because at the end of the day, 90% of us in work ministry or anything else, if we step away from what we're doing, there may be a speed, but the ministry will continue. Yeah, if I disappear off the scene, there will be someone else doing what I'm doing, because one of the biggest things that surprised me is when faith and fan, I'm started, I had never heard of another ministry doing anything key at cons. I didn't know it was a thing, I didn't know other people did it, and then literally every show I did, oh, do you know these guys doing this... Or in the first show I did, somebody said, Oh, do you know the geek Church at ex con and Verde Beach? Or do you know about... The folks doing Bible study at Dragon con, and I'm like, What's a Dragon con? And I didn't know any of these things, but there are people around...


0:24:25.0 S1: I think if you measure out your life as a resource and you feel like you're putting too much of it into one place that isn't healthy, one of the things I have to remind my team and the people I served with all the time is that rest is a commandment, not for God's benefit to buffer our benefit because he knows we need it. In a lot of ways, we work and grind as adults, like tired toddlers that need to be put down for an app, we need rest, so we can refocus. And that's the thing, like 20, 19, I had reached full burnout, 2019 was my best year in my worst year, all at the same time, because I got everything I ruts wanted, I got an award for 40 under 40 of being a community person, most active in my age, I got to be a guest at San Diego, I got to do all the things, a published two books that year, and all the things that were happening, I did more shows than I'd ever done, and I was miserable. I literally got everything I wanted and I was miserable because I was seeing that I've gotten really blind to the fact that more doesn't equal better, and that I was so spread out that I was burning myself at all in...


0:25:48.6 S1: There was a Sunday where I left my church early to go to speak at a Bible camp, seven hours away, and then left the Bible camp early to go set up at a Con that weekend, and I was like, Man, I'm not in putting anything and not putting all of me into anything. And that's... Colossians 3-23 is one of my favorite verses, and when I have to forget is that whatever you do, do it with your whole heart, I was putting not for God, but as... Not to men, but for God. And I was putting a lot of my discarded chunks of my heart into things instead of my whole heart, and I was like, It's better to be able to do a few things really well than to try and do all the things... And I had reached this point in 2019 where I was riding the intro for Book 7, and the intro for book even was like, I quit, I'm done. I'm still burning out, I'm tired of everything. Everything sucks. I literally read the Book of Lamentations or Ecclesiastes where everything's being English, it's like I had an intro to the book that was like that, and I said, I'm gonna do every con in 2020, and then I quit.


0:26:59.4 S1: I was like, I'm gonna go out with a bang. And quit, and then 2020 happened. I'm like, Oh, I took an app. That's good, I'm better now. Now I'm just learning, and my family and I are watching it like we're seeing as we're getting opportunities to do different things with camp speaking and can stuff like that, of like... I don't have to say yes to everything. Just because the door's open doesn't mean I have to walk through it. Galaxy can is now the biggest con in North Carolina, I was supposed to be a gay Carmen, both of them, and it wasn't... 'cause they didn't happen. And then just a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a galaxy costing, hey, we're going forward. Do you want your space? And I'm like, looking at my calendar, they're looking at my family and what we're going through, and I'm like, No, just put me down for next year, my wife clapped for me for just saying no, but I think if you have an anxious level of compulsion about getting anything done? You're near burnout.


0:28:05.4 S2: Yeah, it's really interesting. So Stephen has this idea of, should you be a blogger or should you write books, or should you do both, and what do they do differently for us, talked about how books, they might not have as part of a reach, but they do have a kind of permanence to them, they're located in time, their physical tangible, you can see them and they... Mark a moment. It's interesting that you say, I haven't quite gotten to volume 7, but now I'm kind of anxious about it. Getting there and reading that forward, I wonder if looking at the forwards different now to you... Oh God, you change it. Yeah, I'll find an old printed version, see what I call...


0:28:42.0 S1: And that's the thing, I straight up, I forgot to change the forward and I was about to send it to print, and I'm like, Wait a minute. And I went back and read it, I'm like, Oh no.


0:28:50.9 S2: I'm sure in a way. It must be kind of humbling to look back and to see yourself and to know... Well, book one, that was the Hector that wrote... This was a completely different one that is right now, and so I wonder, is there anything too, that kind of timeline, do you do view these as kind of milestones and landmarks of where you've been and where you've come from and where you're headed...


0:29:12.4 S1: It doesn't read like a square up book because some of these things are things that I'm specifically I've gone through or that I know where I was at. Seasons in life, whatever book, I think is Manas and book for maybe, but there's... Whenever you get to Ajanta and Cobo, there's two different chapters with those, those were things where I had lost my parents and writing about them, maybe not mean as much, I just think that was the same season, but I remember with Cobo writing about that, I was sitting in my kitchen counter, ugly, crying. As I was typing it, I didn't... I process things doing that, that I hadn't processed before, or maybe it's a book for as well, literally this kind of blend together after a point, but there's a chapter on Halo 5 and toxic relationships. I had honestly gotten myself into a toxic friendship that was really unhealthy for my life and ministry, so when I look back at these... I have my own cringe moments of member... When you were doing that, that was terrible, like when you were going through this or... It really is looking at different seasons, and so when I'm looking back at these things, it's like I am a completely different person and perspectives and what I was going through, but it really serves as a good reminder of where I've been and what that looks like, because some of these, I'm like, Yeah, I don't know if I was right this way, this again, but I also don't wanna take away from that because I totally...


0:30:36.8 S1: I was in that place


0:30:37.9 S2: To kinda touch on something that she spoke about whenever you were sharing something about con culture and helping people to see that their fandom or things that they love, that they're passionate about, don't necessarily replace their love of God, they don't try and triumph over it, but they can exist in tandem. I think that's one of the trickiest parts of this kind of ministry and of this issue, is that a lot of people on the outside of the sphere look in with some disdain and some judgment on satanic panic culture and on D and D and table top and all that stuff. And they have expectations. And so the way I normally ask this question is, do you believe that God can use fandom for good and almost everybody... I'm sure, thanks. Yes, that I'm gonna be talking to. But what do you do to provide that foundational understanding and to explain to the naysayers who says You can't use Pandas for good or God can't exist alongside with these passions, how have you come to justify that in your life and to find God in the midst of those things.


0:31:41.4 S1: So more often not, most of the tension or pushback I get are from the church community more than the secular community, the secular community is like, I didn't think about that. Right, and then they're like, Okay, let's talk... 'cause usually I'll do a panel if the schedule allows in the concept, and I'll do a panel just about this about how you can actually find spiritual things in God in your entertainment and talk about it with people. And it's a good dialogue, and 90% of the people that are in that panel are usually not believers, which it's a really fun conversation to have, but for the folks that usually are NASA or hesitant, I usually just point out the fact that one of my go to stories is Paul and the Unknown God. Paul used in that region, culturally understood secular entity that people could identify with as a means to present the gospel, he's like, You all know this unknown God who's like this and this and this... Well, let me tell you about the real God. And I literally used it as a segue to do that, and we also look at Jesus's teachings of the percentage of Jesus teaching better parables, he told them stories that they could connect with and identify with to bring back to a biblical truth, basically, in a lot of ways Jesus's parables were means of that culture, and in the best way possible, I think we see a biblical precedent all over the place of launching pads of things that people culturally or socially understand as a way to bring out the truth of the gospel from Polity and on God to Jesus with parables.


0:33:39.1 S1: I think it's the level of just making a story that can be connected with... And if you can connect with somebody over something small that they find passion in, then go for... Most of the people that would ever have a problem just be like, I wouldn't have any problem with a sports ministry, you would have no problem if you had a football player, an NFL player, coming here and tell some athletes about Jesus through his stories of athleticism. These stories are... No real difference. One of the big things is, I'm telling adults and church leaders and Nang folks in general is like, Look, none of this is not to replace what you're doing or get in the way of it, this is simply to point some people that might not see it, to the gospel, because if they're involved in these other things, this might be a way to do it, I don't normally set up at Christian events because that's... There's a lot less lost people in venture, but there was a concert in my town, like a mile from me, and I was asked to set up and I was like, Man, I was like building 429 a new song or something like that.


0:34:49.1 S1: And a local college wrapper in our area, I sat up there and you know, it's like, Kalos got a booth and down the line, it's just like, Okay, this isn't my bubble, but cool. And I had a mom come up and I have a sheet on my table that lists every subject matter that's in each book individually, so you don't have to flip through it, you can literally just scroll and say, Oh this, oh, this... And in the first book, there's a Grand Theft Auto chapter, and it's barely a grand detour chapter, but it's a great teacher. This was, if you've been around gaming at all, grant that out has been released 12 times since this book was written, was really crazy to me, is that the book one was written in 2013 and we're still releasing grant turf. I'm like, Okay guys, this one game is outlasted my entire run of ministry with this... I had a mom come up to me at this Christian event and say, How can you have a Bible study on such sinful material? And she had a 14-year-old son with her, and I said, Man, I'm gonna go out on a limb here, you know, it's really sinful material because you're 14-year-old place.


0:35:55.9 S1: And she said, Yes. I was like... And that's A M-A game. That's a mature game, meaning you had to buy it for him, she's like, Yes, it's like, Okay. So you bought him a mature game that you're uncomfortable with him playing and say you have a sense of guilt on the fact that he's playing this, would you rather have read a Bible study that already connects him to what he's playing that you feel uncomfortable with, and points him back to the gospel or just be salty about it. And she's like, I'll take one of everything and I... And that was the thing, it's just like, we often get so salty at secular content for being secular when we want the world's content in the world's attitudes to live up to biblical standards. The only thing that lives up to Biblical standards is the bible, if we're holding any other form of entertainment, medium, sports or anything else that it's going to let us down, even if you look at the parables in the bible by biblical standards, they don't fit biblical status. If you did an honest depiction of the Good Samaritan, you wouldn't be able to show it in church, if these stories that we tell, we just think we sugarcoat them, the horror of what the flood would look like in a reality is...


0:37:12.0 S1: All this serious stuff is like, we can use these stories and point back to the Gospel, and I'll say this, most of the people, most of the interactions I've had have been honest and inquisitive, I've had some people just literally be bitter towards it, and usually those conversations work out, I've had one to flip my table once... Oh, no way. I do literally just walked up and flip my table over and I didn't say anything, he just did it in security, dragging mount of a calm. For the most part, it's been a good dialogue, and sometimes I'll be like, You know what, you're right, I'm with you. And one of the things I always point back to any time I'm doing with any of this stuff is Romans 14, Romans 14 is the best passage in scripture to me about how you deal with your own convictions, you know that it's a lot of Paul talking about food and things like that. But the bottom line is, if you have concern about... If it's appropriate for you, if you're concerned about it, it's not for you, if it's discouraging to you or it causes you to stumble, it's not for you, if you have opinions about things, keep them to yourself.


0:38:21.4 S1: And one of the phrases that Paul really throws out there is, at the end of it, is like, be careful you do not condemn yourself about what you approve. And I've had conversations with people who are like, I'm writing about this. That doesn't mean I'm condoning everything in it, or I'm just trying to connect with people on something familiar, but the reality is that there are some stuff that I'll write about that other people can't watch or be a part of without feeling conviction, and if that's the case, then by all means, if me riding a Bible study about Game of Thrones tells you that... That's not me telling you, you need to watch Game of Thrones. That's me telling... If you watch Game of Thrones, then this might be something to help you. Also, it's just the biggest thing is like never... If you have to feel divided in what you're doing, if you have to feel like whatever you're doing is something you have to hide or that you don't feel comfortable being part of all of who you are... You don't need to do it. And that's the thing, and this is the same example I've always used is like when I did not feel strong temptation or anything like that, and when I watched their games roles with my wife, but I can't watch tuber girls, Two Broke Girls causes me to stumble more than gave a throne it.


0:39:32.4 S1: And so it's just like, you know what, I'm not watching that. And that's my thing, like I know where my line is, what causes me to stumble or what discourages me, and it's like the same thing, You don't listen to gangster rap when you're hungry.


0:39:45.5 S2: It's not help finding as boundaries and speaking them out. Yeah, absolutely. One thing that you talked about a little bit earlier was, Erin, you first got started with faith and fandom, you had no idea that there was this existing community, there was a Christian gamers guilt, or there was a key church or all this stuff. And I'm in a very similar place. A little bit later, I got into this thing last year and I had no idea, I was like, Man, I'm doing something novel and new... Nobody's ever done this before. We always think that that's kind of the purpose of this podcast, is to hopefully bring to light some people... All people let them know that this is out there. That there are these people that are doing this kind of thing. This kind of work... One thing that has really stood out to me with your relationship with this spiel in particular, is that I actually discovered you through love by nerd whenever I was listening to some of their stuff and I found them, and since I found them, I found other groups like I found your poles, I've found Derek white, I found men Max, I found Mike Purna and entered the sea creature, right?


0:40:48.9 S1: Correct. Yeah, I was about to say, yeah. That dude, he's been doing this longer than I think I've been alive. And it's just like, Yeah, it's crazy.


0:40:58.9 S2: It's crazy. It really is how broad this is, that you really do work in a lot of spaces with a lot of different kinds and a lot of different communities, you share your information in your podcast and all your stuff with a lot of different people. What are your thoughts on this kind of collaboration, because the church as a whole is not very good at this, if we're being totally honest, we're pretty protective, we put up boundaries between churches and we want our church to be the greatest, and we don't collaborate, but the nerds fear seems to be pretty good at collaborating, so what are your stances on that, how do you make sure that you maintain an openness to this collaborative nature? Is that just natural for you? Is is something that you really have to work on.


0:41:37.0 S1: Well, honestly, it's kind of like what you're saying too. You've got this new novel thing, the first time I saw somebody else doing this on a very similar vein, I'm like, the crap guys is like, that's my thing. There's a guy who invited me to be the speaker for the Geek Church in Myrtle Beach, he actually was really bitter, I think it might have been something, a book too about that he wrote a guest chapter or forward or something, where he found out about me and was angry, he was actually running a church out of a common book shop, and he thought he had invented the key ministry, it's that thing of like, I have to always put myself in check when it comes to the holy spirit in terms of how I react to other peoples stuff, you rejoice with those who rejoice, and if there's somebody else doing something similar to mine, I don't need to be salty about it, because there's going to be... People they reach that I never do. I'm not gonna be everybody's flavor, and I need to realize that God bless them. If they're doing good work, I remember sitting in a church meeting when I was...


0:42:43.5 S1: This might have been pretty faith in fandom, but I was an associate pastor that's very traditional conservative church, where the congregation was predominantly elderly, but I was their college pastor and the ministry in the church never intersected. We even had our own separate building, like college students came on Thursday, never made it to Sunday, and so literally two separate worlds, there was a church that was getting planted, literally a golf ball hit from us, they wanted us to sign off on them as their partnering church, this is one of those of church meetings, and someone said, We got enough churches, we don't need more. Literally, what if they take our people was the attitude, not just like every time I catch myself being remotely jealous or shady or salty about it, I hear that little old lady and I'm like, Shut avatars, be quiet. But I think, honestly, if we're operating in the right spirit, then we're not gonna be that way, 'cause I'm... The dudes that Nathan Marchand and Eric, that Do the 42 book series. It's another series of kinky devotionals, and all of those guys, those guys do great things, and I remember the first time I heard about their book, their first book literally was called 42 finding faith through fandom, and I'm like...


0:44:11.7 S1: And I just like, I was standing in a comic book shop in the mountains of Tennessee while I was speaking on a break from a Bible camp and found out about that for a game church, 'cause somebody in a game church think attacked me and I'm like... And I literally stood there holding a copy of a common book and processing my thoughts, I'm like... My first thought, I was like, That's my name, or, or that's my thing. And then I'm like, Dude, shut up. Be grateful. And the reality is like Eric and I have only got to meet once at a Dragon con, I haven't met Nathan, but the reality is, the people that our books are reached in different scopes are covering a different ground, and I am really grateful for them and their partnership in the ministry and what they're doing. You've got groups, geeks under grace, you've got love to nerd, you've got Christian nerds United. There's all of these things that we have set up. As long as we're doing it to connect, rather than than just establish our own little kingdom, I'm all for it. But that's one of the downfalls.


0:45:18.1 S1: I see the too is it can be really easy to take that and make it. I'm gonna create my own little sandbox where things get my way and I don't want you in it... That's the struggle.


0:45:30.6 S2: Yeah, let's talk about that. What does the future look like? They're a faith in an... If you could dream a dream, that's what I've been telling people, if you could dream a dream of, we've got all these groups coming out of the woodwork and getting together and collaborating and working together, and just a lot of exciting things. Where do you see this future of faith in pop culture going? Or what would you like to see it look like in 10 years? Whenever you're on volume 21, what would you like to see?


0:45:57.8 S1: I would just like to see when a group or an organization or an individual can comfortably know what their lane is and operate in it, I think we're all in a better place, and I'd like to see that happen because there are... One of the reasons where burnout happens and better this happens, was when we try and be all the things... And I know Paul says that We could be all things to all people, but I don't think you have to do it all at once, all of the different organizations and ministries and stuff serve purposes that as long as... I would love to see it be where we're all in the attitude of where... That's the thing, the funny thing, it's the same thing you want for the church, Ehud of Just get ministry aside. What you want is what you want for the church, that we walk in unity, and that we each carry our different purposes of different part of the body of Christ. Because at the end of the day, if you strip away the geki of it, this is just the church, this is just the church with a specific vibe or stick...


0:47:00.2 S1: But what is it? My church liner friends like to call it affinity. Yeah, this is an affinity-focused church, because I've heard my stuff used in pitch meetings for affinity groups for churches like... Sure, I think that as long as we... I would love to see us work together will be an encouragement, but also be a resource for people that need different things, these groups do different things like love liner, it is a great landing pad for people that are interested in looking, but they strive to not be overly religious with what they're doing. That rubs some people the wrong way. They're like, I'm being censored or I'm being held back, or how dare you not share the gospel fully? Well, it's the thing, but their goal is to be the landing pad, to be able to develop the discipleship relationships, other places are... We're outright of Angelis. Other places are... Where means other places or this... And as long as we can function in the same idea of where the body with different parts... But we all work together. Awesome, I would love that. Not to be cynical, but at the same time, the church is sucked at that for 2000 years or so...


0:48:15.5 S1: You throw that in. Plus being angry about Star Wars, it could be problematic. That would be what I would love to see more than anything, it's just us to actually function as the body and the body that enjoys these things and that spine these things to connect over... That's what I like to see for that in long term, 'cause I don't wanna do... I don't wanna burn myself out forever, and if you told me what the last two years of my life are gonna look like, I would have never predicted that between a pandemic to cancer in my family, to family moving away, there's just a lot... I want to be able to be faithful and where I'm at, and to be able to create resources like long-term, if I don't do anything past an eight book, but I just keep making resources for people online, we're just sharing my heart. Or just being an encouragement for other people, I'm great with that, because there will be a time for other people to go beyond me and lead beyond me and do things I'm not doing, 'cause I'm not a pioneer, and I'm just doing something that God laid on my heart, one of the most encouraging, discouraging things to me in the Bible, you know the passage that where everyone's like...


0:49:20.0 S1: They always quote it, and there's mercy me, son of like, Who will go for me? Who hear my Lord? Send me... The thing is that if you look at that whole passage in context, when he said Here In My Lord, send me... The next thing God told him is, I'm gonna send you, but they're not going to listen. It's like, I'm asking you to go, I'm asking you to do the work, but you're not gonna see the fruit that you expect. One of the biggest things, it's like, as long as we can do what we're doing with the intention of obedience to what God calls you to, is the outcome you're looking for, not a fruit of something else, then it will all be awesome, but a lot of us... We get in the mindset of, I need this many views, I need the most, like most things, and I've been that person before and that's again, I have to check my flesh, like if someone will take a meme that I were that on and just like, take it and put their logo on it, I'm like, Oh, that's my main... They do the whole Bobby Hill thing, and it's just like, No, don't do that.


0:50:20.7 S1: It's like, Why are you upset to be quiet, just... It's okay, and I think it's... The thing is, as long as we stop letting it be about us and start keeping it about why we're doing what we're doing, I think we all grow together, and that's what I'd love to see.


0:50:35.1 S2: Absolutely, a very hopeful message, a humble reminder that what's ahead of us may not feel hopeful, but we're here, we are here, here we are, Lord, doing the best we can. So as we kind of come to a close and wrap things up, I like to always end these with some recommendations because you never know who's heard of what and who's watching, what... What are you watching right now? What are you playing? And what are you reading? And to go ahead and clarify, audio books certainly count, 'cause I know some of us are paper readers and some of us were really listen...


0:51:06.2 S1: Watching right now, I'm currently watching through Dragon base with my daughters. Watch, we have a box set that we borrow from someone and we're currently on the Busoga and we're just trying to finish Randall S with them, but we're also watching my hero academia and we have the last season of DuckTales. And I watched a lot of stuff that is kind Fidler now, just speak it as my kids, I'm with him still watching Star Wars and all the Marvel stuff, so nothing like crazy out of the ordinary on what we're watching, reading, I just... I took a road trip and I listened through the audio drama of same man the DC put out with James McAvoy as Morpheus cat innings as death Arthur Dorval from Dr. Ho as William Shakespeare is just... You got Andy circus in there as well, and that was wonderful on an audio book level, and I know that they're making a live action show for Netflix, and I'm not pulling on that or anything, but the cast of the audio looks way better in the case of the video, James McAvoy acting ability when there's nothing on screen is so good.


0:52:12.4 S1: So I'm reading that, I read that. I'm currently reading a book called drop the stones by Carlos, which is a thing about looking through everything through the perspective of the women, cotton adultery, and how that applies to... It's a very much a church leadership book. It's also just really good for biblical walks in general. So I'm reading through that, I've got until unfriend as Chan sitting on my shelf. And that needs to be red light of the Jedi by Charles sule. That's sitting up there too, and I'm also reading Alex cross novels like James Patterson both. I've been reading those since I was in high school, but I've currently got Chris cross and deadly cross that are my book shelf far here, Chris cross and deadly cross that are on my list. So kind of like that whole jumble, plus a million comic books. Right. Currently playing, I just finish Pokemon snap, that was delightful. Just fun and chill made me actually get out of camera and go take pictures, and it is in real life playing a resident will set eight village as an evil village, playing to that, but I do that in small doses, and then Assassins Creed Valhalla, which to me is 100% the game of the year for 2020.


0:53:23.4 S1: It was the best assassins. Great. To me, it's one of the most fun game experiences I've ever had, Assassins Creed Valhalla just dropped an expansion pack.


0:53:30.3 S2: Canmore time more hours in that game.


0:53:33.3 S1: Yeah, and so I just, I'd forgotten it, I paid for it. When they announced it, got that I had paid for it, and then I didn't wanna play Resident Evil when I had him on my Strait, just wasn't in the mood for that. And then I was like, Oh wait, that's there. So I started playing that and the wrath of the dress, it's really funny though too, because playing through that... One of the first things you're doing dealing with church stuff again, which is one of the things I enjoyed a lot about as tesserae Val, there's a lot of Christianity, even if it pokes at it, there's a lot of presence of it, there's the king and the storyline is an Irish Viking that's become a Christian. And so there's some spun story line with that as well as there, but I'm only list a couple hours into the


0:54:12.9 S2: Very cool... I'm currently watching the show Eden on Netflix. It's a new setia Anima that just dropped. And it's pretty good. It's cute, it's lighter. Harder than I expected. Definitely like very family-friendly. After watching love death and robots and stuff like that. It feels very light-hearted. Did you watch season two of it? I did. Is so good at it. I session, I would say better. It's so much shorter. That's like the biggest bummer, there's only eight episodes rather than the 20 that was in the first volume, and I would say it has a very... Percentage, it's the same thing. There are just as many gyms proportionately, and they're just as many like, Hey, that was really good, but not like life-changing, and then others that are just real strange, but... You can't help a lot. Them's good mixture, and I just love the animation. But going from that to watching Eden, definitely felt more family-friendly, and then I am playing right now, I'll just be our resident, we even just really lean into this... I'm also playing World's End Club that just dropped on the switch from the creators of Danna and versus last reward, which are two of my favorite games, I love the 999 series, and then I am reading a manga called to the night, I think it is, which is okay, it's kind of...


0:55:25.7 S2: It's a first volume about vampires and this insomniac kid who goes out and meets a vampire in the night, and it's okay, it's an interesting one, it's light-hearted and kind of fun while dealing with some interesting themes of intimate relationships between a vampire and a human being and how that happened. So that's a pretty interesting read, and one that I don't know if I'd necessarily recommend, but I did just finish reading one called A school frozen in time, and that one I'm really hooked on, it's from the creator of Your lion April, and it's a horror story of a student commits suicide by jumping off of a building, and then a year later, all of the classmates show up to school, nobody else is there and they're locked in their classroom and they can't remember who did it, and so the like mystery is, is it one of them that did it, that's haunting in the classroom and keeping them locked in this room and solving the mystery and trying to remember their friend who they lost, and this is a really interesting exploration of suicide as a theme and as remembrance of people that have passed on is really interesting.


0:56:28.9 S2: So that one, much more exciting, it sounds like some great recommendations kind of on both sides of things, I decidedly recommend any and all of those I always... I feel like that's my thing. I'm gonna be leaning into the weed pretty hard because I always get into that stuff, maybe eventually I'll have somebody from Jesus or take on here and they can outlive me perhaps with that, let's wrap up with just some shout-outs. Again, I appreciate your time so much. Where can people find you? And what would you like for them to do? In your community, what's new and exciting coming up.


0:56:57.5 S1: You can find me at Faith in fandom dot org is our website. It's new and moderately fresh, still getting the ropes of how that looks, facebook dot com faith in fandom, that's where our most active... Dropping memes and things like that as well. There, I've got some means from the assessments, grateful that I'm gonna drop when I'm in a staff meeting later, our podcast, you can find them on the website, but in general, it's a faith in fandom, oban dot com, that's where all those things are in the previous socials but that's where you can find me and what we're doing, and I'm currently writing book eight slowly, I'm hoping to kinda drop it maybe in October, this case 2021 is the first year that I haven't dropped a book in the spring to early summer, I wrote two children's books like actual kids books for this... In the faith in fandom kind of mentality. I wrote them last year, and we're nearing up on a year of them being written, and I'm waiting on the artist to finish because the goal was we were gonna drop both books at once, he's had a lot of life change and stuff during that time as well, yeah, that's the goal.


0:58:07.1 S2: What kind of age range are you hoping for for


0:58:08.9 S1: Those those literally like pre-school through a... Well, not on reading level, but for... Directed toward prestige here. So early elementary, both of them deal with a dad explaining life and biblical things with pop culture to their child, if a kid thinking they're bad, talking about heroes that are redeemed and stuff like that, and you know what God tells us, but it's literally like a dad having a conversation with their child is the two of them, 'cause Vincent, who was the artist for faith and trained them for... He was like my co-onside kick and he would go and do sketches and stuff at coms... He has a daughter and I have my three girls. And this was just kind of sparked out of having conversations with her kids about what was happening in the world, so the kid that's actually in the books is supposed to be like an amalgam of both of our... All of our kids kinda like switched together, so that'll be fun.


0:59:07.9 S2: Very cool. Well, I think that sounds super exciting, there's always stuff happening, I will double down on that, definitely check out your backlog, you've got a very impressive and Dems back on to get through, I've been loving it, and I think I found you maybe last August, and since then, I've been reading and chugging and going through podcasts and finding stuff on love to nerd and pull this, which we didn't even get to talk about today. So there is a whole lot to Hector and a whole lot to this world that you've created, and I think it's super awesome, and I'm excited for anybody that might be discovering it for the first time from this podcast, or for those that have just had their fire re-kindle for you during this time, but again, I wanna thank you for coming on the podcast and I look forward to seeing what comes from the future of your ministry here. Thanks. Alright, and that is a wrap on the latest episode of The nerds of pray folks, I really hope that you enjoy this podcast, this show is distributed free of charge and globally, but we love your support and help, and the best way you can do that is by giving us a five star of you and


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