Many adults have never cracked open a Bible, but they have spent hours lost in the world of science fiction.
(LUMBERTON) — When Hector Miray shares the Gospel, he’s never quite sure who’s going to be listening.
Miray, a pastor and author of several books in the “Faith and Fandom” series, will head a discussion group Sunday at Raleigh’s SuperCon pop culture festival. The annual gathering includes a seminar on finding faith in comic books and science fiction — seeking God in the geek, if you will.
“People will be able to bring up things that are encouraging to them, or intriguing to them, in the world of pop culture,” said Miray. The 35-year-old location pastor of Lumberton’s Vertical Church has been at the forefront of “Geek Church” for more than a year.
The door is open for anyone from custodians of the arena to Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s an unusual ministry, but one that Miray seems uniquely qualified to fill. With an engaging smile and an ability to blend scripture and sci-fi, people who might otherwise never see the inside of a church feel at ease talking with him.
“I was leading a Geek Church event in Myrtle Beach last year, and one guy came up to me afterward,” Miray said. “He said he hadn’t set foot in a church in six years before then. Maybe he’ll try it again.
“We have a lot of people tiptoe in, or peek in. They think maybe it’s a sort of deal where everyone dresses up and we act silly. Well, we might act silly sometimes, but when it comes to sharing faith, we’re serious.”
Miray, a life-long comic book geek, started writing his “Faith and Fandom″ series after realizing that mainstream churches were big on comics and cartoons for children, then in the words of Paul, they “put away childish things.”
The only problem: Comics aren’t childish things to many people. And while many adults have never cracked open a Bible, a lot have spent hours lost in the world of science fiction. They wouldn’t know Sampson or John the Baptist, but they know Superman and Batman. They might not know about David smiting Philistines, but they’ve seen Ash from “Evil Dead” take a chainsaw to zombies.
Miray understood that when, as an assistant pastor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, he discussed the pressures of college life with students. He saw a spiritual longing, a search for answers. That desire led him to write a series of short essays that lined up superheroes and sci-fi to the Bible. Those essays became the first of his “Faith and Fandom” series, which has grown to four volumes.
“I’m actually getting to work on Part Five,” Miray said. “You think you’ve done everything possible, then God shows you something new.”
The latest essays reflect a “deeper dive” into philosophy, he said, “but we want people to be able to relate. The idea is to think about how matters of faith are shared with the reader.”
or example, Miray examined the attitude’s of Spiderman’s alter ego, Peter Parker, to David as he prepared to fight Goliath.
“David was not the biggest and strongest, but he had confidence in God,” Miray said in a recent devotional. “It’s a lesson that Peter (Parker) could learn — he’s more than the uniform.
“In the film, Peter makes some very bad life choices, and Ironman comes to him and takes away his Spider suit. Peter objects, saying he’s nothing without the suit.
“Ironman hits him back, saying ‘If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it in the first place.’
“A lot of times we’re like Spiderman. We fixate on the suit in our lives. We hide behind them, thinking they give us life. A lot of times they don’t give us that much really. We end up on the Peter Parker side of things. We need approval. Instead, we need to be comfortable in who God created us to be.”
It’s not all deep thought, though. For the first time, Miray said, Pokemon is part of the book.
“I always said I’d never include Pokemon,” he said. “Then Pokemon Go came along last year, and my daughters were absolutely obsessed with it. So there’s always something new to learn.”
Want to go?
“Finding God in Geek Culture” begins at 11 a.m. Sunday in Room 303 of the Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury St. For more information, go to raleighsupercon.com.
This article was obtained from: fayobserver.com– Staff writer Chick Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com.