Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Geekpreacher

Back when I started gaming one of the biggest controversies about the hobby was a group of busy-bodies who claimed that games like D&D were linked to everything from suicide to human sacrifice. They claimed to be doing The Lord's work, when what they were really doing was their work and slapping his name on it. My brother was repeatedly harassed by his bus driver for playing D&D. In my senior year of high school, the freshman managed to get a gaming club started (a continuation of the club they had in junior high) but the part-time, interim and likely senile principal forbid D&D. All of the other games were allowed, including Call of Cthulhu, but no Dungeons and Dragons. Other gamers had it worse, best illustrated in Spoony's review of the anti-D&D movie Mazes and Monsters. The funny thing to me was that I can from a Christian family, and it was my devoutly Christian mother that got us our first copy of D&D. She thought it would be help my brother overcome is introvert nature.

As the years have gone by, things seemed to have gone in a different direction. Instead of "You're not a good Christian if you're a gamer," now the attitude seems to be "You're not a good gamer if you're a Christian." There are a few people that are using the hobby as an excuse to spew their personal brand of religious bigotry. But through all of this comes a man that proves that you can be both a gamer and a Christian, and embraces his faith along with his hobby.



Meet the Reverend Derek White, aka the Geekpreacher.

Picture by Mark from Creative Mountain Games

As his nickname indicates, Derek is a geek and an honest to God preacher. I met Derek at GaryCon I in 2009, though that meeting was short (he had driven up from Tennessee that morning and spent a good portion of the day sleeping at the table). GaryCon II was a different matter, as we spent the majority of our non-gaming time hanging out together. What I found during that time was a man of devout faith, technological savvy and insurmountable joy. A man Wired.com described as "nothing if not approachable, friendly, and willing to share his perspective, as he demonstrated in his generous and thoughtful responses to my questions about parenting, Christianity and grognard geekiness."

One of the things I like about Derek is that he is open both about his faith and his geekiness. In fact, he doesn't see the two as being mutually exclusive. One of the nest examples I can think of is this video from Derek's YouTube account.


How many people do you know that would sit in front of shelves of gaming book, in a game store, and use them as a metaphor for living a virtuous life? I'm not talking about an alignment discussion, I'm talking actual real life virtue and morality. But that is the kind of man Geekpreacher is, a man who realizes that just because someone's interests take them into the realm of science, computers, fiction or gaming, does not mean that they are removed from God. He has found just the opposite, and will point out at a moment's notice that Gary Gygax himself was a Christian. He even goes as far as to work with groups like the Christian Gamers' Guild, which seeks to debunk the lies put forth about the hobby, and show support for those that identify as both Christian and gamer.

Overall, I think both sides of the Christian/gamer argument need to calm down. The two are not mutually exclusive. Thankfully, we have men like Derek who represents both sides of the issue admirably. If more gamers and Christians were like him, the world would be a better place.

Naturally, Geekpreacher can be found online at Geekpreacher.org.

2 comments:

  1. It's been a long time since I've played tabletop role-playing games (Dungeons & Dragons) and kind of miss it. But, you do have to have others willing to play along and folks my age have moved on to not only other things but the next life, in some instances!

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  2. The Geekpreacher sounds hella cool.

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