August 4, 2015

Welcome to TheoNerd. Ben and I are the hosts of TheoNerd, a blog and podcast about the intersection of nerd culture and theology/religious studies. As a practical theologian, my work focuses on the practices of lived religion as the foundation for my scholarship. I see lived religions happening in communities sharing stories they hold sacred, with exemplars showing what is virtuous in the community.

As a life long nerd, my understanding of nerd communities shows that they are full of these characteristics. There are many shared stories – in Star Wars, Harry Potter, the Marvel and DCU there are canons, fanons, and apocrypha. Nerd communities gather for weekly events – each week the new comics hit the shelves on Wednesdays, for annual holidays like Free Comic Book Day, the latest summer SciFi blockbuster, the latest comic book film premier, with regular pilgrimages to SDCC, NYCC, Wizard World, and definitive exemplars in Chris Hardwick of Nerdist, Felicia Day of Geek and Sundry, alongside a host of others like Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, Allie Brosh, Anita Sarkeesian, and G. Willow Wilson, and this list could go on and on of folks who demonstrate what is virtuous and best about nerd culture.

Nerd culture, and pop culture in general is so rich because it displays implicit beliefs and thoughts about things that really matter – good must fight against evil, power comes with responsibility, skill takes practice, effort, and attention. Tony Stark not only saves the day with his technology, enormous wealth, and genius, he also attends AA meetings. Wil Wheaton entertains us in his acting, but also improves the moral character of nerd communities by calling us all to better behavior with his famous Wheaton’s Rule.

Ben, my cohost on TheoNerd, is interested in video games. My own interest in nerd culture is more invested in the comic book/graphic novel realm, and all things zombie – from the movies to the books to the comics. There is a group of scholars who deal with religion in comics at the website Sacred and Sequential. I was a guest blogger for Boston University’s STHConnect, with a post about the imaginative and worshipful power of the summer comic book film. You can read a chapter I authored about depictions of the divine in comics and graphic novels in Graven Images.

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