Possibly religious quote of the year. I simply could not let this one go by, for I nearly laughed my morning cereal out of my nose when I read this. To be honest, there’s a plethora of fantastic quotes in this story. The Reverend Avril Hannah-Jones of the Uniting Church in Romsey, north of Melbourne, is having a themed service where sci-fi and fantasy fans are encouraged to show up in costume for a “Sci-Fi and Fantasy Friendly Church Service”. They will hear passages from The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter as Hannah-Jones explores parallels between fantasy and Christianity, taking inspiration from Dr Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Wars.
You can see where this is going, right? I was already sniggering at this point.
The whole thing is aimed at increasing church attendance, but it has many flaws. For starters, a lot of SF fans are agnostic or atheist, but even putting that aside, when you start comparing the teachings of the Bible to great fantasy epics, while you’re being surprisingly honest, it does little to promote the supposed “truth” of the Bible. Especially when those literary classics are far more cohesive and interesting.
And naturally, the religious community is rather split on the whole thing. Here’s where those fabulous quotes start coming in. Brace yourself for a +10 Crushing Irony attack and be sure to don your Pot-Kettle-Black armour:
Catholic priest Gerald O’Collins said, “There should be no need to dress it up.” He’s referring to the Bible and the Christian message, of course. “There is a magical story there already. We just have to start selling ourselves properly.”
That’s right – what you need is a better PR department.
Uniting Church moderator Isabel Thomas Dobson said, “We’re always looking for ways in which we can connect the community with the truth of the gospel. We’re talking fantasy, not reality.”
Wait, are you talking truth or fantasy? In two sentences she sums up all the problems with religious scripture as fact. I know I’m being slightly facetious here in my interpretation, but the point is clear.
But all this pales into insignificance in the light of this gem from Mentone Baptist minister Murray Campbell: “I don’t have a problem with people enjoying sci-fi, but church isn’t the place to encourage escapism and fancy dress.”
Has he been to a church lately? The clergy love a bit of fancy dress, with their robes and hats and dog-collars and habits (denominationally determined, of course). And what more escapist activity is there than sitting in a building dedicated to communicating with your big imaginary friend who’s supposed to sort out all your problems and grant all your wishes, while hearing about virgin births, walking on water, raising the dead and so on?
Given that the Bible is one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time, even if it does need the input of a good editor, this whole thing amuses me no end.