This weekend just gone was the weekend of London’s MCM Comic Con. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a massive exhibition in London’s ExCel Centre crammed full of stalls selling anything and everything that’s in some way related to sci-fi and fantasy TV, films, books or games. I don’t know how many thousand people were there, but I had to queue for an hour and a half to get in and that was with a ticket! I pity the people buying on the door.
This post isn’t gong to be a review or a description of Comic Con or anything like that. I hope it’s a bit more general and a bit more relatable than those kinds of posts as what I’m really driving at is what it’s like being a Christian in that sort of environment. Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong with Comic Con itself (if there was I wouldn’t have gone) the fact remains that because of the sci-fi/fantasy nature of the event there will have been a lot of people there who weren’t Christian (which obviously isn’t a crippling issue for me in itself) and there was also a lot of stuff there which, as a Christian, I just would never be interested in.
This form of event is popular with strands of alternative culture that can be pretty far away from what I’m comfortable with as a Christian. There were times when, looking around at some of the stands and costumes I felt like a bit of an outsider there. Clearly not everything at the event fell under the list of things to focus on in Philippians 4 (whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy). So why go?
I wanted to go, along with two of my friends (who are also Christian) because there was a lot of stuff there that I love. I’m a big Marvel fan, which was probably the main draw for me, but there were other things that I enjoy there too. These things are entertaining, and I enjoy them as a Christian and a human being because I find them fun. That’s all there is to it really. Being a Christian at an event like Comic Con can be challenging in some aspects, because you know there’s stuff there that you don’t agree with (for example, partly as a Christian and partly because I’m just me I hate all things horror-related, and that’s a big part of some aspects of the sci-fi/fantasy scene), but the way I see it it’s also a lot of fun because you’re somewhere that you want to be and can enjoy being.
I think that for a lot of Christians, and I know I’m generalising, sci-fi/fantasy can seem like a very strange, alien thing. Some people connect parts of it with the occult and neo-paganism, that sort of thing. And I won’t lie, there are some aspects of it that do have those sorts of links, and at a place like Comic Con you’re going to be more exposed than you might otherwise be. But at the other end of the scale, there’s a lot of good within this sort of thing. Many Christian writers have used sci-fi/fantasy as a creative outlet, and many of those involved in the genre just want to use their imagination and have a bit of fun. I’d identify with both of those positions. I guess like most things in our fallen world, there’s good and evil rubbing shoulders in sci-fi/fantasy. At a place like Comic Con I guess that becomes clearer than at other times.
I, for one, had a fantastic day out on Saturday, and my friends with me did as well. Being in the ExCel for those 5 hours was like temporarily being in another, very busy world. There was so much to see and do; even in those 5 hours we didn’t get round all the stalls, not by a long shot! It was a chance to be in an environment with a lot of people who often like the same things as we do. The atmosphere and the community was just as good as the stalls themselves. I wouldn’t want to lose that for the sake of avoiding some of the darker stuff – we didn’t need to spend any time looking at stuff we didn’t want to anyway.
I guess that being a Christian in that environment does mean that you’re in the minority. So what? God needs people at Comic Con as much as he needs them in youth centres and outreach projects. I didn’t go round the exhibition preaching, and a lot of this is written in retrospect, but I think it’s important that we don’t avoid places like this as Christians, especially if there are large aspects of them that we enjoy, as I do. Talking about sci-fi/fantasy as a Christian is something that I love to do, and if you’re a Christian and not sure what to make of it all then I’d love to engage with you in the comments or something. And I just want to finish with an encouragement to Christians that although we live in a world where many things don’t honour God, one of the reasons I believe we’re still here is that we, with God’s power, can draw out and display the things in the world that are beautiful, and we can go to Comic Con or anywhere knowing that we are secure in God’s grace and that His power is with us.