Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Christian Initiation and Geeky Coming of Age

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By the time this posts, I’ll have spent two full days at a workshop learning how to more effectively navigate people through the rather detailed stages of Christian Initiation in the Catholic Church. There are so many moving parts: say these things here, do these actions here, meet the bishop here, pour water and oil there… it’s enough to make a theologian’s head spin. Today’s Catholic Initiation can be pretty simple or pretty complicated. But it got me thinking about how much simpler initiation experiences seem in some of my favorite geeky stories. Often we’re treated to a single coming of age ceremony or experience that makes a character an adult or a full member of their community. But these ceremonies still serve an important role in our characters’ lives, and we can see parallels between them and the kinds of things religious people do to mark the stages of initiation into their community.

Of course, initiation ceremonies aren’t just limited to Christianity or even to religion. From Masonry to fraternities and sororities to clubs to professional organizations, rituals and oaths are how we mark that someone is “one of us”. Christianity is the religion with which I’m most familiar, so I’ll use it as a lens to view some examples of coming of age and initiatory experiences in geek culture. I’d certainly be interested to see a similar treatment from a different (particularly non-Western) religion’s perspective. So let’s dive in.

Some spoilers for Dune, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Giver, and Doctor Who below.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Possibilities, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bananas by rosa_acicularis

rose and her doctor

image via suuuz

“I didn’t come here because I thought you needed me,” he said, his voice low. “I knew you didn’t. I didn’t come because I missed you, though I did. I didn’t come because I love you, though I think I must, given the evidence.” His thumb traced the curve of her cheek. “I came back because I’m old and tired and selfish, Rose, and I wanted to see you again. Because I finally could, and I didn’t think of the consequences.”

Rose closed her eyes. There was a sour taste in her mouth, like metal and blood and heartbreak, and she almost didn’t have the breath to say what needed to be said. “I can’t go with you.” She turned her face away, and his hands fell to his sides. “I’m sorry. I can’t leave them again.”

There was a silence. “If you can’t come with me,” he said, “can I come with you?”

Her eyes snapped open. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know,” he said, his expression wary. “What do you want it to mean?”

Rose Tyler has always been my favorite Doctor Who character. Most people think it’s one of the Doctors, probably Ten, but I’ve always loved Rose best. To quote the Doctor, “Everything she did was so… human.” She was adventurous and clever and passionate, but she was also reckless and juvenile and selfish. In other words, she was allowed to be a human character with human flaws. That’s something we, unfortunately, rarely get to see in a female character. And so I was really annoyed with the “Doomsday”/”Journey’s End” plotline that stranded her in an alternate universe, brought her back, and then sent her back permanently. It felt like a half-assed compromise between the part of the fanbase that wanted Rose gone and the part that wanted her to stay, and it didn’t particularly make much sense.

As for character development, I was thrilled that older Rose got to take a level in badass, capitalizing on all her positive traits—but less than thrilled that any character development with her negative traits was left to the wayside. Still so selfish. Willing, again, to give up her family at the drop of a hat to be with the Doctor. Eventually I came to realize that the Rose/Doctor relationship that I wanted to happen (as opposed to the one we were given) wasn’t possible within the constraints of the show. Rose would always have to fight her way back to the Doctor, where the plot was happening, and the Doctor would always need a rotating crew of young female companions for, I dunno, reasons.

Fortunately, when life gives you crap TV, write fanfic, right?

Allons-y!

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The Day of the Doctor Review

doctor-who-50th-anniversary-teasers-and-trailer-description (1)Oh my Gallifrey.

I could not be more pleased with Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary episode. It may not have been perfect, but it certainly was one of the most entertaining episodes of Doctor Who that we’ve seen in a very, very long time.

(Spoilers, Sweetie!)

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In Brightest Day: the Tenth Doctor

This is another post I’ve been putting off for a while. The truth is the Tenth Doctor’s emotional baggage could fill a dump truck. He’s been through the ringer multiple times, and had to deal with a lot of memories that, by the end of his life cycle, would be just too much for a normal man.

But this isn’t a normal man. This is David Tennant.

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Oh, My Pop Culture… Devil? Doctor Who’s Impossibly Confusing Planet

Don’t get me wrong, fellow Whovians; I love the “The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit” double episode. It’s got the shippy Ten/Rose stuff that I live and breathe; it’s got genuinely interesting sciencey-wiencey concepts, it’s got foreshadowing to die for, and it’s got an edge-of-your-seat, truly terrifying plot. I’d easily rank this among the scariest episodes of Doctor Who, maybe beaten only by “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”.

the satan pitWhat about theologically, though? This episode presents a lot of interesting and potentially confusing ideas that I’d like to parse through. Continue reading

Celebrating the “brotp”: Ten Awesome Platonic Friendships

Pretty much everyone who has read fanfiction has an OTP—a One True Pairing that they ship harder than anything else. But what about the couples that are just awesome buds, and who you like together as friends but not romantically? Well the recently coined term ‘brotp’ is there for you. And since Valentine’s Day puts and unnecessary emphasis on being in a romantic relationship, I figured I’d take this post to give a shout-out to some of the awesomest platonic friendships out there.

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