Geek Wisdom: The sacred teachings of Nerd Culture Book Review


This book was edited by Stephen H. Segal and contains numerous commentaries on some of the most often said quotes from our favorite movies, cartoons and comics.  Everything from, Princess Bride the Bride of Frankenstein, or Doctor who, to Zelda even The Tick are covered in this book. While Nerd culture will hold these favorites the highest, and there are some quotes that are even obscure to me in the book, for the most part these quotes discussed have launched beyond just nerd culture to pop culture.   We nerds though, have a special attachment to many. “Ray, when someone asks you if you are a god, you say YES!” –Winston on Ghostbusters.  I of course don’t agree with that statement theologically, but I can’t help but recognize that I have used in the past for humor, and a kind of grand version of the lie to cover your own but.  The authors take that idea and runs with it.

The book begins when the author is asked, “What was your religion when you were growing up?” he states that is answer was, “u, science fiction, pretty much.”   While the author goes on to admit about Isaac Asimov, “He was not, obviously, God. He didn’t create the universe, humanity and everything in between” He does still contrast himself with a catholic friend who studied the gospel, while he read I, Robot.

Each of the nerd sayings included in the book can teach a lesson, or have come to represent something to us as a culture.  He divides it into six sections: My name is Inigo Montoya (wisdom about the self), Form Feet and Legs (Wisdom about relationships), we are all individuals (wisdom about humankind) Knowing is half the battle (wisdom about conflict) Billions and Billions (wisdom about the universe) and In the Year 2525 (wisdom about the future.)  The overall affect is to make cannon of important Nerd Dogma.  To the author, this would be the road map to understanding philosophy, theology and metaphysics through the lens of nerd culture.

I’m not yet 30 (but darn close) and I can remember a time when being a nerd, meant being an outcast. In present day this is no longer true, the nerds indeed have had their revenge. With the age of technology and the internet nerd likes and views, are affecting the world around us. Nerds like Bill Gates now have the money. Comic book movies have saved Hollywood and continue to dominate the box office.  Comics themselves are no longer throw entertainment, but collectible treasures. Nerd t-shirts are no longer a way to get beat up at school, but are a popular way of expressing yourself, just like a band t-shirt.  I can see the author’s point clearly; the nerd’s have reached escaped velocity from being outcasts and are now their own culture with norms and folkways which are presented clearly in this book.

What does this mean for Christianity and Christians Nerds in particular?  It can be argued that Nerd culture is just like any other culture, simple American or classic Greek. The literature of ancient Greece was quoted by Paul in Acts 17.

“Paul quotes two Greek sources here as support for his point that the creator God does not need temples or service from humans.  The first allusion is to Epimenides the Cretan, a poet also cited in Titus 1:12.  The original poem no longer exists, but it appears in a number of other ancient writers. The second citation is from Aratus, a Cilcian poet (Phaenomena 5).  The original line, “in him we move and live and have our being,” was pantheistic, but Paul spins this line into a statement about God as the source of our life.” – The reading through acts blog.

While we must never compromise our message itself, the way we transmit it will be different per culture. Missionaries from America require special training to work with tribes of people who are still live in orally based culture for examples. Knowing the lingo can actually help us relate. In other words Christian Nerds can reach non-Christian nerds.  Being a nerd itself isn’t sinful, nor is it inherently bad and the bible actually teaches us to start where People are and lead them to Christ.

That doesn’t mean there is no danger in this book. Just like in classic Greece or Rome, there are cultural gods that do not match that of our holy creator.  Sci-fi culture in particular does often have a secular humanist angle.  We must be weary of being in our culture, but not being swept away by it. Comic Con is a nerd holiday, it’s similar to American’s 4th of July in a way, a purely culture Holiday. Christians can enjoy both. But should they partake in the wild partying that occurs on the 4th of July? Or the ogling of booth babes at comic-con? No.   This book is similar, it’s great for laughs, and I can relate to it. Some of the lessons do match up with a correct biblical world view but many do not.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, never get your theology from fiction. Grab the book, get some laughs, even ponder on some of the things presented, but be careful you filter everything, and don’t be lead astray, into placing more importance on movie quotes or the ideas of some writer, than on the teaching and person of Jesus Christ.


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