Geek Orthodox Unite!

Geek Orthodox Unite!

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Where can you see a Greek Metropolitan speaking with a former atheist science-fiction writer who converted to Roman Catholicism while an American matushka wearing a Rose (Rosie) Cotton flowered crown and a Canadian matushka fantasy writer stand by and a young man in a flowing cape watches with rapt attention from the audience? Where can you go and drink Dragon’s Milk Ale at the Fellowship of the Geeks Dinner? Where can you buy black t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Geek Orthodox”? Where do 11-year-old girls who do a perfect Gollum impression mingle with a Hugo Award finalist? Where do women going overseas as missionaries talk to a former missionary priest and receive advice couched in language drawn from the Ender’s Game series? Why at Doxacon, of course!

DragonsMilkAleDoxacon is the wonderful child of the fertile imagination of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church (OCA — Romanian Diocese) in Falls Church, Virginia, USA. Fr. David Subu, Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, their matushkas, and a rather wonderfully creative congregation realized that what they all had in common was a high number of people who are self-professed geeks. And as geeks, they saw that there really was no place in Orthodoxy where Orthodox geeks could gather, enjoy each other’s company, cosplay, and talk about their favorite geek subjects in the setting of the Church. So, they decided to create such a place.

Doxacon was the place they created. This past weekend was the first Doxacon, but hopefully not the last. Workshops focused on geek subjects and geek science fiction / fantasy books, all in the context of the faith. Also present was the only geek hierarch I have ever met, Metropolitan Savas (Zembillas) of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Pittsburgh. His Eminence delivered one of the keynote addresses, as well as the sermon at the Hierarchical Liturgy at the end of Doxacon.

The Liturgy sent its own message. A Greek Orthodox hierarch together with a Romanian priest, a Cuban Antiochian priest, and a Slavic Protodeacon, all geeks, celebrated the ancient Liturgy, a Liturgy that by symbol, by icon, by non-current representative dress, and by ancient words repeated over and over through the years, entered into heavenly places and worshiped God.

Finally, it should be noted that, yes, the Klingon language was mentioned, as well as the Quenya and Sindarin Elvish languages.

But, the most important part of Doxacon was the networking that happened between authors and attendees. Many questions were asked. What does it mean to be a Christian author? How does one build one’s faith into the books one is trying to write? How does one sell a book to a publisher? What resources are available to Christian authors? Can one be an Orthodox Christian and cosplay? Is there a place in the Christian life for creative fiction that may not explicitly reference Our Lord Jesus Christ? It was key that one of our hierarchs was present, as this provided a stability and anchor for the questions that were asked.

I am already looking forward to the next geek Orthodox convention. But, first, I think what needs to happen next is for there to be a convention of this type west of the Mississippi River. I hope that some of the OCF chapters will become involved. We need more “Geek” Orthodox among us.

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Fr. Ernesto Obregon

I am a Cuban. My sister and I arrived in the United States of America in 1961. I was nine years old at the time and my sister was five. Yes, alone. Our mother, a widow, put us on the plane in La Habana, and we were taken to an orphanage upon our arrival in Miami. No, I never lived in Miami for longer than about six months. Yes, we and our mother were re-united. She escaped from Cuba by boat about four or five months after we arrived in the USA. We were re-united and were sent by the Catholic Welfare folk to Ohio, where they had found my mother a job and us a foster home while she learned English and got situated. So, I grew up in Ohio, had a paper route, learned to build snowmen, and moved from place to place as out mother got better jobs. Eventually she met a good man and re-married and we settled into his house in Mansfield, Ohio. I was a 15-year-old teenager.

Needless to say, none of this was necessarily guaranteed to keep me strong in the faith, although my mother tried. I rebelled during my teenage years and left Roman Catholicism for some vague hippie philosophies and a lot of rebellion. By 1970 I had been expelled from college after my first year, a year in which I was very confused and quite directionless. When I returned to Mansfield in defeat, I was approached by a friend who had become a “Jesus Person.” He took me to this “farm” that was filled with about four middle-aged adults and lots of early 20′s Jesus People. One of those adults was a Southern Baptist pastor, a former Campus Crusade staffer, and uncomfortable supervisor of hippy Jesus People, and is now the Very Rev. Gordon Walker, an Archpriest of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. His story, along with others whom I know, is chronicled in the book, “Becoming Orthodox” by the Very Rev. Peter Gillquist.

My journey was different. I eventually ended up as an Anglican priest, and a missionary. My wife and I served in both Bolivia and Perú, and our three intelligent and very perspicacious daughters spent a decade of their formative years in South America. I ended up as The Archdeacon of Arequipa of the Anglican Church of Perú, which is part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, which is part of the Anglican Communion.

We returned to the USA when our children began to attend college, and I took a parish in one of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church. Within less than four years, we realized that this was not a Church in which I could doctrinally live.

It was at this point that Fr. Gordon Walker came actively back into my life and told me that it was time that I came into Orthodoxy. He was right, and I have been Orthodox ever since. I was ordained in the Antiochian Orthodox jurisdiction, but am currently serving as an attached priest at a Greek Orthodox Church. God has blessed us. We have wonderful grandchildren. And we are truly blessed.