Cynthia Long is a librarian, folklorist, and writer with a focus in Celtic folklore, mythology, and history. She earned her M.F.A. in Fiction from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Penn., in May 2016. In August 2017 she presented at Doxacon, the Orthodox Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, on the topic of fairy tales and the famous C.S. Lewis quotation that says, "Some day you will be old enough to read fairy tales again." Cynthia was Chrismated in September 2012 and attends St. George Church in the Philadelphia suburbs, where she tends the parish library.
In August a cadre of “Geek-Orthodox” Christians arrived at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. for Doxacon, an Orthodox science fiction and fantasy convention. Founded in 2012 by Daniel Silver and Father David Subu of Protection of the Holy Mother of God Orthodox Church in Falls Church, Virginia, Doxacon is a place where believers can embrace their love for The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, comic books, and other speculative works within an Orthodox setting. (Full disclosure: I was one of the presenters Saturday afternoon.)
Doxacon builds on the advice of St. Basil to young men on the right use of Greek literature: “So we, if wise, shall take from heathen books whatever befits us and is allied to the truth, and shall pass over the rest.”
Fr. David Wey of Saints Constantine and Elena Orthodox Church in Indianapolis gave the clergy keynote Friday night and reminded the audience of Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s words that “a Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him.” In other words, science fiction and fantasy are compatible with faith.
Topics that weekend included a discussion of power in Marvel superhero movies; Dr. Who and death, resurrection, and eternal life; J.R.R. Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” as a guide for what makes good fantasy; Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”; video games; and more. The conference included a delicious catered lunch and dinner featuring Russian cuisine provided by Rus Uz of Arlington, Va. The banquet hall was decorated as Narnia with a prominent lamppost, and they even served Turkish Delight, the transgressive Narnia sweet, for dessert. Costumes and fan t-shirts were plentiful; I saw Wonder Woman and a wizard, among others.
Doxacon is different from other fan conventions because it is more than a celebration of genre; it is focused on exploring topics in depth. It is part fandom and partly academic. Not all of the speakers are Orthodox. Keynote speaker Leah Libresco chronicles her journey from Atheism to Catholicism in her book Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer. But during this weekend, she spoke about wizardry and healing the wounds of the world.
Doxacon is important because it shows believers of every Christian tradition that Christianity and genre aren’t inherently opposed.
“The core of Doxacon is the idea of discernment,” organizer Daniel Silver says. “Our faith should impact and influence all of our lives, hobbies included…As Christians, we also have a calling to engage with the culture around us.”
Doxacon is a way for Christians to integrate fandom and faith. Doxacon is held in Seattle, as well, and will next be presented February 10, 2018. The organizers are also trying to start a conference in Toronto. The next conference in Washington, D.C., will take place in November 2018. For more information on any of these events, visit the Doxacon website. We hope you can join us—with or without your superhero cape.
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