What’s the Holy Spirit Doing at Comic Con?

Picture this.

A row of inaudible, yet commanding TVs flashes above the stationary bikes. Behind my book, another screen counts down. Between reading paragraphs of this eighteenth-century theology of sanctification—I think my best theology on the elliptical trainer—I catch Whoopi Goldberg on TV. She’s at Comic Con.

Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan, courtesy of CBS StudiosWhat’s Whoopi doing at the center of all things gaming, super-hero, and sci-fi?

I sort through my sci-fi memories and find Whoopi portraying Guinan in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Guinan was the ship’s bar-tender and the captain’s informal counselor due to her advanced age, genetic predisposition to listening, and sixth sense.

Explore Strange New Worlds

Back to sanctification, that process by which Christians become righteous in point of fact as well as in Jesus’ name.

Contemporary New Testament scholar Gordon D. Fee claims that God warps time in order to transfer our future condemnation to Jesus in the past, thus creating for himself a futuristic people, who nevertheless continue to live “a life that characterizes God himself” in the present. The Holy Spirit is “the central element in this altered perspective . . .both the certain evidence that the future had dawned, and the absolute guarantee of its final consummation” (52–54).

Did you catch that?

The Holy Spirit helps ordinary believers become a futuristic, God-like society. The Holy Spirit actually implements a plan that speculative fiction has been exploring since before there were fairy tales.

Where No Man One Has Gone

Back to elliptical thinking. Who else portrays this extra-sensory helper in sci-fi and fantasy?

Gloria Foster as The Oracle, courtesy of The Matrix WikiaGloria Foster plays The Oracle in The Matrix. “An elderly woman baking cookies in an average urban apartment . . . is the great-and-powerful Oracle? Brilliant. The Oracle’s appearance manages to be both unsettling and comforting. What’s more comforting than a motherly figure in the kitchen baking? But do you have confidence in her words? Do you believe?” (The Matrix 101).

And then there’s an Asian woman named Sarayu as William P. Young’s idea of the Holy Spirit in The Shack.

Boldly Go

Back to our sanctification. Why, as Fee asks, does the church “continually [treat] the Spirit as a matter of creed and doctrine, but not as a vital experienced reality in believers’ lives” (37)? And why do we keep depicting our Holy-Spirit-figures as women of color?

There’s an unsettling, not so comforting, juxtaposition. I warned you, though. I think my best theology on the elliptical trainer.

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