Ellen Elliott: Geeking Out with God (Part 2)
JF: Each movie, game, or other geek element that you write about in Geek and Ye Shall Find has its own chapter with a different biblical topic attached to it. For example, Star Wars and “Our Father,” Edward Scissorhands and “Appearances,” and The Lord of the Rings and “Treasure.” How did you match the themes with the different geek elements?
Ellen: All different ways. Some of them that popped in my head were no-brainers from the very beginning like Little Shop of Horrors. You think of Audrey II, this huge plant that is constantly trying to get Seymour to do bad things by whispering in his ear to murder people and feed them to it. To me, that was such an obvious representation of sin. So, I felt that’s definitely what the theme of that chapter should be.
Some of the other ones were harder to come up with. I knew I wanted to write about some specific themes, but I had to determine if there was a geek element out there that I could tie it to. Then I’d go searching for something from my past that I’d watch that really spoke to me.
Other times I knew that I wanted to write about a movie or show so I rewatched it until I felt a theme emerge. Like Superman – thinking about not getting to go back in time and change the consequences of our actions and that kind of thing. For me, it was fun to also read through the Bible and find stories and themes that really tied back in.
One chapter I really liked writing was the gaming chapter. The theme of the chapter is that I don’t know how to game. I wasn’t allowed to play video games growing up. So, I have no skills when it comes to that. I was thinking about how I would need somebody to teach me and be a game mentor to me. That made me think about the king in the Old Testament when Israel fell into such disrepair, and the temple was in ruins and everything, but he had a heart for God. He discovered that his beloved Israel was way off track, and he had no idea how to get them back on track. He basically had to start anew.
It’s never too late to try to do the right thing, to turn your life over to God, and to live the right way. Just like if I wanted to become good at games, it’s never too late. I could do that. I could find somebody to teach me. This is how my weird brain works.
There’s just odd connections that happen here or there. Maybe it was a movie that I liked, but there were a couple of scenes that really spoke to me in a big way. For example, I liked “X Files” back in the day. I used to watch it every Sunday night on FOX, but I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore X-Files fan. But there were certain episodes that always stuck with me.
The episode that I chose for the “X-Files” chapter had always stuck with me. I thought it was a really good representation of what legalism can do to us when Mulder and Scully go into this community that’s so tied to living within this community’s rules and then showing the destruction that it causes.
JF: Are there any movies, shows, or franchises that you connect to specific themes in the book that could have also been applied to other themes?
Ellen: I would say so. Yeah. The chapter I wrote on Warm Bodies pops to mind. In that one I talk about how I don’t like zombies. I don’t do zombies. There’s something about zombies that freaks me the heck out, but I love the movie Warm Bodies, which was actually written as kind of a Romeo-and-Juliet-type of tale. And it’s about zombies – one zombie in particular who has a human fall in love with him. This love that grows between them eventually brings him back to life.
I ended up going with the theme “New Life” for that. Similar to what happens to us after God gets ahold of our souls and how He gives us new life. But it could have also been about love and what love does to us – finding that special someone or finding out what love is really about. That could have been another. So many of these shows and movies have so many different themes you can pull from them.
JF: Did you have any worries or fears while writing the book and were there any chapters or topics in particular that you struggled with?
Ellen: Yes, big time. There’s a lot of things out there that I’ve watched that I loved and was able to get past certain kinky elements, like sex scenes or poor choices that people make. Because I’m firm in my faith and I know where my heart belongs, I didn’t see the danger in me watching some of that stuff. But I questioned whether I should promote it for other people through my book.
One example would be “X-Files.” The particular episode that I chose for the “X-Files” chapter is very innocent. There’s nothing in it. There’s not even really that much violence in it, and it’s off camera. But there are some “X-Files” episodes that I would never want my child to watch, nor would I recommend to other people. I can think of one episode of the “X-Files” that was never shown on TV in reruns because it was notorious for being really off the hook.
I don’t want to lead people down a path that they might struggle with in their life. If you’re struggling with lust, I don’t want to tell you to go watch the Princess Leia in the bikini scenes over and over again. For most people, that’s not really going to be a struggle.
I worried about that a lot, and I prayed about it. I had to have peace in the end about what I chose to write about.
One thing I did choose to stay away from was anything involving witchcraft. I think as Christians we know not to practice witchcraft. That’s kind of a given. But reading about it or watching movies about sorcery, witchcraft, dark arts, and things like that, Christians fall on different sides of the fence.
Even some of C. S. Lewis’ stuff – “The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe” – has magic in it. You’d be hard pressed to find a Christian that would say that C. S. Lewis didn’t tell this beautiful allegory of Christ’s death in “The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe”, but there’s the magic element that kind of makes it hinky.
For that reason, I chose to leave Harry Potter out of the book because I don’t want to lead people astray if that’s something they don’t feel they should be reading.
JF: Except for the title of the Introduction, which is a nod to the Harry Potter universe.
Ellen: I don’t know if anyone noticed but I have other odd references. There is an “Arrested Development” reference in there somewhere. I’d love it if somebody found it and showed it to me because no one’s noticed it so far.
JF: What other shows or movies did you consider that either never got written or got cut?
Ellen: “The Tick” got cut. “The Tick” got cut only because it’s so off the wall that I couldn’t find a theme. All of the ones that I picked have an element in it that you can pull some truth out of.
I wanted to write a chapter on Comic-Con – about the first time I went to Comic-Con. I ended up shifting that one into cosplay and talking about cosplay. But with that one I wanted to talk about finding your community. That one happened to make the chopping block.
There were a couple of other things out there. It usually just came down to there wasn’t enough room or I just could not pull a theme out of it.
JF: What about “Freaks and Geeks”? That seems perfect for your book.
Ellen: That was the other thing. There’s so many little geek cults out there. For some of them, I wondered, ‘Can I really use this?’ Like UHF. I’m a huge Weird Al Yankovic fan, but I don’t know how many people have actually seen UHF. I felt that theme worked really well, and I think there’s enough of us out there that it worked.
“Freaks and Geeks” was another one of those where I knew there was a hardcore audience out there, but I just couldn’t find the theme.
GEEK AND YE SHALL FIND, Copyright © 2019 by Ellen Matkowski. Used by permission of Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408. www.harvesthousepublishers.com
Order your copy of Geek and Ye Shall Find: Devotions for Nerds, Geeks, and Dorks Everywhere by Ellen Elliott
John Farrell is the Digital Content Manager for www.inspiration.org. In addition to having written more than 1,000 articles, press releases, and other pieces content for Inspiration Ministries, NASCAR, Lionel, and Speed Digital, he authored The Official NASCAR Trivia Book: With 1,001 Facts and Questions to Test Your Racing Knowledge in 2012. John is a graduate of Appalachian State University and lives in Concord, N.C., with his wife and two sons.
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