Sunday, December 16, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: Wayfarer's Journal Day One

CSSF Blog Tour

You may have noticed that my location has changed. That's right, as of about a week and a half ago, my family moved from the home of the Jolly Green Giant to South Saint Paul, the home of .... uh .... I'll have to get back to you. I think present Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty was born here, but he's not many stories tall and made of fiberglass. At least, I don't think he is.

I seem to have gotten off topic a bit. Oh yeah. I moved recently. Our new home is not completely settled yet. There are boxes to be stored and pictures to be hung. So why am I at my computer, frantically typing away at a blog entry?

Because this month we're featuring Wayfarer's Journal, an on-line publication dedicated to science fiction with a spiritual edge.

I know I've harped on this in the past, but this is something that is sorely needed in Christian fiction. As Wayfarer's editor Terri Main said in a recent press release, with the ever changing technological landscape, Christians are being presented with new situations and dilemmas constantly. Wouldn't it be nice if, instead of having to deal with it in a knee-jerk, last-minute fashion, we could bat ideas around in a safe environment and see what kind of conclusions we draw?

Let me paint you a quick example. Researchers are constantly working on artificial intelligence. I don't know what they've gotten robots to do recently. Last I heard, I think they built a robot who could recognize emotions on a person's face. Personally, I won't be interested until they invent a robot that can clean our house from top to bottom (and no, Roombas don't count).

Anyway, let's say that at some point in the near future, some scientist whacks his head while hanging a clock in his bathroom and envisions how to creat a flux capacitor ... oh, wait. Wrong story. This genius scientist hits upon the quantum leap that allows a robot to think for itself. The robot is now an autonomous creature, a sentient being. We'll name the robot Gnosis (since Data is copyrighted). Would Gnosis have a soul? Could a mechanical being built in a lab by human beings be endowed with a spiritual side that seeks God? Who's to say that it (or he) can or can't?

I don't know about you, but the day Gnosis stumbles or rolls or whatever onto the scene, I'd rather have had some time to play with those thoughts and come up with some tentative answers rather than panic and go with a knee-jerk, gut-shot reaction. I mean, think of the furor that arose when human cloning became a real possibility. If we had had Christian sci-fi writers playing with that concept for a while, the Christian community might have been better suited to provide a rational, thought-out reaction.

Maybe it's just me that thinks that way. Whatever the case, I'm glad that there are more and more outlets for those of us who want to take flights of fancy into the speculative unknown.

So what will I talk about tomorrow? Probably not moving. Hopefully no more references to '80s movies. We'll just have to wait and see.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Great post, John. You've given us a whole 'nother reason for reading Christian sci fi.


Terri said...

Hey, sounds like a good story for, I don't know, Wayfarers Journal.

Seriously, I think science fiction is the perfect vehicle to explore many spiritual challenges. It's like Gene Roddenberry back in the 1960's was able to explore issues such as racism which were generally ignored by other TV programs. He could do it because it was different when it was an alien culture that was racist and not our own.

Something of the same sort comes to spirituality and science fiction. It isn't as threatening to the non-believer to consider spiritual issues when it's a robot or a clone seeking their spirituality than when it is "real life."

I love this post. WJ is very much a work in progress. We are working to make it better and there are a lot of improvements that can be made. This is maybe a good first step.

You can read my own critique of the site along with some of our plans for the future at:

Mark Goodyear said...

Your post made me laugh, John. And I like Terri's idea that scifi gives writers a way to "tell all the truth, but tell it slant."