Don’t mind me. I’m very grumpy lately because I have an ailment. No, you can’t know what it is. I would have to smite you if I told you, and I don’t feel like smiting. That would take energy I’d rather put into blarghing. So, those new to these writings, welcome to my blargh!
Speaking of smiting, when I was at WyrdCon in June, I was on a panel with Bernie Su of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, talking about fiction and how fans interact story worlds. We chatted about J.K. Rowling and how Harry Potter fans interact with her stories through fan fiction, costuming, LARPs and even Quidditch. We discussed how fans have immersed themselves in some of the greatest story worlds — from Doctor Who to Lord of the Rings — through their fan writings, group meetings, games and other events.
That’s when I had The Epiphany and I said:
Some of you might not like me much for saying this, and I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I just had an epiphany, which is this: the greatest example of fan interaction with a story is Christianity.
As half the people in the room picked up their jaws and poked their eyes back in their sockets, I went on describe the parallels between the lives and activities of Western religious believers — specifically Evangelicals — and those of fans. The desire to expand on the core story as written by the Author; the intense emotional connection with its characters; the gatherings with other fans; adjunct storytelling such as the tale of one’s conversion, and ongoing interaction with the original story but through prayer and other personal events.
And so on.
Before I was finished, Bernie exclaimed, “That’s brilliant!” And then I felt slightly less awkward. (Thanks, Bernie!)
It’s a nascent idea that needs deeper research, but it rings true based on my experiences both as a fan and as an ex-Evangelical, as well as a pagan. Maybe this is only true for Western religion but I can see how Neo-paganism could certainly be part of this phenomenon, as well, with worshipers building upon old narratives with new experiences connected to those characters and story lines.
This is interactive storytelling at its finest. The stories that touch us at our core are indeed the greatest stories ever told. It’s only natural that we interact with them and give back from our deepest creative — and dare I say spiritual — selves.
Wishing you all a blargh-free week!