Jennifer Schlameuss-Elsensohn, pastoral associate in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, and her husband, the Rev. Jonathan Elsensohn of First Baptist Church, Freehold, are contributors to a new Christian devotional, “Thy Geekdom Come Vol. 2.”
Jennifer Schlameuss-Elsensohn, pastoral associate in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, and her husband, the Rev. Jonathan Elsensohn of First Baptist Church, Freehold, are contributors to a new Christian devotional, “Thy Geekdom Come Vol. 2.”

Jennifer Schlameuss-Elsensohn looks for Christian themes in all aspects of her life – including one of her favorite genres, nerd culture.

“Whether it’s a TV, movie, nature, human interactions … whatever’s going on in the world, I look for God there,” said the pastoral associate in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold.

That’s one reason Schlameuss-Elsensohn and her husband, the Rev. Jonathan Elsensohn of First Baptist Church, Freehold, are contributors to a new Christian devotional, “Thy Geekdom Come Vol. 2.”

The book, published by Mythos & Ink, is an ecumenical effort composed of 42 science fiction-inspired devotionals. Each includes Scripture readings and a short set of study questions. Writers come from numerous faith backgrounds and tie Christian themes to shows and movies such as “Doctor Who,” “Firefly,” “Teen Titans,” “Fringe,” “Star Trek,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” and more.

“The themes that are in sci-fi, fantasy and superhero genres are human. They show struggles and also use the same language as Christianity,” Schlameuss-Elsensohn said. “They talk about justice, sacrifice; they talk about journey, reconciliation, forgiveness. These stories really do cover main Christian themes …”

“Like faith, hope and love,” Rev. Elsensohn finished.

“The characters,” Schlameuss-Elsensohn continued, “fight for the vulnerable. Superheroes, for example, could take over the world, but they don’t. They fight horrible things to be rejected, to be scorned, to be outcast by the people they’re saving. It kind of reminds you of a certain man who died on the Cross for us, you know?”

“A lot of these superheroes work for the betterment of the world as a whole,” Rev. Elsensohn said. “And they face prejudice and distrust. The X-Men are an extended metaphor for what it means to be excluded because of who you are. … So this question of justice, this question of a better world that we all have to work into is fertile ground for exploration. If you come from a tradition that doesn’t have a lot of teaching about that as part of your ecumenical or denominational teachings, it can be a point of entry.”

Bringing different faiths together is one hope that Mythos & Ink has for the book – a sequel to “Thy Geekdom Come” published in 2019. Schlameuss-Elsensohn wrote a chapter for the first book, too.

“We purposefully set out to make an ecumenical devotional to learn from each other and to promote inclusion instead of division,” said Allison Alexander, Mythos & Ink editorial director.

Said Kyle Rudge, business and marketing director, “We approached “Thy Geekdom Come” with the belief that if each and every one of us is truly made in the image of God, then each of us has something to say and share about the God we love.”

For example, in “Vol. 2,” Schlameuss-Elsensohn tackles the subject of fear in writing about the animated superhero series “Teen Titans.”

“If we were never afraid, there would be no need for courage,” she writes, tying the lesson into the Book of Wisdom.

Together, the couple also author a chapter on the space Western “Firefly” and discuss themes such as disappointment and perseverance. “How do you experience God when things don’t turn out the way you hoped?” reads one of the study questions at the end of the chapter.

All three themes are especially poignant, the couple said, after a year of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. “Because even when you’re in the midst of fear and disappointment, there’s always that Christian hope,” Schlameuss-Elsensohn said.

Alexander says science fiction and similar genres have more in common with the Bible and Salvation history than one may think.

Rudge agreed. “One of the beautiful things about science fiction is that it sets moral questions in an environment that is far beyond our present circumstances. This distance allows us to freely engage with those moral and ethical dilemmas with our defenses down. Often, we learn a lot more about our true selves along the way.”