One Faith, Many Paths: Chris Bern

bern1. How long have you been Christian? What was your childhood like?

I grew up Lutheran, and was nominally Christian, but God wasn’t central to our family.  We prayed at dinner and before bed, we attended church on Sundays, but we didn’t truly live by God.  It was a good childhood, though, with very loving, supportive parents who helped foster confidence and independence in me.  When I went to college I became agnostic and looked into other religions.  I reached a low point in my life when I was 28 and turned to Christ.  That was in 1998 and I’ve followed Jesus every since.

2. How long have you worked for Fans For Christ?

I first came across FFC at Dragon*Con in 2005.  Within the next year I became secretary for the group, and pretty soon I was helping lead worship services.  A few years ago I officially became co-director of the group and am in charge of the FFC efforts in the eastern half of the US.

3. Can you explain what your people do at conventions?

We set up a fan table and talk to people that come up to us.  Our purpose is to share Christ and the Gospel with people, but we aren’t heavy-handed about it.  We want to show those in the fan community that you can be a geek and a Christian.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  We also want to reach out to other Christian fans/geeks and give them a place of fellowship and community.  When possible we participate in con events such as marching as a group in parades, hosting and participating in panels, and otherwise being a light for Christ.  We also try to hold church services whenever possible, usually with a con-friendly theme.  God isn’t openly discussed much at cons, and we want to change that.  Yet we want to attract people to God, not turn them away.

4. Why do you feel that Christians who attack Sci-fi and fantasy, such as Harry Potter, are doing harm?

Many of us who are fans are very passionate about our interests.  I have seen all Star Wars movies when they were first released in the theaters.  I’ve been reading comic books since I could first read.  And I’ve been playing and running role-playing games for over 30 years.  None of that keeps me from loving God and following the Bible.  None of that affects my salvation.  These things aren’t central to my life, but they give me joy and entertainment.  When someone directly attacks these interests, especially without really knowing anything about them, they are indirectly attacking me.  Most fans and geeks feel similar, and feel that when a Christian belittles their passion it is a direct reflection on themselves as a person.  That Christian is then seen as narrow-minded and judgmental, as well as boring and uniformed.  Why would anyone want to be like that?   Christians who attack these things are certainly trying to look out for the hearts and souls of people, but in a very misguided way.  What is there in these attacks that would make anyone want to be one of those people?  Many fans have been condemned and hated simply because they liked anime or dressed like a Jedi.  Yes, there are absolutely things in fandoms and cons that are influenced by Satan and go against what the Bible teaches.  But most of it is harmless fun.  We should be trying to make people WANT to know Christ and WANT to be part of God’s kingdom.  Condemning them only pushes them away and makes them not want to have anything to do with Christ.  Christians shouldn’t be accepting of everything, but they should try to get to know the people and things they are talking about and find common ground.  That is a large part of the purpose of FFC.

5. What is your family like?

My wife and I are about to celebrate our 15th anniversary.  We have a son, Lucas, who is 12, and a daughter, Elena, who is 10.  My wife has a custom costuming business, A Touch Of Magic Costumes.  All of us are geeks and enjoy cosplay.  Our children have grown up going to cons and think that people who don’t attend them are boring.  My wife and daughter are very active in theater, while my son and I dabble a bit in it.  All of us are very close and it is important to us to make a point to do things as a family.  We are close-knit, but a bit of a unique family because of our hobbies and interests.

6. What is your job outside of FFC?

I’m a veterinarian who has been practicing for 16 years.  And I’m always happy to discuss my geek side at work!

7. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus?

Definitely the Apostle Peter.  I relate to him so well because he is the most “human” of Jesus’ disciples.  He was the most hot-headed of Jesus’ followers and routinely shot his mouth off and said things the didn’t mean and later regretted.  Yet at the same time he was one of the most spiritually strong, being the only person besides Jesus to walk on water, being the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and being one of the most successful preachers in the New Testament era.  Peter was so fallible and prone to mistakes, yet Christ recognized the strength of his faith and used it despite his flaws.  If Jesus can use someone as imperfect as Peter, he can use me also.

8. What is your favorite Biblical passage and why?

Proverbs 3:5-6.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Many things in my life haven’t made sense to me.  I’ve been turned down for jobs that I’ve really wanted when I felt that I was the most qualified person.  I’ve moved to places I never thought I’d live.  I honestly never thought that I would become a licensed minister, hold church services, and help lead a ministry.  In fact, if I go back and look at my life, nothing has ever really gone exactly in the way that I had planned and expected.  This passage in Proverbs really helps me get through those confusing times when I can’t see what is ahead of me.  I’m also a very strong-willed, stubborn, independent person who has a hard time letting go of things and turning them over to God.  When this happens I can go back to this part of Proverbs and remember that God tells me to trust Him completely and absolutely, and as long as I do HE will be the one in charge and will take care of my path.  It’s been a hard lesson for me, but I’m learning that His ways are better than mine.

9. Is there anyone who inspires you to be a better person?

My wife and children.  I want so much to be a better father, husband, and person, and how I act around the people closest to me helps with how I act around everyone else.  I’ve learned many things about myself since they have been in my life and have especially learned just how fallible and selfish I can be.  I wouldn’t be a minister if it wasn’t for my wife’s guidance and calling me out when I’m being pig-headed and stupid.  I’m learning patience and unconditional love from my children.  Other than God they are the focus of my life and the reason I keep going through the difficult days.

10. What evidence would you give for God’s existence?

Wow, I don’t even know where to begin!  I’ve studied a lot of apologetics and it’s impossible for me to quickly and succinctly give all of the evidence.  For someone who wants to delve into the details, I would recommend reading “The Case For….” series by Lee Strobel and “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” by Josh McDowell.  Both are excellent and exhaustive sources on how the Bible is accurate and how God really can exist and do everything that He has.  Personally I can simply see the change in me after I experienced salvation and how I am absolutely not the same person I was before that.

11. Are there any Sci-fi or fantasy programs you feel have brought you new insight into the Christian faith? (Excluding stuff like Narnia or Lord of the Rings, which is Christian to begin with) How did this happen?

Believe it or not, Firefly.  The character of Shepherd Book was created by an atheist, acted by a Buddhist, and is one of the best representations of a Christian that I’ve seen.  He is strong in his faith, but also very human and fallible.  He has a questionable background that he gave up to serve God.  He associates with known sinners and tries to bring light into their lives rather than condemning them.  I’ve long found him an inspiring character and one to admire.  It doesn’t change my faith as much as it shows me how our human failings can be overcome, as well as still affect us.  He sometimes shows fear in the face of death but also stands up to danger.  Too many times Christians and especially preachers are seen as somehow weak when their shortcomings are visible.  Book proves that the faith can still support someone even when things seem to be going wrong around them.

12. What is your opinion on the DC reboot? 

Okay, I’ll try to keep this relatively brief, but comic books have always been one of my biggest interests and passions.  I certainly can understand the reasons for DC’s reboot to the New 52, as there were decades upon decades of sometimes convoluted changes, characters, and other “baggage” that would make it hard for someone new to comics to understand. By completely wiping the slate clean in a way that had never been done (even in their previous “reboot” events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour) they made their series and characters more approachable.  I’ll admit that it helped get me back into DC comics.  On the other hand, the got rid of some beloved storylines and even characters.  And the timing is often confusing.  For example, in the new timeline over a five year period there were four Robins:  Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne.  How did all of those guys have time to be Robin in such a short period of time?  Some characters have been changed in unwanted ways, at least to me, such as the Creeper and Blue Devil.  And there are also many characters that still haven’t shown up, such as Metamorpho.  A lot of the minor characters from the previous DC universe have gone AWOL and we don’t know if they will show up.  So overall, I think it’s a mixed bag.  I love what they’ve done with Aquaman (one of my all-time favorite characters), but don’t like how they changed Green Arrow (another favorite of mine).  I really like the Earth 2 series and how they are modernizing the Golden Age characters such as Jay Garrick’s Flash.  I wasn’t as happy with Firestorm being two separate characters, and think that they went back to the merged being too late.  I do have to give DC credit for sticking to their guns and making this a completely new universe, not going back and putting things back to the old ways.

13. About your agnostic period, what led you back to the faith?

It’s actually kind of interesting.  When I was in college I had an opportunity to travel to the UK for a month of study as part of the honors program.  Being a young, rather naive American, I brought some unwanted jeans to sell on the street corners in London.  By the end of the trip I hadn’t worked up the courage to do so, but had run out of room in my luggage due to souvenirs.  Needing to get rid of the jeans, I walked into a church planning on donating them to the poor.  It was during the week so someone went to get the priest.  I sat in a pew waiting for him and looked around.  The church had been badly damaged during German bombing during World War II and remnants from the old stained glass windows were used to make new ones.  While I was sitting there just looking around, I suddenly felt the overwhelming presence of God.  There is no other way to describe it.  In an instant I was absolutely convinced that God himself was turning his eyes on me.  It was overwhelming!  I had not expected or sought this kind of experience and was unprepared for it.  I started crying and when the priest came out I’m sure I confused him as I shoved the jeans at him, tears running down my face, and blubbered something about giving them to the needy.  Then I quickly left!  I didn’t know what was happening, but I no longer had any doubt whatsoever that God was real!  Unfortunately, despite that experience I didn’t follow Christ.  I had no doubts that God existed, but I didn’t understand Jesus’ sacrifice and what that meant.  I didn’t live my life as I should have.  It would take me another 10 years before I would reach a low point in my life, realize that I had nowhere else to turn, and pray for God to accept me and forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Author: rocklobsterjwt

I am a Christian and an anime fan. My blog will cover anime reviews and maybe an occasional story

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s