Comic-Con Teaches Us About Bible Reading

Recently I came across a 2009 post which highlights for me a larger conversation in the world of fans. The post speaks of two different types of fans - affirmational fandom and transformational fandom.

(Hang with me this is really about how we read the Bible.)

As I understand it, these two types of fandom relate the the source material differently. Affirmational fans will memorize the source material and correct you if you are wrong. Affirmational fans might tell you that Dumbledore is an Old English word for “bumblebee and would be able to tell you what Voldemort would see if he looked at a boggart. The affirmational fan is about details and more details. They get these details from source material. The Harry Potter books, J.K. Rolling interviews, reading and making connections that are justified by the original source. The affirmational fan is what we think of when we think of a fan.


If affirmational fans see the source material as the end of the conversation on a topic, the transformational fans sees the same material as a jumping off point. If is the transformational fan that might write fan-fiction, stories inspired by but not rigidly bound to the source. It is the transformational fan that might point out some of the shortcomings and oversights in the original and make a case to correct it. For instance, the transformational fan might point out the lack of racial diversity in the Harry Potter series and make a story of the founding wizards being people from non-anglo DNA.

You can see where the affirmational fan might take offense. What sort of person would take it upon themselves to make up a story about Ravenclaw being from China when clearly she was from England.

Here is the kicker - Affirmation and transformative fans are both fans. They are both expressing their devotion to a story in very beautiful ways. It might be said that one might not be able to be a transformative fan without appreciating the affirmational fan. And even the most ardent affirmational fan likes to imagine themselves in the story (even though they clearly are not a character in the book).

Likewise, Affirmational Bible readers and Transformational Bible readers are still big Bible readers. You may think that being a Christian is to know the details and the specific rules as a way to mark you as a true disciple. You might think that being a Christian means to know the stories of Jesus and then to have the imagination to dream what new thing God might be doing - even if it is seen as a deviation from the affirmational Bible readers idea of what it means to be a Christian.

Too often I find people who want to be a transformational bible reader but are squashed by the affirmational bible reader. Too often I find transformational bible readers rolling their eyes at the affirmational bible reader. The truth is that we need both the affirmational and the transformational bible readers. We need people to lift up the details and the source canon and we need others who will point out the flaws within the canon and imagine stories that can address the flaws.