The Ultimate Quest: A Geek’s Guide to the Episcopal Church by Jordan Haynie-Ware – from Church Publishing
Reviewed by Amy Haynie
First, a few disclaimers:
- Jordan and I are not related by blood, although she and my spouse are related in some way that we have yet to figure out. Apparently I married into her family.
- I suspect I am out of the target age range of her new and fantastic book. However, I am firmly in the target geek range. I think I easily caught about 90% of the references to pop culture and fandoms. I started playing Dungeons & Dragons in eighth grade, 1981-2.
The Ultimate Quest: A Geek’s Guide to the Episcopal Church by Jordan Haynie Ware is a quick read for those of us who might consider ourselves geeks, gamers, or nerds, or just outside of the norm in any way. By quick, I mean that I read the entire book in about two hours. However, it is packed full of Episcopal Church history, norms, facts, and theology. It is a book I think I will keep on my desk to continually thumb through to find a succinct and smart way to describe churchy things and ideas.
My spouse, who is way out of the age and geek range, picked up the book as soon as I was finished. He was curious about it. He totally admits that he understood very few of the cultural references, but he really enjoyed the accessible history lessons and learning how what we do and wear in church evolved over time. He is not an Episcopal Church n00b; he has always been an Episcopalian (baptized when he was about 20 minutes old), grew up acolyting, and is married to an Episcopal priest. He is still reading bits and pieces of it all.
The book is laid out in such a way that it is easy to pick up to look up something specific. Much like a gaming manual, someone can pick it up and look up what they want to know. Or, they can pick it up and get immersed in a complete chapter, which will then direct them to another chapter based on what they need to know next – kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book. Ware is consistently cognizant of her target audience and never deviates from speaking directly to them. For example, when I first began to read her description of “The Adventure Path,” a chapter on what a typical church service might be like, I was put-off slightly by the dramatic language used. However, as I kept reading, her writing seemed more and more familiar. And then I remembered how the Dungeon Master used to describe settings and adventures in D&D games. That was the tone Ware was using. It is that kind of attention to detail that will draw in the geeks and gamers because it will be familiar and comfortable. It is unapologetically written in our common language. It balances practical knowledge with mystery and the unknowable.
Buy this book for yourself if you enjoy learning more about the Episcopal Church, or seeing pop culture references in describing why and how we are Episcopalian. Buy this book for your favorite nerd, or geek, or gamer. Sharing our Christian story, and specifically our Episcopal Church norms, has never been easier than giving a copy of this book. As Ware describes the reason for why someone would engage in the Ultimate Quest of following Jesus: “As we await the day of Jesus Christ’s glorious return, we engage the enemy as we are able: we protect the weak from the strong, we seek the gain of others instead of ourselves, and we love even those enemies whom we are fighting” (page 13). It is the ultimate quest and a lifelong journey of leveling up.