Fear and Trembling in the Flash: Gods and Anti-Gods on the Throne

By Dr. Joel B. Kemp Images, attributes, and powers associated with God in the biblical tradition abound in comic books.  Typically, we think of these divine characteristics in connection with our favorite heroes and heroines, such as Wonder Woman and Superman.  These characters are celebrated for their strength, courage, intellect, and self-sacrificial love that benefits…

Review – ΘeoCon: Where Theology and Popular Culture Meet

I had the privilege of attending ΘeoCon in Alexandria, VA at Virginia Theological Seminary last weekend. This was a great event on the intersection of Theology and Pop Culture. Rather than write a review myself, I wanted to draw attention to James McGrath’s review of the event over at his blog. James has laid out a…

Interview with Church of the Geek Podcast

Hello everyone! I was recently invited onto the Church of the Geek podcast by Brian Bennett and Sam Blair to discuss the blog and the book series. We had a great discussion about the intersection of Theology and Pop Culture, and I wanted to share that podcast with you and encourage you to follow Brian…

Crazy Rich Asians and Christianity

By Dr. Linh Hoang This summer, the widely popular and spectacularly successful movie Crazy Rich Asians made Asians evermore visible to the point of being now a popular mainstay of American culture. Many Asians exuded pride in seeing an all-Asian cast dominating the big screen and drawing a diverse crowd across the globe. The movie is…

Wakanda Forever – The Black Panther Theology Syllabus

Hello friends! I wanted to share a project that Rev. Kimberly Hampton, co-editor of the upcoming Theology and Black Panther volume from Lexington books, has been working on for awhile now. She has been constructing a syllabus entitled “Wakanda Forever – The Black Panther Theology Syllabus.” I encourage you to check it out here. This is…

Sacha Baron Cohen is Satan

By Jack Holloway Sacha Baron Cohen is making a lot of news with his new Showtime special Who is America? The concept for the show will be familiar to those who know Baron Cohen’s work: he disguises himself as whacky characters and gets people to do crazy things under misleading pretenses. Among the characters this…

Call for Papers: Theology and the Star Wars Universe

Call for Papers: Theology and the Star Wars Universe Editor: Ben Espinoza (theologyandstarwars@gmail.com) Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking contributions for an edited volume from Rowman and Littlefield on the intersection of theology and Star Wars. Essays may focus on any of the films, TV series, books, and other media that comprise the Star…

Teaching Gospel Texts and Mimesis with Superhero Stories

From our friends over at Sacred and Sequential: Dr. John Fadden discusses how he teaches Gospel texts and mimetic theory to students who would be otherwise interested in those topics. His solution: incorporating superhero narratives. “Finally, the activity left an impression on the students. I could talk to students about the narratives without them jumping to…

Call for Papers: Theology and Star Trek

Call for Papers: Theology and Star Trek  Editors: Shaun C. Brown (shauncbrown@yahoo.com) and Amanda MacInnis Hackney (macinnishackney@icloud.com) Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking contributions for a potential edited volume from Rowman and Littlefield on the intersection of theology and Star Trek. Essays may focus on any of the television series or films that make…

Pharisees, Jedi, and a New Ecclesia

By Ben Espinoza To be honest, when I first saw The Last Jedi, I wasn’t a huge fan. Rey’s a nobody? Snoke’s dead? Luke’s gone? I thought most other folks would agree with me. Turns out, they didn’t. Over time, I sought to understand how folks could possibly like this affront to the Star Wars…

EXTENDED Call for Papers: Theology and Black Panther

Call for Papers: Theology and Black Panther  Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking contributions for a potential volume from Rowman and Littlefield on the character of Black Panther in comics, television, and film with a specific emphasis on Black Liberation Theology. Essays should be written for academics, but avoid “jargon” to be accessible for…

Secret Invasion: How to Trust Other People

By Corey Patterson Marvel Comics’ Civil War event was one of the biggest phenomenons to shake up the comic book world. The tensions between those heroes in favor of superhero registration and those who weren’t continue to reflect our conflicting desires of freedom and security. Marvel cleverly expanded these themes in the next event to hit…

Worship and MacLaren’s Pub

By David Tassell “I wish we had our own MacLaren’s pub!” Fans of How I Met Your Mother are likely to resonate with this sentiment. After several seasons, something about the familiar central place for the whole gang to meet and Barney’s antics to flourish becomes an attractive ideal for 20- and 30- somethings and…

Sorry to Bother You…But We Need a Prophet

By Fr. Linh Hoang Sorry to bother you is a statement that polite telemarketers say when customers answer their phones. It is a way to get your attention and draw you into their sales pitch. Sorry to Bother Youis also a movie about Cassius Green an unemployed, black Oakland, California resident who lands a telemarketing job….

Become Ocean’s Spiritual Frontier

By Sam Bennett  Born in Mississippi and raised amid California’s suburban sprawl, composer John Luther Adams lived for forty years in Alaska. Not just a vague source of inspiration, he intended to produce a translation in sound of Alaska’s surrounding environment. His most celebrated attempt is the symphony Become Ocean (2013). A key element of…

Islamic Arts and “Arabian Nights Mode”

By Fatima Hye As a Muslim in America, I always felt that there was a rift in our community. Either you were a practicing Muslim, and therefore had zero interest in the arts, or you engaged in the arts, but weren’t very practicing. In my view, this issue (that other faith-based communities sometimes face as well:…

Call for Papers: Theology and the Marvel Universe

Call for Papers: Theology and the Marvel Universe Editor: Gregory Stevenson (gstevenson@rc.edu) Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking contributions for a potential edited volume from Rowman and Littlefield on the intersection of theology and the Marvel Universe. Essays may focus on comic books/graphic novels, film, and television/streaming series. Essays should be written for academics,…

Chaos and Order in the Works of Grant Morrison

By Abigail Bilby Religious scholars argue that the battle between chaos and order has been in existence since before humans were able to conceive of it (Mobley p. 16). Ever since their arrival, humans have carried an obsession with the idea of chaotic beings and events existing in direct conflict with what is considered to…

EXTENDED Call for Papers: Theology and Game of Thrones

Call for Papers: Theology and Game of Thrones  Theology and Pop Culture extending the deadline for abstracts to AUGUST 1 for a potential volume on the work of George R.R. Martin and the world of Game of Thrones. Essays should be written for academics, but avoid “jargon” to be accessible for the layperson. Potentials ideas…

Kingdom Hearts and Learning to Walk in the Dark

By Corey Patterson Right before the start of E3 this year, we were granted with the release date of the much-anticipated Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts 3: January 29, 2019. The franchise has received a massive influx of fans with the multiple installments throughout the years, and it’s showing no sign of coming down. I…

Grant Morrison, Final Crisis, and the Power of Apocalyptic Storytelling

By Julie Rivera Anyone that has heard a Grant Morrison interview can deduce that he has some interesting ideas about the world, which he portrays using metafiction, unique storytelling, and spirituality. While Morrison does not identify as a Christian, some of his works reflect Christian themes. His graphic novel Final Crisis uses the idea of…

‘In God We Trump’ – Film Review

From our friend Rev. Leah Schade over at EcoPreacher: “How is it possible for those who profess to follow a savior who preached inclusivity, respect for all peoples, humbleness, and nonviolence to venerate a man whose every Tweet, every speech, and every action flies in the face of our understanding of what it means to…

What an Old Hollywood Melodrama Taught Me About the Gospel

By Louis Markos At the core of San Francisco (1936; W. S. Van Dyke), as at the core of so many film classics, is a love triangle. Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald), the innocent, devout daughter of a country parson, has come to the Barbary Coast in hopes of becoming a singer. As the story progresses,…

The Power of Narrative Preaching (or: The Pastor as Dungeon Master)

By Rev. Samuel Blair One of the side things I enjoy is playing fantasy roleplaying games with a group of friends online. Destroying giant bees ridden by bow-wielding goblins from the comfort of my office chair is always fun. However they can be very exciting not merely for the fun of fighting but the chance…

FREE Bible and Culture Class

Hello everyone! I wanted to let you all know that I (Matthew Brake) am teaching an 8-week class on the Bible and Culture online for a small Christian school in Bowie, MD called William Seymour College. William Seymour is a new school, led by a former professor of mine named Dr. Estrelda Alexander, who founded…

Fenway Park: From Profane Space to Sacred Place

By Michael Xiarhos, Ph.D. What is it that makes a place sacred? Essentially, we are talking about creation, that is the creation of the sacred place from profane space. Sacredness can be attributed to a certain place because of a singular event associated with that particular location: The Sepulcher in Jerusalem is a prime example of…

Sex, Prayer, and Broken Being in Nymphomaniac

By The Very Reverend Archimandrite John Panteleimon Manoussakis (For Antonio Mizael) “Yahweh, you seduced me unlawfully, and I consented to being seduced; you raped me, and you were too strong for my resistance to prevail.” Jeremiah 20:7 “Thou art victorious; open-mouthed he gapes at your beatitude, you took him as a woman, cut him through, opened…

The Infinite Strangeness of Atonement

By Corey Patterson [WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!]       If you’re a Marvel fanatic, you’re probably still wiping the tears from your eyes after Infinity War. The film lived up to the “war” in its name with the mad Titan Thanos wiping out half of the life in the universe. His murderous act was…

Call for Papers: Theology and Prince

Call for Papers: Theology and Prince Editors: Rev. Katrina E. Jenkins (kejenkins@rollins.edu) & Jonathan H. Harwell (jharwell@rollins.edu) Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking contributions for a potential edited volume of essays on theology and the life, music, and films of Prince Rogers Nelson. Essays should be written for academics, but avoid jargon in order…

The Incarnation as Condemnation in Lars von Trier’s Dogville

By The Very Reverend Archimandrite John Panteleimon Manoussakis Lars von Trier’s Dogville offers us an alternative interpretation to the mystery of the incarnation than what Christianity has traditionally come to understand in Christ’s humanization. Instead of the possibility of salvation, Dogville suggests Christ’s incarnation as the possibility of a universal condemnation. The story of God-becoming-man remains…

A Different Kind of Power: Superman and Paul Tillich

By Corey Patterson If the average person is asked to describe Superman, chances are they will undoubtedly talk about his vast strength. They would speak of his ability to leap tall buildings and pick up cars. However, few would describe his caring personality and kind demeanor, and to be fair, these have been deemed secondary…

Traditionalism, Modernism, and the Spirit of the Crowd

By Cole DeSantis The French philosopher, literary critic, anthropologist, and sociologist René Girard has garnered much attention among certain Christian theological circles. Bishop Robert Barron once published an article on his Word on Fire blog in 2015 in which he described Girard in the title as a “Church Father.” James B. Murphy, a professor at…

Call for Papers: Theology and Game of Thrones

Call for Papers: Theology and Game of Thrones  Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking contributions for a potential volume on the work of George R.R. Martin and the world of Game of Thrones. Essays should be written for academics, but avoid “jargon” to be accessible for the layperson. Potentials ideas include but are not…

Hindu Themes in Western Popular Culture: A Tale of Two Georges, Part Two

By Jeffrey D. Long Introduction In the first part of this two-part series on the ‘two Georges’–Harrison and Lucas–who have played roles in infusing Hindu themes and thought into Western popular culture, I focused upon George Harrison, whose Hindu connections and commitments were quite open and well known. Starting with the brief sitar passages in…

Call for Papers: Theology and Black Panther

Call for Papers: Theology and Black Panther  Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking contributions for a potential volume from Rowman and Littlefield on the character of Black Panther in comics, television, and film with a specific emphasis on Black Liberation Theology. Essays should be written for academics, but avoid “jargon” to be accessible for…

Hindu Themes in Western Popular Culture: A Tale of Two Georges, Part One

By Jeffery D. Long  Introduction: Who Are the Two Georges? The basic premise of this two-part series is that a variety of Hindu themes have come to permeate Western culture and consciousness over the course of the last fifty years. As many readers may know, Philip Goldberg has chronicled this phenomenon in his groundbreaking work,…

Stranger Than Fiction: Giving Yourself to the Story

By Leigh Lim Nothing illustrates the difficulty in coming up with a masterpiece better than “Stranger Than Fiction,” a fable about a person living his life and a writer writing about his thoughts and choices. In a crazily “meta” twist on the idea of the unseen hand (I guess in this film it is a…

Liberation Theology in Black Panther

By Corey Patterson Marvel Studios’ film Black Panther blends superhero action, drama, thriller, and a variety of other genres in an unforgettable film experience. Unlike the previous stand-alone Marvel pieces, this story explores the societal and cultural factors that shape the titular character, T’challa a.k.a. Black Panther. One of the most prominent themes found in…

Jessica Jones: Freedom and Guilt

By Corey Patterson With the upcoming second season of Jessica Jones set to premiere on Netflix March 8th, I thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the first season and all its intricacies. The series, along with Daredevil, helped shape the Marvel TV show landscape over the past few years by introducing us to…

The Philosophy of Young Sheldon

By Cole DeSantis One of the most popular shows currently airing on CBS is the series “The Big Bang Theory.” First premiering eleven years ago, the show tells the story of four young, socially awkward scientists in their various social and personal exploits. The show quickly gained popularity due to one of these characters, the…

Logan, Diana, and Thor: Christ-Haunted Heroes

By Armond Boudreaux It is easy to think of superheroes as a uniquely American and uniquely modern creation. Their eagerness to go out into the world and punch bad guys certainly appeals to American sensibilities, and the sci-fi origins that characterize many of them certainly speaks to modern preoccupations with science and technology. And of…

Freedom, Despair, and the Self

By Cole DeSantis One of the more memorable moments from the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in 1969 was folk guitarist and singer Richie Havens’ set, which opened the festival. Anyone who, like myself, is interested in music and culture from that era will recall how Havens was asked to open the festival after several…

The Secular Future of Black Mirror

By Carina Julig The wildly popular Black Mirror aired its fourth season recently, delivering more narratives examining our complicated relationship with technology and the pros and cons of what a high-tech future could look like. Black Mirror is a British television show produced by Netflix, where each episode is an individual story—think The Twilight Zone…

Letter to My Son: Reflections on Religion, Brain Damage, Football, and My Life

By Scott Merrill, Ph.D. Is it a coincidence that America is the strongest, richest and most vibrant society and also the sole country whose national sport is gridiron football? Greg Easterbrook, The King of Sports Football can be called a sociological practice of the folk religion….that often includes ritual expressions of patriotism. Prayers prior to…