Who Has a Problem with Evil? Halloween, Fascism, and Theodicy

By Danny Anderson Ted Bundy is once again having a moment.  The current interest in his story can be traced to two new productions: Netflix’s four-part documentary series Conversations with a Killer, and the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile which recently premiered at Sundance and stars Zac Efron. The critical conversation around the Efron…

Analyzing Religion in Jonathan Hickman’s POWERS OF X #1

Hello Everyone! Our friends over at Sequart are doing a blog series analyzing Jonathan Hickman’s current run on Marvel Comics’ X-Men, starting with the House of X/Powers of X series that kicked it off. We previously posted a link to the analysis of House of X #1 here. The writer, David Canham, gives a thorough…

Blade Runner, Ex Machina, and the Moral Circle

By Haruo Gomes To put it simply, the moral circle is the people we care about. Our understanding of it is usually based on William Lecky’s History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne. William observes that “at one time the benevolent affections embrace merely the family, soon the circle expanding includes first a class,…

Call for Papers: Religion and Horror Comics

While many genres offer the potential for theological reflection and exploration of religious issues, the nature of horror provides unique ways to wrestle with these questions. Since the EC Comics of the 1950s, horror comics have performed theological work in ways that are sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, but frequently surprising and provocative. This volume will…

Rape and Consent in Genesis 34 and RED TENT: Part Two

By Princess O’Nika Auguste [Click here to read Part One] Was Dinah Raped? Alice Ogden Bellis, in her book Helpmates, Harlots and Heroes: Women’s Stories in the Hebrew Bible, discusses a debate between three scholars: Meir Sternburg, Danna Fewell and David Gunn. These scholars debated about whether or not Dinah was raped. Gunn and Fewell…

THEOCON Goes Virtual! Sept. 19!

Hello friends! If you follow this site, then you may have seen some posts about an event called TheoCon in the past. TheoCon is an all day event where people come to discuss the intersection between faith, philosophy, and popular culture! Founded by Rev. Shayna Watson in 2018, this is TheoCon’s third year in existence….

THE BOYS and the Gods of Mass Media

By Camilo Lehnebach Bravo Stories are part of human nature. We tell them because that’s the way we can share our experiences and knowledge, and honestly, it’s the easiest way to communicate with each other. When you don’t know what to talk about with someone, you tell them what you did during the day, how…

Call for Papers: Fantasy, Theology, and the Imagination

Call for Papers: Fantasy, Theology, and the Imagination Edited by Austin M. Freeman, Andrew D. Thrasher, and Fotini Toso  In the world of High Fantasy, authors create fictional worlds that often reflect human religiosity and theological themes in new and creative ways. Through theological and religious analyses of high fantasy and fantasy series, the editors…

DARK (Netflix) – Duality, Trinity, and Time

By Manon C. James Dark is a Netflix drama, produced in Germany and dubbed into several languages, including English. It is based in a fictional (but recognisable) town of Winden in Germany. As the title suggests, it is a dreary place, with a nuclear plant and a threatening forest (Forests are sinister places in German mythology)….

Help A. David Lewis Write KISMET, MAN OF FATE, Vol. 2

In 2014, writer A. David Lewis brought the first Muslim superhero in comic books back from oblivion. He produced, along with Noel Tuazon, Rob Croonenborghs, and Taylor Esposito, the first volume of KISMET, MAN OF FATE, a character not seen in print for over 70 years. Setting the story in the present, Kismet transitions from…

Analyzing Religion in Jonathan Hickman’s HOUSE OF X #1

Recently, I received an email from one David Canham, informing me that he was beginning to write an ongoing series for the website Sequart analyzing religious themes in Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men run. As a fan of Hickman’s work, and as someone who is writing his own ongoing series for Sequart about Hickman’s Avengers run, I was…

Jesus, Four Gospels, and the Reign of the Supermen

Back in June, I (Matthew Brake) began writing comic reviews for the website Monkeys Fighting Robots. I have very much enjoyed the experience, and through it, I’ve gotten to get to know some of my fellow reviewers. One in particular, Zac Owens, wrote a piece that I wanted to share with you all, looking at…

Matthew Brake Discusses Animal Man on Deconstructing Comics

Hello everyone! Recently, Tim Young of the Deconstructing Comics podcast had me on to talk about Grant Morrison’s Animal Man comics run from DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint (now Black Label). Those of you who know me know that I love Morrison as a writer, and I often use him comics in my Religion and Literature class….

Moira Rose: Learning to Pray from an Unexpected Teacher

By Christopher West Frustration, we might say, is part of the human condition; it is one aspect of our experience that never truly goes away—a rather frustrating fact(!)—but lingers on into the present. Several years ago, Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, was quick to point this out, while delivering his homily during the eucharistic…

Evil and the Bat, Part Three: The Meaning of THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE

By Raymond Lam (Read Part Two of this blog series here) In this third and final exploration of Batman and the “theology” constructed by Grant Morrison over the decade of 2008–18, we dive into The Return of Bruce Wayne (RBW) (2010), one of Morrison’s finest Batman works and one that elevated the idea of Bruce Wayne to…

Matthew Brake: Guest Blogger

Hello everyone! I was recently asked by my friend and fellow TheoCon planning member, Miss Whitis, to write a guest blog for her site. I told her “yes” even as I grew nervous about what to write about. Then I thought, “Why not stick with what  know?” So I wrote about Pop Culture. More specifically,…

EXTENDED Call for Papers: Theology and Breaking Bad

***The original call for papers has been extended until October 01, 2020! Call for Papers: Theology and Breaking Bad Editors: David K. Goodin, McGill University, School of Religious Studies david.goodin@mcgill.ca; George Tsakiridis, South Dakota State University george.tsakiridis@sdstate.edu Abstract and CV Due: October 01, 2020 “Say my name!” The moral universe of the era-defining AMC neo-Western crime…

Nostalgics, Progressives, and Hope for the Future in VAN HELSING

By Brandon Basse In Van Helsing, the familiar humanity versus vampire trope receives a new twist. The series takes place in the near future where the long dormant Yellowstone supervolcano erupts and the ensuing ash obscures the sun enough for vampires to come out during the day. This allows vampires to take over large portions…

Chromatica is the Song of the Exiled

By Taylor Ott As a long-time Lady Gaga stan, one of the most interesting things to me about Gaga’s music has always been the way in which her Catholic background provides context and language for so much of her work. Sometimes it is a prominent part of the subject material, sometimes it shows up in…

The Sectarian Review Interviews Hood Scholar (Dr. Travis Harris)!

Hello Everyone! Many of you have heard of the Sectarian Review podcast before. The host, Danny Anderson, has written some pieces for us (see an example here), and has often featured our work on his show. Recently, he had Dr. Travis Harris (“Hood Scholar”) on to talk about his work in on Hip Hop, Religion,…

Reading Religious Texts as a “Cinematic Universe”

By Jake Doberenz Cinematic universes are becoming more and more a part of our movie watching experience. Vast movie series sharing storylines, characters, and whole mythological worlds are the latest cash grab storytelling tactic to hit the big screens. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, clearly the most famous cinematic universe in existence right now, has a whopping…

Rape and Consent in Genesis 34 and RED TENT: Part One

By Princess O’Nika Auguste We have been told the story of Dinah and how she was defiled by a Canaanite prince. However, in the popular culture hit miniseries, Red Tent, it was portrayed as a love story.  A brutal rape has been turned into a romantic fairytale. It was highly unlikely for Dinah to have…

Love, Home, and Dissonance in THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO

By Alex Sosler Jimmie Fails IV overhears two upwardly mobile, white girls contemplating a move to East LA out of this “dead city.” “Excuse me,” he interrupts, “You can’t hate San Francisco.” He asks, “Do you love it? … You don’t get to hate it unless you love it.” The recent film The Last Black…

The Sectarian Review Podcast Discusses THEOLOGY AND THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

Our friend Danny Anderson over at the Sectarian Review podcast was kind enough to host a discussion of the Theology and the Marvel Universe book  with Rev. Will Rose of God Loves Geeks and volume editor Dr. Gregory Stevenson. Click here to listen to the interview. Use discount code LEX30AUTH20 on the publisher’s website for a…

Green Lantern: Toward an Imaginative Theology

By Corey Patterson This May marks the eightieth anniversary of the superhero known as the Green Lantern. First introduced as the mantle of a railroad engineer named Alan Scott, the character has since evolved to incorporate new concepts, powers, and people, making it one of the most dynamic superhero titles in comic book history. It…

Never Worn White

By Princess O’Nika Auguste On March 5th 2020, one of my favourite pop singers, Katy Perry, released her song Never Wore White in which she reveals her pregnancy and where she discusses her relationship with actor Orlando Bloom. It is a beautiful song, but I believe that song is very problematic. In the song, Katy…

I Am Not Okay With This and Our Responses to Trauma

By The Reverend Christopher West Time to catch up on Netflix recommendations has been a tremendous gift, even though it has been afforded to us by difficult circumstances. One of the most important gifts we can give ourselves during this period of collective trauma (namely: the Covid-19 pandemic) is time – time to rest, recuperate,…

Historical Reflections on Denis Diderot’s The Nun and the Rise of Popular Novelistic Fiction

By Andrew Urie Widely recognized as one of the great eighteenth-century French philosophes, Denis Diderot (1713-1784) is today largely remembered for his co-creation of the Encyclopédie (1751-1766) with Jean le Rond d’Alembert (1717-1783). Fewer people, however, now remember Diderot’s novella The Nun, which was largely composed throughout 1760. Today regarded as a minor literary classic, the…

Separate Streams, Same River

By Brandon Basse I remember hearing Pedro the Lion’s “Almost There” in the front seat of my buddy’s mid-nineties Toyota Corolla. We were talking about bands he wanted to introduce me to when suddenly he shushed me, turned the volume up, and intently stared at the cassette deck as he earnestly lip synced the bittersweet…

Free TheoCon Webinar April 21!

Hello friends! I wanted to make you aware of an opportunity this week, Tuesday April 21 at 2pm EST. Rev. Shayna Watson, founder of TheoCon, will be giving a presentation for a webinar hosted by the Religion Communication Congress. This conversation about how ΘeoCon (Thee-Oh-Con) features undeniable themes of theology and morality throughout pop culture,…

Call for Papers: Theology and Breaking Bad

Call for Papers: Theology and Breaking Bad Editors: David K. Goodin, McGill University, School of Religious Studies david.goodin@mcgill.ca; George Tsakiridis, South Dakota State University george.tsakiridis@sdstate.edu Abstract and CV Due: July 1, 2020 Final Manuscripts Due: December 31, 2020 “Say my name!” The moral universe of the era-defining AMC neo-Western crime drama Breaking Bad (2008-2013) is uncompromisingly…

Theology and Pop Spring Sale: 35% Off!

Hello friends! Rowman & Littlefield (our parent publisher) is having a Spring sale lasting until 04/10/2020. Using discount code SPSDS20, you can get both Theology and Prince and Theology and the Marvel Universe for 35% off when you order from the Rowman & Littlefield website (eBook or Hardcover)!  

TheoCon 2020: Call for Papers

  If you’ve followed this site for awhile, you know that we’ve become an advocate for an annual meeting called TheoCon (“Where Theology Meets Pop Culture”). I (Matt) am on the planning committee for this event and would like to make known the call for papers and proposals (or “Fandomentals”). TheoCon isn’t an event simply…

EXTENDED Call for Papers: Theology and H.P. Lovecraft

***Call for Abstracts Extended Until May 1*** Cosmic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is the paragon of atheistic nihilism in fiction. For many, Lovecraft is diametrically opposed to everything most fundamental to Christianity, and the only way we might fruitfully engage with Lovecraft’s thought would be to categorically reject it. What hath Arkham to do with…

Christians Should Set Aside Family Values and Watch Midsommar

By Danny Anderson I wonder if any single idea has corroded American Christianity as much as “Family Values.” If you grew up in Evangelical circles in the past 30-40 years, then the squishy ethos of this concept has permeated most aspects of your life. “Family First” is a mantra that forms our social relations, our…

Is the Force for Everyone or Not?

By Will Rose Let me honest and transparent right up front–I love The Rise of Skywalker. It may even be my favorite of the newest Star Wars trilogy. Yea, the movie hyper-speed skipped all over the place, but from my point of view, it had a lot of places to explore, and a lot of…

Call for Papers: Theology and Tolkien

No proper list of the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century can exclude the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. His works are not only much-read and beloved, but also Hollywoodized (Peter Jackson), and have launched (or, perhaps, re-envisioned) an entire genre of fiction. As a result, they have made an indelible…

Suits: Salvation through Sin?

By George Tsakiridis Recently, I was a guest on the Protagonist Podcast and had the opportunity to discuss one of my favorite protagonists, Harvey Specter from Suits. The show just finished last year, and is part of the USA Network’s plethora of shows ranging from family friendly to almost family friendly. Suits blends comedy and drama with…

Call for Papers: Theology and H.P. Lovecraft

Cosmic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is the paragon of atheistic nihilism in fiction. For many, Lovecraft is diametrically opposed to everything most fundamental to Christianity, and the only way we might fruitfully engage with Lovecraft’s thought would be to categorically reject it. What hath Arkham to do with Jerusalem? But this volume will explore Lovecraft’s…

The Good Place & Human Intervention

By Dr. Meredith J.C. Warren Unsurprisingly, I have *thoughts* about Netflix’s The Good Place, human intervention in divine modes of judgement and a little old text called The Testament of Abraham (Some spoilers for season 4). GIF: Judge Gen from The Good Place giving two thumbs-down gestures. If you’re not familiar with The Testament of…

Spider-Man: Far from Home – Nature, Truth, and the Distortion of Reality

By John Tuttle 2019 was a year in which the cinemas were full of tales of superheroes and supervillains, one of which was our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Tom Holland reprised his famous role in Spider-Man: Far from Home, the second installment in Holland’s series of films. In it, he attends a high school field trip,…

Rime Regnant: Arendelle’s Sisters as Church and State in Frozen 2

By Raymond Lam [SPOILERS for Frozen 2 below!!] Ever since Disney captured lightning in a bottle with Frozen (2013), its protagonists Elsa and Anna have been interpreted as a sisterly Yin and Yang, as opposites of one kind or another. What warms the hearts of children and adults alike is how different Anna and Elsa seem, yet…

The Exilic Community and a Better Way in the Mandalorian

By Jake Doberenz The first live-action Star Wars show, The Mandalorian, debuted on Disney+ last November and has mostly received positive reviews. The show follows a Mandalorian, who is nicknamed “Mando” at first, in his bounty hunter endeavors and then in his journey to protect The Child, a cute 50-year-old baby alien dubbed by the…

Doomsday Clock and the Triumph of Hope

By Matthew Brake [Beware Spoilers!] In 2016, DC Comics, particularly writer Geoff Johns, made a bold move and tamped with one of the most sacred cows in comic book fandom—Watchmen. After the initial success of the New 52 reboot, which saw DC Comics do away with years of complicated backstory in order to draw in…