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…

Comics and the Art of the Cliffhanger

By Pastor Will Rose When the weather allowed, I rode my bike to Wrightsville Beach Elementary School. On the way to school I would stop at a convenient store and spend my lunch money on the newest Uncanny X-Men comic book on the spinner rack. When I was younger, I loved the action and the…

Captain America: Exemplar of Truth and Love

By Stephanie Pacheco Unique among the crop of super heroes, Steve Roger’s (aka Captain America’s) commitment to truth makes him the most Christ-like. His humility and love of the “other” draw this out even more as he converts enemies to his side and never places himself above them. The inevitably remaining struggle in Cap’s life…

Captain Marvel and a Theology of Abuse

By Corey Patterson The upcoming Captain Marvel film from Marvel Studios has gotten the entire comic book world talking more than ever about the character. The film directors, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, are charged with the task of introducing this important comic character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also tying her story into the…

Review: The Green Lantern #3: Hal Meets God?

Anyone who knows me (Matt) knows that I am a HUGE Grant Morrison fan! As such, I have been following his new Green Lantern run with interest. Issue #3 in particular seems relevant for conversations about Theology and Religion. Thankfully, our regular contributor Corey Patterson has written a review of the issue for Monkeys Fighting…

Call for Abstracts: Theology and Neil Gaiman

Theology and Neil Gaiman Edited by Zachary B. Smith This is a call for abstracts for an edited volume in the Theology and Pop Culture series published with Rowman and Littlefield and edited by Zachary B. Smith. We are looking for papers that explore religious and theological themes in the books, short stories, non-fiction essays,…

Atypical, Vanier, and Exemplification

By Shaun C. Brown The Netflix show Atypical follows Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), a high school student with autism, as well as his parents, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Doug (Michael Rapaport), and his sister Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine). Though his family had previously decided that Sam would live at home after graduation, keeping his job at…

Harry Potter and the Holy Trinity

By Corey Patterson My wife has been re-reading the Harry Potter books — a tradition she’s stuck too for the greater part of her adult life. This die-hard Potternerd is not content to simply watch the Harry Potter weekends every October and December. To her, a true fan must embrace the medium from which the magic originally…

Matthew Brake on the Sectarian Review Podcast

Hey everyone! I (Matt) had a chance to be interviewed by Dr. Danny Anderson on the Sectarian Review podcast. Click the link below to listen and feel free to check out the show notes: “Happy New Year to all! We start the year off by exploring how Popular Culture can open up important theological conversations….

2018: Top Five Posts

We’ve now come to the end of our second year as a blog site, and oh what a year it has been! Our contributors have produced a lot of great content (special shout out to Corey Patterson for his regular contributions this year. He just got a gig with Monkeys Fighting Robots that I know…

Waiting for the Endgame, or “What the Heck is Advent?”

By Dieter Stach ‘Tis the season, as they say, and the Christmas spirit is in the air! Lights are going up all over the neighborhoods, Santas are appearing in malls, parents are leaving hair-trails as they tear it all out trying to find the perfect gifts for their children—you know, the most wonderful time of…

“HAPPY!” CHRISTMAS: POSSIBLY THE WEIRDEST ADVENT BLOG EVER

I (Matt) recently had a chance to contribute a piece to our friends over at Sacred & Sequential on the SyFy series Happy!  It’s Christmas themes and overall message make it a perfect if bizarre Advent tale. “As I said, Happy! is an odd little story, but it is a Christmas story, and it captures…

Matthew Brake on the ReligionProf Podcast

About a month ago, I (Matt) had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. James McGrath to discuss the Theology and Pop Culture series. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with James this past year, and I’m excited about some of the volumes he himself is cooking up for the series! Take a listen here!

EXTENDED Call for Papers: Theology and Star Trek (DEC. 15)

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…

True Believers: In Memory of Stan Lee

I waited awhile to write this blog. Some of the reason for the wait was out of necessity—I simply had no time. But more importantly, if I had released this blog right after Stan Lee passed away, my voice being one of many voices vying for attention, many of who did a better job eulogizing…

New Release from A. David Lewis: Kismet – Man of Fate!

From the Eisner Award-nominated team of A. David Lewis and Noel Tuazon, along with Rob Croonenborghs and Ghost Glyph Studios, comes the debut collected trade paperback from A Wave Blue World featuring the world’s first Muslim superhero – Arriving in shops nationwide on November 28, 2018 and available online for order now, it’s Kismet, Man…

Call for Abstracts: Theology and Westworld

Call for Abstracts – Theology and Westworld Edited by Juli Gittinger and Shayna Sheinfeld The television series Westworld has garnered significant interest from academics as well as from wide audiences. While many of its themes and plot motifs represent longstanding focuses in science fiction, the treatment of them has stood out as especially creative in a…

Call for Abstracts: Theology and Horror

Call for Abstracts – Theology and Horror Explorations of the relationship between religion and horror are fairly well established. However, this is not the case for theology and horror. Many times explorations of theology and horror involve simplistic readings in which theological concepts or doctrines are spotted within horror narratives and noted as points of…

Compassion, Justice, and Trusting One’s Enemy in iRobot

By Muoki Musau The director of the movie I, Robot describes the movie as a believable world not too far in the future. Set in 2035, it tells the story of Detective Del Spooner who has a deep distrust of the idea that robots are companions to human beings. The story is a “whodunit” mystery…

Cain, Abel, and the Protection of Sacred Knowledge

By Molly Kluck Cain and Abel were first introduced by the DC universe as caretakers and tenants of The House of Mysteries and The House of Secrets respectively (Cain and Abel). Connected to these houses are two horror-themed comic book series named after the houses. The comic book series used the brothers as narrators (House of Mystery Vol….

Black Panther and Theology: Unity and Our Call to Face the World

By Stephanie Pacheco [SPOILER ALERT] As the characters of T’Challa’s Black Panther and Erik Stevens’s Killmonger, take their respective stances, the film personifies two major responses to the historical colonization of Africa: unity versus retribution. The film’s roaring success is in its championing of authentic unity, precisely as we are called to as Christians and…

Ethical Adventures in The Good Place

By Corey Patterson One of the funniest, most thought-provoking shows on the air right now is The Good Place on NBC. It is also one of the most original. Instead of copying the same-old sitcom tropes and story lines from the many comedies circulating us, The Good Place offers viewers a (layman’s) philosophical look into…

The Guilt of Being Someone: Daredevil and Martin Heidegger

A few years ago, I (Matthew Brake) co-wrote a piece for the Philosophy and Pop Culture blog on Daredevil and guilt: “Father Lantom’s final point — that Matt’s guilty conscience indicates a wrongdoing for which he must make amends — is an unexpected shift, since Lantom previously says he ‘is sure that [it is] true’…

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…