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…

EXTENDED Call for Papers: Theology and Spider-Man

Call for Papers: Theology and Spider-Man Volume Editor: George Tsakiridis, PhD Abstract and CV Due: December 30, 2019 Final Paper Due: May 1, 2020 He’s the classic superhero of the Marvel age: Spider-Man. Marvel comics wouldn’t be the titan of content it is without him. He’s been portrayed in multiple comic books, television series, and…

Call for Papers: The Theological World of Harry Potter

Call for Papers: The Theological World of Harry Potter Editors: Taylor J. Ott (Fordham University) and Shaun Brown (Villa Maria College)  Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking contributions for an edited volume from Rowman and Littlefield on the intersection of theology and Harry Potter. Essays should prioritize the books but may include or concentrate…

Good, Evil, and Boredom in Good Omens

By John MacDonald This article examines the theology/literary sources of the TV show Good Omens from the point of view of the theological/existential/cultural problem of boredom, especially as developed by Ecclesiastes, Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Starting around 18:38 of Good Omens Season 1, Episode 6, Beelzebub says to Adam Young, “When it’s over, you’re going to…

Monsters and Saints: Stranger Things Meets Daniel 7

Our friend, Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade over at EcoPreacher has written a piece on Stranger Things I thought was worth sharing here: “Monsters are mythical creatures symbolizing that which terrifies and terrorizes us.  Whether it’s the Demogorgon of Stranger Things, or Grendel in the medieval story of Beowulf, or the beast with ten horns…

Lady Gaga, Blood Mary, and Mary Magdalene

By Princess O’Nika Auguste Lady Gaga’s second full-length studio album, Born this Way is a true gospel album. From the album’s title track focused around the message that we are all created by God as we are (regardless of race, sexuality or gender) to songs with titles like “Black Jesus+Amen”, Born this Way  is replete…

How the Liberal Reception of Joker Feels Evangelical

By Danny Anderson Who is the protagonist of Todd Phillips’ Joker? Much of the controversy surrounding the film hinges on this question. Many of its detractors accuse the film of casting the maniacal arch villain as hero in a Batman-less world. Their criticism is often grounded in a fear the film will inspire desperate members…

Call for Papers: Moral Theology and the World of Walt Disney

Editor: Jeremy E. Scarbrough (scarbrj@phsc.edu) Theology and Pop Culture is seeking contributions for a potential edited volume on Moral Theology and the Musical World of Walt Disney, to be published by Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield. The significant contributions of Walt Disney Studios in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—to our overall…

Vision: Batman V Superman – Dawn of Justice

By Stephen Garner ***A version of this article previously appeared in Stimulus: The New Zealand Journal of Christian Thought and Practice,23, no. 2 (2016): 43-45., and is used here with permission from the author and the journal. If you like superheroes, then it doesn’t get much better than current cinema and television. Not only are…

Returning to Yourself and to God in Walt Whitman

By Samuel Bennett According to David L. Weddle, religion rests on two pillars: miracle stories and practices of sacrifice.[1] The miracle story announces good news: the mundane plane upon which we typically live and have our being is not the whole story; and the divine side of reality occasionally crosses over to ours. Energized by the…

Call for Papers: Theology and Spider-Man

Call for Papers: Theology and Spider-Man Volume Editor: George Tsakiridis, PhD Abstract and CV Due: November 30, 2019 Final Paper Due: May 1, 2020 He’s the classic superhero of the Marvel age: Spider-Man. Marvel comics wouldn’t be the titan of content it is without him. He’s been portrayed in multiple comic books, television series, and…

EXTENDED Call for Papers: Theology and the DC Universe

Over the last several years, scholars have demonstrated the salience of popular culture as a site for the academic study of religion, in areas including video games, science fiction, film, and comics. The study of religion and comics is flourishing with several monographs, edited volumes, and articles having come out in the last several years….

Matthew Brake on TheoFantastique

This has been the week for podcasts with friends! I (Matt) had the opportunity at the beginning of the week to record an episode for the TheoFantastique blog podcast with John Morehead. John is actually co-editing an upcoming book on Theology and Horror. It was a pleasure to sit down and talk to him. One particular joy…

Matthew Brake on Theology Shorts

This week, I (Matt) had an opportunity to sit down with a friend of the blog and co-editor of the forthcoming Theology and Star Trek volume Shaun Brown, host of Theology Shorts to discuss the blog, the Theology and Pop Culture series, and the Religion and Comics series. Check out the episode as well as the rest of Shaun’s…

Titans and the Beautiful Terror of Divine Community

By Danny Anderson The DC Universe series Titans is set to drop its second season on September 6th. The show, a very adult rendition of DC’s popular Teen Titans combo, conspicuously drops the “Teen” from its title. This dark move has been the main focus of the conversation about the show, with many viewers making the claim…

Marie Kondo: Tidying Up and Spirituality

By Kim Anderson Okay, I admit it. This is an unpopular opinion. But I have a love-hate relationship with the KonMari Method. Marie Kondo has become the guru of home organization in the last couple of years, even gaining her own Netflix series, Tidying Up: with Marie Kondo. Now that’s notoriety. For those of you not…

Vision: Altered Carbon and Westworld

By Stephen Garner ***A version of this article previously appeared in Stimulus: The New Zealand Journal of Christian Thought and Practice, 25, 1 (18 July 2018), and is used here with permission from the author and the journal.  “We aren’t meant to live forever. It corrupts even the best of us.” – Quellcrist Falconer, Altered Carbon (Season…

Like Tears in Rain: Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner, and Being Fully Human

By Leah D. Schade In honor of Rutger Hauer, who played the Replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner, our friend Rev. Dr. Leah Schade (an avid fan of the Blade Runner franchise) has written a piece in memory of Hauer: “What Hauer captured in this character was the full scope and depth of human emotion.  From…