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…

Sting – 57th & 9th: An Ecotheological Review

By The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade Sting and ecotheology? Seriously? What possible connection could there be between the famous pop music artist and the study of ecology and religion? I have been a huge fan since the Police in the 80s, and throughout Sting’s solo career in the subsequent decades. His latest album met…

Blade Runner and Theology

By Stephanie Pacheco The Blade Runner films show us a version of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that looks exactly like we do. My take on Blade Runner—both the original and Blade Runner 2049—is that it concerns androids less than appearances suggest, but rather asks us: “What makes us human?” The 2017 sequel utilizes dazzling cinematography to…

“Get Out”: Racism in the Place of Theological Discourse

By Fr. Linh Hoang I am not a person who goes to horror movies. The reason is that I am never sure of their message besides just wanting to scare the living daylights out of people. Like most people, I don’t think being scared is entertaining. With that dismissive attitude aside, I decided after persuasion…

The Lyrical Faith of Sufjan Stevens

By Carina Julig Though he is not a ‘Christian musician,’ indie singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens has built a cult following among Christian listeners, and his haunting music has a deeply religious quality. Stevens’ ethereal songs frequently convey musings about faith, while at other times, he is directly talking to God. Religious imagery is especially prominent in…

2017: Top Five Posts

I want to thank all of the people who have made the inaugural year of this blog possible. Of course, without you, the reader, there would be very little point to this project, which attempts to make theology accessible to the wider public. To our contributors, we literally could not do this without you. Thank…

The Children Everyone Was Waiting For

By Roberto Mussinatto There are a few days left before Christmas, and we can already feel in the air this soft joy and sense of waiting which make Christmas different from any other celebration in the year. We feel like something we were looking for is ready to come; it seems like nature feels it, too….

Asgard and the Kingdom of God in Thor: Ragnarok

By Corey Patterson [SPOILERS!!!] If Marvel fans were expecting a continuation of the dark tones from the sequel to Thor and Thor: The Dark World, they would find themselves in a losing bet. The latest installment, Thor: Ragnarok, brings to life a world of color and humorous scenes, more akin to Guardians of the Galaxy…

Is God Funny?

By Alison Downie, PhD Is God preposterous to you? He is to me. But let me explain: The God I work daily to trust bears no resemblance whatsoever to the “God” many Christians preach about and the “God” so many reject as absurd. The endlessly essential theological question is: What sort of God is being…

The Psychoanalytic Structure of Daredevil’s Catholic Guilt

By Ritchie Savage, PhD In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the classical sociological theorist, Max Weber, attempts to make a distinction between his ideal types of Protestantism and Catholicism, and the capacity for the former, not only to embody the movement toward rationalization in history, but also the attention toward capital accumulation….

Movie Review: White God

By Katy Scrogin and Cláudio Carvalhaes Starring: Zsofia Psotta, Sandor Zsoter, Szabolcs Thuroczy, Lili Monori, Laszlo Galffi and Lili Horvath. Genre: Drama, Foreign Directed By: Kornél Mundruczó Release Date: March 27, 2015 Website: http://www.magpictures.com/whitegod/ Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpYaY7ulTEc Who would have guessed that a revolt of dogs in Budapest would be a metaphor for our times? Kornél Mundruzcó’s…

Re-engineering the Bible: Samson, Delilah, and the Grateful Dead

By Bruce Chilton The story of Samson and Delilah, Samson’s last paramour among many unsuitable women (Judges 16:4-31), has attracted painters such as Rubens, poets such as Milton, and even the film-maker Cecil B. DeMille. (He cast Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr in the title roles in his 1949 film.) Bob Weir with the Grateful…

Spider-man and Kierkegaardian Love

By Corey Patterson Marvel Comics fans undoubtedly remember the pivotal moment in Peter Parker’s life that led him to become the crime-fighting hero we know as Spider-Man. They recall how his Uncle Ben was murdered by a criminal Peter could have stopped in an earlier confrontation, but chose not to. All of these events would…

Call for Papers: Fordham Pop Culture & Theology Graduate Student Conference

Fordham Theology Graduate Student Conference: “Pop Culture and Theology” Friday, April 20, 2018 at Fordham University Rose Hill The Theology Graduate Student Association invites graduate students in theology, Bible, religious studies, ethics, and related fields to submit abstracts that explore the relationship between popular culture and theology from classical as well as contemporary perspectives. For…

Quiz: John Calvin Quote or Metal Lyrics?

By Jack Holloway The time of the Reformation was revolutionary in many ways. One of those ways was in rhetoric and writing style. Martin Luther mostly wrote pamphlets intended for mass production, so that anyone could pick them up and become a theologian. His writing style was not like that of many scholastic theologians. Luther…

Cloud Atlas, Religion, and Love: Holism and Postmodern Belief

Andrew D. Thrasher, ThM “I call it the Cloud Atlas Sextet. There are whole movements imagining us meeting again and again in different lives, different ages.” The movie Cloud Atlas weaves a complex narrative wherein the cast of characters are born, learn to love, and die, again and again. The six “movements” in the plot…

Fantasy and Pluralism: Unpacking the Religious Sources of The Wheel of Time

By Andrew D. Thrasher, ThM One of the best Fantasy series produced in the last 50 years, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s The Wheel of Time, a 15 book series of almost 15,000 pages produced over a 24 year span, encompasses a fantastic worldview displaying a pluralistic coherence of religious elements found in world religions….

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil in Game of Thrones

By Matthew William Brake [SPOILERS!!!] In the Christian circles I run in, there is some tension about whether Christian people should watch Game of Thrones because of some of the graphic, and specifically sexual, content (go over to the Popcorn Theology Facebook page if you don’t believe me). It is true that Game of Thrones…

Batman: An American Myth

By Aust Phoenix Two things make for a good hero: recognizable physical traits and the narrative arc of their story—their mythology. Batman is such a figure. Even without having read a comic or seen a movie, most people will know the basic premise of Batman’s story and recognize his outfit. Bruce Wayne is a son…

Listening to 80s Music with Karl Barth

By Jack Holloway I make a lot of “best of” playlists. Recently, I made a playlist of what I think are the 150 greatest 80s songs (find it here). I listened to hours and hours and hours and hours of 80s music, soaking it all in, and, like the Apostle Paul, “examining everything carefully, holding…

A Haunted Immanence: Minus the Bear and Secular Re-Enchantment

By Andrew D. Thrasher A residue of transcendence in a lost immanence; raising vocals and samplings of complex perfections. Probably unknown to most people, the Indie Rock band, Minus the Bear has been producing music for the past 15 years ranging from a musical repertoire known for their clear beautiful vocals, guitar samples, synths, groovy…

Children, Death, and the Journey: Luke 9:37-48 in Conversation with Logan

By Kyle Sears [WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!] In Logan, Hugh Jackman ends a seventeen year run as Wolverine, a mutant with advanced healing ability and member of the X-Men. With a skeleton protected by adamantium – and retractable claws to match – Wolverine ruthlessly channeled his rage by fighting against people who threatened the security of…