Having a couple of dozen episodes under my belt, it has become blantantly obvious to me that Franz Kafka explains this show better than anyone. Interwoven in the many subjects we've covered is a persistent obsession with institutions and the control they have over our actions and desires. Now read Kafka's short parable "Leopards in the Temple:"
"Leopards break into the temple and drink to the dregs what is in the sacrificial pitchers; this is repeated over and over again; finally it can be calculated in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony."
Kafka, in devastating brevity, describes how succeptible our institutions are to outside influences. The Temple is defenseless against the leopards that fundamentally alter its practices. At the same time, however, the institution retains powerful influence over those who worship there. The tale's heretic leopards, through insinuation and repetition, become sacred to the temple's worshippers.
The parable goes far in explaining contemporary Evangelicalism, which has adapted itself to sanctify the voracious political appetites of neoconservatism. In our recent episode about Political Correctness, I (perhaps reductively) defined Evangelicalism as "theocratic libertarianism." The leopards' intrusion has profoundly altered that institution. Similarly, our show entitled "Against Praise Movies" focused on exploring the corruption of Christian doctrine by a particular aesthetic made popular by the marketing of the Christian entertainment industry.
The Sectarian Review Podcast seeks to draw our attention to such situations. Often we will undoubtedly be unfair or make generalizations that are too broad. But the task of noticing the influence of our subtly altered institutions is, to me, an important one. And the concurrent task of injecting uncertainty and chaos into those received institutions (such as in finding theological and ethical merit in horror films) is a part of the vocation that Saint Kafka has laid before us.
The Sectarian Review Podcast is hosted by Danny Anderson, who is an Assistant Professor of English at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, PA.