Based on box office figures, everyone has seen Endgame by now. As required by law, every podcast must have an episode about it. Here is the Sectarian Review take. Our in-house pop culture theologians join the show to discuss the finale to the Infinity Saga. Nathan Gilmour of the Christian Humanist Podcast and Matthew Brake of Pop Culture and Theology help Danny discuss: how the the film completes its character arcs; theological analyses of the film's employment of sacrifice; and how the film's treatment of time travel poses potential ethical quandaries going forward. All this and much much more.
In this very special episode, Danny Anderson interviews John Warner (of Inside Higher Ed's "Just Visiting" blog) about his important new books Why They Can't Write and The Writer's Practice. Why They Can't Write dissects the underlying causes of why so much writing instruction fails in the American system and it provides tested, practical solutions for doing better. The book is more than a how-to-teach guide, however. It diagnoses several important structural problems in American education, including standardized testing, the allure of educational fads, the abuses of technology-driven solutions, and cruel working conditions for teachers. Warner discusses this and a lot more in this interview, which anyone interested in education will want to listen to.
Why They Can't Write
The Writer's Practice
John Warner's work on Inside Higher Ed
As it prepares to enter its fourth season, here's a look at the hilarious and profound NBC comedy, The Good Place. The show, created by Michael Schur, follows four hapless souls who try to navigate the afterlife. Along the way, there are a lot of in depth philosophy classes, debating the merits of utilitarianism among many other things. And the show also explores the question of redemption as flawed characters learn to be better people, and even an demon (played brilliantly by Ted Danson) finds redemption in seeking the well-being of others. Joining the show to discuss is CHRN media liaison Kristen Filipic and Mount Aloysius College Theater professor Nathan Magee.
On April 12-13, 2019, Bowling Green State University held a conference in recognition of Batman's 80th anniversary. Danny joined forces with Coyle Neal (or is it Neal Coyle?) of the City of Man Podcast and Chris "Mav" Maverick of the VoxPopcast for a roundtable discussion about Batman's problem with race (see either City of Man or Vox Popcast to hear that discussion). Another show contributor, Pop Culture and Theology's Matthew Brake was also there and in this episode of Sectarian Review, the four join forces to talk about the conference and reflect on the perpetual significance of Batman.
BGSU Batman Conference Website
The masterful YouTube series Cobra Kai is the focus of this week's episode. This week, Danny Anderson is joined by Nathan Gilmour of the Christian Humanist Podcast and Coyle Neal of the City of Man Podcast to discuss the shockingly good Karate Kid sequel series Cobra Kai. How does this series move beyond simple, destructive nostalgia and create something contemporary and vital? How does it employ Shakespearean storytelling devices? What political statement is this series trying to make in the age of the Alt-right and Donald Trump? All this and much much more!
The Federalist on Cobra Kai
Masculinity on the Mat
Recently Weezer released an album (referred to as the "Teal Album") of faithful covers. The project began as a fan-generated joke (the cover of Toto's "Africa") and developed into a full-fledged dive into uncritical nostalgia. Adam Ray Adkins (Dirt, Son of the Earth) joins the show today to talk about how Mark Fisher's classic Capitalist Realism helps us understand and critique this album. What is laudable about Weezer's project? How is Capitalist Realism related to postmodernism? What can we gain by comparing Weezer and Kurt Cobain? All this plus an announcement about this summer's planned SR hiatus.
The Cedars by John Vanderslice
Dirt: Son of Earth
"Local Girl Convinces Weezer to Cover "Africa""
"Africa" by Angel City Chorale
SNL Weezer Skit
As May Day approaches, the Sectarian Review Podcast explores the classic pagan horror film, The Wicker Man. C. Derick Varn joins the show for a discussion about this fascinating and chilling religious horror film, pitting fundamentalist Christianity against a neo-Pagan cult off the coast of Britain. In this film, a stuffy, Christian, British cop gets called to a bizarre Pagan island off the coast to investigate the disappearance of a young girl and....blah blah blah....human sacrifice! What does this film say about religion? About secularism (is that just another form of religion?)? How does the movie connect with other Christopher Lee films, like The Devil Rides Out? A wonderful discussion of a truly great, truly disturbing film.
"The Various Versions of The Wicker Man"
"Christopher Lee Defeats the Devil"
Documentary about The Wicker Man
Recently President Donald Trump caused a minor stir by signing Bibles in Alabama. The reaction was swift and predictably driven by either outrage or defensiveness. In this episode Danny Anderson is joined by Nathan Gilmour of the Christian Humanist Podcast and Matthew Brake of Popular Culture and Theology to discuss the situation with some nuance. Some topics covered: what is so special about an autograph anyway? Is the bound book something sacred to be defaced in the first place? How much of this has to do with Donald Trump's moral character? If another, less odious president were to sign a Bible would the backlash have happened? All this and much much more.
"Trump's Bible signing called Southern Tradition"
"Most Christians find Trump Signing Bibles Inappropriate"
"Yes Trump Signed Bibles in Alabama But it isn't as Strange as You Think"
Ack! Tentacles! In this episode, David Grubbs, Carter Stepper, and Danny Anderson discuss the horror subgenre, “Weird Fiction.” Typified by H.P. Lovecraft’s “cosmic horror,” the genre is low Modernism at its finest. What defines Weird Fiction? How does it subvert and challenge Gothic horror? What challenges does it off the Christian reader? This episode focuses the discussion on three exemplars of the genre: M.R. James’ “Count Magnus,” R.E. Howard’s “Pigeons From Hell,” and H.P. Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model."
Pigeons From Hell
Danny Anderson welcomes back Matthew Brake from Pop Culture and Theology for another discussion. This time, we explore the ways in which comics offer occasions to theologize, or think about God. The conversation breaks down into three basic parts. First, what are some ways in which religion has been represented in popular comics? Second, how do comics address religious concepts or motifs through metaphor (i.e. Superman as Christ-figure). Finally, what are some primary theological concepts that are explored through comics? Along the way, look for discussions about Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Batman, the X-Men, eschatology and much much more.
Pop Culture and Theology
G. Willow Wilson
Frank Miller’s Holy Terror
Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation
X-Men God Loves Man Kills
A. David Lewis’s Graven Images: Religion in Comic Books and Graphic Novels
Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing
Grant Morrison’s Animal Man
Neil Gaiman’s View from the Cheap Seats
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman
Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come
Carl Schmitt Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty
In this episode Danny Anderson interviews Stephen Waldron ad Ben Crosby of the new podcast "Theology and Socialism." Waldron and Crosby approach Christian Socialism from a much more traditional and even orthodox theological perspective than many Left Christians do and this gives their show a distinctive feel that makes them perfect guests for Sectarian Review. How does a traditional Protestant Christian arrive at socialist politics? How does the book of Exodus provide an understanding of the rest of the Bible? What is socialist Vacation Bible School? All this and much more.
Theology and Socialism Podcast
The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge
This week, Danny Anderson is pleased to present a wide-ranging interview with Yahia Lababidi, an Egyptian-American poet, about his recent collection of aphorisms, Where Epics Fail. The aphorism is an ancient form of poetic wisdom, and we discuss what that form offers the modern world. In addition, Lababidi discusses his experiences an an Egyptian immigrant to America before an after the Trump presidency. Other topics include: the value of silence and solitude, how to be gracious and merciful while living in community with others, the challenges of social media, and the significance of alien invasion films!
Where Epics Fail: Book Trailer and Purchase Information
PBS Newshour Profile of Yahia and his Work
Get out your red Swingline staplers, everyone. Danny Anderson is joined by Jordan Poss and Jeffrey Carter for a fun, lively discussion about the enduring appeal of Mike Judge's 1999 classic, 'Office Space.' What makes Judge's work so effective? (hint- it's all in the details). What was it about office life that this film captures? One of the most memeable movies ever turns 20 this week, and the Sectarian Review Podcast is there.
Very excited to present another entry in our artists and creators series! In this episode, Danny welcomes Adam Ray Adkins, who creates art under the name “Dirt: Son of the Earth.” In addition to learning about the creative process, listen for the following: the intersection between left politics and art, Andy Warhol’s failings as an artist, what Mark Fisher’s writing says about imaginative thinking and utopia, why depressed cities like Memphis can be productive for art and imagination, and making art in community. Plus some great insight into Jordan Peterson. Finally, if you are a creative type yourself and want to share your ideas with the world, feel free to contact the show at www.sectarianreviewpodcast.com
Dirt’s Patreon page
Dirt: Son of Earth Instagram
Art of Dirt Redbubble Store
The Leaky Ship: Dirt’s song and video about Jordan Peterson
Beehive Design Collective
In this episode Danny Anderson interviews Andrew Pessin, Professor of Philosophy at Connecticut College and author of The Jewish God Question. Pessin’s book explores “what Jewish thinkers have said about God, The Book, The People, and The Land.” Divided into many micro-essays that condense difficult philosophical ideas into conversation-starting summaries, the book is aimed at bringing philosophy to the people. How has Jewish philosophy reacted to Western thought since the Greeks? What changed in the Enlightenment period? How did Spinoza upend centuries of Jewish philosophy? What have Jewish thinkers focused on in the Twentieth Century and beyond? In addition, we find out why it is so important to take philosophy out of the academy and into the general public. Plus, hear about Andrew’s recurring role on The Late Show with David Letterman!
The Jewish God Question
Discover how Goethe's Faust provides the template for the modern world. How does his version of the scholar who sells his soul to the Devil inspire and describe our world? Patrick Higgins joins the show this week to discuss the Faustian tale, theology, capitalism, Marxism, Evangelical Trumpism and ritual magic.
From Pen and Screen:
Manifestophilis: Ritual, Medium, Turnings
Manifestopheles: An Investigation into the Faustian Nature of Adaptation
Review of Patrick Higgins’ stage version of Faust
Marshall Berman’s All That is Solid Melts into Air
Owls at Dawn Podcast
Danny Anderson is joined by Michial Farmer of the Christian Humanist Podcast and Michael Gruber (one of Farmer’s former students!). On tap this week is an exploration of the phenomenon we call “Rock Star Face.” Why is it that rock stars, particularly male ones, feel the urge to pose for pictures with ridiculously self-serious looks on their stupid faces? Taking the abominable Don Henley as a test case, the trio trace this tendency through jazz, the 1960s, and Romanticism. Bashing the Eagles all along the way, of course.
As part of the Sectarian Review New Year’s Resolution to interview working artists, this week Danny Anderson speaks to poet C.W. Buckley about his new collection of poems Bluing, from Finishing Line Press. Hear about the process for the poet who works full time in the tech industry, and learn what “Bluing” has to do with the poetic imagination. An archaic bleaching method, “bluing” becomes a metaphor for revealing meaning in the past, rescuing our memories from mere nostalgia, which Buckley sees as decay when used to simply prefer the past. There’s also a little conversation about the latest DC Comics film, Aquaman, as well as some theological rumination. Finally, no Sectarian Review would be complete without a discuss of Bigfoot, and Chris’s uncle once appeared on the great Leonard Nimoy show In Search Of to talk about it! And head to sectarianreviewpodcast.com for some really interesting links related to the conversation. And a note from Chris: “And of course, as with the podcast, if you find the work rewarding, please consider leaving a favorable comment or review on the publisher's site or on Amazon.”
Bluing, from Finishing Line Press
Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing
Rock and Sling Journal
Chris’s Grandmother becomes Homecoming Queen at age 99
Chris’s Uncle talks Bigfoot on In Search Of!
K-Tel Records commercial
Ed Simon returns to the show to discuss his new book America and Other Fictions, published by Zero Books. The collection of essays is subtitled “on Radical Faith and Post-Religion,” and the book explores a variety of subjects that explore the inherently religious nature of the American project, even its irreligious aspects. Danny and Ed discuss: the uses of religious language for the Left, Bob Dylan as American prophet, and the dual nature of the American Civil Religion. In addition, Ed explains his influences and creative processes as a writer and explains why Pittsburgh is so instrumental in his development.
Click here to purchase America and Other Fictions
Zero Books Blog
Happy New Year to all! We start the year off by exploring how Popular Culture can open up important theological conversations. Joining the show this week is Matthew Brake, founder and editor of Popular Culture and Theology, a book series from Lexington Books and Fortress Academic, and an accompanying blog. What is the importance for exploring theology in pop culture? Why is it controversial in some quarters? What are the limitations of academia? How can Sectarian Review listeners submit blog posts and article ideas? All this, plus Danny once again tries to defend Justice League!
Pop Culture and Theology
“Fancy Taking a Pop?” - William Irwin defends the growth of books on pop culture and philosophy.
Love actually is all around. A Christian Humanist couples-only episode about the ultimate couples movie. In this episode, Danny and Kim Anderson are joined by Victoria and Michial Farmer to discuss the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually. What is it about this film that makes it such a beloved holiday classic? How well have the films sexual and class politics aged? In answering these questions, our panel explores the various relationships depicted in the film and discusses why Emma Thompson is truly great in this film. All this and much more!
Merry Christmas 2018! This year’s celebration centers around our shared national obsession, Hallmark Christmas movies. Whether you love them or hate them, they are no doubt in your mind this season. For this particular episode, we generally trash them, but as always we try to find something redeeming about them as well. They clearly do reflect a desire for something good, but how much damage to the collective imagination is that worth? Joining Danny today is Kim Anderson, Jordan Poss, and Christopher Pipkin to share, reminisce, and theorize. Danny’s own argument in this show is that these films are not ‘lowbrow’ popular entertainment, but rather ‘middlebrow’ disposable art that perpetuates Capitalism’s most oppressive structures. But they are also rather fun, he supposes. Also in this episode, a “make a Hallmark story” game you can play with your family! If you’re going to watch these things, you might as well do something productive with them. Also, Chris Pipkin and his wife have created an online 12 Days of Christmas and everyone is welcome to check it out. Merry Christmas to all and check out the links in the shownotes!
“Hallmark Christmas Movies: Guilty Pleasures No More”
“Made for TV Christmas Movies are Big Business for the Hallmark Channel”
Deck the Hallmark Podcast
“Hallmark Channel is Finally Producing Holiday Movies with Black Leads”
“Why are Hallmark Movie Casts So White?”
“Five Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Hallmark Holiday Movies”
Danny’s Article about Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”
Pipkin’s Twelve Days of Christmas Site (Highly Recommended!!)
This week, the Sectarian Review Podcast examines our second Andrei Tarkovsky film. A while back we looked at Andrei Rublev, and this week we take a deep dive into Stalker. In what has become SR tradition, C. Derick Varn joins the show to discuss another Soviet-era cinematic masterpiece. As with Rublev, however, this film also has massive theological implications. James K.A. Smith invokes the film in his work, so it’s good enough for us here at SR. What does this masterwork of World Cinema have to teach us about theology? What role do our desires play in dictating our lives? What the heck is that dog doing? Telekinesis? As always, Tarkovsky gives us a lot to talk about.
What might the radical Left gain by incorporating religious language into its arguments? Joining the show today is Ed Simon, whose article “A Gospel for the Left” asks just that question. What is it about theological language that speaks to the oppressed in ways that technocratic cultural studies jargon cannot? What can the Left learn from liberation theology? How does Liberalism operate as a kind of secular religion? And finally, is there a sincerity problem in Leftists utilizing sacred vocabulary? All this and much more.
Ed Simon’s “A Gospel for the Left”
Link to Ed’s new book, America and other Fictions
Posted by Danny Anderson
Excelsior! In this mighty episode, Danny is joined by the Christian Humanist Podcast’s own Nathan Gilmour to talk about the cultural impact of the late Stan Lee. Lee, who died a few weeks ago, was a staggering figure in American culture, helping to create many of the icons that have captured the imaginations of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, Daredevil, and Dr. Strange all trace part of their roots back to Lee. In this episode, learn about: the social media response to Lee’s passing, Lee’s controversial history of collaborative artistry, Lee’s place in Jewish art, the political subtext of the Marvel universe, and much much more. Stan Lee helped provide a “superhero mythology in a religiously pluralistic world.”
“Stan Lee Built the World I Live In,” by Wayne Wise: http://www.legacy.com/news/celebrity-deaths/notable-deaths/article/stan-lee-built-the-world-i-live-in
“Marvel Icon Stan Lee Leaves a Legacy as Complicated As His Heroes,” by Spencer Ackerman: https://www.thedailybeast.com/rip-stan-lee-the-man-who-sold-the-world