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.
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!!)
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
Joining the show today is Dr. Douglas E. Cowan, Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies at Renison University College. Cowan has recently published a book for NYU Press called America’s Dark Theologian: The Religious Imagination of Stephen King. In the book, Cowan argues that King’s fiction represents a way of “doing” theology outside the traditional structures of historical churches. The argument has immense implications for both theology and popular culture studies. Tune in and learn how King’s work qualifies as theological and why academia too often dismisses the work of popular writers. Is academia its own kind of priesthood, guarding its own traditions? Also, what is the distinction between “answers” and “questions” in theology? How does King’s work challenge the idea of “safe” religion? What King’s work has to say about Ritual, Theodicy, and Cosmology? How does Pet Sematary model a comparative religions seminar? Many thanks to Doug Cowan for a fun, educational discussion.
America’s Dark Theologian