To get you in the mood for both Halloween and Church, this week's guest is Andy Whitaker-Smith, who discusses his book Universal Monsters and how the iconic creature of Universal Studios help us think about the Christian faith. The book can be purchased on Amazon and coincides with a small group discussion via Zoom with First United Methodist Church in Lakeland, Florida. Info can be found here: https://www.firstumc.org/adults/universal-monsters/?fbclid=IwAR022Hz5gOBWX-XnhOtaWDLgD5EqR-fGdPZ9p0X16oLEFNjLnihXfME-2lo
Joshua Wise joins the show to discuss the Universalist-ish theology of George MacDonald and how that vision of God's love affects various apocalyptic pop culture narratives.
Danny Anderson is joined by Popular Culture and Theology's Matthew Brake to discuss season 1 of Titans just in time for Season 2. Is there an ethical issue with taking a teenager-based comic and making it VERY ADULT? How does the show engage with questions of theology and community? What makes Batman's work so morally draining for Robin? All this and much more. In addition, learn about an upcoming conference, TheoCon, about popular culture and theology. PLUS, head over and subscribe on Patreon for some bonus conversation about copyright and much more.
Popular Culture is obsessed with apocalypse. Avengers: Endgame is the most recent pop drama that explores variations on eschatology, but it is by no means unique in doing so. Joining the show today to discuss this theological concern in pop culture is Joshua Wise, scholar, writer, and podcaster who has two books coming out that explore this very subject: No Avatars Allowed, and Eschatology and Pop Culture. Danny and Josh discuss such topics as Mad Max, the Fallout video game, Zombie Films, Kingdom Come, and much more.
No Avatars Allowed pre-order page
No Avatars Allowed podcast
Theology and Pop Culture Series (Eschatology and Pop Culture forthcoming)
All Ports Open Network
Joshua Wise on Twitter
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Of what use is the "Evangelical" label in the age of Donald Trump and the Christian leaders that John Fea terms "Court Evangelicals?" Does it still maintain a theological meaning or has it devolved into, as Danny says, "Theocratic Libertarianism?" Coyle Neal, from the City of Man podcast joins Danny for a historical, philosophical, and political discussion about contemporary Evangelicalism. Is there still room for the "1910 Evangelical?"
Also, at the beginning of this episode, Danny announces the first-ever Sectarian Review listener contest! Click here for details.
Links for Curious People:
Coyle Neal's Review of The American Patriot's Bible.
"Defining 'Evangelical' by Jonathan Merritt.
"What Was Being Worshiped Yesterday at First Baptist Church in Dallas?" by John Fea
Danny Anderson is joined by Jordan Poss and Nathan Gilmour to talk about Political Correctness and its many discontents. What are the term's roots and when did people start worrying about it? How did the Bill Clinton era affect us? What role did identity politics play in the election, and will become of the Democratic party's reckoning in the dawn of the Trump Dystopia? And finally, Danny asks "pitchforks and torches?" Plus listener responses to subject.
Frank Bruni on Democratic failures
Aaron Hanlon on the PC Left and language wars
Larry Summers on Political Correctness
Cracked on Donald Trump
Slate Star Codex: You Are Still Crying Wolf
Mad Dogs and Englishmen Podcast
In the first episode of Sectarian Review’s series “The Helpers,” Danny welcomes Christa Lee-Chuvala and Elizabeth Grady-Harper to talk about Lazarus at the Gate, a small-group study curriculum designed to encourage giving. Unlike some financial programs popular in American churches, Lazarus emphasizes generosity from the beginning of financial planning, not as just a long-term goal. How has consumerism corrupted our vision of finance? How can the friendship of small-group study help us be more generous?
Once again, Sectarian Review explores the genre of Science Fiction. This time, Megan Von Bergen joins Danny for a conversation about how scifi engages with questions about God, creation, and theology. How can speculative fiction push people of faith to boldly go where no man has gone before? How can this type of story provide a safe space to try out dangerous ideas? Plus listen for Danny and Megan's recommendations. Also, if you'd like to write a review for the show's blog, visit www.sectarianreviewpodcast.com and check out the blog.
Megan has written a follow-up blog post about the show and its subject matter. You can read that here.
At the 2016 Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC, Danny Anderson had the opportunity to sit down with the Rev. Julian DeShazier, who is also a hip hop artist performing under the name J. Kwest. In addition to discussing J. Kwest's latest album, Lemonade, the discussion built on the Sectarian Review Wild Goose theme of Hipness, applying it to a specific performer and the philosophy and ethics driving his art. J. Kwest discusses the ethics and theology of occupying the margins in his art and his ministry. In addition, this interview was recorded the day after the shooting of another African-American man by a police officer. In the shadow of that tragedy, Danny and Rev. DeShazier discuss race, the possibilities and problems with progressive Christian politics, and art. Download or stream for an powerful conversation with a Christian artist working our God's will in the margins.
Listen to Lemonade by J.Kwest on @AppleMusic.
The Christian Humanist Podcast's Nathan Gilmour joins Danny Anderson for discussion about the Theological and Philosophical underpinnings of Marvel's Netflix series' Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Listen for the following and more:
Why are the villains so important to these heroes? Why is Daredevil a Catholic? How is Jessica Jones able to offer a rich and complex matrix of feminisms? Why are minor characters so important to the philosophical questions the shows ask? How do Daredevil's action sequences demonstrate the philosophical arguments the show makes? This was a fun talk and we hope you enjoy listening as much as we did talking.
This episode also has some important announcements, along with listener responses and this week's new Facebook Page followers!
Join Danny as he welcomes Jay Eldred back to the show. Jay first brought up the subject of Christian Dominionism in our previous episode about David Barton. That topic seemed to warrant its own show, so here we are.
Defined broadly, Dominionism is the ideology that Christians need to infiltrate and control the 7 "Mountains" of secular social institutions: Family, Religion, Education, Media, Entertainment, Business, and Government.
[Joe Carter, writing at First Things], has suggested that the very concept of a Christian Plot against America (I love Philip Roth) is conspiratorial nonsense. To the degree that there is an organized, concerted effort to enact a specific agenda, I agree with Carter. What his claim misses, however, is the fact that these Dominionist ideas are at their most dangerous not when they are attached to an organization, but when they manifest as un-examined theological beliefs within Christian popular culture. This episode explores that aspect of Dominionism.
Here are some links to subjects covered in the two-part show:
The 7 Cultural Mountains Website
The David Barton School of Political Science
American Pharoah as Dominionist prophet. (Yes, the horse).
Benny Hinn as Sith Lord
Donald Trump Annointed by God
John Fea on the Dominionist style of Ted Cruz
John Fea's blog: The Way of Improvement
A Christianity Today rebuttal to Fea's argument
Chris Gehrz's The Pietist Schoolman
The Anxious Bench
And last but not least, check out Jay's blog!
Running in My Head
In this Godzilla-sized episode, Danny Anderson and Drew Van’tland are joined by Ed Simon to talk about the intersections between horror, religion, and ethics. This month’s Sectarians talk horror films, Nietzsche, H.P. Lovecraft, Flies, Babadooks, and, James Robertson’s The Testament of Gideon Mack. Also, Danny interviews Dr. Jamie McDaniel of Pittsburg State University about horror, liminality, and Disability Studies. Also listen for a couple of aural surprises!