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
A super-special episode for Thanksgiving and Black Friday! This week the show explores an episode of the Cartoon Network show The Amazing World of Gumball called “The Money.” The episode humorously shows how under capitalism, human beings effectively cease to exist without money. Making this episode extra-special, however is the fact that Danny is joined by his wife, Kim, and their two daughters, Nora and Ella. The whole Anderson family tackles the subject with humor and insight and the Anderson youngsters will blow you away with their brains and charm. Tune in before giving up Thanksgiving for Black Friday!
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
Recorded live at the 2018 Mount Aloysius College Charity Comic Con! Join us for a very special episode in which Chris Maverick of the Vox Popcast rejoins the show to discuss a fascinating take on the Superman mythology. Mark Millar’s “Red Son” version of the Man of Steel posits the question: what if Superman landed in the Soviet Union rather than Kansas? From this premise, Millar’s comic revises major characters: Lex Luthor becomes the quasi-heroic President of the United States, Batman becomes a Russian dissident terrorist, and Green Lantern’s ring is an artifact of the Roswell UFO crash. Red Son also ponders philosophical and political questions; about the nature of Communism and Capitalism, Superman’s innate goodness, and freedom versus happiness. In addition, the book tackles difficult theological questions about the incarnation of God among humankind. All this and much more is covered in this extra-special episode of the Sectarian Review Podcast.
Recently, Netflix produced a documentary that told the little-remembered story of a cult and its misadventures in creating a city in the Pacific Northwest. The documentary, called Wild Wild Country, follows the expoits, controversies, and crimes of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his Rajneeshi cult as they create a city in the wilderness outside Antelope, Oregon. Led by the Bhagwan’s chief lieutenant, Ma Anand Sheela, the group created a remarkable city from scratch, but fell into conflict with the local community, leading to a series of events which culminated in several major crimes. Joining Danny for this episode is first-time contributor Christopher Pipkin of Emmanuel College, and Todd Pedlar of Luther College and the Book of Nature Podcast. Pedlar also happens to have lived near the Rajneesh community during the controversy and brings a personal reflection to the discussion about cultural and religious bigotry, the marriage between religion and capitalism, and the power of cults.
Wild Wild Country: On One Hand, and On the Other Too
Wild Wild Country Explains Religious Freedom in America
Wild Wild Country and the Dangers of Extremism
Welcome to the 2018 Christian Humanist Radio Network Halloween Crossover! This year each of the shows in the network are examining a different film from the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. Josh Altmanshofer (of Before They Were Live) and Carter Stepper join Danny Anderson to discuss the classic film Shadow of a Doubt. The film features Joseph Cotton as a serial killer named Uncle Charlie who preys on rich widows. Uncle Charlie visits his disturbingly well-adjusted suburban family in California where his niece (and philosophical double), also named Charlie, discovers her uncle’s dark nature. Listen to a discussion about this movie’s take on nihilism, feminism, and law and order. And as with any Hitchcock film, mothers are a disturbing symbol as well, of course. Nietzsche, Batman, Thornton Wilder, Jesus, economics, phallic symbols, trains, cops, serial killers, and mothers all work their way into this fun and engaging discussion of one of Hitchcock’s most entertaining and fascinating films.
C. Derick Varn joins the show again for a discussion about a current controversy in academia. Recently, three scholars, James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian wrote and submitted 20 hoax-academic papers to journals the three identify as politically-motivated “Grievance Studies” outlets. Tune in to learn about the controversy among academics and pundits about the “Sokol Squared” controversy. Learn about original Sokol hoax and what role these projects might play in correcting academic excesses. Along the way, learn about the technocratic nightmare of the academic publishing industrial complex. And what does any of this have to do with the “intellectual dark web?” All this and more. Hey don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes or your favorite pod catcher!
Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship
What the Grievance Studies Hoax Actually Reveals
What the Grievance Studies Hoax Means
The Grievance Studies Scandal: Five Academics Respond
Inspired by our recent episode on Elon Musk, this show explores the nightmarish futuristic vision of the class Fritz Lang film, Metropolis. Learn all about the background of this film’s socialist politics and groundbreaking cinematography. Still stunning to look at 90 years later, this 1927 masterpiece has influenced countless science fiction films since its release. What does the film have to say about technology and the mechanization of mankind? Is it a transhumanist fantasy or nightmare? How does this film make use of religious imagery in order to make the case for its socialist politics? Is the heart the mediator between head and hands? Plus, sexy robots! All this and much much more. Todd Pedlar of the the Book of Nature Podcast and Micah Redding of the Christian Transhumanist Society join for this great discussion about an essential film.
Wizards and clerics rejoice! This episode explores the wonders and possibilities of the classic role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. Joining Danny for this show is Nathan Gilmour of the Christian Humanist Podcast and Will Thomas-Clapp, a Baptist minister who organizes a game for other pastors. In the days since the Satanic Panic, how has D&D made such inroads to Evangelicals? What role do “theater of imagination” games like D&D play in the world of massive online gaming? How have misogyny and racism threatened to destroy gaming communities? What can playing such games do for the imagination and interpretive strategies for preachers? All this and much much more in this very special episode of the podcast.
Welcome to Banned Books Week 2018! For the third year in a row, the show honors Banned Books Week with a show about literacy. This time, Jay Eldred and Danny discuss the wonders and joys of indie bookstores. Plus a chance for you to give some love to your favorite independent bookseller (head to the Sectarian Review Facebook page and give us some links and memories). Why are small indie bookstores so important to our society? Jay and Danny discuss community-building, the act of slowness in a world of immediacy, and these stores’ role in resisting censorship and book-banning. Also, what is so aesthetically pleasing about a little cat in a bookshop? All this and more.
Snowball Bookshop in Barberton, Ohio
Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC
Mac’s Back’s in Cleveland, Ohio
The Strand Bookstore in New York, NY
This episode explores the weird history and legacy of the John Birch Society. The conservative organization organized itself around a fervent anti-communisim and took its name from a missionary it saw as a martyr. The story of the real John Birch is told, and the show discusses how the Society that bears his name worships a false image of the man himself, who would have not agreed with the Society’s politics. How did the Birchers get kicked out of mainstream conservatism by William F. Buckley? Why did they hate Eisenhower? The episode also explores the conspiratorial nature of fringe politics in general and reflects on what the Birchers can teach us about Q anon, the Tea Party, and more paranoid styles of politics. Starring Jay Eldred and Jordan Poss!
For this episode, Danny is joined by Todd Pedlar of the Book of Nature Podcast and Micah Redding, of the Christian Transhumanist Podcast to discuss the enigma that is Elon Musk. Musk has been in the news lately for erratic Twitter behavior, corporate bullying, liberally using taxpayer money to fund his vision, and smoking giant blunts on podcasts. Is he Tony Stark or a Bond villain? Learn about Musk’s philosophical vision, his transhumanist imagination, and the ways in which he may represent the worst of Silicon Valley and it’s brand of capitalist vision-making. If a messianic project is built from capital, can it serve humanity?
Micah Redding Website
Book of Nature
Is Elon Musk Losing It?
SpaceX Employees Monitor the Color Musk’s Wife’s Hair
Elon Musk Calls Other CEOs to See Who’s Tweeting About Him
Elon Musk is Not the Future
“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang
RUR by Karel Capek
Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari
Of course we had to cover Alex Jones's banishment from social media. Over the last few weeks, the conspiratorial chickens of Alex Jones's InfoWars have come home to roost. Jones, in one swell foop was banned from Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Facebook, Stitcher, and apparently even pornography channels. Joining the show today is our resident conspiracy enthusiast, Jordan Poss, veteran of these types of Sectarian Review episodes. Jordan and Danny discuss the background of the controversy and explore why they are so uncomfortable with Jones's fate. Jordan brings a conservative perspective, while Danny relies on a leftist critique of the banishment, but both end up drawing the same conclusions: how comfortable are we letting markets decide who has a platform? All this and much more.
ACLU Warns Against Worrisome Alex Jones Ban
Facebook Can't Be 'Ministry of Truth'
Twitter Decides to Help Alex Jones Spread Lies
The requisite "Vox Explains Everything" article
When the Content Police Came for the Babylon Bee
In the third installment of our "Keywords" series with C. Derick Varn, we focus on a single term with a long and diabolical history: Cultural Marxism. The theory that truth-denying, postmodern Marxists are seeking to undermine society has been around for a while and most recently has been popularized by such intellectual luminaries as Jordan Peterson. What many people don't know, however, is the deeply anti-Semitic roots of this conspiracy theory. What are the historical roots of the term? How was a marginal conspiracy theory mainstreamed by people like Pat Buchanan? Why are conspiracy theories more prevalent on the right than the left? All this and more!
**UPDATE: Varn wishes to make the following correction: "I made one error in this, I got Horkheimer and Axel Honneth confused on ethnic background. Horkheimer was Jewish and Honneth isn't as far as I know."
Diet Soap Podcast. Doug Lain interviews Mark Fisher
Danny and C. Derek Varn continue their exploration of language in part II of the ongoing series "Keywords: A Vocabulary of Barbarism and Stupidity." In this episode, Varn dishes on the following words: Intersectionality, Cultural Appropriation, Human Bio-Diversity, and Snowflake. Have any words for future episodes? Contact the show on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.sectarianreviewpodcast.com
The inaugural episode of a new, ongoing series called "Keywords: A Vocabulary of Barbarism and Stupidity." C. Derick Varn joins Danny to discuss a series of words that have become pervasive in our political discourse, yet have been divorced from their original meanings in many ways. The series will probably offend liberals, conservatives, and leftists alike at some point, but we at the Sectarian Review think it's important to be honest about our language. In this episode, Varn dives into the history and transformations of the following Keywords: "Woke," "Gaslight," "Privilege," and "Millennial."
A fun walk down apocalyptic memory lane. 30 years ago, Edgar Whisenant published 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. The short pamphlet was one in a long line of "save the date" apocalyptic literature, predicting that Jesus would return in September of 1988. While the date of Whisenant's prediction came and went and his book drifted into obscurity, he did publish and distribute millions of copies of his opus in churches all over America. For this episode, Coyle Neal of the City of Man Podcast and Nathan Gilmour of the Christian Humanist join Danny Anderson to discuss the history, theology, and rhetoric of conspiratorial prophecy like 88 Reasons. The book provides a template for how these fringe ideas operate and Danny tries to make a case for how that template applies to our political discourse as well.
88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988
Since the 2016 election, a racial tension within white Evangelical churches has been made apparent. Donald Trump's election, for better or worse, has become a seismic event in American history. This episode explores how, since 2016 Race has emerged as perhaps the preeminent problem for Evangelicalism, to the point where we need to acknowledge that much of what we have called Evangelical Christianity is really better thought of as WHITE Christianity. Joining the show today is Tamara Johnson, who recently wrote a piece for The Witness titled "For Those Who Stay." In this essay, she recounts her own reasons for leaving her largely white church and returning to the traditions and social spaces of the Black Church. Johnson answers the following questions: "How did you find yourself in a largely white church and how did the events of 2016 affect you in that space?" "What is the scope and scale of this "Black Exodus?" "Why do white people, and not their black friends, bear the responsibility for educating themselves about structural racism?" "What role did Charlottesville play in your Exodus?" "How does abortion serve as a wedge issue when dealing with racial justice in the Church?" "Why the distinction between White Church and Black Church?" "How has MLK been misused?" "What is your advice to Black people who stay in White Churches?"
"For Those Who Stay"
"If You Love Me, Do Your Homework"
"A Quiet Exodus" - NY Times
"Pass the Mic" Podcast
"Truth's Table" Podcast
Cloak and Dagger on Hulu
James Cone's The Cross and the Lynching Tree
Michael Eric Dyson's Tears We Cannot Stop
Ed Simon joins the show again to discuss Trump, Putin, and Russiagate. Liberals, eager to find a way to impeach Trump have been focusing on the investigation in all its minutiae, valorizing the American intelligence community, and finding conspiracy around every corner. Leftists, on the other hand, have been largely dismissive of the story, accusing Liberals of losing sight of more tangible, more structural issues. This episode, while agreeing that Liberals have gone a bit over the top, questions whether the Left is too dismissive of possible collusion between Trump and Putin’s forces.
Ed Simon’s home page
Michael Kazin’s “Five Reasons Why the Left Should Care About Russiagate”
“It Matters Yes But How Much,” by Nathan A. Robinson - Current Affairs
“Russiagate Can’t End Well for the Left,” by Seth Ackerman - Jacobin
“Trumpism It’s Coming from the Suburbs,” by Jesse A. Myerson - The Nation
In this episode, Danny Anderson is joined by Rob Osborn to discuss a recent article in Comment by Rosalyn F.T. Murphy called “The Fellowship of the King: A Social Church for a Lonely World.” Murphy’s article, explores the growing problem of Loneliness, both in society and in the Church as well. Huge numbers of elderly and homeless people suffer from chronic loneliness with terrifying social and physical ramifications. But this problem affects people from all demographics as well. The article also explores the growing moving of “new monasticism” as a reaction against this social problem. Danny and Rob discuss the article and some of the ways in which the Church fails to provide community to people most in need of it. Also, how does our modern economy lead to alienation? Why Genesis 2 is about more than marital relationships. What is Danny’s plan for the Starbucks coming to his town? Plus, lots of listener feedback! All this and much more.
“The Fellowship of the King: A Social Church for a Lonely World”
The UK has a “Minister for Loneliness”
Hidden Brain Podcast: “Guys, We Have A Problem: How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men”
Recovery Boys on Netflix