“The Gospel & Pop Culture” Series

Next week we kick-off the final 2011-2012 Theology on Tap series, “The Gospel & Pop Culture: Lights Shining in Dark Places.”

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The Bow in the Clouds: Is there God in District 12?
June 5, 2012

Rev’d Danielle Tumminio and Rev’d Kate Malin

If people of faith hunger to know a God who is light and love, then the darkness and violence of The Hunger Games trilogy may suggest that the Christian God is nowhere to be found in the fictional nation of Panem. But is this really the case? Danielle and Kate will explore how Christian themes of sacrifice, reconciliation, justice, liberation and love play out in this dystopian future world. We’ll reflect on hunger-ours and God’s as well as that of the novels’ main characters – and consider whether we detect an implicit theology resonant in the narrative. We’ll also raise the issue of ritual violence as entertainment as it is reflected in the “Bread and Circus” backdrop of the books, in ancient times and in our popular culture. Finally, we hope to engage in conversation about what these books stir up in us concerning our own salvation history and the ultimate meaning and value of human life. By discussing these themes, we hope to discover more about ourselves as meaning makers and people of faith, and perhaps about God’s dreams for us and for the people of Panem.

The Rev’d Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio is a lecturer at Yale University and author of God and Harry Potter at Yale (our excellent topic from last year) and writes regularly on the intersection of religion and popular culture for CNN, Huffington Post, The Guardian, and Episcopal News Service. She is a three-time graduate of Yale University, is completing her PhD at Boston University, and currently assists at St. Anne’s in the Field’s in Lincoln.

The Rev’d Kate Malin currently serves as rector of St. Anne’s in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Lincoln, Massachusetts. She previously served as Assistant to the Rector at Christ Church Bronxville in New York. A graduate of the General Theological Seminary, Kate was ordained priest in the Diocese of New York in 2006. In addition to being on faculty at the 2011 Preaching Excellence Program conference at Villanova, Kate’s sermons have been published in “The Old Testament in Christian Preaching” and she is also a 2012 Fellow at the Chautauqua Institute’s New Clergy program. Kate is also the co-founder of Love’s Harvest, a non-profit organization in Malawi that empowers the rural poor to grow their own food using Permaculture Agriculture. Prior to becoming an Episcopal priest, Kate was an actress in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. She attended the University of California at San Diego’s graduate acting program, and graduated cum laude from Yale University with a degree in Theatre Studies. Her journey to the priesthood was documented on the CBS “Early Show” in 2006.

The New Sincerity: Telling the Truth in Indie Rock
June 11, 2012

Jonathan Fitzgerald

Jonathan notes that, “Irony is over. Sincerity is all the rage, at least in so-called ‘Indie’ rock. It is difficult to say what, exactly, unites Indie artists — especially since many are signed to major labels — but one characteristic that is shared by most is a penchant for what has been called ‘the new sincerity.’ That is, Indie artists often eschew the jaded irony associated with rock stars in favor of a genuine earnestness. In short, many Indie artists exhibit a profound commitment to truth in their music, lyrics, and image.”

Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, M.A., is a writer, cultural critic, and educator whose work most often considers the role of religion in culture. He is an editor at Patrolmag.com and columnist for the widely read religion resource website Patheos.com, as well as for SoulPancake.com. As a freelancer, his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Christianity Today, Religion Dispatches, The Huffington Post, Killing the Buddha, and The Jersey City Independent. He is at work on a book about moral stories in popular culture.

The Good, The Bad, and the Jesus: Faith and Doubt in the Films of the Coen Bros
June 19, 2012

Mr. Jon Busch

At a glance, the world of the Coen Brothers may seem bleak, chaotic and ultimately godless. But from descent into hell to divine intervention, greater forces are at work in these films. Echoes of Jacob, Job and even Solomon abound. And just as each of these biblical characters coped with their environments differently, the Coens’ archetypal characters espouse various philosophical and theological views that recur throughout the brothers’ filmography and offer clues about the filmakers’ own perspectives.

Jon Busch is a creative writer and something of a film nerd. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Boston University. He has written several award-winning plays and short films, including “Laying the Smackdown in Cambridge” and “High Noon…Oh Crap That’s Like Five Minutes From Now!” His essays have appeared in Patrol, Mule Variations and Curator. He works as a copywriter for some big ad agency downtown, and he has a young adult novel wallowing in the purgatory of his hard drive, awaiting an agent or publisher.

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